Is That Food Really Healthy, Or Just Pretending To Be Healthy?

Another View of the Cereal Box Wall

Modern day marketing by the food industry has caused quite a bit of confusion about what types of foods are really healthy, and which foods are only marketed as healthy. As you walk down the grocery store aisles, it is easy to see that there are many health claims on the boxes of the processed foods.

“All Natural”
“Whole Grain”
“Fortified With Vitamins and Minerals”
“Fat Free”
“Low Carb”
“100 Calories”

These claims are printed on the boxes to make consumers believe that they are buying foods that are good for their health, but a close inspection of the nutrition labels often prove otherwise. For example:

  • “All Natural” foods that contain ingredients such as MSG or high fructose corn syrup.
  • “Whole Grain” products which are highly processed (removing the health benefits of whole grain) and filled with sugar.
  • Processed foods are commonly “fortified with vitamins and minerals” simply because the product contains absolutely no nutrition without adding the vitamins.
  • “Fat Free” products are often filled with a ridiculous amount of sugar, high fructose corn syrup, or artificial sweeteners.

It is important that you read the ingredient list before falling for these claims, because you will often see that there are unhealthy and unnatural ingredients added to the prepackaged foods.

These are just a few quick examples of false advertising in the food industry, because most of the foods that are being advertised really are not very healthy for you. In fact, some of the healthiest foods available do not have these claims, simply because these healthy foods don’t come pre-packaged in a box.

Whole, natural foods don’t need these crazy marketing claims added on their packaging, because they are healthy as they are in their natural form and no processing is needed before they are sold. Eating food in its most natural, least processed form is the best way to know that it will support your health.

Stay tuned, because the next few blog posts will go into more details about these false advertising claims, be sure to subscribe to my RSS feed to be updated when new blog posts are added.

Photo credits: samplereality

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The Truth About “All Natural” Foods

Groceries

Written by Becki Andrus

In my last blog post, I talked about the deceiving messages that are found on pre-packed food items, and today we are going to go into a little more detail about foods that are marked as “All Natural.”

There are many products listed as “All Natural,” and companies use this term to improve sales… people don’t want to eat unnatural foods, right? So, extra money may be spent on products that are listed as “All Natural,” because people believe that these foods are better for their health.

Well, the truth is that when a label says “All Natural,” it actually has no nutritional meaning, and this packaging statement is not even regulated by the FDA!

These “All Natural” foods can have an assortment of unnatural (and unhealthy) ingredients added, such as MSG (monosodium glutamate). MSG can be listed on the ingredient label under many different names, and so it can be very hard to determine if it is actually an ingredient in the product. There are also many other unnatural things that could be added into the food.

For example, some products will list “All Natural” on the packaging because wheat was used… what they don’t tell you is that the wheat was completely pulverized in the processing and most of the health benefits were removed (such as the fiber, and 98% of the nutrients). Once the wheat has been milled down, it is common for the processing to bleach the wheat with chemicals, and then add synthetic vitamins (to replace the stripped-down nutrition), and call it “enriched” and “all natural.”

That doesn’t sound like an “all natural” process to me!

Basically, companies will list a product as all natural if the ingredients were grown in nature, but they don’t consider what happened to the ingredient after it was harvested. Many of the ingredients are completely ruined of their nutritional benefits after going through the processing, they are altered, modified, chemically treated, etc. Even though the ingredient started out natural, it is anything but natural by the time the packaging reaches the shelf at the grocery store.

Another example of an “all natural” ingredient is high fructose corn syrup. Sure, the original corn was grown in the ground, but the corn was put through a processing system that completely changed the ingredient into an unnatural product.

Remember, that the food industry is focused on money making, not your health. Don’t be fooled by the claims on the packaging, because they only appear to be healthy and often contain ingredients that are not good for your health.

Instead of spending your hard earned money on these “healthy” packaged foods, buy ingredients in their natural form and consume them as nature intended. If you choose to buy packaged foods, be a smart consumer and read the ingredient labels… and don’t buy the product if there are any ingredients that you wouldn’t have in your kitchen cupboards.

