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Tips to Help Summer Waistline
(Foods and Drinks to Avoid)

By Dr. Peter W. Kujtan, B.Sc., M.D., Ph.D.

Article printed in the June 28-29, 2008 issue of The Mississauga News under the feature: Health & Wellness, Medicine Matters.
Portrait of Dr. Peter W. Kujtan, supplied 2005
Dr. Peter W. Kujtan

Summer has arrived faster than I would like. I only wish that April Showers would read the memo. Summer is a time of outings, picnics, get-togethers and travel. It is a time when our food choices are often in the hands of others. I provide for you a few tips to help you get over the "I will eat better tomorrow" Syndrome. If you are on the planning end of the festivities, then try to set an example in food choices for those attending. You may turn out to be the spark that helps someone maintain the difficult road to good health. For a healthier outlook, minimize the following:

● French Fries. Deep-frying in oil adds the carcinogen acrylamide into potatoes and most chips. A large serving of fries can contain over 300 times the allowable limit set by other countries such as Sweden.

● Processed Breakfast Cereals. Particularly those which use genetically modified grains. They are packed with refined sugar and offer little protein value. Just wander into the cereal aisle and see if you can find a bag of plain oatmeal.

● Diet Pop. It contains aspartame and has no nutritional value. Aspartame is metabolized into a formaldehyde compound, which can lead to problems. There is evidence that artificial sweeteners can stimulate the desire for sweet food.

● Pop. It is packed full of refined sugar and has no nutritional value, yet high school students use it as a primary source of hydration. Large amounts have the potential to demineralize bones. We do not have to look far to see that the osteoporosis cycle begins before the bones are fully mature.

● Decaffeinated Coffee. If you are going to drink coffee, then do so. Some of the decaffeination processes utilize filtration that imparts active chlorine into the coffee. There is a study suggesting women who drink decaffeinated coffee have a higher incidence of rheumatoid arthritis.

● White Bread. It is made with refined flour stripped of vitamins, fiber, protein and minerals. Refined liquid sugar is added.

● Commercial Pizza. High in sodium, carbohydrates and fats, pizza is heated at over 180° C, destroying a great deal of the nutrient value. Making your own, by using pure flour, vegetables, minimizing cheese and sodium, may be an alternative.

● Low Fat Ice Cream. Often made from genetically modified soy. Taking fat out of the ice cream drives up the glycemic index. Either eat ice cream or don't. Don't think that there is any such thing as healthy ice cream.

● Donuts. Donuts are deep fried white bread coated with sugar.

● Fruit Drinks. Water and sugar with some coloring. Even the labeling on fruit juices can be misleading.

Here is a tip for an activity with the kids. Give them a digital camera and have them take a picture of every item of food that they and you consume during a typical day. When you sit down and review it at one time, the resulting effect on your mind can be a powerful motivator. The bottom line is to start reading labels on any processed foods you are thinking of purchasing. You will soon discover for yourself what you are actually eating. Have a safe summer!

Related resources:
The 6 Most Unhealthy Foods You Should Avoid at All Costs from SixWise.com.
Foods to Avoid or Limit by Susan M. Lark, M.D. (Excerpted from The Women's Health Companion). Lengthy article, 15 pages. Foods and drinks to avoid or limit include: Caffeine-containing Drinks; Alcohol, Sugar and Artificial Sweeteners - Beverages: soft drinks, mixed sweet drinks. Convenience foods: salad dressing, catsup, relish. Desserts: cookies, candies, cakes, pies, ice cream. White flour products: pasta, bread, crackers, pastries; Salt; Red Meat, Eggs, and Dairy Products; Foods High in Saturated Fat: Beef, Butter, Cheese, Coconut oil, Cream cheese, Eggs, Ice cream, Lamb, Milk, Palm oil, Pork, Sour cream, Yogurt; Margarine.
Foods to Avoid by David Lawrence Dewey. Condensed version of article (Scientifically documented in the International Food Journal Microbial 20-211-226, 1993).
Foods to Avoid from Health-Heart.org.
Healthy Food List from Healthy Holistic Living.

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