Whole Food Eating: Post One

I am going to begin what will be a series post on why I believe in “whole food” eating. I will explain my opinion in regards to various topics, including but perhaps not limited to disease prevention and management, mood balance, psychological health, and mental wellness, digestive care and bowel habits, and body image. This will be an opinionated series that is meant to help others move towards whole food eating for health and wellness purposes. Living in America can be tough when it comes to making balanced choices, but it is not as hard as we think it is. I counsel individuals on a daily basis regarding how they can begin to make changes in their own dietary habits to move towards a more balanced way of eating.  If you are currently regularly consuming fast food and processed food-like products, I would not expect you to eat a completely whole food-based diet right off the bat.  But rather, this series of posts, and this blog in general, is meant to make you and everyone take a look at their eating habits, their mental health in regards to their food relationship, and learn to make some changes that would better themselves and their well-being.  And lets face it, there is truth in supply and demand—so if more of us demand availability of whole foods, we might just see the supply. So here goes…

 


 

Let me begin by stating: I’m not a fan of the “clean eating” trend that has swept across our country, globe, Internet, and blogosphere. That being said, I am obviously a fan of whole food eating. Please refer to blog title. Is there a difference, you ask, between “clean” eating and “whole food” eating? Well, by George, yes, I answer! Personally, I equate “clean” eating with “good” eating. If your food is not clean, then it must be dirty in some way—or bad, wrong. I disagree with labeling food as good or bad, so that’s why I tend to disagree with the clean trend/fad. I believe that it can make one think a little too hard about their food choices—is this product clean, clean enough, too many ingredients, too few, too many carbs, too little protein, too much sugar? I think that when we place a heavy emphasis on a weighted word, such as “clean,” we inadvertently place a moral connotation to the word, the food, and more importantly and dangerously—ourselves. Now, I also don’t want you to think that I believe we need to eat “whole” food 100% of the time, so don’t get me wrong there, either. But, I do think that we should strive for more of a whole food based diet. This is for maaaaaaany reasons. So, let me get started on my ‘splanin!

In this first post, I would like to speak to the mental health aspect of whole food eating. I think that we rely far too heavily on food labels. When nutrition labeleverything we eat has a label, how can we resist reading it, especially when we are told that we ought to be reading and scrutinizing the label of every product on the grocery store shelves? And yes, some people do need to pay attention to food labels, if they are buying food that has a label. However, if we choose foods that don’t even have a label to begin with, then perhaps we are altogether better off. For example, if you buy canned beans, you should read the label to ensure that you are purchasing a lower sodium or no-salt added product. On the other hand, if you purchase dried beans and you cook them yourself, there is no need for a label at all. In fact, most people who regularly look at food labels are often looking at (and obsessing over) calories, fat, carbohydrates, and sugar. And that, my lovely readers, is just not necessary.

“Oh now wait,” you proclaim! “What about those who are overweight or obese or who have high blood pressure and need to watch sodium intake or whatever else?!” Well, truthfully, if you eat a whole food diet and you understand serving sizes and portions, you don’t need to read labels—you don’t need to count every calorie or gram of fat. For those of you who obsess over each calorie and gram of fat, I very much think you could benefit from letting go of that obsession, as well. I certainly don’t mean that in a harsh way; on the contrary, I feel for your struggle and I relate in many ways.

reading labelsMany of us scrutinize labels–which product has more calories, fat, sugar, sodium?  If you’re comparing two products, sometimes it’s hard to not scrutinize the labels, and we’re taught that this is what we ought to be doing!  The government has placed a great emphasis on label reading, and they have recently made nutrition labels larger and bolder.  They have been successful in moving label-reading into the restaurant world, as well.  Now, not only are we label-reading in the grocery store aisles, but when we’re looking at menu labels while trying to enjoy an evening or lunch out with friends/family.  We have placed such an emphasis on labels that we have forgotten that labels are VERY new in the world of nutrition and eating.  It wasn’t until 1990 that the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act (NLEA) was passed.  This act required that all packaged foods have nutrition labels.  It also stated that all health claims must be consistent with terms defined by the Secretary of Health and Human Services, such as “low fat” or “low sodium.”  And in 1991, the act further explained that the labels must list the “most important” nutrients in an easy-to-follow format.  And here is when we really began scrutinizing food labels.  Truthfully, the move toward more food labeling began in 1980, when the USDA Food and Nutrition Information Center (FNIC) published the 1980 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.  These guidelines emphasized various “healthy” behaviors, such as maintaining an “ideal” weight.  Also, these guidelines stated that we ought to avoid too much dietary fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, sugar, and sodium.