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Photo Credits: Mista Yuck

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Why Sugar-Free Health Products Are Deceiving You

Sugar free! Another type of deceiving “healthy” food label is “sugar free.” These foods are marketed as healthier options because they don’t contain sugar, however many of them are filled with ingredients that are much more harmful than sugar.

Don’t misunderstand me, because sugar should be minimized as much as possible. It decreases the effectiveness of the immune system, is high on the glycemic index (so your body has to work hard to digest it), it’s addictive, and there are numerous other problems that can result when sugar is eaten.

However, many of the sugar substitute ingredients are even WORSE than sugar! For example, aspartame is a popular sugar substitute, and many people have reported side effects such as neurological problems (seizures, depression, anxiety, headaches, etc), autoimmune problems (such as lupus) blindness, multiple sclerosis, and birth defects (just to name a few).

And to make matters worse, these products are marketed as calorie free and beneficial because they don’t spike the glycemic levels in the body. But, recent studies are showing that the glycemic levels are still affected by non-sugar sweeteners… which means that they can still cause you to gain weight.

Many of the products with sugar substitutes also contain other harmful ingredients that should be avoided, such as: preservatives, chemicals, artificial food coloring, etc.

If you are going to choose an unhealthy treat, you are probably better to go with a product that has real sugar instead of chemical based artificial sweeteners. Although, the sweet treats should be kept to a minimum.

Better alternatives to satisfy your sweet tooth include raw fruits such as strawberries, apples, bananas, oranges, raspberries, mango, pineapple, etc. You may also use sweeteners at home such as: stevia which is an herbal based sweetener that is 10x sweeter than sugar, calorie free, and doesn’t spike the glycemic levels; or agave which is a sweetener similar to honey which has a lower glycemic load than most sugars.

Photo credit: ladybugbkt
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Is Junk Food Really Cheaper?

I loved this article by the NY Times, talking about the fact that junk food isn’t necessarily cheaper than healthy food: NY Times Article: Is Junk Food Really Cheaper?

Take a moment to read through the article and think about where your food money is being spent. When I am focusing my shopping around healthy, whole foods I have a much easier time sticking to my budget. But, if I allow myself to buy processed foods, I usually find that the grocery money gets spent a lot faster.

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Food Pyramid is Replaced with a Plate Image

Written by Becki Andrus

Yesterday, it was announced that the USDA food pyramid is being replaced with an image called “MyPlate” which shows a dinner plate divided out with the various food groups that are recommended. I would love to see people learn more about nutrition and health (which is why I started this blog), but I don’t think that the new image is the best way to help people understand what types of foods they should be eating.

Here is the old MyPyramid compared to the new MyPlate:

Source: delish.com MyPlate and MyPyramid

My Thoughts:

I like the fact that the nutrition recommendations are getting away from specific number of servings, and instead focusing on a well-balanced meal. Eating a variety of healthy foods is the best way to get the nutrition that you need.

But, the main problems with the Standard American Diet are still present…

  • Most of the protein intake is focused around animal based foods in the meat and dairy food groups. Numerous research studies have linked animal protein consumption with serious health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, and even cancer.
  • Many Americans eat large portions of processed carbs and junk food (such as potato chips, white flour, sugar, soda, etc). People need to understand that whole grains are much better than refined grains.
  • High amounts of fats and sugar are consumed in processed foods and other treats, it needs to be specified that those ingredients should be avoided as much as possible.

When you are considering these food portions, it is important to remember that many of the nutrition guidelines have the food industry pulling on the strings behind the scenes. Food production is a BIG business, and unfortunately the industry has the power to sway the nutrition recommendations. Just because meat and dairy are recommended, does not mean that they are the best source of nutrients for optimal health.

Here is a great resource that shows a healthy vegetarian food plan, which will provide you with all of the nutrients that you need to be healthy. In fact, focusing on these nutrient dense plant foods is one of the best ways to improve your health and prevent disease! This is what the vegetarian plate looks like:

Remember that eating foods in their most natural form is the best way to gain optimal nutrition from the food. When foods are cooked and processed, the nutrients are depleted and the enzymes are no longer available. Additionally, almost all of the store-bought processed foods have added preservatives, chemicals, sugar, sodium, and other unhealthy ingredients.

