You're free to do so. But I'm always right, so you'll do so at your own peril.
Naturally, I'm not going to remember everything when I write this, so I may update it several times. Please let me know whenever there's something missing from here or if you have additional information about a particular item. As such, this guide is forever a work in progress as there's just far too many foods for me to even remember for one guide, short of spending a year in compilation to write a book. This was honestly written in two sittings and the only reason it wasn't one is because it was 5AM when I started writing it the first time.
I encourage you to do your own research as every single item in this guide can have an article of its own.
To make this easy, I'm going to divide this into sections (according to American standards, to those of you who eat eggs for lunch and salami sandwiches for breakfast. Yes, I'm looking at you, Slovenia.)
But before I begin, I'm telling you now that tobacco and alcohol probably do more damage than any negative food that you can ingest. Before attempting to purify your body with foods, work on completely divorcing yourself from those drugs. (See effects of tobacco: 1, 2, 3 4, 5, 6, 7. See effects of alcohol: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7.) And I don't care what your drug-addict friends say to downplay these effects. As someone who defends ingested marijuana and controlled LSD use (no, I don't do any of the aforementioned), you can bet that I've done my research into which drugs are poison for the body.
And yes, wine is good for you, but the alcohol in it is not; kind of like how McDonalds is generally good for except for the trans-fat. Oops.
It's hard to mess up breakfast, but some of you still manage it somehow. Obviously you'll want to avoid fast food places for your breakfast. Which means, things like hash browns are off the menu. Don't be stupid. If you got those Jimmy Dean breakfast sandwiches (which are, admittedly, awesome), you can use your common sense to realize that those are not good for you.
As a rule of thumb, you'll want to go easy on pancakes, French toast, waffles, et cetera. And not for the reason you think. The maple syrup actually has a number of medicinal benefits (1, 2, 3, 4), but the problem lies in the foods themselves. You can, however, cramp down on that dilemma by switching to whole wheat bread for your French toast and waffles (Kashi makes a good brand for waffles) and making your pancakes from scratch. Try not to overindulge and you're good.
Cereal is a big one. A lot of you are stuck on Cocoa Puffs, Frosted Flakes and Trix. We already know the health benefits of Honeynut Cheerios, but you'll want to scrape most of the Kellogs cereals. I'm not a big fan of Total, myself, and I know some of you hate it, but there's an alternative you might enjoy. Kashi Go Lean has become my lover as of late and for good reason. One of its cereals tastes just like Sugar Smacks without all the health ramifications and another that tastes (at least to me) like Trix. Hit it with fat free (okay, I know some of you can't bear fat free even though it tastes exactly-the-freaking-same, so you can opt for 1% or 2%) milk and you're good. Some of these cereals are even good as a substitute for a bag of cracker jacks, they're that good.
Eggs, eggs, eggs, eggs, eggs. If you can do it without it being on bread, do so. Scrambled, sunny side up, hardboiled, however you like it. Personally, they're all appealing to me. Try to avoid the yolk though; it contains additional protein, but also additional fat and cholesterol. You can even hit it with sea salt (See here), black pepper, ketchup (you're weird if you do this) and hot sauce, which are all condiments that are quite good for you. Avoid table salt.
Almost all of the traditional breakfast meats are bad for you. Bacon, breakfast sausage, fried ham, et cetera. Now, I know you're going to cry when you realize that you have to give up bacon (I did), but you'll be okay. I promise. As someone who used to eat bacon every single day, I can tell you now that I've scraped it from my diet and don't even miss it. Well... usually. Depending where you get it from, steak (make sure it's non-processed and lean) might be a good alternative for those of you who can't eat eggs without meat.
Try to completely scrape the butter, cream cheese and margarine. I don't even need to tell you why those are no good. But also avoid the bagels, rolls and croissants, unless you the place you go to has whole wheat. For those of you who are really serious, please see this regarding bread. (If you're wondering, yes, I do in fact have plans underway to start making my own bread.)
Oatmeal is a terrific source of... well, damn near everything and good for any time of the day.
Porridge, which I haven't implemented into my diet yet, is supposedly an Ultimate Health Food.
Grits are okay if you don't smother it in butter and cheese. Yogurt (I'm particularly fond of Dannon, but I'm considering moving away from it) is a nice little meal if you can't eat a lot, or if you're like me, a side dish.
And if you can, fit at least one fruit into your breakfast; the glucose is good for the brain.
