Pick your battles

by Khushboo on July 7, 2014

A few weeks ago, I was discussing my love for coffee with my hairdresser, who went on to say that it’s so bad for our health.  Although I can’t say I agree entirely, I can see where she came from.  Like every other food or drink, each health-claiming study pertaining to coffee is likely to be met with another advising against consumption.  Coffee has a long history of being blamed for many illnesses, including heart disease and cancer.  However recent studies reveal that there might actually be an association between coffee consumption and decreased overall mortality and possibly cardiovascular disease.  With new studies and data being demonstrated and conclusions constantly evolving, it’s almost like we can’t win when it comes to our health.

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While it’s awesome that there is a growing awareness in nutrition and overall wellness, that also means we are repeatedly bombarded with tips on what to & what not to eat…sometimes unsolicited.  I was buying flaxseeds the other day and the store assistant advised me to choose the golden variety over the regular as the former contains more protein.  When I go to the supermarket to pick up a bag of quinoa, I’m faced with red, white, and black quinoa…not to mention the plethora of grains in neighbouring aisles.  Although snippets of information and multiple varieties of a certain can certainly be helpful, they also overcomplicate the underlying notion of healthy eating.

Organic toast topped with mashed avocado, avocado slices, citrus cumin-salt & lemon juice - Le Pain Quotidien

Organic toast topped with mashed avocado, avocado slices, citrus cumin-salt & lemon juice – Le Pain Quotidien

While it’s certainly important to do your own research before following whatever you read/hear, I think it’s even more crucial to examine the big picture.  Rather than focus on the nitty gritty details like drinking green tea to boost your metabolism, adopt a macro approach when it comes to your health.  In other words pick your battles. Instead of trying to do it all, focus on the few tips  & claims that are important to you and that you rather not compromise on.  As long as the bulk of your diet is filled with an abundance of fruit, vegetables, complex carbs, healthy fats, and lean protein, there’s enough leeway to consume foods/drinks which may not necessarily do any favors to your health.  On that note, I am going to go caffeinate myself…

What food/drink do you continue to consume even though it’s not necessarily good for your health?  

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{ 36 comments… read them below or add one }

z July 7, 2014 at 2:12 pm

My poison is diet coke. I made it to 32 days and startee again.With that, said I am going to abstain again as– some study shows that 2 a day is all you need to get cancer and heart disease.
And…I am way ahead of 2 a day.
As a substitute I will use splenda for lemonade.
I know aspartame is a bad one..but I plan to wean off soon.

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Khushboo July 8, 2014 at 9:53 am

Well done on getting off Diet Coke, Zainab. I blogged a while back about the effects of sweeteners on weight & our overall health which might be of interest to you: http://kthadani.com/2012/01/16/the-irony-that-is-diet-coke/

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Arman @ thebigmansworld July 7, 2014 at 3:09 pm

That is so true- legit, for every view there are two sides. I’ve learnt to just give everything a time and a place. Yes white bread may be seen as bad, but then eating too many carrots can be seen as bad too. Just eat, enjoy, move on.

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Khushboo July 8, 2014 at 9:53 am

With all that fiber, there really is such a thing as too many carrots…or any veggie for that matter!

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Miss Polkadot July 7, 2014 at 3:44 pm

Agreed. Why can’t we just live healthy and not the most outrageous healthier-than-healthy/ golden flaxseed over regular/ no coffee/sugar/ whatever kind of healthy? It -does- make life and food more complicated and usually more expensive, too.
“adopt a macro approach when it comes to your health” – I like that. Because while I’m personally not a fan of the idea of living according to macros [yes, I know that’s not your point here] your point is similar to “if it fits your macros” and I know it can work well for some. My point here: IIFYM would allow to eat whichever kind of food – carrots in the same manner as cupcakes, golden or regular flaxseed, tea or coffee – and yes, as long as the major part of that diet is made up of nutritious food it can work. Okay, that was a stretch from what you said but I hope you got my point here. (:

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Khushboo July 8, 2014 at 9:54 am

Haha I definitely got your point, and thanks for weighing in! Ultimately there’s space in our diet for every food/drink..although some need to be eaten more than others!

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Lucie@FitSwissChick July 7, 2014 at 4:37 pm

YES!! I go crazy when I hear all these advices – things you thought were good for you get blamed, one says this, the other one knows that.
Of course I eat sugar here and there. In form of chocolate. PLUS, I microwave a lot of things – here in Switzerland people are literally paranoied about this thing. Oh, and chewing gum. I decreased the amount tremendously, but I still have 1-2 a day.