My personal eating plan is to eat an unlimited amount of fruits and vegetables every day. The next largest portion of food is beans and legumes, supplemented by whole grains, nuts and seeds. Eating this way provides my body with plenty of energy and I am never hungry, because there is no need to manage portion sizes! How many “diets” allow you to eat as much as you want, whenever you want?

Am I perfect with my eating plan? No! But, I try to eat the best that I can on most days. Sometimes I will stray from my typical eating to have foods that are not quite so healthy, but I always try to get back on track as soon as I can.

Everyone has the opportunity to change their eating habits by making small choices at each meal. Making incremental changes will help you to transition to a healthier eating plan, and you will notice a difference over time. The best way to start your transition is to choose to include more fruits and vegetables every day, and slowly cut back on your intake of meat, dairy, and processed foods.


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Incremental Changes Toward Better Health

Organic Veggies

Because my eating habits are so different from the Standard American Diet, it is common for me to hear comments from people about my food choices:

“How can you eat all those vegetables? I could never get those down!”

“Doesn’t that kind of food taste gross?”

“That’s great that you are eating so healthy, but I couldn’t eat that way!”

“Aren’t you hungry all the time? Vegetables never fill me up.”

The truth is that I completely understand why people think this way… because I had similar thoughts before I started learning about healthy eating. Many times people assume that I was just born with a natural ability to enjoy eating healthy foods, but I grew up eating the Standard American Diet just like everyone else!

10 years ago I would have laughed at the idea that I would be eating whole foods every day. My diet at the time consisted of lots of processed foods, white flour, sugar, lots of dairy, and meat with almost every meal. I didn’t eat the “recommended” daily servings of 3-5 fruits and vegetables, and when I did eat fruits and veggies it usually consisted of canned goods or maybe a banana or an apple occasionally.

Once I started learning about nutrition and healthy living I knew that I needed to change my daily habits, but there was no way that I was going to drastically change my eating and start chomping on only vegetables all day long. I didn’t even like the taste of vegetables at the time!

I knew that changes in my eating habits could improve my overall health, so I started making small changes and incrementally I was able to completely overhaul my entire eating habits.

Remember, these changes happened over the course of a few YEARS! I started experimenting with my food choices, learning more and more about how foods affect health, and making small changes here and there. These are some of the small, incremental changes that I made:

  • Cutting out milk, decreasing the amount of dairy products we ate (my husband’s year-long chronic cough went away once we stopped drinking milk on a daily basis)
  • Drinking a quart of green smoothie every day
  • Adding fresh vegetables to lunch and dinner everyday
  • Switching out refined grains for whole grains: white rice for brown rice, white bread for whole wheat bread, and the white pasta for whole wheat pasta
  • Planning a few meat-less meals each week, it started with 1 or 2 meals a week and then progressed to 3 or 4, etc. Eventually we were eating meat only 1-2 times a week, and then we stopped eating meat at home (unless guests were over for dinner)
  • Getting rid of all of the junk food in the house (sugar, MSG, highly processed foods) and choosing healthier snack alternatives instead

If I would have tried to make all of these changes at once, I would have failed at changing my eating habits! But, because I took it 1 baby-step at a time I was able to help myself adjust to the new way of eating, and now these new habits are just a normal part of my everyday living.

Don’t get stuck in the thinking that you can never change, because it is absolutely possible to change IF you choose to make those choices in your life!

All of us are born with the innate sense of healthy eating, the problem lies in the fact that those instincts get lost amid the eating habits of our modern society. Sugar, salt, chemicals, preservatives, artificial flavors, and other additives make processed foods taste so good. These strong tasting foods overpower our taste buds and cause us to crave more unhealthy foods and turn our noses up at the healthier options.

You have the power and ability to make changes in your everyday eating habits. As you decrease the amount of junk food that you are eating and increase the amount of healthy, whole foods you will find that you will feel great, your health will improve, and you will actually enjoy eating healthy!

