Foods we're throwing out

I wrote this post with my wife--we wanted to talk about how our grocery habits have changed since adopting a Paleo/Bulletproof diet, and she's more into the cooking and shopping.

People say when they decided to go Paleo, they raided the cupboards and threw out a bunch of non-Paleo foods. We didn't really do that at our house, since we haven't bought processed foods like cereal, crackers, bread, milk (yes, store-bought milk is processed), yogurt, etc in a long time. But, there are a few foods we've realized we will never feel good about eating again. Here are some of them and why!

Canola oil.

We know that heavily processed vegetable oils are not a good source of fat--these unsaturated fats not only oxidize easily (once fats oxidize, the body can't use or process them and they are toxic and act more like a plastic than a fat, and are stored in fat cells), but they are heavily processed from rapeseeds, which are typically genetically modified. The unstable unsaturated fats in these oils leads to inflammation and stored fat. Yuck. (There's a good post on this on Balanced Bites if you want more info, and  very thorough post on vegetable oil and margarine on Wellness Mama.)

So throwing out canola oil seems like a "duh" for most hard-core Paleo and Bulletproof Diet folks, but we had just bought a big bottle not long before starting our grassfed butter, coconut oil, and lard cooking methods. My wife remembers reading a comparison that said that canola oil was healthier than olive oil because it had less saturated fat--but, of course, we know now that we want the saturated fat (our bodies and cells are made of it and know what to do with it), and of course they're both a little high in Omega-6 fats. But that's another story. Still, the labels on the cooking and vegetable oils at the store are incredibly misleading and advertise being "heart-healthy" and other terms they throw around. We made the mistake of falling for these claims! Unfortunately, the best place for this bottle is in the trash!

(We also recently threw out some "0 calorie" nonstick cooking spray. The stuff costs like $1 and supposedly contains no calories or fat, but keeps foods from sticking to the pan... doesn't sound like a real food to me. Out in the trash!)

Condiments with scary oils in them.

The mayo isn't so bad, really--mostly eggs and oil, right? But it's highly processed, artificial vegetable oils, just like the canola oil. Corn and/or cottonseed oils are common in condiments like this, and the Beaver brand horseradish (local company, so should be better quality, right? Nope...) has partially hydrogenated soybean oil in it--the worst. We know we'll never want to eat this stuff again. Those damaged unsaturated fats are of no use to our bodies--the body doesn't know what the heck to do with it and so stores it, as fat. Bad stuff. We've learned to make our own Paleo mayonnaise easily in the blender, and it's delicious! Very simple, too.

Soy products.

We used to drink a LOT of soy milk (my wife is sensitive to dairy proteins in milk and yogurt), put tofu in our stir-frys, and sometimes have soy-based snacks like edamame and sometimes processed foods containing soy products. We always figured soy was a "health" food, right? Protein, all that?

Unfortunately, no. Even preliminary research on whole foods diets comes up with facts about soy--in Asian cultures, where it is known for coming from, tofu and processed soy products are used for low quality animal feed, fertilizer!, and plastics. There's a great Dr. Mercola video on soy, thyroid, estrogen, and weight gain that summarizes these reasons. It's so sad how much we rely on soy products, and how harmful they are--one scary fact is, soy formula for babies can have levels of phytoestrogens that are 20,000x higher than birth control pills, and are high in toxic minerals like managenese and aluminum in high concentrations--yikes. Not good for adults, either!

Miso, like the nice non-GMO one above, is fermented and so may be less harmful than other soy products, but still, we don't feel good about eating it anymore. We haven't used it in ages and probably never will!

Flax seeds.

We used to use flax seeds in all kinds of things--dehydrated/raw vegan crackers (we still make them but use other nuts and seeds as the base instead), ground in an old coffee grinder and put into smoothies, added as thickener... but now are thinking the pros (Omega-3s) don't outweigh the cons (phyotestrogens, oxidization). Stefani Ruper wrote a great piece on phytoestrogens on Paleo for Women, and a post on flax and other phytoestrogens here.

Other foods we've thrown out already (not all pictured):

  • Table salt. Morton brand, the basic stuff. Regular table salt isn't really salt at all--it's lab-created sodium mixed with toxic aluminum anti-caking agents. We have completely switched to sea salt and now use it for everything, from cooking to baking to salting our food at the table. Our favorite is pink Himalayan salt, but we have several kinds of sea salt in the cupboard for different uses. (Check out Chris Kresser's article Shaking Up the Salt Myth) People often ask about the lack of iodine in our diets which is provided through table salt, so if you only eat sea salt where, do you get your iodine?? It turns out that if you eat fatty fish or seaweed, like some cultures do all the time, you can get your iodine naturally, but my wife also supplements with it on a recommendation from our naturopath. (Check out my blog post Thyroid and Brain Boosting Supplements for more on iodine.)
  • Ketchup. We had high fructose corn syrup-free ketchup, but it was still processed, full of sugar, and not many vitamins. So we found out how to make our own and it's much better! Check out my wife's homemade ketchup tutorial post for the recipe.
  • Peanut butter. We used to get this freshly ground in bulk, and it's delicious, but we've been opting to not get it because peanuts are a starchy legume, not a protein and healthy fat packed nut! Now we prefer almond butter, which we often make from home! Check out my wife's homemade almond butter and almond meal post/tutorial for more info.
  • Non-stick cookware. It's not a food, no, but we long ago decided that the risk of Teflon exposure wasn't worth it. Now we cook our eggs in plenty of butter, coconut oil, or lard from grassfed animals. (Chris Kresser did a great comparison of the best and worst cookware materials here.)

We've also stopped cooking with olive oil completely. Olive oil is a good source of fat (although high in Omega-6s, so we try to eat more animal fats than we do vegetable fats), but it oxidizes at a very low temperature and becomes damaged easily. This a pretty widely known even outside the Paleo community, but after seeing this info everywhere we turn on Paleo posts about fat, we've fully accepted it. (Post about damaged fats and cooking here.) The "Bulletproof" method of cooking something like vegetables where you would normally sautee in oil is to wilt them on low with no liquid at all in the pan. Once they cook a little they produce their own liquid and don't burn. Then you add the fat right before serving. We do this with mirepoix for soups, meatloaves, shepherd's pie, etc. and it works great. (This is discussed in more detail in the Upgraded Chef eBook.)

We've made these changes gradually and are feeling really good about the emphasis we can put on higher quality foods! It doesn't feel like a sacrifice and it's not more expensive. The markup on processed foods is huge, anyway, so we get more for our buck from homemade and whole food options!

Are there any foods you used to rely on or buy often, but have stopped buying for health optimization reasons??


  1. mayo is just weird to me in general. not a fan!

  2. Thanks
    for sharing... I have to ask, though: how can pink Himalayan salt be
    "sea salt?" The Himalayas are the highest mountain range in the world.

  3. There was a sea there once! http://www.himalasalt.com/ and http://www.mountainroseherbs.com/learn/pinksalt.php...
    ancient sea salt deposits. But there is a difference between
    that and the Mediterranean and Hawaiian sea salts... http://www.gaiahealthblog.com/2012/01/16/himalayan-vs-sea-salt/


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