While most nutritionists will advise anyone wanting a healthier diet to stick to the 'everything in moderation' rule, occasionally there are some exceptions. Some foods are a complete no-go for nutritionists for a variety of reasons—whether it's the fact they contain pretty much no nutritional value whatsoever, or that there's just a much healthier alternative. So what foods do the experts cut out? We asked 11 nutritionists for their perspectives:
1. "Liquorice allsorts"
"When I deliver nutrition training I do a sugar game, and the amount of sugar in a packet of sweets is quite astonishing. Sugar has no nutritive value, therefore I see no point eating something that has no benefit to my health. (I'm also not that fond of sweets!) Our sugar intake in the UK is, on average, too high, and it's easy to see how; it's in so many foods. Cakes, biscuits, sweets, convenience foods, drinks, the list goes on. We should eat far less."
2. "Diet foods of any type"
Amanda Hamilton, Nutritionist working in partnership with Vita Coco:
"I won't go near diet foods of any type. Diet foods by definition are processed—the fat has been reduced or there's been artificial sweeteners added. The whole concept of low fat eating is old fashioned and artificial sweeteners are disruptive to gut health and can lead to more sweet cravings long term. I prefer to keep things natural."
3. "Factory farmed meat"
Kim Pearson, Nutritionist working in partnership with BetterYou:
"I never eat intensively farmed meat, for health and animal welfare reasons. Growing up in the countryside I saw the factory farming of chickens first hand at age 14 - it resulted in me becoming vegetarian for the next 14 years. The idea of animals being treated in that way was, and still is, completely unacceptable to me. I do eat meat now but I am very particular about what I will eat. I believe animals deserve the right to a humane life.
"Intensive farming negatively impacts the quality of the meat we eat. Also, certain practices may have detrimental impacts on our health—one example being the routine feeding of animals with antibiotics (even when they are not ill) contributing to antibiotic resistance in humans."
4. "Fizzy drinks"
Katharina Kaiser, Nutrition Specialist at fitness company Freeletics:
"Sorry Coca Cola and Red Bull, but I never, ever, drink your products. I try to keep my food as natural as possible and I try not to overdo it, but when it comes to energy drinks or Coca Cola, I just don't get it. If you drink those beverages because you simply want to be more awake, why don't you just drink an espresso or a matcha tea? It is the far better approach, because it is not loaded with excessive amounts of sugar and a mix of several artificial ingredients and caffeine. Believe me."
"As a believer in all things in moderation, I'll try just about anything but I'm no fan of condiments in general - especially shop-bought ketchup. With it being heavily processed and full of sugar, I just can't see how a side portion of roasted vine tomatoes isn't seen as the better option, every single time. They burst in your mouth!"
Steph Williams, Nutritionist at Weight Watchers:
"Coriander tastes like washing up liquid to me and turns my stomach thinking about it!"
Manal Chouchane, Clinical Nutritionist at BioCare:
"I steer clear of processed meat like salami or hotdog sausages, etc. Very often these contain additives, artificial colourings, small amounts of poor quality meat and trans-fats. Such ingredients can be detrimental for our health as they can increase our cholesterol levels, and only provide us with empty calories with not much nutrients at all."
8. "Nothing—all foods have a role to play"
"Sadly many people who aren't qualified in nutrition are advertising their own do's and don'ts around food, and people have now developed fear around certain foods.This promotes an unhealthy relationship and possible disordered eating patterns.Ideally, you shouldn't avoid specific foods unless you have a diagnosed food allergy or intolerance, and in this instance you should work with a dietitian for support. All foods have a role to play as part of a balanced diet."
9. "Anything with hydrogenated fat"
Dr. Marilyn Glenville, Nutritionist specialising in women's health:
"I would avoid anything that says it contains 'hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated' fat on a food label. They are produced by passing hydrogen through an oil at high temperature and under pressure to chemically alter liquid oils to make them into solids. Consuming them is as unnatural to the body as if you were to consume plastic—your body doesn't know what to do with them, so they can cause all sorts of unhealthy processes to occur."
10. "Chinese takeaway"
Faye Townsend, Nutritionist at Protein World:
"Greasy, high fat, high salt foods make me extremely bloated, so I tend to stay clear of certain takeaways—in particular Chinese takeaways. A large proportion of the Chinese takeaway menu consists of fried foods. Fried foods contain high levels of saturated fat and sodium, which the body struggles to digest. Excessive salt consumption causes the body to hold onto water, and water retention is one of the main causes of bloating, which makes me incredibly uncomfortable."
Cassandra Barns, in-house nutritionist:
"I'd always avoid any types of margarines or vegetable oil spreads, as well as vegetable cooking oils—rapeseed oil, sunflower oil, etc. They are only detrimental to our health. Instead, for cooking, I use coconut oil, sometimes butter – or olive oil if cooking at lower temperatures."