Set some small, achievable goals and start working on them 1 at a time. Don’t expect your taste buds to change overnight, because it will take some time to make the adjustments. Instead of focusing on how “miserable” you are when you skip the potato chips, choose to focus your thinking on how great you feel when you are eating fresh foods.

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Photo credit: Jason Verwey

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Why Soda Is Terrible For Your Health

SupermarkedWritten by Becki Andrus

I recently listened to a teenage girl talk about how she chooses to drink diet soda instead of regular soda, because it is better for her. At that moment I wanted to grab her by the shoulders and talk some sense into her, because diet soda (or regular soda) is not good for you in any way! As a matter of fact, soda is very detrimental to your health!

We know that people love soft drinks, and it is a smart marketing strategy for the soft drink companies to sell “zero calorie” or “diet” options to help people “improve their health. Sure, these drinks are lower in calories, but they are filled with TERRIBLE ingredients that should not be consumed.

Some of these ingredients include: chemicals, artificial dyes, sugar (or worse, chemical based sugar substitutes), caffeine, etc. These ingredients do not promote health in any way, so don’t be fooled into thinking that they are ok to drink. Some of the negative side effects of soda include:

  • Weight gain/obesity
  • Weak bones (the soda strips bones of calcium)
  • Caffeine dependence and addiction
  • Kidney damage
  • Tooth decay

As a matter of fact, soda is the #1 thing that I avoid as much as possible, because it has such a negative impact on health! Here’s what happens to your body when you drink Coke (source: http://nutritionresearchcenter.org):

  • In The First 10 minutes: 10 teaspoons of sugar hit your system. (100% of your recommended daily intake.) You don’t immediately vomit from the overwhelming sweetness because phosphoric acid cuts the flavor allowing you to keep it down.
  • 20 minutes: Your blood sugar spikes, causing an insulin burst. Your liver responds to this by turning any sugar it can get its hands on into fat. (There’s plenty of that at this particular moment)
  • 40 minutes: Caffeine absorption is complete. Your pupils dilate, your blood pressure rises, as a response your livers dumps more sugar into your bloodstream. The adenosine receptors in your brain are now blocked preventing drowsiness.
  • 45 minutes: Your body ups your dopamine production stimulating the pleasure centers of your brain. This is physically the same way heroin works, by the way.
  • >60 minutes: The phosphoric acid binds calcium, magnesium and zinc in your lower intestine, providing a further boost in metabolism. This is compounded by high doses of sugar and artificial sweeteners also increasing the urinary excretion of calcium.
  • >60 Minutes: The caffeine’s diuretic properties come into play. (It makes you have to pee.) It is now assured that you’ll evacuate the bonded calcium, magnesium and zinc that was headed to your bones as well as sodium, electrolyte and water.
  • >60 minutes: As the rave inside of you dies down you’ll start to have a sugar crash. You may become irritable and/or sluggish. You’ve also now, literally, pissed away all the water that was in the Coke. But not before infusing it with valuable nutrients your body could have used for things like even having the ability to hydrate your system or build strong bones and teeth.

At this point, some people may argue that they drink diet sodas instead (to lessen the sugar impact. But the truth is that artificially sweetened diet sodas may cause even more health problems than regular sugar consumption! Aspartame consumption has been linked to a myriad of health problems such as neurological problems, eye problems, depression, anxiety, gastrointestinal problems, etc. Here is a full list of potential negative side effects from aspartame.

There is absolutely no health benefit from drinking soda, do yourself a favor and make a New Years resolution to cut soda out this year!

Photo Credit: M*orten

Help your friends and family learn about the health implications of drinking soda, please take a moment to share this blog post via Facebook, Twitter or email. And be sure to subscribe to the RSS feed to receive updates about future blog posts. Thank you!

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What If… (Some Food For Thought)

question mark ?Written By Becki Andrus

What if… everyone drastically cut back on the amount of fast food that they ate? Would the fast food establishments start serving healthier plant-based, whole foods menu options (that are REALLY healthy, and not pretending to be healthy)?

