What Happens When We Stop Eating Processed Food?

What Happens When We Stop Eating Processed Food?
What Happens When We Stop Eating Processed Food?

 

We have talked (a lot) about how processed foods are chemical-laden, addictive wonders of scientific labs all over the world. Well-paid scientists the world over have, and continue to, come up with processed foods that are highly addictive and make you want to eat them again and again.

These foods are well-known to cause weight gain and all the health issues that go with it as well as causing our bodies to react to chemical additives resulting in migraines, brain fog and even some that can lead to organ failure and serious disease.

But what happens when we stop eating processed food? Aside from avoiding the negative consequences, what positive reactions can we expect from eating whole foods?

 

Here’s To Your Health

Here's To Your Health
Here’s To Your Health

Eating more fruit can lower our risk of cancer of the upper gastrointestinal tract. Many phytochemicals found in fruits, vegetables, nuts, and legumes act as antioxidants, which protect cells from damage that can cause cancer.

The role of healthy food in avoiding, controlling and/or reversing diabetes is essential. The introduction of fiber, high quality protein and fats help to maintain a slow, steady level of glucose in our system, as opposed to the “sugar rush” that is the result of sugary, low fiber and low protein processed foods.

The fiber, high quality protein and healthy fats found in whole foods help to reduce the amount of fat and cholesterol in your body by helping you feel full faster and longer than processed foods.

An interesting study showed that people who eat an ultra processed food diet tend to gain weight.
When those same people ate unprocessed whole foods, they lost weight. Intriguingly, the weight differences on the two diets occurred even though both kinds of foods had been carefully matched from a nutritional standpoint, including calorie density, fiber, fat, sugar and salt.

 

Stronger and Stronger

Stronger and Stronger
Stronger and Stronger

A diet with adequate calcium and magnesium is necessary for strong bones and teeth. Keeping the bones healthy is vital in preventing osteoporosis and osteoarthritis later in life.

High quality protein helps to build and maintain healthy muscle mass. When these proteins are paired with fiber rich carbohydrates (for energy) and healthy fats (for more energy!), they create the building blocks for strong muscles.

Water is also important when performing the exercise that builds up your core strength and muscle mass. Yes, it replaces the fluid that’s lost when you sweat but it also replenishes electrolytes, sodium and glucose. Not only that, a couple of glasses of water before exercising will lower your perceived effort while consuming water after exercise will ward off muscle cramps, remove toxins from your body and deliver the nutrients your body has burned.

Create Beauty From Within

Create Beauty From Within
Create Beauty From Within

 

Eating a whole foods diet can help cleanse toxins from your body while increasing nutrients which are essential for healthy skin. This is because the liver, kidneys, adrenals, thyroid as well as the intestines work together to make that happen. If your liver and kidneys are overtaxed trying to filter out an over consumption of toxins, it can cause skin breakouts. If your hormones are out of whack, your thyroid can’t function properly causing the skin to be dry and flaky. If the intestines are having trouble expelling waste, it can cause the skin to become thick, blemished and oily.

Whole grains such as brown rice and oats contain B vitamins, silica and zinc which can alleviate brittle and thinning hair. These B vitamins will also help to keep your lips hydrated, relieving cracking and chapping.

Vitamins K and C can be found in dark green and leafy vegetables can boost circulation and strengthen capillary walls in the skin, improving its strength and color. Potassium, such as is found in avocado, can reduce puffiness by reducing water retention. Since avocados also contain healthy fatty acids that help keep your skin soft, it sounds like a spinach/avocado smoothie is the perfect breakfast to keep you looking your best!

Tossing back a few nuts will supply your nails with some much-needed B7, zinc, iron and protein to keep them strong!

 

Happily Ever After

Happily Ever After
Happily Ever After

Antioxidants and phytochemicals found in plant based foods reduce inflammation and repair damage to brain cells while restoring balance to our neurotransmitters. Studies show this leads to reduced episodes of depression compared to those who consume more processed foods. There is even evidence that a whole foods diet can reverse depression without the aid of medication.

The proper amount of quality sleep is also important to regulate your mood. A low fiber and higher saturated fat diet has been shown to lead to a lighter and less restorative sleep, resulting in more awake time over the course of the night. Fatty foods can also be harder to digest, making it harder to fall asleep in the first place! On the other hand, eating foods rich in melatonin and magnesium, such as almonds, can improve sleep by regulating your inner clock and reducing stress hormone cortisol,

Magnesium will also help to reduce headaches.

Viva La Vida! (And Enjoy It More!)

Viva La Vida! (And Enjoy It More!)
Viva La Vida! (And Enjoy It More!)

 

So here’s the bottom line: Switching to a whole foods diet will help you lose weight faster, age slower, get fewer headaches and have better hair, skin and brain function. It will also lead to a better night’s sleep!

Think it’s hard to give up the junk? Maybe at first. That’s because many processed foods are made with “perfect” amounts of added sugar, salt, fat, and other chemicals designed to make us want more. Shockingly, studies have shown that this combination addicts us in a similar way as drugs.

