In general, sticking to a specific way of eating isn’t too bad – decide what isn’t the best for your nutrition, or weight-loss goals, and try and cut down on those things as much as possible. This gives you a decent amount of leeway, as you’re “cutting down” rather than “cutting out;” it’s not overly restrictive, and still allows you to be able to go out and have a life. This can either be a good or a bad thing, depending on how you look at it.
Let’s take chocolate for instance. If you previously ate a slab of chocolate every day, but cut it down to every three or four days, that’s great improvement. But, alternatively, considering chocolate is extremely processed and laden with sugar, eating a slab of chocolate every three or four days is definitely not good for your nutritional or weight-loss goals.
Ultimately, when looking at our goals, we need to decide whether “cutting down” or “cutting out” is most beneficial. I know that eating a slab of chocolate makes me nauseous after, makes me bloated, makes my skin break out, and makes me lazy and lethargic. I also know that sugar spikes my insulin, and if I don’t burn off that energy at some stage, it will end up being stored as fat in my body. With all of those in mind, it makes so much more sense to eliminate it from my diet completely, as it brings NO nutritional value whatsoever, and the ONLY pro is that it tastes nice during the 5 seconds in which I inhale it.
In 2015, my best friend and I partook in the #sugarfreesepteber challenge – and completed it successfully! Cutting out sugar from your diet may sound easy enough, you know, sweets, chocolates, baked goods, thank kinda thing, but until you start reading labels, you don’t realize how MUCH food actually has added sugar! There is loads of controversy in the professional world of dietetics regarding diets that “cut out” entire food groups, such as a Banting diet cutting out carbs (although generally, if Banters understand the diet correctly, they don’t “cut out” carbs completely, they just choose the better kind, such as fibrous vegetables as opposed to refined, processed “white carbs.”)
Sugar is not a food group. Sugar is also not “good” for you nutritionally. The ONLY reason I could imagine someone arguing that sugar is good in one’s diet could perhaps be for energy, but even then I would much rather choose NATURAL sugars found in fruit, because then you’re also getting important vitamins and minerals at the same time.
Therefore, when deciding to “cut out” things from our diet, it is extremely important to consider whether the results will be a deficiency in something important, and how we can replenish this with more natural, nutrient-rich foods. Last year I came up with #junkfreejuly but didn’t sit down properly and actually decide what I considered to be “junk.”
At the end of the day, I think that everyone has their own views on nutrition and what a good and a bad diet involves. You make your own personal dietary choices according to what best suits YOU, YOUR body, and YOUR views – and your take on #junkfreejuly is exactly the same. To some people, actually probably most, “junk food” refers to take aways. And only that. Maybe some people might also include sweets, chocolates, chips, and baked goods – basically anything you can find at your basic BP petrol station.
To me personally, “junk foods” are foods that provide more bad things nutritionally than good ones – ultimately giving them that “junk” status. So as well as all the above mentioned things, I also included refined carbs, as well as sugar in its entirety as being “junk.” Lastly, a complete food group that I from now on am going to classify as “junk” is dairy.
The first thing that you are likely to say in response to this is “dairy is our main source of calcium!” But, as I said previously, “cutting out” a food group is only okay if you’re replenishing the nutrition you’re losing: green leafy veg is a MUCH more natural and nutritious source of calcium than milk. The other thing dairy is beneficial for, is probiotics. But again, I would rather replace processed, hormone-pumped milk for homemade kefir, and sauerkraut (fermented cabbage) is a great salad option that’s filled with probiotics, as well as other vitamins and minerals – hey, it’s also a green leafy veg! Dairy is also extremely high in the “bad” fats, namely saturated fats and hydrogenated oils. I would much rather acquire my fats from “good” fat sources which are high in nutritional value, such as nuts and seeds, avo, and coconut and olive oil.
So now that we’ve covered the “good” things in dairy, let’s cover the “bad.” Dairy products are widely associated with congestion, from a post-nasal drip to increasing severity of asthma; they are also one of the main causes of IBS. Many skin rashes and allergies also occur as a result of dairy, as well as pimples on the face, and even severe acne.
I don’t know about you, but I think it is very clear that dairy is a food group that can be given a “junk” status, as it provides more “bad” than “good” nutritional value, and the “good” things can be substituted with things even better.
So this year, for #junkfreejukly, as well as cutting out sugar and refined carbs, I will also be cutting out dairy. For the past year (literally) I haven’t cut out ANYTHING from my diet, at least for more than a week or so, so this will be a great challenge for me to move from cutting down to completely cutting out. To you reading this, I challenge you to take a look at your diet, and decide whether it’s beneficial to your health and nutrition, or whether it contains “junk” that can be cut out.
If this post has inspired you to choose to join me on your own #junkfreejuly journey, please let me know and we can be accountability buddies! If not, I hope it has at least made you think about what you’re putting into your body every day, and whether your body is thanking you for it or not.