Change Your Food, Change Your Life

Change Your Food, Change Your Life
Change Your Food, Change Your Life

We are all acquainted with those people who wouldn’t know a fresh vegetable if it ran them down in the street. Maybe you are one of those people. Or, rather, were one of those people.

The fact that you’re here, reading this article, tells me that you’ve changed. It tells me that you want to eat differently.

I had a dear friend who embraced the motto, “I only have a kitchen because it came with the house”. Yes, she was being funny but it was also (mostly) true and, if we’re being truthful, we all feel that way from time to time.

We’ve become a society of convenience-based, fast-food junkies. I’ve made a decision to change my life, to change the way I eat, so now I’m embracing this new motto: “Change Your Food, Change Your Life”.

Here are a few reasons why.

Do Processed Foods Make You Hungry?

Do Processed Foods Make You Hungry?
Do Processed Foods Make You Hungry?

The US National Institutes of Health say that eating a diet full of processed foods causes a rise in hunger hormones.

In a month-long study, 20 volunteers lived in a laboratory and spent two weeks eating a diet of processed foods followed by two weeks eating a diet of unprocessed foods.

It was discovered that the unprocessed diet caused appetite-suppression hormones PYY to rise while hunger hormone ghrelin went down.

This did not happen for the processed food portion of the study. As a matter of fact, the volunteers consumed an average of 500 more calories every day while on the processed foods diet.

Why is this happening? The answers aren’t clear. Obviously more studies are needed to get to the bottom of this.

Do Processed Foods Make You Fat?

Do Processed Foods Make You Fat?
Do Processed Foods Make You Fat?

The study I’ve noted above took great care to make sure that the nutritional intake for the two diets was similar but, here in the real world, things look a little different, don’t they?

We tend to choose (and overeat) processed foods that are full of refined carbs, added sugar and fat, all of which appeals to the human palate, but tend to fall short when it comes to fiber, protein and nutrition.

When we couple that with the information garnered about hormones in the study mentioned above, it’s no wonder we’re gaining weight.

Studies have shown again and again that beings who eat (humans, mice, dogs, etc) gravitate towards foods that taste good and we don’t mind compromising our health to do it.

In past generations, this desire was mitigated by the food that was available and the process of preparing it. If you missed that deer or didn’t have wood to build a fire, then you simply had to consume what you had.

In today’s society, the plethora of readily available and inexpensive convenience foods assures that we can eat as much as we want, whenever want.

Do Processed foods make you tired?

Do Processed foods make you tired?
Do Processed foods make you tired?

We’re Bushed. Zonked. Fried. Done in. Pooped. Whatever you call it, it’s no fun to be weary.

As we struggle valiantly to stay awake during the morning meeting, we vow to do better.

We promise ourselves that tonight we’ll lose the screen time, skip that second glass of wine and hit the sack earlier. So why isn’t it helping?

While all these things are certainly issues in our day-to-day lives, the fatigue that we’re suffering could be directly linked to the foods that we eat.

More and more, experts are uncovering the reasons that processed foods make you tired. And they’re not necessarily the reasons you may think.

I think we all know that when we eat a donut, the blood sugar spike we get will be quickly followed by a dip, leaving us tired and cranky.

What many people don’t realize is that the same holds true for so-called “white” carbs. These are the refined carbs found in many white foods such as white bread, white flour, white rice and some breakfast cereals.

The better choices to avoid that sugar crash are whole grains such as whole-wheat bread, brown rice and oatmeal.

Things go much deeper than that, however.

Because many processed foods don’t contain the nutrients that our bodies need to function, using them as a main food source can lead to a variety of health issues such as anemia. The higher salt sugar and fat content can cause high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes.

The chemicals that are used in processed foods can cause fatigue as well. Inorganic phosphate, for example, is shown to reduce oxygen uptake as well as impede the body’s ability to produce fatty acids. Considering that it’s used in up to 70% of all processed foods, I think we can agree that it’s a problem.

Do processed foods make you crave sugar?

Do processed foods make you crave sugar?
Do processed foods make you crave sugar?

Why does it seem that the more we eat, the more we want?

The answer is simple: Modern industrial food manufacturers have worked tirelessly to create foods that make us want more.

They have surrounded us with food that is cheap, delicious, calorie-dense and impossible to resist.

They have created food that is, by design, addictive.

So, yes. That sugar-filled donut you ate this morning really did make you crave more sugar.

But how do they do it? This next part’s a little scary so buckle up.

Manufacturers have discovered how to use a precise combination of sugar, salt and fat to virtually ensure our overconsumption of the foods they’re pushing. This concoction lights up the pleasure centers in the brain, creating a euphoria that compels us to want more.

It’s so powerful that it’s been compared to cocaine. Yes, you heard me right. Check out these findings put together by Yale University.

The Future of Processed Foods

The Future of Processed Foods
The Future of Processed Foods

Despite the outcries of those who look to regulate the industry, I wouldn’t expect things to change anytime soon.

Where there is a demand, there will, without doubt, be a supply and right now processed foods account for more than half the calories that Americans consume.

Ultimately, it’s up to each and every one of us to educate ourselves and then map out a nutritional plan that works in our individual lives.

No, we’re not experts but we don’t have to be.

We only have to strive each day to be a little better than the day before.