Also, an additional note. Last semester, when I was sick, my breakfasts consisted of little cups of homemade soup that this Mom & Pop corner store would whip up. Very healthy, very tasty. If you can find something similar, I'd advise it, but steer clear of soups like Lipton, Progresso, Campbell, Ramen, et cetera. Far too much sodium. Homemade.
And I shouldn't even need to say this, but steer clear of cakes, pies and pastries.
I combined this section because they can sometimes meld together.
Sandwiches are usually all the rage when it comes to lunch. And it ain't too bad if you know what you're doing.
First and foremost, the bread. Never look at white bread again. It tastes disgusting and is not good for you. I mentioned this earlier, but I will once more for emphasis. Whole wheat bread.
Here is a list of things that are okay to put on your sandwich (let me know if I forgot something):
• Roast beef
• Chicken breast
• Grilled chicken
• Lean steak
• Sun-dried tomato
• Alfafa sprouts
• Hot sauce
Things to avoid: Cheese, mayo, ranch, and pork cold cuts. I'm sure there's more to that list, but those are the main ones. You can probably make more healthy sandwiches yourself, but Subway is okay (in school, I have no other option and it's pretty good if you stick to the general principles.)
I'd suggest steering clear of pork, in general. It's very rarely good for you and most of the time, doesn't even taste that good. You can try switching to chicken sausage, which is absolutely delicious.
I think you can probably guess that pizza is out. If you're really having a pizza craving, you can eat one or two slices of vegetable pizza, which is actually not as bad as it sounds. The cheese is still not going to be good for you, but at least you'll get some nutrients with it.
Hamburgers are okay, if you eat them right. First of all, make them yourself with lean, non-processed meat. Skip the cheese. Throw it on whole wheat bread instead of a bun. Throw a few healthy condiments on it that make it scrumptious to you. And don't overindulge.
Most lean, non-processed foods are a-okay if you're smart about it like the hamburger. Make sure if you do eat meat with fat on it, that you cut the fat off.
Homemade soup, like I mentioned before is good. Same with stew.
Thai food. I cannot stress enough how much you need to get on the Thai food train. Their food is a delicious alternative to Chinese food (which you should probably steer clear of) and has some of the most healthy foods you can eat. They're mostly all herbal foods that do wonders for the body. There's some things like the scallion pancakes which I can't seem to find any information on, but are absolutely out of this world that you may want to look out for though. If anyone has any information about these guys, please let me know as I'd love to scarf them down if I can. For the most part though, just read what's in what you're getting and you'll be okay.
Pasta is okay in moderation. As a member of a very large Italian family and someone whose favorite food is pasta fagioli, I can empathize with anyone who is wounded by this. You can cut down on the iffyness of it, though, by switching to whole wheat pasta and if there's a health store near you, there's actually some types that are perfectly fine to eat on a regular basis. I don't have that luxury, so I have to just.... gah, I want pasta now.
Rice is another one that I drool over that's packed with carbs. Anything I said above applies here though. Make sure you steer clear of white rice, which is nasty and flavorless anyway.
Vegetables are an obvious thumbs up in the world of healthy eating. Asparagus, string beans, carrots (try honeyglazed carrots; they taste like Now And Laters), corn, et cetera.
Salads are a good thing, but here's where most people go wrong: A salad is only as good as what you put in it. If you put ranch in it, you ruin the whole Feng Sui of the dish. Opt for sea salt, black pepper, olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
Also, look at the menus in your local area to get an idea of what's available to you. There's a nice little wrap place near me called That's A Wrap, which has a slew of delicious, nutritious food choices. By far, my favorite place to eat.
Likewise, try to minimize the potatos and switch over to sweet potatos if you can. While you don't want to completely scrape potatos, you don't want to engorge yourself in them. Scrape things like french fries from the menu.
Keep hydrated at all times.
Water is, honestly, the best thing you can drink. Drink it cold as scientists have found that "6 cups of cold water a day (that's 48 ounces) can raise resting metabolism by about 50 calories daily—enough to shed 5 pounds in a year." The idea is that your body has to work harder to maintain homeostatis in your core body temperature, so you're burning more calories.
Now, a lot of people are going to say that vitamin waters and juices are no good because they have a lot of sugar. Well, they're right and if you want to stay committed, you should probably avoid them. I, however, can't live without my Tropicana juices and Glaceau vitamin waters. Though, if I can find juices that aren't artificially sweetened, I'll switch over. Damn it.
I think it's pretty obvious to avoid sodas. However, non-caffeinated ginger ale is something you can drink from time to time.
Fruit drinks. Invest in a blender and make your own fruit drinks. James Maslow and Reed Alexander did a little health special with what looks like a good fruit smooth. Check it out. Experiment, make your own smoothies.