According to NationalEatingDisorders.org, the incidence of bulimia in women aged 10-39 tripled between the years 1988 and 1993.  According to TheEatingDisorderFoundation.org, in 1970 the average age a girl started dieting was 14; however, by 1990 the average age dropped to 8.  Hmm, that seems odd now, doesn’t it?  During the years that we began emphasizing “healthy” eating habits and label reading, we saw spikes in dieting behaviors and eating disorders.  So maybe label-reading isn’t the healthiest practice, after all.

A whole food diet will absolutely still contain some food labels, but it will contain many less. Eating carbohydrates in the form of starchy vegetables, fruits, fresh dairy, and products purchased in bulk (rice, quinoa, barley, millet, polenta, rolled oats, buckwheat groats, etc.) allows you eliminate MANY labels from your home cabinets. Purchasing animal proteins from local butcher shops, fish markets, and eggs from neighbors with hens or local farms eliminates more labels. And eating more plant-based proteins also eliminates labels, such as beans, legumes, and hemp seeds. Consuming fats in their natural form eliminates yet more labels—nuts, seeds, flax, chia all from the bulk bins, and olives from the olive bar, fresh nut butters, avocado, and fresh whole milk cheese and yogurt from local farms.

By getting the labels out of our homes, we establish a healthier relationship with food and its nutrients. The human body needs macronutrients (carbohydrate, protein, and fat) to survive, along with many vitamins and minerals. When we spend so much time evaluating whether a food has X number of calories or X grams of fat or sugar, we are completely forgetting about what is in the food that we truly need. For example, what do we know about peanut butter right away without even referring to a label? That per 2 tablespoons, there’s roughly 190-200 calories and probably 15-16 grams of fat. If you’re a young female, I can almost guarantee that you knew that answer right away. But what nutrients are in the peanut butter that your body craves and needs to live to its fullest potential while fighting off early aging and disease? How about vitamin E, niacin, choline, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, copper, zinc, and omega-6 fatty acids.

Photo credit: PsychologyToday.com

Photo credit: PsychologyToday.com

THIS is what whole food eating does. It helps us to nourish our bodies and minds while working towards letting go of unnecessary obsessions over grams and calories. When we feed our bodies right, we are not deprived or over-indulged. Your body can give you more information than any food label ever could. Living without the label is a great step toward intuitive eating and the mind-body connection. Whole food eating forces us to eat natural foods while letting go of obsessions over counting what’s in the food, such as carbs, fat, and sugar. I urge everyone to get rid of as many labels as you can. If there a no-label option, choose it. Try it out and see how it effects you and your mind-body connection.

Date and Nut Balls

I firmly believe in the necessity of ending most meals with a little sweet, tasty treat.  Often, I simply eat a glob of nut butter because well, why not?  Other times, I get a square of 72-85% dark chocolate and top it with a glob of nut butter.  Why?  Well, why not?  And then, sometimes I end my meal with some other homemade goody—a little cookie or brownie, perhaps.  But then sometimes I want something sweet, but I also want to make sure I’m eating something healthy and beneficial for my body.  And that’s why these Date and Nut Balls are the perfect endnote to any balanced (or unbalanced) meal!

They are suuuuuper-duper easy to make.  However, if you don’t have a food processor of some sort, you may not be quite equipped to whip these up.  Basically, all the ingredients get tossed into the food processor, you wiz it up, you form your balls. Voila!

 

Ingredients

¾ cup pitted dates (I used whole dates, pitted)

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

1/16 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

2 tablespoons unsweetened shredded coconut

1/3 cup nuts (any kind you like—almonds, cashews, pecans, walnuts)

1 tablespoon nut butter (I used sunflower seed butter)

1 tablespoon dehydrated peanut butter (I only use Betty Lou’s Just Great Powdered Peanut Butter)

 

Process

• Put the dates into a food processor, blend until they are mostly broken up.

• Add the rest of the ingredients to the processor bowl, blend until everything forms a good dough.  It might look a little dry, but that’s okay.

