Cold weather and comfort food go together like bread and butter. But winter is no time to let your healthy habits slide.

That’s why the Cancer Council Queensland is starting off the season with Junk Free June to encourage you to make better choices and raise money for cancer at the same time.We all have different vices so the word junk means something different to each of us.

But Junk Free June is about cutting out poor nutritional choices such as packaged snacks which are high in sugar, salt, refined carbohydrates, trans fats and offer little nutritional value.

According to World Cancer Research Fund International, about a third of the most common cancers can be prevented through a nutritious diet, maintaining a healthy weight and regular physical activity.

In fact, poor diet and high blood pressure are the top two contributors to early death globally according to this study published in the prestigious Lancet Journal last year.

Researchers from the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation (funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation) studied the causes of early deaths in 188 countries for 25 years. 

The study which began in 1990 concluded the biggest dietary risk factors for early death were diets that are low in fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts and fibre and diets that are rich in red meats, processed foods and sugar-sweetened beverages.

In other words, making simple dietary changes can have a significant impact on your risk of developing cancer and other preventable chronic diseases including heart disease, Type 2 diabetes and obesity.

That means eating plenty of vegetables, fruit, whole grains, lean meats, poultry, legumes, beans and (if you digest them well) milk, yoghurt and cheese. 

It’s also important to limit your intake of foods containing saturated fat, added salt, added sugars and alcohol.

Or as food writer Michael Pollan says so succinctly his book, Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual, “Eat food, mostly plants, not too much”.

How to get your Junk Free June started…

Anthia Koullouros, a practising naturopath, herbalist, founder of Ovvio Organics and author of I Am Food: Eating Your Way To Health says there are various signs that you need to cut down on packaged foods including forgetfulness, foggy brain, fatigue, poor concentration, low mood and energy and levels, bloating, skin breakouts and many more. 

If you experiencing any of these symptoms Koullouros says some of the main ingredients that may be causing them include:

1. Refined Sugar: Regular table sugar is a highly refined sweetener and preservative. It is very addictive and it is implicated in tooth decay, cravings, mood swings, heart disease and other age-related diseases. 

2. Refined Salt: Table salt is used as a flavour and preservative. It is highly refined containing 97-99% sodium chloride. Salt in its refined state contributes to high blood pressure.

3. White Flour: White flour is often used in baked goods and is a highly refined cocktail. The bran and germ are removed and what is left is bleached yielding a highly refined, nutrient-devoid ingredient. 

4. Starch: Starch is added to food in the highly processed form of maltodextrin, glucose, dextrose to sweeten and stabilise food. It has the same detrimental effects as sugar. 

5. Sweeteners: Sweeteners are often used instead of sugar. They can be naturally sourced, such as stevia but are usually highly processed or artificial such as aspartame and sucralose. Artificial sweeteners have been associated with many health problems and are best avoided. 

Source: Vogue Australia