It’s been a trial-and-error process figuring out which foods are best for my body. There are those that make me feel amazing—and then there are those foods that ruin my day, my week, my hormones, and my physical appearance. I have fought a hard-won battle with these items and know to never allow them near my lips.
As a board-certified physician and the author of What Doctors Eat, I’ve found there are a number of foods that just aren’t worth it. Here are the ones I now consciously avoid:
1. Diet coke
Although it’s been about 15 years since I’ve had a Diet Coke, I feel like I can still taste it. This drink was my go-to for a long time, my source of sustenance, and what kept me going through medical school and residency.
But in the bliss of ignorance, I didn’t know that it was also wreaking havoc on my gut, messing with my appetite cues, and, of course, affecting my insulin levels. Those years that I drank Diet Coke were some of my worst health years.
2. Frozen entrees
The search for convenience can lead many of us to fall into the frozen entree trap. Heat and eat—what could be easier? Unfortunately, even the most healthy-looking frozen entrees are loaded with salt, contributing to a host of issues from water retention to weight gain.
In fact, newer research suggests that sodium may play a bigger role in insulin regulation than previously thought—an important role in the story of obesity.
The go-to breakfast for many of our kids, sugary, boxed cereals are just another prescription for inattention and hyperactivity. Packaged cereals’ combination of refined carbohydrates and sugar should make them something we all remove from our daily diets.
4. Meals made with MSG
This is often a fight in my family. My husband and kids, in search of flavor and fortune cookies, will often lobby for a meal at a nearby Chinese restaurant. But I cannot stomach most Chinese food—I know that the monosodium glutamate, a food additive known as MSG, affects my weight, my gut and my mental acuity. When my family does win, I’ll ask for my meal with no MSG and everything on the side.
During my emergency room days, I saw some amazing-smelling doughnuts lying in the break room just begging to be eaten. Tempted by them as a solution to my fatigue and mental stress, I gobbled a few up—only to break out in a cold sweat after 15 minutes and watch the room spin before me as I had a fainting episode. It took me an hour to recover, and I swore off any doughnuts for the rest of my life.
I used to think muffins were healthy and a good alternative to sweets like doughnuts. But did you know one large muffin can have over 1,000 calories? Read the labels on those tempting muffins (not counting the ones we make it home), and you’ll be shocked by not just the calories but also the sugar grams, which will send insulin levels skyrocketing.