What if… everyone focused their grocery shopping on the produce and whole grains section of the grocery store? Would the stores limit the amount of processed, boxed foods in the aisles and start supplying more whole foods choices?

What if… everyone started focusing on healthy eating to solve their health problems, and started limiting the amounts of unnecessary medications consumed? Would medical companies start focusing their products and systems on natural treatments to cure the root of the problem instead of just masking the symptoms?

What if… everyone decided that they wanted to break their sugar addictions and eat fresh fruit instead? Would the candy companies go out of business, and the farming companies start producing more to meet the higher demands?

What if… everyone replaced 45 minutes of their daily tv-watching time with a physical activity? Would the obesity rates drop, which in turn would lower overall health care costs (so maybe we wouldn’t see a huge increase in insurance premiums each year)?

What if… everyone ate enough healthy foods everyday instead of trying to salve their conscience by taking multi-vitamin pills everyday? Would the supplement companies go out of business because everyone was getting their nutrition the way nature intended it to be?

What if… all of the school lunches were focused around healthy, whole foods instead of processed, high-fat foods? Would children start enjoying their vegetables more instead of complaining that they want to eat junk food?

What if… the vending machines served whole grain snacks, dehydrated fruit, and other healthy snacks instead of the sugar and sodium filled junk food? Would employees be more productive because they were avoiding the afternoon sluggish feeling that comes from sugar consumption?

What if… more money was invested in teaching people about REAL nutrition (not big-business based nutrition) instead of spending so much money on advertising junk food? Would the natural food industry grow because people made wiser food purchases?

What if… we served healthy foods at parties and events instead of just focusing on the junk food all the time? Would it be easier to eat healthy all the time because we had the support of our friends and family?

What if… more people turned to raw, fruit and vegetable smoothies for their morning kick-start, instead of crutching on the artificial energy that comes from caffeine? Would coffee shops start offering all natural smoothies instead of the standard cup-o-joe?

Obviously these scenarios are not real-world solutions in a society that is so focused on unhealthy eating. The fact that so much of our food and medical industry is based on “big-business” means that there won’t be any drastic changes (for the better) any time soon. The profits and bottom line of the corporations are more important than the health of the people– these companies will produce that items that earn them the most money.

But, as individuals, we are lucky to have the ability to CHOOSE our food.

Even if everyone around us is choosing an unhealthy lifestyle, we can make a difference in our own lives by making healthier food choices everyday. Healthy food is very accessible where ever you go, you just need to make the conscious decision to choose a healthier lifestyle.

Take some time to consider how your life could change for the better if you were following a healthier eating plan and then take a few steps at a time to implement healthier eating habits into your family’s everyday routine.

Recommended Reading:

Are you ready to start creating healthy habits today? Here are a few great resources to help you get started:

Photo Credits: Leo Reynolds

Do you know anyone who could benefit by learning more about healthy eating? Please take a moment to share this blog post with your friends and family via Facebook, Twitter or email. And be sure to subscribe to the RSS feed to receive updates about future blog posts. Thank you! :)

What if… everyone drastically cut back on the amount of fast food that they ate? Would McDonalds, Wendys, Burger King, etc start serving healthier plant-based, whole foods menu options (that are REALLY healthy, and not pretending to be healthy)?

What if… everyone focused their grocery shopping on the produce and whole grains section of the grocery store? Would the stores limit the amount of processed, boxed foods in the aisles and start supplying more whole foods?

What if… everyone started focusing on healthy eating to solve their health problems, and started limiting the amounts of unnecessary medications consumed? Would medical companies start focusing their products on natural treatments to cure the root of the problem instead of just masking the symptoms?

What if… everyone decided that they wanted to break their sugar addictions and eat fresh fruit instead? Would the candy companies go out of business, and the farming companies start producing more to meet the higher demands?

What if… everyone replaced 45 minutes of their tv-watching time with a physical activity? Would the obesity rates drop, which in turn would lower overall healthcare costs (so maybe we wouldn’t see a huge increase in insurance premiums each year)?