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Khushboo July 8, 2014 at 9:55 am

My mom must have been Swiss in her past life- she is so anti-microwaves because of the radiation effects!

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Chelsea @ Chelsea's Healthy Kitchen July 7, 2014 at 4:42 pm

Totally agree with you here! People get so focused on the little details. Like who cares if golden flaxseed has more protein? A) It’s probably a really insignificant difference and B) Most people get enough protein from the rest of their diet anyway! It’s all about the big picture of what we eat. 🙂

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Khushboo July 8, 2014 at 9:55 am

Next thing we know, people will be downing flaxseed shakes post-workout (insert hands over eyes)!

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vuppala gopinath July 7, 2014 at 4:52 pm

The internet is full of information about everything. But what to believe and what not to is the big question. Also following the perfect food or drink is impossible most of the time unless u stay alone or cook on your own. I try to do my best but when I find something i like a lot I forget all and go for it. After all as the saying says you have only one life…..I stopped cold drinks like coke etc since a year when I was diage with gout. But I still sip them once in a while watching movie with popcorn and coke….

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Khushboo July 8, 2014 at 9:56 am

While drinks like Coke lack nutrition, sometimes special occasions/outings are enough reason to drink them!

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Parita @ myinnershakti July 7, 2014 at 5:50 pm

GREAT post, K! I was thinking about this same topic last week but in terms of exercise. I too prefer the big picture approach. And speaking as someone who has been on both sides of the tracks (so to speak!) multiple times, I’ve come to realize that I’m healthier and much happier when I focus the big picture instead of the minute details.

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Khushboo July 8, 2014 at 9:57 am

Thanks so much, P! I would love to read your thoughts about the big picture with exercise! I think the primary issue people need to tackle in order to get healthy is eradicating the whole “all or nothing” mentality…there can be such thing as a happy medium!!

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Meher July 7, 2014 at 6:24 pm

I am also a coffee addict and I feel like since it is my only vice, I don’t bother what others have to say about it. It is literally impossible to eat clean 100 percent of the time, and there are so many debates on what is and isn’t good for ones health which makes things very confusing at times. I refuse to get sucked into these health debates, and believe that if you consume what you love in moderation it isn’t going to have a negative effect on your health.

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Khushboo July 8, 2014 at 9:58 am

Thanks for weighing in, Meher! We seem to share a very similar approach when it comes to healthy eating- at the end of the day, it comes down to finding a style of eating that suits YOU!

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Sam @ Better With Sprinkles July 7, 2014 at 6:38 pm

Absolutely agree with you here! It’s so much more about the big picture – in the end, the occasional diet Coke or gelato won’t kill me and I’d rather focus on making sure the majority of my diet is traditionally ‘healthy’. Focusing on all the little details just makes healthy living more stressful and way more complicated than it needs to be!

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Khushboo July 8, 2014 at 9:59 am

Exactly…and that only opens the doors to the negative effects of stress & increased cortisol levels ;)!

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Meghan@CleanEatsFastFeets July 7, 2014 at 8:46 pm

Well said my Friend. I drink coffee on the regular, although I would argue a little caffeine can be good for you. Perhaps not as much as I drink, but you can’t win them all. I also think when it comes to bantering over colored quinoa and organic versus non-organic strawberries, we’ve lost scope of the bigger picture. Any quinoa is going to be healthy and I would rather someone eat conventional strawberries over a bag of Doritoes any day of the week and twice on Tuesday.

Instead of focusing on every little health nuance, we should take into account how it tastes and how it makes us feel. That’s just as important in my book. Great post.

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Khushboo July 8, 2014 at 10:00 am

Thanks so much, Meghan! We need to let go of the notion of perfection when it comes to eating healthy i.e. organic strawberries, like you said, are the best option but that doesn’t mean that they are the only option…conventional strawberries still do lock in some nutrition!

On a separate note- is Doritoes Tuesdays actually a thing?? haha!

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Tara @ Sweat like a Pig July 7, 2014 at 9:04 pm

Oh gosh, I hate when people say coffee is bad for you! I consume so many “bad” foods on the regular – butter, bacon, steak, burgers, cheese…. and I still have perfect blood pressure and cholesterol!