Eliminate the caffeinated beverages. Black coffee and green tea actually have some very nice health benefits, but it's offset if you're inebriating yourself with caffeine. Yes, there are health benefits to caffeine, but they're benefits that you can find elsewhere without having a dependence on caffeine. The people who will tell you that caffeine has a lot of health properties do so to maintain their own habits because the fact of the matter is that whatever health benefit you will derive from a particular beverage, you will derive just as much if not more from its decaffeinated cousin.
Now, it would be intellectually dishonest of me to not point out that I do take a workout pill that contain caffeine (seldom, but nonetheless.) I use them when I do workouts that require sustained energy for long (usually over six hours) periods of time. Does that make me a hypocrite? Maybe. But considering the quantity (or lack thereof) and inconsistency, I don't think it's that significant for the benefit I get from it. And I have no dependence on it. Your call if you want to make the same decision.
SNACKS & ADDITIONAL TIPS
Fruits are obvious (and very very freaking important; stock your fridge up with fruits), so I won't go into all of them unless I have a specific recipe. Seriously though, I probably eat about six tangerines/clementines a day when they're available. Pick yourself up some cans of peaches/pineapples/grapefruits, a bowl of assorted fruit and just your favorite fruits to chow down on. The best fruits in the world are not available in the United States (the kakadu plum for example has more vitamin c than any other fruit in the known world with literally over 62 times the amount of an orange of similar proportions, but is only available in Australia), so if you go on vacation to exotic places, check out the local eats.
When I immerse myself in something, my mom looks to be supportive. So, since I've been eating healthy, my mom has hit up the health food aisle of the supermarket and brought home something called Golden Flaxseed. It's just grains packed with protein, fiber, et cetera. It has no taste and you can sprinkle it into whatever you're eating (my preference is a small bowl of oatmeal.) It'll flush our your system and you will be completely detox'd.
This one's going to sound weird, but garlic is like a miracle herb. See health benefits. Eat a raw clove of garlic a day for optimum health (obviously don't eat it before you have to go out somewhere.) It sounds agonizing and it probably will be for you (I, personally, love it), but it's worth it. Don't go overboard.
Honey is actually quite good for you. It's one of the most organic substances that you can buy en masse and is rather tasty too. Obviously too much is not good, but in moderation, it's great.
Fun snack. Cover the top of a strip of celery in peanut butter and you have a delicious, nutritious meal. Some people put raisins on the top of it, but I think it ruins it. Your call on that.
Damn near every kind of nut (I swear to God, if someone makes a deez nuts joke, I'm cutting someone) is healthy for you. I prefer sunflower seeds and cashews, but it's your call. You may also want to look into different kinds of nut butter; cashew butter, almond butter, et cetera. They're hard to find, but if you can get your hands on it, I envy you. As raisins are also good, trail mix is your friend.
Olives (the green ones are better) are quite good for you in moderation. They're rather salty, but as just a snack, they're fine. As a byproduct, olive spread (tapenade) is also fine for you -- and what I refer to as "purified orgasm on a cracker". And no, I'm not talking about your girl when she's on top of me. ZING.
...Er, sorry. Moving on.
Hot peppers are a nice snack and for me, personally, gives me a rush. It's like a subtle reminder that I'm alive. Not sure if it's the same for you, but it's why it makes a good snack for me.
Get grapes. Wash the grapes. Stick grapes in freezer. Wait until they freeze. You now have healthy candy. Being that you'll be scraping real candies from your diet (trust me, after you don't eat them for a long time, the day you decide to indulge, you will be puking your guts up after a single laffy taffy like I did. And I used to eat sacks full of candy in a single sitting.) You can, however, eat dark chocolate, but keep it in moderation.
Pretzels are not exactly good for you, but they're not really bad for you either. There are even whole wheat pretzels, which taste exactly the same. I don't really see harm in keeping pretzels a part of your diet. The potato chips and cracker jacks and cheese doodles, however, have to go.
Something you may wanna try that I enjoy. Cut up apples with peanut butter or honey.
If you're into 'em, pickles are high in fiber and antioxidants. The sodium can be a bit of a pickle (lololol c wut i did thar?) on your health goals, but there is almost an endless assortment of different kinds of pickles. When you go food shopping, just check the back and see which ones are high in sodium. Then don't get those ones.
You'd be surprised how many healthy foods there are that actually taste good (sometimes better.) This guide obviously can't chronicle them all, but it'll give you a map to navigate with. Happy trails.