If You Love Me, Don’t Feed Me Bacon

If You Love Me, Don’t Feed Me Bacon

A friend reckons he has it good. His partner cooks a bacon-hash-brown-fry-up for breakfast every day. “Are you sure?” I said. “Because that’s exactly what I would feed my partner if I wanted to bump him off!”

It is easy to fall into the trap of giving people you love lots of ultra-processed, high-kilojoule, nutrient-poor foods because they like them. But immediate pleasure comes at a cost.

When the food your loved ones eat is of poor nutritional quality, their odds of developing tooth decay, type 2 diabetes, heart disease and some cancers increase. Is that what you really want for them?

Why shouldn’t you feed them bacon?

Processed meats are preserved by curing, salting, smoking or adding preservatives. They include bacon, ham, salami, chorizo, luncheon meats and some sausages.

Processed meats may be a family favourite, but eating them increases the risk of bowel cancer. For every 50 grams of processed meat eaten a day, there is an 18% increased risk of bowel cancer.

Swap your breakfast bacon for a poached egg and grilled tomato on wholegrain bread. Swap chopped bacon in recipes for an onion browned with garlic and a tablespoon of sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds or nuts to add flavour, crunch and nutrients.

Don’t let your loved ones drink sugary drinks

Having holes in your teeth (aka dental caries) is the most common and costly, yet preventable, nutrition-related disease in the world.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) wants us to reduce our intake of “free sugars” – those added by manufacturers or home cooks, or naturally present in honey and fruit juice – to less than 10% of our total kilojoule intake. We could achieve this target if we all stopped drinking soft drinks.

Instead of soft drink, offer your loved ones more water; soda or mineral is fine so long as it is plain.

Yes, alcohol is on the list

Alcohol is responsible for 6% of all deaths worldwide. It increases your risk of mouth, throat, breast, liver, stomach and bowel cancer.

Adolescents and young adults whose parents and friends drink a lot are more likely to have higher alcohol intakes too. The amount of alcohol you drink is what your kids see as “normal” drinking.

For healthy adults, the recommendation is no more than two standard drinks on any day and no more than four on any occasion to lower lifetime risk of alcohol-related harm, injury or disease.

Use this online alcohol assessment to check your current drinking level. Contact state-based services for help if you’re concerned you’re drinking too much.

Support those you love to cut back their alcohol intake.

Tough love rules

It takes some tough love to serve up what’s “good” for your family members, especially when it is not their favourite.

My child came home from school declaring “You don’t know what it’s like to be the only one without potato chips in your lunch box.” My response? “That must be hard, but you do not know how tough it is being a parent who loves you sooo much that I can’t put chips in your lunchbox.

These nutrition tips will help get you started at home:

  1. Make food rules. Parents without rules about things such as not skipping breakfast or eating in front of TV have adolescents with worse food habits than those with rules. A supportive home environment for nutrition means kids do eat better.

  2. Never give up encouraging your loved ones to eat more, and a bigger variety, of vegetables and fruit. People who increase their intake of vegetables and fruit also report increased life satisfaction, happiness and well-being.

  3. Show them which foods belong to the basic foods groups and which do not. Young children find it easy to recognise foods packed with essential nutrients, but harder to identify energy-dense, nutrient-poor foods or junk foods. Discretionary foods make up more than one-third (35%) of what Australians eat, compared to the recommended maximum of 15%. Most people need to cut their “discretionary foods” by more than half.

  4. Plan meals and snacks ahead of time. Base them around the five nutrient-rich core foods: vegetables, fruits, wholegrains, lean sources of protein (fish, chicken, meat, eggs, tofu, nuts, seeds, legumes, dried beans and lentils) and dairy products such as yoghurt, cheese and milk. Prepare school and work lunches the night before and refrigerate them.

  5. Try healthy fast food cooked at home. Instead of ordering in, spread a pizza base with tomato paste and top it with grated carrot and zucchini or other vegetables, some cooked chicken, meat or four-bean mix and grated cheese. Bake until crispy and serve with salad. People who cook more have healthier eating habits, better nutrient intakes and spend less money on take-aways.

Time you spend planning, cooking and getting nutrient-rich food into your loved ones helps them feel better, perform better at school and work, and improves well-being.

Frequent family meals have added benefits, including better mental health, self-esteem and school success. Show just how much you love them by teaching them how to cook, set the dinner table and share family meals.

The Conversation

Clare Collins, Professor in Nutrition and Dietetics, University of Newcastle

This article was originally published on The Conversation.


  • Gee id hate to be your partner, You’re acting like a couple pieces of bacon every now and then as a loving gesture is the end of the world.

    Lighten up. Have some bacon

  • All foods listed above have a detrimental effect on the body in some way, even going so far as to increasing the risk of disease! In order to prevent this, please minimize your food intake with the assistance of meal supplements. This will assist you in meeting your daily nutritional requirements!

  • 50g processed meat in a day = 18% increase of bowel cancer.

    I used to eat a quarter pounder (114g) every 3 months, back in my twenties. Ignoring other meat in my diet, that’s 456g per year, or 4560g all up. That’s about 91 serves of 50g, for a grand total of 1,640% increased risk.

    I was / am 16 times more likely to get bowel cancer. Sometime.

    So – how am I still alive? To paraphrase XKCD comic: 1640% of a tiny risk is still tiny.

    • it’s 50g a day, as in every day of the year (for life), not 18% every time you eat. and minced/ground meat isn’t considered “processed” as it’s not cured, salted etc. (but who knows what preservatives they add). I’m pretty sure you’re a bit lower than 1640% increased risk.

    • It’s 18% per 50g per day, so eating a quarter pounder every day for a year would result in 259% increased risk. Bowel cancer has a 5.2% incidence in Australia before 75, so with the QP diet you’d have a 14.16% probability of getting it at some point in your life. So, 9 percentage points more, assuming you don’t also take other preventative measures like exercising more.

      The report also found that eating less than 500g per week lead to no significant increase (i.e. they didn’t find evidence of any difference). So you’d probably not have had any increased risk with your diet.

  • The worst thing you could do is remove such foods from the diet altogether, if the person enjoys those foods. That just creates unbearable cravings and resultant binges, which is far worse than the occasional treat. Anyone who has ever attempted any kind of ‘restrictive’ diet will attest to this.
    Plus, I’m guessing most people would rather enjoy good food all their lives and die at 80 than live til 100 on a vegan diet (actually I’d rather be dead right now than go vegan). Sure, it may well be more carcinogenic than a carrot, but keep your diet (or even better, your whole life) in balance and the difference will be so negligible as to not matter.

  • I guess ultimately it comes down to the question “what are you living for?”. If you’re living to live the longest possible life then sure the above suggestions are great. Personally i’d rather live a rich life where I had fun and enjoyed myself. Living to 80 and enjoying the hell out of it Vs living to 90 and being cautious every step of the way seems like a no-brainer. Then you have to consider that you can live an ultra healthy life and still die early in any number of ways.


    Also, mixed messages Lifehacker!! http://www.lifehacker.com.au/2016/09/hungry-eat-this-mutant-x-men-blue-burger/

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