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If you’ve been following what I’ve been showing you then you will already be adding more raw and plant based foods into your everyday diets. You will have discovered more about plant-based living as well as experimenting with some awesome new dishes.

Now, it’s time to look at the things we should aim to reduce, be aware of or remove from our diets completely.

For me, it’s all about balance and I’m not saying to go completely cold turkey on everything all at once–that’s just no fun–I mainly want to make you consider your food choices and make you aware of the things you shouldn’t consume too regularly.

How much do you regularly consume of the list below?

  • Alcohol
  • Caffeine
  • Gluten
  • Dairy
  • Refined sugars

Fairly often? It’s not surprising as these five groups seem to creep into our diets daily, some by choice (alcohol and caffeine) and some without us even realising, meaning we aren’t aware of how much of them we are consuming. I won’t lie, they do add a lot of flavour and enjoyment to our diet, but its not real or in the form it should be, and at what cost to our bodies?

Misleadingly, these five groups can also be hidden under a guise of other names in food labelling; food manufacturers, for example, will mask the taste of food by adding these ingredients to make them taste better. Ever wondered why once you pop those Pringles, you really can’t stop? That will be those hidden additives! At least they are being open and honest about it 😉

Of course, habits will come into play here: we convince ourselves that we “must have a coffee or tea in the morning” as you “won’t function without it”. You don’t need me to tell you that these habits are extremely addictive. It’s important to give our bodies respite. You will soon realise the benefits of enjoying these things from time to time, rather than relying on them to get you through the day–your body and mind will thank you for it.

Be aware and, where possible, try to make a conscious note to yourself when you spot any or all of them creeping into your day. I’m not going to tell you what to eat and not eat, it’s just about balancing these things and making conscious decisions regarding your intake.

Listen to your body and what it’s telling you. If you’re struggling with disrupted sleep, stress, digestion issues, bloating and cravings, many of these issues can be linked to and prevented by reducing your intake of these five groups.

What’s wrong with them?

Alcohol

We can all enjoy a glass of wine or a beer in the evening after a hard day but this one glass can easily turn into two, then three every night. Before you know it, it’s become a habit and a bit of a problem.

Alcohol can damage the quality of sleep that we get and especially if you are drinking late at night before bed. It can also effect how well the brain functions and what I like to call ‘brain fog’, making you less productive and your mood low.

Whenever I’m working away and have to be up very early, I always take a break from alcohol completly and notice how it’s easier to get out of bed and be in a top mood!

Caffeine

Have you ever taken a short detox from tea or coffee and noticed you get a headache? I certainly have! This should be enough to show you how reliant you are on it. Caffeine will, of course, provide you with a brief energy boost but this is temporary and will have you crashing very fast, leading you to crave the next hit to keep your energy levels up. It’s worrying how quickly we can become reliant on caffeine. The more live and raw foods you are introducing, the less you will need caffeine. Imagine having an incredible but natural energy boost that lasts all day? It’s even better than it sounds. Juicing is great for this–a ginger shot in the morning will soon wake you up, trust me!

Gluten

Food allergies and intolerances have increased dramatically over the past few years, with one of the most popular being to wheat/gluten, mainly due to how processed it is. When bread, for example, was baked freshly that day, gluten was naturally present and caused no issues. However, due to over-processing and gluten being modified to create a product that looks good and has a longer shelf-life, has meant it’s natural state has been dramatically altered. Processed gluten can be one of the main causes of that uncomfortable bloated feeling after you have eaten. If you suffer from this condition, cutting out processed gluten would defiantly be the first thing I would advise.

Dairy

Again, dairy is also over-processed and filled with nasties, which leave our bodies struggling to know how to digest them properly. Due to mass production, chemicals and hormones are pumped into cows to ensure they produce more milk, which is as horrendous as it sounds. We buy these dairy products and consequently consume these added chemicals and hormones… Sobering, isn’t it?

Also remember that good old saying “drink a pint of milk before you go out drinking to line your stomach” that is exactly what it does and at the same time also stopped us from absorbing any nutrients through that lining too…

Refined sugars

Sugar. The worst of them all!

I strongly advise you trying to cut out any refined sugars. If you do require some added sweetener to your foods, try using unrefined sugars; coconut palm sugar, nectar, dates and honey. Obviously, these are still a sugar but we all need a little bit of sweet kick now and again and these are far better alternatives, if used in moderation.

Remember, the naturally occurring sugars in fruits can also be a great sweet snack and used in recipes as a sweetener–bananas are great, for this!

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Author Jay Halford

Jay Halford - Professional Michelin star trained chef and real food fanatic. I’m on a mission to re-educate people back into realising how easy it is to make the transition into feeding their body what it so desperately craves.

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