We only have to want to make those small changes and see them through until they become so ingrained that we find that we have, after all, changed our lives.

Please feel free to share your personal journey in the comments below!

 

Cynthia
cynthia@cynthiaeats.com

 

Cooking for one person – Creating Healthy Whole Foods Meals

Cooking Whole Foods
Cooking Whole Foods

As I mentioned before, I love to cook but cooking for one person seems like a lot of work. You have to haul out the bowls and the pans. The utensils, the cutting board, and the dishes. Not to mention the shopping and clean-up! All for that one meal. But the good news is that I’ve been experimenting in my kitchen. I’ve been creating some tasty and healthy whole foods meals to share with you. I’ve also come up with some easy cooking hacks, tips and ideas to make meal preparation a little bit easier and more efficient.

What Is A Whole Foods Diet?

What Is A Whole Foods Diet?
What Is A Whole Foods Diet?

So what is a whole foods diet, exactly?  Well, that’s sort of a loaded question. The first thing I would like to point out is that what I’m referring to when I say “diet” is not what is commonly thought of a traditional dieting (i.e. weight loss diet plan). What I’m talking about is a healthier way of eating. (And if you do lose a little weight then all the better, right?!?) The second thing I’ll say is that there are a number of definitions out there. Many vegetarians see their choices as being the true whole foods diet, while vegans (including raw vegans, fruitarians, juicearians, sproutairians, etc) feel that THEIR choices are the correct ones. These are all great options and I have deep respect for those who desire, for whatever reason, to remove meat or animals products from their diets but what I’m referring to is a more general description. More of a goal, really, as opposed to a specific plan. I’m concentrating on avoiding processed foods in favor of using fresh foods, or foods in their natural state if you prefer.

Fresh Foods vs Processed Foods

Processed Foods
Processed Foods

The term fresh food means, once again, different things to different people. If we wanted to be literal about this, we would go to the hen house every morning to gather eggs. Then we would head to the barn to milk Bessy so we could churn the butter for bread made from the flour we milled after harvesting the wheat in our own back yard. I, personally, don’t want to wait that long for breakfast so I’m in favor of using a meter, of sorts, that rates food from red to green. From Very Bad (Is there anything in this that isn’t chemicals?) to Sainthood (Why, yes, I do maintain an organic, totally self-sufficient, plant based household). I simply aim for something in the green(ish) section.

In all seriousness, acquiring fresh food is easier than ever. Most of us are no longer at the mercy of growing seasons, weather or the proximity to others who are willing to barter foodstuffs. In regard to fresh foods vs processed foods, I am simply referring to foods that are in their natural state vs foods that have been modified in some way to make them ready to eat or easier to prepare. Think a fresh potato instead of boxed potato flakes. Really it’s that simple.

If you do want to take things a step further (and sometimes I do), the movement to purchase locally grown or raised products is gaining serious traction. You could google local farms (or farmers markets), check in your local newspaper or peruse the community bulletin board. I have discovered that most local merchants are happy to direct you to another one if they don’t have what you need. And think of all the cool people you’ll meet.

Is Eating Meat Healthy?

Is Eating Meat Healthy?
Is Eating Meat Healthy?

Is eating meat bad? Is eating meat healthy? The debate is never-ending and certainly not one that I could possibly settle. There is one thing that I DO know…many experts agree that meat can be a part of a whole foods meal plan. Keep in mind that this not a specific eating plan but more of a guideline. Fresh and unprocessed is the key (sorry chicken nuggets). Based on that train of thought, some will even argue that fresh meat is more compatible to a whole foods diet than the processed vegan alternatives.

Shopping For Whole Foods

Whole Foods
Whole Foods

Now that we’ve had this chat, you’re ready to jump right in and work up a healthy eating plan, right? Unfortunately, creating healthy meals is a “no-go” if you don’t have the proper ingredients. The first thing you’re going to want to do is go shopping for whole foods. I’m not going to tell you what to buy because I think we’ve already covered that. And we all have different tastes. I love Brussels sprouts, for example, but my best friend gags at the mere sight of them. No, my advice is simple.  Shop the perimeter of the store because that’s were all the good stuff is. Close your eyes and picture taking a walk around the (inside) outer limits of your local supermarket. That’s where you’ll find fresh produce, seafood, meat and dairy.

Shopping for one person is trickier than shopping for a group so the first thing you’re going to want to do is decide what you’re going to cook in the upcoming week and use that to make a list. If you’re feeling stuck, I have posted some of my favorite recipes in the Let’s Get Cooking! tab on my home page. There are a few aisles you may want to hit but if you have a plan you won’t waste your time wandering aimlessly and (probably) buying things you didn’t intend to buy.

Ready?

Whole Foods
Whole Foods

I’ll be adding a few recipes each week under the Let’s Get Cooking! tab on my homepage. I’ll do my best to categorize them but my idea of evening food might be different from yours (breakfast for supper, anyone?) so feel free to look around to see what’s there.

I’ll also be including those aforementioned cooking hacks, tips and ideas. Any that pertain to a particular recipe will be included in that post but I will also be writing posts about some ideas I’ve come up with. Please come back often to see what’s new!

This is a journey and I hope you’ll join me. I look forward to seeing your ideas and recipes, either in the comment section below or by email.

So, are we ready?

Let’s Get Cooking!

Cynthia

cynthia@cynthiaeats.com