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Khushboo July 8, 2014 at 10:01 am

Especially given how much the school of thought about saturated fat has evolved over the past 10 decade, that alone is an indication that we need to take studies with a grain of salt!!

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Amanda @ .running with spoons. July 7, 2014 at 9:22 pm

As much as I love reading up on all things related to health and nutrition, I definitely think that the extra info has the potential to be more harmful than helpful… mostly because of all the conflicting evidence out there. And the worst part about it is that ALL of the claims are true… for someone. Coffee is good and coffee is bad… it depends on the person. I’ll personally never give it up, but I know people who can’t drink it because it does horrible things to them. The same goes for things like fruits and veggies. Super healthy, but if I eat too many of them, my digestion starts to suffer and that eventually makes my overall health suffer. It’s all about figuring out what works for you, regardless of what “everyone” says.

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Khushboo July 8, 2014 at 10:02 am

I love the point you just made Amanda. The so-called “healthy” food can be equally “unhealthy”..it just depends who is eating it!

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Dixya @ Food, Pleasure, and Health July 8, 2014 at 1:31 am

such a nice write up K. Its really the overall picture that matters. I have come to realize that its the inner happiness and feeling of nourished rather than counting every single carbs and calories.

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Khushboo July 8, 2014 at 10:03 am

Thanks so much, Dixya! I couldn’t agree more about finding inner happiness & feeling nourished…that’s so much more important than any quantitative measure of success!

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Laura @ Sprint 2 the Table July 9, 2014 at 3:25 am

I’m with you on picking your battles… it seems like there’s a new “thing” every year. Butter vs. margarine, egg whites vs. whole eggs, etc. I think they key is to try to eat as clean as you can, avoiding processed foods whenever possible. Then enjoy the rest in moderation!

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Khushboo July 9, 2014 at 10:39 am

AMEN! And just for the record, the word ‘margarine’ alone makes me shudder- gross!

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Sarah @ Feeeding the Brain and Body July 9, 2014 at 6:13 pm

There are always new studies coming out proving new things and there is no way of knowing what the future will hold. This post is so true, we do need to pick our own battles. I am a coffee drinker too and there is nothing that is going to stop me. I’m so curious about what kind of research will be done on stevia and coconut oil in the future. Both seem so ‘new’ in the health world.

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Khushboo July 10, 2014 at 2:32 pm

Especially considering how new both those foods are, there is stil already so much conflicting advice around them- we just need to use the research as a basis for forming our own opinion!

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Shashi @ RunninSrilankan July 10, 2014 at 2:12 am

Coffee-lovers unite! Awesome topic Khushboo – these days there seem to be as many research articles saying a certain food item is good for us as there seem to be articles taking the opposing view. I remember when coconut oil/milk was frowned upon in Sri Lanka, but now it’s touted as a healthy food, preferred over others. But you are right – it’s the overall picture – its what works for us as individuals, and I will join you in getting caffeinated!

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Khushboo July 10, 2014 at 2:39 pm

Cheers to multiple mugs of coffee, hopefully together one day 🙂

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GiGi Eats July 10, 2014 at 9:13 am

You better believe I used to get in fights and still KIND OF do get in fights about food politics but I tend to just sit back and because I believe the truth and people who are stubborn can believe whatever they want… At some point they’ll figure it out! 😉

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Khushboo July 10, 2014 at 2:41 pm

Two things that should be brought in conversation with caution: religion & food !!

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Brittany July 10, 2014 at 8:03 pm

I think certain varieties of coffee can be bad for our health, such as beverages full of cream and fatty milks, but coffee itself is not something I deem unhealthy. I think caffeine can be dangerous if too much is consumed, but again it’s not the coffee bean itself, it’s whats inside the bean. I think all too often people categorize something as a whole instead of thinking about the factors that go into what could make something unhealthy (the sugars, fats, caffeine, etc..) frankly if it were me I would wholeheartedly disagree with your hair dresser, I drink my one cup every morning black as night. You won’t see me stopping that anytime!! HA!

As for unhealthy eats/drinks…I’m boring and only drink water (and coffee) but when it comes to foods I think my vices would be too many chips/crackers, or sugar.

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Khushboo July 11, 2014 at 3:04 pm

Ohh you raise such a good point- it’s too simplistic to rule out foods as a whole without looking how they are made i.e. while McDonalds fries aren’t the healthiest option, that’s not to say that all fries are bad (especially when you’re just using real ingredients like potatoes & oil).

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