We have all seen them, there are plenty of articles out there telling us what foods we should incorporate into our daily lives. We know about all the superfoods and we all know we should be drinking plenty of water and eating lots of fruit and veggies. However, there aren’t that many articles out there that advise us on the everyday things that we shouldn’t be consuming quite so regularly. So, here are ten foods and drinks that you might be consuming every day and should definitely think about eating and drinking less…
I know, I know, coffee is an absolute life saver and there is no way you can go a day without. But actually, having that mentality shows that you have become addicted to coffee and dependent on the caffeine to get you through the day – which is a sign you need to stop drinking it. Coffee can be great stuff, for example, if you only managed to get two or three hours sleep but have a long day at university or work. However, drinking coffee every day can be really bad for you and certainly isn’t a habit you want to get into. Firstly, the caffeine in coffee can actually increase your stress hormones, the acidity of coffee can cause heartburn and acid reflux, and coffee can also irritate the lining of your intestines, leading to nasty stomach cramps. So, although coffee might keep you feeling more awake, it can also have many negative effects that you’ll probably want to avoid! Instead of drinking coffee every single day, slowly wean yourself off caffeinated coffee and onto decaf (try having one caffeinated coffee every other day and then one every three days and so on…) and then eventually drink decaf every day and occasionally have a cup of caffeinated coffee when you really need it! So, if you are looking for something to be eating and drinking less, why not just give it a try and see whether you notice the effects?
2. Red meat
Who doesn’t love bacon, sausages, steaks etc? I know most of us could probably happily eat bacon for breakfast every single morning, however, research has shown that regularly consuming red meat really isn’t good for us. So, what is the beef with red meat? Firstly, red meat is often high in saturated fat, which raises blood cholesterol and therefore increases your risk of heart disease – something you really want to avoid if you can, with heart disease becoming dangerously more common. Research also suggests that there is a link between red meat and bowel cancer. The NHS website itself advises that you keep your red meat consumption to a minimum to lower your risk of colorectal cancer. Of course, eating one piece of bacon won’t instantly give you bowel cancer – so don’t panic. However, it is suggested that you don’t consume red meat daily and if you really have to, then to keep it below 70g a day and to remove any fat and always cook in healthy oils (e.g. olive oil). Instead, you could try consuming more chicken, or swap to veggie alternatives. And if you’re worried about not consuming enough iron, remember you can also get plenty of iron from leafy greens, eggs, fish, chicken, and breakfast cereals.
3. Processed meat
Similarly to red meat, there have been big links between processed meats and cancer. Processed meats include sausage, bacon, ham, deli meats, påtés, canned meats, and sliced luncheon meats – essentially anything that has been preserved by smoking, curing, salting or adding preservatives. Processed meat has been linked to a variety of chronic diseases, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and bowel and stomach cancer – so if you are already at risk of any of these, you should definitely consider cutting down on processed meats. Just as above with the red meat, it is really easy to swap your processed meats for chicken or veggie alternatives. You can still get plenty of nutrients from a piece of chicken or veggie sausages, and often they are even tastier than the processed meat options! Consuming bacon and sausages every morning, or having ham or deli meats for lunch every day might not seem like a particularly unhealthy thing to do, but if you consume these everyday for a long period of time you might be putting yourself at risk.
It can be very easy to get into the routine of coming home from university or work every day and popping open a beer or pouring a glass of wine every evening. And because it’s just the one and you’re not actually getting drunk, it might seem like it’s not all that bad for you. However, drinking alcohol daily really isn’t something that you should get into the habit of doing. Alcohol is classified as a ‘Group 1 carcinogen’ which means that, like processed meat, the evidence that alcohol can be linked to cancer is extremely strong. Research has shown that alcohol can damage the lining of the mouth and throat, potentially eventually leading to cancer. So, if you are one of those people that doesn’t see the harm in a daily glass of wine or a daily pint, maybe consider swapping your daily drink for a different treat, such as a piece of chocolate or a biscuit – it doesn’t need to be alcohol.
5. Fizzy drinks/sodas
We’ve been told for years now that consuming too much fizzy pop is bad for us due to the amount of sugar, which is why people tend to think that if they stick to diet fizzy drinks then it’s totally fine to drink them every day. However, drinking any fizzy drinks too often should be avoided, diet or not. Research shows that fizzy drinks can increase our risk of cancers such as pancreatic cancer, prostate cancer, breast cancer, amongst others, for a variety of reasons including the chemicals that are used to color the drinks, and the increase in insulin production which fizzy drinks can cause. Not to mention the fact that sugary fizzy drinks can lead to heart disease, diabetes and can even cause liver damage. Not to mention the fact that fizzy drinks can often make us feel pretty bloated and gassy. So, next time you are in need of a sugary drink, try opting for a nice natural fruit juice (go for one without any additives or else these can be just as bad for you!) or some squash with no added sugar. Instead, just treat yourself to one glass of fizzy drink once a week – perhaps make it a Friday night treat, you’ll probably enjoy it much more if it’s a once-a-week treat!