The Danger of Refined Foods

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In A Session With One Coachee…

junk-foodYesterday, I had a first coaching session with one of my coachees and we talked about a crucial topic: the danger of refined foods. He told me that one of his main fears was that this time everything went as bad as it went in the past. I asked him what he did in those occasions when he felt that the program was so tough that he wanted to quit and he answered that he would go to the supermarket, buy the things he liked most and then he would eat them (especially, junk food). At this point I told him about the potential risks that it has for health to subject his body to the excessive intake of certain foods. In fact, some of the things we eat would not be considered food since its contribution to our subsistence is very scarce –or null–. Refined sugars, hidden and adulterated ingredients, the so-called white poisons… I didn’t want to overwhelm him in our first session so I started to talk about refined products such as salt, sugar, flours and white rice.

Avoid To The Maximum Refined Products

refined-sugarAlmost all nutrients are destroyed in the refining process of foods. In the specific case of bread and sugar, the percentages of phosphorus, calcium, iron and magnesium drop drastically until they virtually disappear (Mercola, 2011). Once devoid of their nutrition, what it is left are, basically, simple carbohydrates. That is, your body is receiving neither nutrients nor essential enzymes for your subsistence; it is getting just energy. And, is not good getting energy? At this point my coachee started to get anxious and I explained to him why it is not as simple as that. Firstly, it good getting energy but it is not so good receiving it from these refined foods; this is because your body is not able to use that energy if it does not come with proteins, vitamins and minerals. Then, what does the body do in order to make use of that energy? Our immune system resorts to its own mineral reserves in an attempt to correct the imbalance produced by the intake of “empty food” and this is the beginning of a general weakening that affects your body in very varied ways: the continuous consumption of simple carbohydrates is linked to diabetes, heart diseases, allergies and asthma, dental decay and cancer (Dufty, 1975; Martin, 1957; Mercola, 2011). Read more about the chemicals used to refine foods here.

On the other side, sugar and refined foods are highly addictive, as much as cocaine. And this is not an statement of mine; in a study designed to shed light on the potential addictiveness of processed foods, Joseph Schroeder, associate professor of psychology and director of the behavioral neuroscience program, and his students have reached to these conclusions (Connecticut College, 2013). Dr. Joseph Mercola echoes this research and states that:

when you eat refined processed sugars, they trigger production of your brain’s natural opioids — a key ingredient in the addiction process. Your brain essentially becomes addicted to stimulating the release of its own opioids as it would to morphine or heroin (Mercola, 2013)

belly-measuringAfter listening to all this my coachee’s face was pale with fright. Yet, I had even more information for him. From the point of view of weight loss, any energy which is not immediately used by the body is stored in the liver and the muscles in the form of glycogen. If the ingested sugar surmounts your liver and muscles capacity of storage, the excess of glycogen turns into fat and is stocked up in those areas which are more inactive: abdominal zone, hips, thighs and chest (Dufty, 1975; Mercola, 2011).

Advice To Start

homemade-breadUse raw cane sugar, whole grain flours, unrefined salt and whole grain rice. Get muscovado or demerara sugar; honey and agave syrup are also very good substitutes. Say goodbye to table salt and use instead Himalayan pink salt or sea salt (but make sure that you read in the label “unrefined”; if it is not specified, it may be processed). Make your own bread, it is very difficult, at least in Europe, to find bread 100% wholemeal or wholegrain; even though in the packaging it says “wholemeal” or “wholegrain”, when you read the ingredients’ list it contains only a small percentage of whole flour, the rest is whitened flour.

After our first session, this morning my coachee has sent me a picture of his breakfast. He added a message: me, eating salad?! He was so impacted by the things I told him yesterday that he didn’t feel like having the usual for breakfast.


A Final Note

When you start, and even with all this information in your mind, you may feel like eating junk food (remember, it is addictive); it’s not about getting rid of it suddenly. Eat what you want but, before doing it, start with a side salad. This is the first huge change. You will see how, little by little, your mind and your body start to feel the different 😉

What do you think about all this? Do you have any doubt or comment to make? Write your thoughts below, they are very welcome! 😉


Photo credit: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5


Connecticut College. (2013). Student-Faculty Research Suggests Oreos Can Be Compared to Drugs of Abuse in Lab Rats. Retrieved from

Martin, W. C. (1957). The Dangers of Refined Sugar.

Dufty, W. (1975). Sugar Blues: Chilton Book Company.

Mercola, J. (2011). Simple Way to Shed Pounds and Decrease Tiredness – Stop Eating Bread. Retrieved from website:

Mercola, J. (2013). As the EU Launches Shocking Fructose Health Claim Label, Oreos Are Found to Be as Addictive as Cocaine. Retrieved from website:

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About the author: Luz

Luz´s professional practice is closely linked to her personal history with weight, body image and health issues. After suffering weight problems for almost 20 years and having accumulated an overweight of almost 30 kg (66 lbs), both her physical and emotional health began to deteriorate on many different fronts. It is therefore not a coincidence that she undertook a PhD in Media and Gender Studies (University of Swansea, UK). In her research, she has deeply analysed prevalent body image messages found in today´s popular culture, how such representations are perceived by the public, and how they relate to the development of dysfunctional behaviours. The variety of perspectives analysed in her work includes dominant beauty canons, overweight issues, distortions of perceived body image, power structures, sexuality, or balance of professional/personal life. Professionally, she is highly familiar with the devastating effects of current beauty canons pervasively promoted by a host of media, magazines, TV programs, or movie/music stars, and how such canons can easily permeate both our own minds and of those around us. Today, Luz has overcome her weight problems and has regained her health. Motivated by the need of helping others to solve problems that, like in her case, have you trapped in a vicious circle for years or even decades, Luz got certified as a Professional Coach. She currently lives in Sweden, where she runs El Viaje de Luz, with a practice of hundreds of hours of coaching with people like you who seek to overcome problems of physical, emotional or professional nature. You can read his full bio (in Spanish) here .

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