Processed Meats & Lunch Meats
Why avoid it? Preservatives like nitrites and sulfites have been linked to cancer. In fact, the American Institute of Cancer Research has determined that, as with lead, there is no such thing as a safe exposure level with processed meats.
Better alternative: Naturopathic doctor Natasha Turner, ND, author of The Carb Sensitivity Program, recommends looking for options that are nitrite and sulfite free. You can sometimes find lunch meat without these harmful preservatives at a local deli or butcher shop, or at a natural foods store. Better yet, cut back on lunch meat and look for unprocessed cuts of meat—or go without meat—when you do buy for your sandwiches.
Why avoid it? Farmed salmon is generally raised overseas in filthy, overcrowded pens where workers use toxic pesticides, antibiotics, and disinfectants to stave off disease.
Better alternative: Get your omega-3s from wild-caught Alaskan Salmon or smaller fish like Sardines.
Why avoid it? Trans-fatty acids found in hydrogenated oils, partially hydrogenated oils, shortenings, and margarines tend to increase your belly fat and raise your risk of depression. Vegetable, soy, peanut, cottonseed, and palm oil also act as inflammatory fats, Dr. Turner says.
Better alternative: Choose healthy fats like coconut oil and olive oil. These help reduce pain and inflammation and help you burn off dangerous fat around your midsection.
Food & Drinks Hiding HFCS
Why avoid it? High-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) hides in all types of foods, even ones you’d never suspect, like bread and ketchup. It’s worth it to read those ingredients list, though, because scientists have linked the ingredient to insulin secretion, belly fat, and appetite simulation.
“With high-fructose corn syrup, your body doesn’t really get the signal that you’ve eaten, so you have more cravings later on,” Dr. Turner explains.
Better alternative: Start weaning yourself off of added sugars, and definitely make sure the first three ingredients on a food label aren’t some type of sugar.
Foods & Drinks Hiding Artificial Sweeteners
Why avoid it? Artificial sweeteners might not pack any calories in those little packets, but studies have found they can still increase insulin. Also, “even though they don’t raise blood sugar, they stimulate your appetite hormone, telling your body to store energy in fat,” Dr. Turner says.
Better alternative: If you must use a sweetener, she suggests a coconut sweetener or stevia.