• Remove the blade from the processor and set aside – you don’t want to cut yourself! (Trust me on this one…)

• Form the mixture into balls by simply taking a few teaspoons full and pressing the mixture into balls.  The warmth of your hands will help the balls to form.

• These balls stay fresh for a long time!  Just keep them in an airtight container and they’re shelf-stable for a while.  I’ve kept them for up to a month and they’ve been just great.

 

Nutrition:

10 Balls ~ 99 calories, 5g fat, 21mg sodium, 13g carbohydrate, 2.5g fiber, 9g sugar, 3g protein.

12 Balls ~ 83 calories, 4.5g fat, 18mg sodium, 11g carbohydrate, 2g fiber, 7.5g sugar, 2g protein.

14 Balls ~ 71 calories, 3.5g fat, 15mg sodium, 9g carbohydrate, 1.5g fiber, 6g sugar, 2g protein.

Date & Nut Balls with Shredded Coconut

Date & Nut Balls with Shredded Coconut

I often enjoy one after lunch :)

I often enjoy one after lunch :)

A New Introduction

I’ve been away from the blogging community for quite some time. As you may know from previous posts, I moved and began a new job, which has taken me some getting used to. Additionally, I’m currently taking an online class. Truthfully, one online class really isn’t that big of a deal, but my life has been changing in so many ways, I feel like I’m going in 100 different directions.

So, let’s start off on a new page, with a new beginning, and let’s get to know each other again. I’m Kate. I’m a New Englander who has found herself residing in the horridly humid depths of Orlando, Florida; and might I add, not by my own choice, but by my husband’s choice whom I happen to adore. His career is in hospitality/hotel management. Obviously that industry is booming here in the tourist capital of the U.S. of A. So alas, here we are.

I’m a registered dietitian currently working in an acute clinical hospital. I have a varied background, including long-term care, food service, school nutrition, retail dietetics, and a splash of sports nutrition. I LOVE cooking, which has been the case since I was about 4 years old. My family assumed my career would be devoted to food because it’s been my passion my entire life. Food and I haven’t always been the best of friends, but I’ve grown tremendously over the years and continue to learn about myself on this journey through life.

I am a firm believer in eating balanced, whole food—not “clean” eating, per se, but real food eating. Avoiding most foods that are processed and pre-made, but also allowing yourself to be free to enjoy a treat here and there. I believe in eating food that nourishes the soul, the spirit, the body, and the mind. I believe in fun fitness, as I like to call it. For years, I spent hours upon hours slaving in the gym. And for most of the time, I hated it! I’ve finally begun to learn that being healthy and fit isn’t about doing something you have to do; it can truly be about doing the things that you love to do. I’ve learned that I love biking, hiking, pilates, yoga, rollerblading, kettlebell workouts…and I’m learning more each day!

I also believe in positive body image. The internet (and every social media site) is flooded with posts and pictures of “perfect” bodies that are tiny, tight, and toned. Even in the days when I was eating very “clean” and hitting the gym for a good 2 hours a day, I didn’t tone up that much. I really felt down on myself about it. But honestly, my body isn’t genetically inclined to have a 6-pack and raging biceps. And frankly, do I want to devote my one, short life to attaining muscle definition over balanced health and happiness? Nope, not me. We all have very different bodies. You’re going to find people who will try to tell you that if you eat “this meal plan” and you follow “these workouts,” you’ll have a 6-pack in 4-8 weeks. I’m not one of those people.

I want to help people attain healthy living within their own life. Healthy living doesn’t look the same for everybody, and every body doesn’t look the same at its healthiest state. Healthy living isn’t just about eating right and exercising. It’s also about accepting your body, who you are, learning to balance, letting go of what isn’t needed, sleeping soundly, getting ahold of your anxiety, laughing and loving etc. Most importantly, healthy living is about living! And if you’re devoted to achieving the perfect anything, you’re probably not living life to its fullest. Take it from someone who knows a thing or two about striving for unattainable perfection… it is indeed, unattainable.

