I spent the last 3 weeks in India. Every day I ate the most fabulous food, all prepared fresh, from scratch. Breakfast was typically a whole grain cooked cereal like oatmeal, fresh fruit like papaya, and something savory like chickpeas with cilantro, red onion, and tomato. Lunch and dinner were similar, although lunch was definitely the larger meal – rice, dal (a traditional Indian stew made from lentils), cooked and/or raw vegetables, and whole wheat chapati (like a tortilla) or naan (flatbread). Desserts were minimal, and if served, they tended to be much simpler than what we serve here in America (one cookie was described by my friend as birdseed and honey). Not to say that India was free of junk food – the potato chip bags lining the sides of the roads belied its presence – but the traditional diet I observed was what I had always heard about in nutrition when discussing a diet that reduced disease risk; there was a heavy emphasis on fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, and animal foods were relegated to last place, functioning more as condiment than main dish. If I didn’t know it before, the stark truth hit me then – that the highly processed American diet is far from ideal in promoting health.
So I began thinking about our top offenders. I started to compile a list of “foods” (I’m using that term loosely) that I call “Abom-Edibles.”
Abominable: causing moral revulsion; very bad or unpleasant
Edible: fit to be eaten
Abom-edible: something very bad that can (but maybe shouldn’t) be eaten
Over the next 10 posts I will describe the top 10 “Abom-Edibles,” as determined by the negative impact I have seen them make in my patient’s diets. Let the countdown begin!