What if… everyone ate enough healthy foods everyday instead of trying to salve their conscience by taking multi-vitamin pills everyday? Would the supplement companies go out of business?

What if… all of the school lunches were focused around healthy, whole foods instead of processed, high-fat foods? Would children start enjoying their vegetables more instead of complaining that they want to eat junk food?

What if… the vending machines served whole grain snacks, dehydrated fruit, and other healthy snacks instead of the sugar and sodium filled junk food? Would employees be more productive because they were avoiding the afternoon sluggish feeling that comes from sugar consumption?

What if… more money was invested in teaching people about REAL nutrition (not big-business based nutrition) instead of spending so much money on advertising junk food? Would the natural food industry grow because people made wiser food purchases?

What if… we served healthy foods at parties and events instead of just focusing on the junk food all the time? Would it be easier to eat healthy all the time because we had the support of our friends and family?

What if…

Obviously these scenarios are not real-world solutions in a society that is so focused on unhealthy eating. But, as individuals, we are lucky to have the ability to CHOOSE our food.

Take some time to consider how your life could change for the better if you were following a healthier eating plan and then take a few steps at a time to implement healthier eating habits into your family’s everyday routine.

Do you know anyone who could benefit by learning more about healthy eating? Please take a moment to share this blog post with this via Facebook, Twitter or email. Thank you! J

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Overcoming The Icky Taste: How To Program Your Taste Buds To Love Vegetables

Fresh VegetablesWritten By Becki Andrus

This blog post is a follow-up to yesterday’s post about why vegetables taste gross. Make sure to take a moment to read the article if you haven’t had a chance to read it yet… :)

Yesterday, we talked about the reasons why so many people don’t enjoy the tastes of vegetables… today we are going to take the next step and go over a few steps to help you learn to enjoy the natural flavors of vegetables.

Before we get started, it is important for you to take a few moments to think about this:

Remember that your eating decisions and attitudes are a CHOICE! If you choose to have a bad attitude about eating healthy, then you will continue to dislike vegetables because your mind isn’t open to change. But, if you choose to be open-minded and willing to try new things, you will find that many new doors open and you will be amazed at how much your taste buds change.

In order to successfully adjust your taste buds, it’s absolutely necessary to cut out the unhealthy, overstimulating ingredients such as sugar, salt, MSG, chemicals, preservatives, etc. (Or at least drastically cut back on the amounts that you are eating).

So, most of this article is focused on the topic of breaking unhealthy eating habits, because you will find that cutting out the unhealthy ingredients will allow your taste buds to adjust so that you can enjoy the natural flavors that can be found in whole foods.

And on that note, let’s get started…

4 Steps To Change Your Taste Buds & Start ENJOYING Healthy Foods

1. Break The Addictions
As difficult as it is, you will need to break your junk food addictions. I know that this doesn’t sound like fun, and I’m not going to sugar-coat it (LOL!)… it will be hard to get over the addictive habits that you have created in your life!

If you want to enjoy healthy foods more, it is absolutely necessary to work on breaking the bad eating habits at the same time—because your palate has become accustomed to eating unhealthy foods that are high in ingredients such as sugars, sodium, MSG, chemicals, and preservatives.

Cutting out these ingredients will allow your palette to adjust, and you will find that over time you will be able to enjoy the natural taste of healthy food (because your taste buds are no longer tainted by the junk food).

You probably have years of poor eating habits and bad addictions that you have become accustomed to, and it is a very hard thing to break out of your comfort zone and make the change. You’ll feel uncomfortable, you’ll want to give up, and you’ll start to wonder if it really even matters.

But, don’t give in!

Breaking your food addictions will be a liberating task to undertake, and it is definitely worth it in the long run!

It usually takes me 3-4 days to get past the unbearable food cravings, but there are a few strategies that I use to stay strong during those days: drink plenty of water, have a healthier substitution available (ie fruit instead of candy), have someone to talk to if I start to feel weak, or have a pre-determined task to keep my mind off the food.

These are just a few ideas, figure out what works for you personally… and then commit to implement your strategy when times get tough. Write it down if you need to!