So here’s my little welcome back post, as well as a new get-to-know-me post. I have quite a few post ideas, so you’ll be seeing more of me :)

Product Review

Every dietitian can relate to how I feel when I get asked the infamous question: What do you eat? Sometimes we (dietitians) even decide to not mention our career just so we won’t be asked about food, nutrition, and/or what we happen to eat. There’s a lot of judgment placed on your meals and snacks when people know what you do for a living…

That being said, here’s where I will address some of my favorite products. And truth be told, I usually don’t mind answering food questions. I take it as meaning that you’re interested in learning about healthy eating and nutritious food—and that always makes me a happy camper :)

 

SUNSHINE BURGERS

sunshine burgerBeing gluten free and primarily vegetarian can be difficult at times, especially when it comes to buying veggie burgers. Almost all the common brands that you find in your grocery store contain wheat gluten as a binder.   And frankly, most of them just aren’t a product I’m comfortable consuming. GMO soy, anyone? None for me, thanks. Sunshine Burgers, however, are an awesomely delicious option that you can feel good about consuming.

- They are non-GMO certified and USDA organic.

- They’re 100% vegan!

- They contain NO: wheat, gluten, soy, corn, oats, dairy, tree nuts, or peanuts! Holy moley, I’m one happy RD!

- So what are they made of?? Whole grains (brown rice and quinoa), beans (black, chick peas, adzuki), raw sunflower seeds, split peas, Tahini, chia seeds, hemp seeds, and spices.

- They come in a variety of flavors, such as garden herb, falafel, hemp & sage breakfast, and our household favorite, black bean South West.

 

JOE’S OAT PATTIES

joes oatsHere’s another great vegan, gluten free, organic veggie burger option! You can find these in patty form in the freezer aisle. Or, you can purchase little bags of the mixture. To make them, you simply boil a cup of water, mix it in, and form patties. Voila – dinner is made. However, they are only found in Florida. If you’re located outside of that area, no worries, you can purchase the bag mixes online. And the great thing about the bag mixes is that you can make anything! ~ stuffing, “meat”balls, ground crumbles, chili, oatloaf, nuggets, stuffed peppers, sausage, etc.

- The ingredients primarily include oats, quinoa, dehydrated veggies, organic spices, chia seeds, and sunflower seeds. They, too, come in a wide variety of flavors.

 

REAL FOODS, CORN THINS

cornthinIn the mood for a cracker or something light and crunchy for a yummy snack? Here’s the perfect item. This is just like a rice cake, but it’s made of non-GMO organic corn. They are quite delicious and can be topped with almost anything—hummus, peanut butter, mashed beans and cheese, guacamole, chicken salad, tuna salad, egg salad…

- Real Foods is an Australian company founded in 1980.

- They are GMO-free and organic ~ labeled organic in 3 countries: Australia (ACO), Japan (JAS), and USA (USDA).

- They are gluten free and most of the varieties are free from any known allergens.

- And to boot, the company is committed to preserving the environment.

ARROWHEAD MILLS

arrowhead millsYou’ve probably heard of (and even had) some of the Arrowhead Mills products, such as cereal, oatmeal, pancake mix, or cake mix. They have a wide variety of products now available, including lots of gluten free options.

- They are non-GMO certified and most of their products are USDA organic.

- 90% of their products’ ingredients are from North America, and many of them are from within 100 miles of their own headquarters in Texas.

- They use whole grains, such as amaranth, millet, barley, blue corn, bran, and buckwheat.

- They are committed to the environment. They source locally (as much as possible), they do not use pesticides or herbicides, they package in 100% recyclable boxes, and they only use water-based ink that does not contain any heavy metals.

 

DREAMING COW CREAMERYdreaming cow creamery

If you’re a vegan, then this one isn’t for you. But for everyone else who is obsessed with yogurt (because it’s super trendy these days), here’s one of my favorite brands. Why is this one of my favs? Here’s why…

- They only have happy cows :) They are unconfined, 100% grass-fed 365 days a year. The cows live and graze in Southern Georgia.

- No antibiotics or hormones ever.

- Because the yogurt is made from 100% grass-fed dairy, the omega-3 content is much higher! Hence, you don’t want any fat free yogurt here. As Dreaming Cow Creamery asks, would you want to eat fat free salmon? Of course not! And the yummy cream top is delightful.

- They come in various flavors, such as honey pear, vanilla agave, maple sugar, blueberry cardamom, dark cherry chai, and plain.

- They don’t contain any refined sugar; they’re sweetened with agave, maple syrup, fruit juices, and honey.

