What Not to Eat for a Healthy Lifestyle

There is just as much controversy over what not to eat as there is over what to eat for a healthy lifestyle and optimal health. Each day seems to yield a new “diet” that promises to solve all of our problems. Or a new idea—or the rehearsing of old ones—that simply add to the overwhelm and confusion. It doesn't have to be so difficult. There are just 2 simple steps to remember to always eat healthy—with ease and delicious foods.

Mother and daughter shopping for healthy foods

That in the end is what we are all after—health and longevity. Living our best life as long as we can—with ease, movement, full vitality. We want to feel better now, be healthier and live longer.

We do not pursue life with the hopes of fatigue, boredom, sickness, disease, being over weight or with constant struggle. Yet, with every bite many people are contributing to just that in their bodies.

We all basically want a life full of ease, free of suffering. And, it is now widely researched and known that what we eat directly impacts the quality of our health and overall life.

We could dive deep into each and every specific food, ingredient, and additive available and discuss the positives and negatives of each. We could make full page arguments for and against many items—based on nutrition, environmental impact, religious concerns and more. Yes, there is that much information about nearly everything we have available to consume.

Instead, for our purposes in this article, we are going to paint a slightly broader brush to help simplify the steps. Make it easier to remember and simple to implement.

There are a few key areas almost all experts agree upon. We will focus on those here. And, by simply cutting these items from your diet you will be on your way to better health.

What Not to Eat Made Simple:

  1. SUGAR. This includes all kinds. White sugar, brown sugar and ALL artificial sugar substitutes. Artificial sweeteners have been shown to be more harmful to your health than regular sugar—studies show they are more addictive and cause more weight gain. And both have been shown to be the root of numerous health concerns, diseases, cancers, inflammation and obesity. If you commit to simply not eating foods with added sugar it will carry over to most all of your not-to-have list. Most all processed foods, even meat products, breads, and sodas have sugar of some sort added to them. Make sure to always check labels. Seemingly simple foods such as dried fruit even have sugar added to it. And foods or drinks that tout no sugar added often are packed with artificial sweeteners.

  2. PROCESSED FOODS. This includes cereals, cookies, pies, pastries, cakes, biscuits, chips, packaged snacks, convenience foods such as microwave meals or ready meals, refined grains, meat products. These types of foods are generally high in sugar, sodium, preservatives, chemicals, dyes and additives that do not add to the health of your body, but rather to the dis-ease. With any packaged foods, you want to read the label. If there is anything on the list you do not recognize, can not pronounce or would not sprinkle over your food in your own kitchen then put it back—do not eat this. Ideally a label will contain only one ingredient (the actual food item). At the most, perhaps a few listed spices. I tend to purchase single item foods (even salt free when at all possible) and then season them at home.

  3. MEAT PRODUCTS. Hotdogs, sausage, deli meat, bacon (all of these are actually highly processed). So thinking of them in the processed category helps keep it simple. When choosing meat, look for meat in its most basic and whole form as much as possible.

  4. SODA & SUGARY DRINKS. Here again, if first filtering through the sugar category these would already be kept at bay. They are loaded with either regular sugar or some type of artificial sweeteners which have been shown to be even more harmful to your health. Say no to all of these. Instead drink mostly filtered water, black coffee and herbal teas.

  5. Anything with ingredients you can not pronounce or would not sprinkle on your food. Even seemingly simple items such as spices can have hidden additives. Read your labels. Packaged and prepared foods are full of food-additives, chemicals, preservatives, dyes, artificial sweeteners. These items are not real food and many are toxic, inflammatory, and lead to all sorts of health concerns such as various diseases and cancers. If it is not something you would stock in your pantry or sprinkle on your food then do not consume it. Think of your great grandparents—would they have even had this item in their day? If not, skip it. Stick with real food.

Processed Foods: The Difference

Please note that all foods when prepared are processed to some degree. The minute we pick the vegetable or cut it or steam it or roast it, we have begun to process it. These are minimally processed and completely acceptable. Our ancestors routinely processed foods to preserve them for the winter or through the summer. What I and others mean when citing “processed foods” to avoid is overly or highly processed foods we find prevalent today.

Foods in boxes, bags, cans, containers, etc that have been transformed from their original form (that are no longer a recognizable food from the garden or field) and/or had numerous chemicals, dyes, preservatives, sugars, etc added to them. These additions or changes take away many of the nutrient benefits and typically add harmful and even toxic ingredients. So, when you see “processed foods” people are generally referring to highly processed foods as described. That is what you are looking to avoid.


The Simple Steps:

1. Say no to added sugar.

2. Say no to processed foods.

If you simply commit to not eating added sugar or processed foods, well, that would pretty much leave you with whole natural foods on your plate. You will already be much further ahead with your health goals than the majority of people.

From there, yes, your specific diet can be tweaked based on many factors that will enhance your particular body. There are specifics with regard to cuts of meats, choices of vegetables, when and how often to eat, how to cook (no frying, for example), when and how to fast, dairy or not, gluten or not and myriad other factors.

There is also genetic testing, blood tests and other tests Functional Medicine Doctors can run (or you can have run yourself) to help drill down on the specifics your particular body needs for optimal health and longevity.

But, most all experts will start you here. And, most agree, one of our biggest killers and culprits in aging and most all disease is sugar. And, then processed foods as a whole due to the additives (including sugar).

Your simple first steps: cut the added sugar and cut processed foods.


Grab my free Healthy Pantry Checklist

for exactly what I stock for healthy eating.

(complete with clickable links for shopping)



How to Eat Healthy & Stop Dieting

Intermittent Fasting—What Is It and Why Should I do It?

Why Movement and Not Exercise is Best for Health and Longevity

How to Incorporate Healthy Foods into Your Meals