Ahhhhh... where do I begin. Some of you may have seen my recent share from nutitionfacts.org on processed meats. If not, let me catch you up... recently the NHO (National Health Organization) has confirmed that processed meats are a carcinogenic food. What this means is eating processed meats such as ham or sandwich meats is increasing your chance of getting cancer in your lifetime. We have all been touched by that horrible disease in one way or another... but what if there are ways to cut your chances of getting it... or even combat it? What would that look like?
Think about it y'all... these days most of us pay more attention about what we put into our car than what we put into our bodies. We are cognizant of fuel, oil, coolant and so many other things... we don't put just anything into our vehicles... we do it right. Why do we fail to look at our bodies in this same light? We are so busy worrying about diets, saving money, going out and having fun and indulging that we aren't realizing that we have control over our health... I repeat... YOU HAVE CONTROL OVER YOUR OWN HEALTH... your body is a machine- one that runs 24 hours a day, one that is responsible for the way your brain works, your emotions, your breath and so much more. Take the time to realize that this is the only body you have. Treat it that way.
One of the small changes you can make is to start to avoid eating so many processed foods... note how I said "so many", I am not and will never be pushing you to give up on everything- it is all about moderation... I will touch on this later. For now- processed foods... what are processed foods? The definition of a processed food is a food that has had something added to it or something taken away. In other words an additive to make it look or taste more appealing, or having it stripped of its natural form... ie. turning whole grain brown rice into white rice. The easiest way to eat for optimum health is to practice this... make the majority of your diet whole foods, plant based.
Ways That You Can Eliminate Processed Foods:
1. Read the Labels- if you aren't sure- read the label... if there are more than 2-5 ingredients in it that is a sign it has been processed... if there are words you cannot pronounce- that is likely a chemical or additive to make the food taste better to the masses. Even bread y'all... whole wheat bread baked in the grocery store- check out those labels and be prepared to be shocked and disappointed. If something has high fructose corn syrup you can be certain it was processed... and you can be certain it isn't doing anything good for your body.
3. Switch to Whole Grains- I have mentioned on a number of my blogs that this is a great way to maintain that waistline while keeping your insides happy and healthy... why does this matter? In short- Whole grains are loaded in fiber, there are two types of fiber, insoluble and soluble... Both benefit the body- insoluble cannot be digested which means it goes in and it comes out, but when it comes out it helps add bulk to your stool which keeps you regular and helps you with any bowel issues you may have as well it removes toxins on the way out. Insoluble fiber can be found in the peels and skins of seeds and fruit, as well as brown rice, and whole wheat bread. Soluble fiber on the other hand attaches to cholesterol particles and removes them from the body... therefore helping your heart and reducing your risk of type 2 diabetes. Soluble fiber can be found in oatmeal, nuts, beans, apples and blueberries. Whole grains have fiber, fiber is our friend... therefore whole grains are our friend and should be chosen above bleached white starches whenever possible.
4. Eat Real Food As Often As Possible- Real foods are not found in a box or a bag or a freezer... they are found in the farmers market, the produce section of your grocery store, your local bakery, and your garden. If you have a sweet tooth snack on berries, they are so good for you with incredible benefits and they taste great or if you need a little more make some oatmeal nut butter balls (using a natural nut butter of your choice, real oats, real dark chocolate chips, ground flax seed and honey) Yum, sweet tooth satisfied! If you feel like something salty take some non-GMO popcorn kernels throw some olive oil into a pot and pop away... top it off with a small drizzle of avocado oil or olive oil and some fresh sea salt and nutritional yeast... boom healthy snack! Avocado toast... take some local whole wheat bread or Dave's killer bread, toast it and smother it in yummy avocado top with some Mrs. Dash or your favorite seasoning. There are many ways to eat real food and that doesn't have to mean giving up on snacking. Today there are tons of resources and lots of places to find healthy food inspiration- just make sure you are eating real foods as often as possible.
5. Sweeten It Up- If you have a sweet tooth, much like my son and husband than we both know that eating whole foods may sound daunting or even dreadful. Guess what!?! It doesn't have to be... in our home we replaced sugar or sugar substitutes- which are equally terrible in nutrition (one is natural but highly processed- sugar; the other is chemical- sweetener like sweet and low or even splenda) Instead we rely on natural sources- such as local honey (which has incredible benefits pertaining to allergies and bacterial infections), real organic agave nectar, or maple syrup (yes I am Canadian, yes I show it sometimes). Its okay to crave sweets but keep in mind, like anything else the less you eat the less you will want. Sugar is incredibly addictive and plainly put- not good for you.
Now to discuss moderation... life is better in moderation- don't put yourself inside a box or limit yourself to the point you don't look forward to your next meal or snack. It is perfectly healthy to give in to a craving from time to time. It is okay when you are in a rush to cut corners here and there as long as it doesn't become a habit. Choosing to eat less processed foods and more whole food plant based options will have a significant effect on your health and waistline... so if you need to throw in a glass of wine or an ice cream cone from time to time there is nothing wrong with that!
Little things amount to big things... this is called the compound effect... if you put a penny in the bank every day for your life it is ultimately going to amount to much more than $3.65 a year... it will add up... much like this your health will see significant impacts with minimal changes.