 

MAPLE HILL CREAMERYmaple hill creamery

Another great yogurt company for those of you up north. Again, they use dairy from only grass fed cows and they’re also certified USDA organic. They do use sugar to sweeten their yogurt, but it is organic. They offer some great flavors, too, such as maple, lemon, vanilla, wild blueberry, orange cream, and plain (recommended). Oh, and one of their mottos is from a pretty cow herself, who states “you are what I eat.” Hence, grass-fed dairy is the way to go.

 

On a side note, are you wondering why grass-fed cows make milk with higher omega-3 fatty acid content? Omega-3s are actually found in dark leafy greens, such as algae, which is why salmon has a high amount of omega-3s. Omega-3s are found in the chloroplasts of the green grass that the cows consume. When cows are 100% grass fed, their own cells become rich in this essential fatty acid. So when we eat 100% grass fed beef or consume the milk from 100% grass fed cows, we get the benefit of that wonderful omega-3 content.

green-blacksGREEN & BLACK’S CHOCOLATE

We all need some chocolate every day, right? I know I do! (For real.) This is one of my favorites. Green and Black’s is a great company that believes in ethical sourcing and fair-trade products. They are certified USDA organic. You can even find them in almost any grocery store these days—and sometimes for a great sale price! They also come in lots of yummy varieties, though I do urge you to choose dark chocolate, optimally at least 70% cocoa. I actually like the 85% plain dark chocolate bar, but I understand if that’s not a flavor you can handle, as it can taste a little bitter to some palates. I also love their Maya Gold (but that one is only made with 60% cocoa), which is a flavor profile of orange, nutmeg, cinnamon, and vanilla. Yum!

 

So there you have it folks, a small compilation of some of my favorite foods and companies. If you haven’t tried any of these yet, I think you should go out and try at least one of them. If you have questions about a particular food item, company, or are wondering about my opinion on something you love—feel free to leave a comment or send me a message.

And as always, happy, healthy noms!

Food Trends (my personal opinion)

If you know very little about me, you probably still know that I’m all about health and wellness. That being said, one might think that I love how inundated our society has become with “health” news, diets, and recipes. But the truth is, I’m not entirely thrilled with all of this health chit-chat. Why not, you ask?

trendyFood Trends…

Food trends have been around for ages, and albeit, it is nice to see some of these trends take a healthier spin, they are still mere trends that will fade, I’m quite sure. Often the problem is that one-size-diets really DON’T fit all. What I eat to feel at my best is not likely what you should be eating to feel your best. Fresh, real, natural foods ought to be consumed most often, but which foods specifically vary from person to person. Some people really would be better without dairy while others achieve long-awaited improved gut health by the addition of healthy dairy into their diet. Some should steer clear of most grains as it may cause severe gastric upset and disease flare up while others are meant to be vegetarians with a healthy amount of whole grains and legumes. Some people have a very difficult time breaking down meat fibers for comfortable digestion while others truly do best when they consume high animal protein diets. Again, it’s VERY different from person to person. So when you follow just one trend, it’s not likely going to work for you and your body.

And that’s not to say that you shouldn’t try different types of food—I do! Paleo brownies are one of my favorite treats, vegan lentil loaf makes my mouth water, and well, gluten free is a must for me. But don’t think that you have to stick to one diet because you read a blog that said it would make you feel your best. Correction—it made the author feel their best. You and the author of that blog are likely to be quite different in many respects. So let’s take a quick look at just a few food trends. I’ll share my personal opinion, and please feel free to leave a comment to share yours, too!

 

PALEO

A paleo diet can be healthy and balanced, but I do think that many people misunderstand the purpose behind this “diet.” Some people may try it out as a means to lose weight, when truly, it’s not meant for that at all. Some people have a hard time digesting animal proteins (as aforementioned), and may find that they must start purchasing and taking (sometimes expensive) digestive enzymes just to help them feel less bloated after meals. A paleo diet is not low carb, either (a common misconception.) It’s really just about eating little to no grains, especially processed types and consuming more naturally raised animal products, nuts, seeds, and plants. So, in theory, this isn’t a bad idea, at all. However, it can feel too restrictive for some people. For me personally, it’s too heavy in animal products and fats. I’m one of those who needs to use digestive enzymes if I consume that much animal meat. And yes, we all NEED a good amount of fat in our diet, but when I consume too much, I tend to feel tired and listless. Some people can consume 80% fat and feel their best. Again, we are all so different.