You need to make up your mind that it is time to break through the addictive habits that are holding you back, and then grit your teeth and bear through it. Constantly remind yourself of the fact that you will feel SO good once you have made it through the first few days.

2. Stuff Yourself With Healthy Foods That You Like
When people are trying to break junk foods addictions, the mistake that most of them make is to not have good foods available to fill your stomach. If your stomach is growling, you will be much more likely to give up and start eating unhealthy foods again.

Choose some of the healthy foods that you enjoy, and have plenty of these foods available to eat. Don’t worry about the perfect portions or even a balanced diet in the first 2 or 3 days… just have healthy alternatives available and allow yourself to fill your stomach whenever you would like.

For example, if you are trying to overcome refined sugar cravings and you know that you love tangerines, allow yourself to eat tangerines whenever you want. Don’t limit yourself—instead focus on the abundance of healthy foods that are available, and make sure that you eat plenty so that your stomach is not hungry.

Keeping your stomach filled throughout the day will make it much easier to avoid eating the foods that you are trying to break free from.

And remember that breaking these habits will allow you to adjust your taste buds so that the healthy foods taste better.

3. Avoid Your Trigger Points
You are probably aware of some of the “trigger points” that you may have concerning food. For example, some people find themselves turning to junk foods in times of stress or anxiety or boredom.

When I was making the transition to healthy eating, I figured out that my weakest times were at the grocery store deli in the morning (when I was picking up breakfast) and the vending machines at work. So, I started shopping ahead of time to have my breakfast ready to go in order to avoid the grocery store in the mornings. And I also stopped carrying change or small bills in my wallet when I was at work (it’s difficult to purchase vending machine food if you don’t have change for it).

Taking these small steps allowed me to step back and put a cushion between myself and the temptations, so I was able to really think about my food decisions instead of easily falling into the habit of just mindlessly eating junk food because it was easy to come by.

So, analyze where your weak moments are, and put a plan in place to help you avoid the tempting situations.

Make sure that you have healthy options available, so that you always have a snack on hand when you need it.

4. Experiment, Try New Foods!
As you break your unhealthy food habits, you will have the chance to start adding in new foods—be adventurous and willing to try new things that you aren’t used to eating! There are many possibilities out there, and you will begin to see how many options you have to choose from.

I have found that the easiest transition method is to have your favorite vegetables on hand all the time, and eat more and more of those. And then also begin to add in new dishes that you haven’t tried before.

Do some reading to find new ways to prepare the vegetables, and experiment a few different ways so that you can see how you enjoy it best. Also remember, that sometimes you might not have the best impression in the beginning… but your taste will still be changing and you may enjoy that particular type of vegetable prepared in a different way or at a later date.

The most important thing is that you are open and willing to try new things. Have a variety of fresh vegetables and fruit on hand, and eat plenty of them.

It is really cool to see how much your taste buds can change over time. For example, I am amazed to see how sweet fruit tastes when you don’t eat refined sugars very often. The natural juices and flavors are very satisfying when you have cut out the artificial tastes of the refined sugars!

Remember that it is a process to change your eating habits, so give yourself some time to learn your new habits and make adjustments to your everyday eating. The natural flavors in fruits and vegetables will become more and more satisfying over time as you wean yourself off of the unhealthy foods.

Photo Credits: ConstructionDealMkting

I hope that you have enjoyed this article! My goal with this blog is to help as many people as possible learn about healthy eating habits, and teach people steps that they can take to improve their daily habits.

Please take a moment to spread the word to your friends via Facebook or Twitter by using the links below. Thanks for your support! :)

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Why Vegetables Taste Gross (To Some People)

VegetablesWritten By Becki Andrus

One of the biggest excuses that people make, is that they don’t eat their vegetables because they don’t like how veggies taste. How is it possible to eat healthy if the taste of healthy foods makes you gag?!?

I used to dislike the taste of vegetables too. In my “former life” of unhealthy eating, I would occasionally eat vegetables because I knew that I was supposed to… but my veggies usually consisted of a very small serving of iceberg lettuce SOAKED in ranch dressing, or tomato sauce on my pasta. My idea of good veggies were vegetables that I couldn’t taste because they were hidden by other tastes in the dish.

