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How to recognize the 5 worst ingredients in food and avoid them

Are the 5 worst ingredients in food running rampant in your diet? Or maybe they’re lurking in unknown places, under names you’re not familiar with. Whether you are generally healthy and fit or trying to get a start in that direction, be sure you can detect and avoid these 5 ingredients.

Identifying the 5 worst ingredients in foods and why we should avoid them

We can all think of plenty of ingredients we should avoid. Sugar and sodium might top the list. But in moderation, those don’t scare me as much as these other ingredients.

5 worst ingredients in foods gross
From freshagenda.com

Genetically modified organisms are created by forcing genes of one species into an unrelated species. How can we keep putting these lab-created ingredients and foods into our bodies and expect them to function for life? It’s like putting juice in your gas tank and wondering why the car peters out early. GMOs are unnatural substances we’re asking our bodies to process, and they could be contributing to inflammation and diseases including cancer.

Conventional crops (soy, corn, cottonseed oil, canola oil, gluten/wheat) tend to contain genetically modified organisms and also to be sprayed with chemical-containing pesticides during growth. Double whammy here – the GMOs plus non-organic pesticides containing chemicals thought to cause health issues including cancer. This article from 2017 discusses how more than 35 countries have banned the use of GMO crops. It’s possible to do life without the GMOs, so why wouldn’t we?

Most articles about corn syrup focus on high-fructose corn syrup and how we should avoid that. But why not avoid corn syrup all together – low-fructose and high-fructose? They are both processed and made from conventional, typically GMO-containing corn, and found in foods and drinks that we should avoid anyhow.

5 worst ingredients in foods artificial food dyesArtificial food dyes have been linked to aggressive behavior and hyperactivity in kids especially. Research indicates they could be cancer causing. Yet they are in so many foods and even shampoos and soaps to make them colorful and appealing. I’ve even found them in soaps that are clear, too – why, I’ll never know. Artificial food dyes are banned in other countries. We have more natural ways to make our food pretty. Or here’s a thought – we could just teach our kids (and selves) to eat what’s healthy because it’s wise. After all, we all get just 1 body to last a lifetime.

Many artificial sweeteners have proven to cause cancer after long-term exposure or in higher doses. This was the number 1 thing on a list of things to avoid for a relative diagnosed with cancer. There’s a reason for that.

Think of our world without GMOs and artificial ingredients. We grownups will survive the upfront inconvenience and changes of stubborn, unhealthy habits. Our kids will learn to eat what’s good based on wisdom instead of selfishness or desire. We will use other options for food colors, such as turmeric and beet juice, which actually provide health benefits instead of harm. We will be healthier and more full of life and joy.

So how do you avoid the 5 worst ingredients in foods?

Let’s break it down in a chart, keeping in mind this is by no means all inclusive of nicknames.


If you’re still not convinced that avoiding these 5 worst ingredients in food is worth the time and effort, read my blog “10 reasons to eat healthier that may surprise you!


*This blog is intended for use as a source of information and should not be used as a substitute for professional medical care or advice. 

Is eating sugar free do-able and is it something you should do?

eating sugar free trashed candy

Are you eating sugar free to overcome a health issue, like diabetes? Or to improve your health in general? More people are eating sugar free, but is this truly a healthy trend?

Is eating sugar free really a life changer?

Sugar tastes sooo good.

Chocolate, candy, gum, soda, juice, dessert, snack bars, cereal, cured meats and so much more. Most likely anything packaged. So…much…sugar.

Sugar adds to acne while diminishing your teeth.

It could be more addicting than cocaine.

Sugar can lead to obesity, which increases your risk for diabetes and other serious health issues.

It sabotages concentration. (The only reason marshmallows should be allowed in schools is for launching them into a trashcan from student-made catapults!)

And most sugars are refined, which means more genetically modified organisms (GMOs) going into our body.

When I eat too much sugar, whether occurring naturally or added, I tend to get worse allergies, dry skin, acne, constipation and female issues – ugh!

Sugar can cause a boatload of other symptoms, too, as noted in my book, Digested – eating healthier made easier 3 ways.

So yes, eating sugar free could drastically change your life. It depends on how much you eat now, and how you define “eating sugar free”.

What does eating sugar free mean?

“Eating sugar free” seems to be used more loosely these days. It could mean:

  1. looking for “sugar free” on food labels.
  2. giving up every source of added sugar, including honey and maple syrup.
  3. avoiding all naturally occurring sugars (in many fruits, starchy vegetables, whole grains and dairy products).
  4. avoiding processed foods, as well as white flours, breads and rice.
  5. any combination or all of the above.

So be very clear when communicating about dietary preferences, whether you’re on the giving or receiving end.

What’s more crucial than eating sugar free, is reading food labels. Take these cookies as an example. They are sugar free, so that may seem great at first.

eating sugar free








But turn the package over and read the ingredients.

not eating sugar free








The first ingredient is a sugar alcohol. Polydextrose, milk, dextrose, chocolate, cream, sucralose, acesulfame potassium – these may all contain forms of sweetener and/or sugar. And plenty of GMOs too, without doubt. Never mind all the other ingredients in the cookies – not a good one in sight. They may meet the requirements to be labeled “sugar free”, but they are not a good choice.

If you are thinking about eating sugar free as a healthier lifestyle choice, consider avoiding these ingredients:

  • white and brown sugar
  • high fructose and low fructose corn syrup
  • malto-dextrin, dextrose, sucrose, maltose, glucose
  • evaporated cane juice, fruit juice
  • caramel and carob syrup
  • artificial sweeteners such as acesulfame potassium, saccharin, neotame, sucralose (Splenda), galactose, aspartame
  • sugar alcohols including sorbitol, maltitol and xylitol.

When you do consume sugar in moderation, consider using ingredients without GMOs:

  • raw, organic sugar or coconut sugar;
  • organic versions of stevia, raw honey or dates;
  • organic maple syrup instead of pancake syrups with high fructose corn syrup;
  • canned fruits in fruit juices or water instead of syrup.

Read “Eating healthier: Is paleo the way to go?” for more insight about how to eat sugar in moderation.

For more specific information about types of sugars and sweeteners, check out this article from Mayo Clinic.

Also, if you haven’t already, stop giving sugary treats as rewards for your kids. This only strengthens the love of unhealthy foods. Give them something natural and sweet, like fresh fruit if it must be food. Or reward them with an extra book, extra playtime or a family silly dance session instead. Save the sweets as an occasional “just for fun” thing.

How do-able eating sugar free is depends on the extreme you choose to take it. Eating less sugar and sugar without GMOs can certainly give your health an overhaul. Figure out what’s do-able for you now, give yourself time to adapt and then aim for even less sugar next go-around!


*This blog is intended for use as a source of information and should not be used as a substitute for professional medical care or advice.