 

LOW CARB / KETO

Speaking of high fat…

I think that a low carb diet can be healthy… or, it can be extreme and even dangerous. There are many people who do not approach this type of “diet” correctly and often will suffer from nutritional deficiencies. It’s also very limiting, heavy, and can be quite unbalanced. “Low carb” is also different for each individual, so if you read an article that tells you exactly how many grams of carbs you should consume in a day, you can be sure that it ought to not be trusted. Does the author know your age, gender, activity level, health conditions, mental and psychological background, hormone levels…? All of those come in to play when considering how much carbohydrate you need in your diet. Low carb is a meaningless phrase, so really I feel that too many people misuse this type of diet and can and do cause harm to their body.

 

VEGAN

Personally, I love vegetarian and vegan diets. It’s the diet that I tend to relate to the most, as I usually feel my best when I’m following a primarily vegetarian diet. However, imbalanced vegan diets can lead to various deficiencies. It’s important to expand your horizons at all times, trying new and different foods and enjoying an array of flavors and textures. It’s not a difficult diet to follow, but it may be overwhelming to those who are used to consuming animal products (especially when you are out to eat.) So, if you’re delving into this arena, be sure to eat a well-rounded diet chock full of variety! Beans, lentils, seeds, nuts, coconut oil, olive oil, tons of fruits and veggies, and whole grains (in moderation) are all musts in this type of diet.

 

GLUTEN FREE

What is gluten? It’s a protein found in wheat, barley, rye, and triticale. If you have celiac disease, your immune system attacks the protein and in the process, wrecks havoc on your intestines. Eventually, if you continue to consume gluten, you may end up with some serious physical ailments, such as various nutritional deficiencies, amenorrhea, and even cancer. If you have gluten sensitivity, you’re not actually causing physical harm to your intestines, but you may be tormented by other symptoms, such as compromised gut health (bloating, gas, constipation, diarrhea, etc.), joint pain (chronic inflammation), and even psychological illness. There are many people who do not think that gluten sensitivity is real. And yes, that is debatable. But if you remove gluten from your diet, and you feel remarkably better, then I would say…haters gonna hate. In other words, do what you know is best for your health, and forget the rest. Doctor David Perlmutter (author of Grain Brain) actually goes as far as to say that gluten is the tobacco of our generation. He also believes that grains, including those containing gluten, may cause/worsen Alzheimer’s disease.

So, what’s my take on gluten? Frankly, it would probably do you good to get some gluten out of your diet, whether it’s making you ill or not. However, there are still many GF processed foods now available.   You won’t do yourself any good if you eat those types of “foods.” In general, just try to eat less wheat (whole or refined), and instead, incorporate other starches, such as quinoa, teff, sweet potato, and lentils.

 

RAW FOOD

Cooking some types of food, does lead to less nutrition. High temperatures can damage nutritional properties and weaken enzymes. Raw foodists consume 75-100% of their nutritional intake from foods prepared at temperatures less than 118F. If you’re a skeptic of the benefits of this type of diet, well just watch this video about a woman who has eaten a raw diet for years.  It’s kind of incredible.  I’m not saying that it’s for everyone, because, again, there is no one-size-fits-all diet. Some people struggle with various medial conditions, which make consuming and digesting raw fruits and vegetables very difficult. So obviously, there are many reasons why this diet might not work for you. Though, I would urge all of us (myself including) to eat more raw foods – nuts, seeds, fruits, vegetables, soaked grains rather than cooked ones.

 

NUTRISYSTEM / MEDIFAST / JENNY CRAIG…

Do I really need to even discuss these? I don’t like any diet that forces you to purchase their very specific, processed food-like products. On these kinds of diets, you can still eat junk food every day, like donuts and cinnamon buns for breakfast. They even offer “delicious” snack options (I’m making a face as I type this), such as cheese puffs. Ingredients as follows: CORNMEAL, SOY PROTEIN CONCENTRATE, CANOLA, SUNFLOWER AND/OR SAFFLOWER OIL, CHEESE SEASONING (WHEY SOLIDS (MILK), DEXTRIN, BUTTERMILK SOLIDS, CHEDDAR CHEESE POWDER [CHEDDAR CHEESE {WHOLE MILK, CHEESE CULTURES, SALT, ENZYME AND DISODIUM PHOSPHATE}, SALT, FD&C YELLOW #5 LAKE, YEAST, YELLOW #6 LAKE, CITRIC ACID AND TURMERIC]), SALT, MALTODEXTRIN (NATURAL FIBER SOURCE).

