They’re forever dishing out advice, but when it comes to taking the nutritionists’ healthy-eating messages home, surely the proof is in the pudding. (Or should that be, ‘lack of pudding’?!)
‘Everything in moderation’ may be the go-to guideline for a good, balanced diet, but there are certain foods public health nutritionist and lifestyle consultant Yvonne Wake admits she strictly avoids.
Processed foods and anything with unrecognisable ingredients is a no-no, but knowing what’s actually ‘healthy’ isn’t always that straightforward, and Wake notes that there are many examples of foods that are mis-sold as being good for us.
“The trickery of labelling is still going on and it will always go on,” explains Wake, who is also a life and fitness coach and runs wellness retreats in France. “You can’t blame the public, because no one tells them the truth.”
She admits when it comes to her own diet, she’s “quite a toughie – more extreme than most” (so there’s no need for everybody to stop consuming these things entirely!), but here are six things she prefers to keep firmly off the menu…
Fast food/processed food
Fast food is fast for a reason and your intake should be controlled to make way for fresh, quality produce sourced from reliable suppliers.
Yvonne states she would never eat a meal from a fast food chain, order a takeaway or indulge in any processed foods for the simple reason: “I don’t know what’s in it.”
“There’s no way of telling how much sugar, fat or preservatives are in there. These types of food are sold for their taste, their ability to fill you up quickly and get you running back for more because it’s not expensive.
“Basically because it’s not real food; it’s not clean food.”
We’re often warned of the dangers of fizzy drinks: high sugar, chemicals and zero nutritional value. And it’s not just the full-fat versions, with diet drinks options containing pesky artificial sweeteners.
Choose to shun them altogether, Yvonne advises: “Anything that has been produced or mass produced – the Coca Colas and the fizzy drinks – contains so much sugar.
“Worse still, it’s hidden sugar because it doesn’t state what kind it is on the label. If it mentions sugar at all, it will be a lot because it only has to be listed if it’s over a certain amount.”
It’s worth noting that most cereals lack protein and fibre and you could end up on a sugar crash within a couple of hours.
“Cereals are the biggest culprit,” warns Yvonne. “But food producers don’t call it ‘sugar’: they call it maltose, galactose or anything that has an ‘ose’ at the end of it.
“We all know about fructose because it’s in the media, but if you look on the back of a packet, many camouflage it with a different name.”
Rice cakes are often deemed a go-to snack for dieters – particularly those wanting to avoid the lure of bread. But they can in fact prove calorific and high in sugar and salt.
“I used to like rice cakes, but I realised there’s a lot of density in there, which means it contains more than it says,” Yvonne counsels. “They’ve now been mass produced, so even if you buy organic rice cakes, they will still contain a lot of sugar – just organic sugar.”
Ready-made dressings and sauces
You may want to perk up your salad, but you could end up undoing your good work if you slather it in a dressing or condiment.
“Dressings have quite a lot of oil and added sugar and mayonnaise is hugely calorific.
“I make mine tasty by using a little bit of sesame oil at the end or cider vinegar.”
Real butter has always outshone its rival, the additive-heavy and coloured margarine; but only now are we being told it’s better for us.
“I love butter,” admits Yvonne. “It has to be proper butter though; when it just says ‘butter’ on the packet.
“Butter is best because it’s natural and we do need some fats.”