Doctors and dietitians spend plenty of time talking to you about making smart food choices. But what delicious decisions do they make on their own time, for health or personal reasons? And what foods do they avoid at all cost?
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We asked, and they answered. Find out if your favorite food made their “do not eat” list.
Take out the trans fats
I scrupulously avoid any foods containing trans fats. These are often listed as hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated vegetable oils on food labels. Available research strongly links trans fats to heart disease. Trans fats are actually much more of a problem than saturated fats such as butter or lard.
Instead, I look for products containing healthy natural oils. Olive oil is probably the best choice.
— Steven Nissen, MD, Chair, Cardiovascular Medicine
Ditch the donuts
I would never eat donuts. Many brands of donuts are loaded with trans-fat and simple sugars.
Instead, when I am hankering for a sweet breakfast food, I make lemon-poppy bread. I add chia or flax seeds along with the poppy seeds. It is delicious, sweet, free of trans fats — and much more nutritious than typical donuts or pastries.
— Holly L. Thacker, MD, Professor and Director, Center for Specialized Women’s Health, Executive Director, Speaking of Women’s Health
Say goodbye to bacon
Trend-lovers will be sad to hear this, but I would never eat bacon. It is sky high in sodium, which is a concern in the modern American diet. Plus I owned a pig, so I just can’t do it.
The problem with bacon is there aren’t many similar alternatives for breakfast. I would search for other breakfast foods that are rich in nutrients and benefits, but without the drawbacks such as too much sodium. Eggs are a protein powerhouse, and oatmeal (no sugar added) with slivered almonds and berries is a great alternative, as well.
— Kristin Kirkpatrick, MS, RD, LD, Wellness Manager, Wellness Institute
Skip the sugary sausage sandwich
I would never eat a honey-coated sausage sandwich on a white bun. It would raise my blood sugar, which leads to atherosclerosis. The sausage also contains nitrates and other components that increase my risk of inflammatory diseases, including arthritis and cancer.
Instead, I would eat a broccoli salad with walnuts and balsamic vinegar, hummus with celery sticks, or a grilled salmon burger on 100 percent whole grain bread.
— Michael Roizen, MD, Chair, Wellness Institute
Hold the hot dog
The first food that comes to mind is a hot dog! Hot dogs are notorious for containing fillers and preservatives. There are “healthier” alternatives available — such as turkey dogs or tofu dogs — but these are highly processed, too.
Instead, I would choose a veggie burger, because I follow a plant-based diet. I make my own following the well-known “New York Times Veggie Burger” recipe, which basically consists of beans, oats, veggies and spices. But I add all sorts of different things to change the flavor. I make eight or 10 at a time and freeze them so they’re available anytime. I caution against pre-made veggie burgers, which may be full of preservatives and sodium.
— Sue Cotey, RN, CDE, Diabetes Educator
Forget the fettuccine alfredo
I do not eat fettuccine alfredo. I struggled with my weight growing up and into my early 20s. When I ate out at restaurants, fettuccine alfredo was one of my favorite meals. But I never left any to take home for later, and the portions were always very large. In the time since then, I’ve come far in my own weight loss journey — and I prefer to get my “treat” calories from red wine.
Instead, I choose to eat spaghetti squash or whole-wheat pasta with tomato sauce. But if a patient really wanted to make fettuccine alfredo at home, I would suggest alternatives to improve it: Use low-fat or nonfat cream, dairy and sour cream. Limit or avoid butter, or use an alternative. And for a restaurant meal, consider ordering a side portion, sharing a full portion or planning to take plenty of leftovers home.
— Laura Jeffers, MEd, RD, LD, Registered Dietitian