Sounds real healthy… Okay, nuff said about that.

 

WEIGHT WATCHERS

The premise behind Weight Watchers is basically about counting calories. You’re given a certain number of “points” (AKA calories) per day. Each food you eat is classified as having a certain number of “points” (calories), and you stop eating when you’ve consumed all of your “points” (calories) for the day. Does it work? For some, it may help to kick-start weight loss, the same as counting calories works. However, by now, you must know that I’m not a fan of counting calories. It’s unrealistic, time-consuming (and who has time these days to spend time calculating calorie intake!?), fruitless, and most often, it does NOT lead to improved health.

 

Below are a few simple tips for healthy eating. Follow these sorts of tips instead of random diet trends…

1. Eat real food – get ride of all the processed foods in your diet. This may include many types of cereal, bread, crackers, granola and snack bars, some frozen foods, condiments, dressings, peanut butter, etc. There are good versions of these foods, but they may cost a lot more. So, if cost is an issue for you, simply eat natural foods that are much cheaper. For example, dried beans, lentils, rice, nuts and seeds (buy raw, in bulk), oats, in season local produce, olive oil, frozen fruits and veggies with nothing added to them, vinegars, and plain water. You can eat healthy food for not much money, but if you choose to buy specific products to replace your old “processed” products, you will be paying a butt-load more, quite frankly. Yes, an organic, natural almond butter will cost quadruple that crappy Walmart peanut butter you’ve been using. But the ingredients are likely to be 100 times better for you. So, put into prospective, it’s worth the cost. However, if that just isn’t an option, use nut spreads less often! Expand your breakfast horizon outside of toast with peanut butter. Have some fresh eggs with sautéed veggies, or try steel cut oats with frozen fruit and coconut milk. Better yet, make a big batch of whole grain homemade pancakes, and keep them in the freezer for a fast and delicious breakfast option.

 

2. Eat a lot more vegetables and limit your fruit intake to 2 servings per day (on average). Fruit is healthy, of course, but it still contains quite a bit of sugar (fructose), so limit how much you have per serving and per day. If you’re craving sweets and you’re thinking of having a candy bar, then yes, by all means, please enjoy some fresh fruit instead. A good evening snack is frozen/thawed peaches topped with a few tablespoons of real organic cream or coconut milk with some chopped nuts. YUM!

 

3. Make more of your own kitchen creations! Don’t be afraid to explore new foods, new tastes, different cooking methods. Dehydrate your own fruit in the oven; get out that old crock-pot and toss in dried beans, chopped onions, chopped tomatoes, chilies, frozen corn, and spices (vegetarian chili!); make old fashioned oats into hearty Sunday morning pancakes; sauté apples with cinnamon and coconut oil and serve over warm quinoa with almond milk. There are so many different foods to try—why not start now?

 

4. Work towards listening to your body. Eat when you are hungry, stop when are full, say no to food that you don’t truly want, indulge in small amounts, savor flavors, and tune in to your senses (taste, smell, sight, hunger, fullness). Work with your body instead of working against it. If you work with it, you will treat it right, mending it rather than harming it. And when you harm your body, you harm yourself. When you heal your body, you heal yourself.

 

5. MOVE. I’ll be honest, I get stuck in the same ole exercise routines, and yes, I hate those routines. I go to the gym (I won’t name names here, but I loathe my gym…), and I work out like a hamster on the treadmill, elliptical (which I still debate whether or not that’s even doing anything for my body’s health), stationary bike… and I watch mindless TV. I don’t even pay attention to my body! When I close my eyes and think about what my body wants, I realize that it want to hike up hills, dance around like crazy, and be in the open air. So try to listen to what makes your body fit and happy, and do that. I’ll work on it if you work on it ;)

 

If you have other healthy suggestions, share them in a comment. And as always, happy, healthy living :)