Can you relate?

As I started to learn more about health I began to understand how important it was to eat more raw fruits and vegetables, but my logical understanding about health did not change my taste buds (unfortunately, LOL!).

So, I found myself in this place of logically WANTING to eat more vegetables (because I knew they were healthy), but dreading mealtimes because I HATED the taste of the vegetables.

As I look back on the situation, I can see that there were several factors in play, and these are the reasons that vegetables taste gross to so many people:

1. Our Taste Buds Have Acclimated To High Fat/Sugar/Salt Foods
When we eat highly processed foods that are full of unhealthy fats, chemicals, sodium, and sugars our taste buds are completely overloaded with sensation. These types of foods are designed to be addictive, the tastes are so strong that our bodies actually adjust to the higher levels of unhealthy ingredients.

Simply put: Your body learns to love the unhealthy ingredients, because they provide a higher amount of pleasure (through the taste buds), calories, and fats. All of these things tie back to the innate sense to survive and thrive in a harsh world.

2. On The Flip Side: Whole Foods Are Lacking In The Addictive Ingredients
Because of the fact that vegetables and fruits don’t have the added ingredients listed above, they will taste bland when you compare them to the processed food alternatives. Many people choose to eat processed foods instead of vegetables because of the taste alone.

If you compare the taste of asparagus side-by-side with potato chips, obviously the chips with have more flavor and sensation.

When your body is acclimated/addicted to eating highly processed foods that are designed to have strong tastes, why would you choose to eat bland (in comparison) vegetables if you are basing the decision strictly on taste alone?

3. Addictions Win (Over Logic)
Many people are ashamed to admit that they have food addictions, but addictions are a very real problem for many people. I personally have experienced food addictions… sugary treats are very addictive to me. Have you ever experienced strong cravings for a certain type of unhealthy food, and then eventually found yourself giving into the cravings because you can’t think about anything else?

The preservatives, chemicals, MSG, sugar, salt, etc. are all ingredients that are added into processed foods and these ingredients can be very addicting! If your body is going through withdrawals, you will be more likely to reach for the “food” that satisfies those needs instead of munching on something that doesn’t contain the addictive ingredients.

4. Sheer Numbers: There Are More Unhealthy Foods Available
If you take a look at the grocery store, you will see that there are many more products available that are unhealthy. These foods have been highly processed, stuffed full of artificial/unhealthy ingredients, and packaged in pretty boxes that make you want to buy them.

The retail space in the grocery store definitely favors the unhealthy foods… there are thousands of products in the aisles that are low-nutrient, calorie dense foods that will damage your health. When you are eating these foods all day, every day your body adjusts and learns to love them.

By eating these unhealthy foods every day (at home, at work, at school, at parties, etc), you are actually training yourself to focus your eating around unhealthy items instead of nutritious, life-giving foods.

It can be (understandably) hard to say “no” to those items when you are advertised/offered the unhealthy foods every day. Take some time tomorrow to sit back and observe how many times you are faced with processed foods everyday: advertisements (billboards, commercials, etc), free food (at work, school), fast food establishments (as you drive by), etc.

Just moving about your daily life results in you being bombarded by unhealthy food everywhere you go. In comparison, how many times do you passively encounter healthy foods as you move through the day?

Are you reacting to the food temptations, or being proactive about your food choices?

I have found that it is necessary for me to actively turn my focus to healthy foods in order to avoid getting caught up in the unhealthy options. If you are hungry and driving home from work, it is a lot easier to passively let your mind wander on the picture of the fast food meal on the billboard instead of dreaming about the fruits and vegetables at home in the fridge– But, with practice, over time you can focus on healthy eating if you keep your thinking in check & work to create a healthier lifestyle.

Tomorrow I will be blogging about how to overcome the “icky” vegetable tastes in order to include more healthy ingredients in your cooking. I will be talking about a few steps that you can take in order to turn your focus away from junk food, break the addictions, and get excited about eating more healthy foods.

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Photo credit: Martin Cathrae
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