5 foods your doctor never eats

For healthy diet tips, who better to turn to than your doctor? Here are five foods one doctor will never eat, and why

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Inside a doctor’s kitchen

Dr. Neda Amani Golshani is an Ottawa-based physician who specializes in weight management. Her personal struggle with weight loss inspired her to create a program called The Real You, which combines exercise with nutritional and behavioural counselling to help patients reach their weight-loss goals. Here, she tells us five foods that you’ll never find her eating, and why.

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cancer and nutrition - hot dogs

1. Processed meats

Beef jerky, hot dogs and heavily processed lunchmeats won’t find their way onto Amani Golshani’s table. “These meats contain nitrates and a lot of preservatives,” she says. A new study from the Harvard School of Public Health has revealed that eating processed meats leads to an increased risk of heart disease and type-2 diabetes. When it comes to protein, Amani Golshani suggestes sources such as vegetables, seeds and nut butters. “Get a good vegetarian cookbook,” she says. “The more vegetables, the better.”

If you’re going to get protein from animal sources, Amani Golshani recommends yogurt, eggs (up to four eggs per week), tuna and other fish, and chicken. For non-animal sources, add more quinoa, edamame, legumes and almond milk to your diet. “It just takes a little bit of creativity,” she says.

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butter large

2. Margarine

According to experts at the Mayo Clinic, some margarines may actually be worse for you than butter, due to the process of hydrogenation, which creates trans fats. “I would rather use butter, in moderation,” says Amani Golshani. She also suggests olive oil, canola oil and grapeseed oil as healthier replacements for margarine when cooking.

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3. Packaged snack cakes and cookies

You won’t find any Twinkies in Amani Golshani’s pantry, but that doesn’t mean she’s anti-dessert. “I really believe in moderation in everything,” she says. “If my husband brings home a package of pastries, I won’t eat them. But I will go to a French bakery and have a croissant.” Home-baked or bakery-made pastries and desserts are better choices than those from a box, which often contain a lot of added sugar, says Amani Golshani. And the same holds true for frosting. “If I make it at home, I’ll have a little bit, because it only has icing sugar and butter and simple ingredients,” she explains. “But in a box, it has about 40 different chemicals.”

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4. Anything fat-free

No-fat items are on Amani Golshani’s list of products to be wary of, because they often compensate for fat with large amounts of sugar, and are highly processed. “Some non-fat yogurts can contain artificial sweeteners,” says Amani Golshani. “It feels like I’m eating poison.” Eating healthy doesn’t mean cutting fat out of your diet entirely, but rather focusing on “good fats,” such as olive oil, avocado and nuts.

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5. Artificial sweeteners

Think that just because you’re not using refined sugar, you’re being healthy? Think again, says Amani Golshani. “Artificial sweeteners have actually been linked to people not losing weight,” she says, noting that drinks containing artificial sweeteners and colours are extremely unhealthy.

The same goes for foods with dyes and artificial flavours. “A lot of people are sensitive to this in a way they can’t even pinpoint,” she says, and strongly recommends cutting these artificial ingredients out of your diet.

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woman eating chocolate

Junk food is not off-limits!

Even doctors can appreciate a good slice of pizza once in a while. “If you’re going to indulge, do it for indulgence’s sake,” says Amani Golshani. “Eat it slowly. Enjoy it. Feel good about it and make sure it’s real. If it doesn’t sound like real food, it’s not real food.”

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