But many people will testify that once they get away from processed foods, they no longer have any desire to eat them. It doesn’t mean you’ll never slip again…it just means that each time you do, you’ll enjoy it less and less, much like an ex-smoker becomes intolerant to the sight and smell of cigarettes over the course of time.

So go ahead. Climb on the bandwagon and begin to live your best life. You can do it!

All my best

Cynthia
cynthia@cynthiaeats.com

 

Eating Healthy On Vacation And Business Trips

Eating Healthy On Vacation and Business Trips
Eating Healthy On Vacation and Business Trips

Hitting the road? I’ve got some tips for eating healthy on vacation and business trips! It’s a piece of cake!
It’s time. The annual family vacation, seminar, corporate bonding session or meet-up with far away friends and family. Or maybe it’s just better than staying home. Whatever your reason for hitting the road, there’s no reason to break with your decision to eat wholesome foods!

Food For The Journey

Road Trip
Road Trio

Air Travel

Airport food is overpriced and never very good. It’s commonplace to spend $20+ on a bottle of water, a teeny-tiny bag of chips and a cold sandwich that was made who-knows-how-long-ago.

The good news? TSA allows a wide variety of food through the security checkpoint and onto the airplane. Meats, cheese, bread, crackers, nuts…basically anything that’s not a liquid or packed in liquid. One caveat: Some fresh fruits and vegetables are NOT allowed, depending on their point of origin.

As for that overpriced water? Bring an empty drinking container and fill it once you get past the checkpoint.

Road Tripping

Hit the supermarket the day before to pick up a variety of healthy food. Road trips can be long and it makes us want to eat out of sheer boredom. Keep this in mind when choosing food. Come up with unusual or fun choices and let everyone in the car have a say on what they’d like to eat while on the road. If feasible, allow for some more expensive foods that may not be in your house on a regular basis, such as roast beef or exotic cheese. Don’t forget snacks that are easy to eat in the car such as grapes or nuts!

Stop for meals and some leg stretching in a park, when possible, instead of a rest area, where the sights and smells from fast-food stands and convenience stores might tempt you to eat junk.

If you find that you have to stop for food, skip the convenience store. Instead, choose a grocery store where there is a wider variety of healthy options.

At Your Destination

Eating Healthy In Hotels
Eating Healthy In Hotels

So you’ve arrived at your destination, checked in and unpacked your bags. Now it’s time to make a meal plan! The first thing you’re going to want to do is hit the supermarket (yes, again) because the easiest way to keep healthy while away from home is to continue to make your own meals as much as possible.

I know what you’re thinking. How are you going to make a healthy meal in a hotel room?

I’m going to assume you have a refrigerator in your room. Depending on how long your stay is (and how big the refrigerator is), you may be able to get all your food in one trip and not have to worry about it again!

I’m going to also assume that you have a microwave in your room. This is good news because microwaves are for more than cooking frozen entrees! You can cook a fresh bowl of oatmeal in less than 2 minutes. Throw some uncooked pasta in a bowl of water and microwave it for 5-8 minutes. Quesadillas, baked potatoes, nachos, scrambled eggs and bacon, steamed veggies, ground beef, rice, and corn on the cob. Etcetera. Etcetera. Etcetera.

Pick up frozen, fully cooked chicken breasts and a bag of salad greens to toss together with some oil and vinegar for a super-fast salad. Use the chicken that’s left to throw together some chicken salad.

How about a peanut butter and fresh strawberry sandwich?

Make some overnight oats before hitting the hay for a super quick breakfast the next morning. Mix up any remaining yogurt with some fresh fruit or berries for a refreshing snack. How about some guacamole boats or a hummus wrap?

Day Tripping

Day Tripping
Day Tripping

At some point, you’re going to want to (or have to) leave your room. You know, to go to the theme park, business meeting, seminar or whatever brought you to town.

If you’re out for the day, pack a lunch. If you drove from home, you may have brought a cooler for the road trip. If you flew, you can purchase (or maybe you thought to pack) a collapsible insulated bag. Seal some hotel ice in a Ziploc bag and throw it in with your food to keep things cool.

If you’re in a meeting or at an event that includes a buffet-style lunch (or dinner), there are usually healthy options to choose from. If you think this will not be the case, feel free to bring your own lunch because, hey, it’s a free country, man. *flashes peace sign* If someone calls you out, you can cite health issues, which is absolutely true…you’re healthy and you want to stay that way.

Always keep some healthy snacks and drinks close at hand for combating between-meal hunger (and that pastry bar they always have at meetings!). Think trail mix, fresh fruit, peanut butter crackers or popcorn, which you can pop up fresh in a paper bag using your hotel microwave. You’re welcome.

Create a custom healthy drink by popping a teabag and/or a few slices of lemon, cucumber or strawberry into your water bottle.

Eating Clean When Eating Out

Eating Clean While Eating Out
Eating Clean While Eating Out

It’s bound to happen. Maybe it’s a meeting, maybe you’ve been outvoted, maybe you just want to have someone else cook for a change. Whatever the reason, here you are at what always seems to be your downfall — dining out.

Let me assure you that eating in a restaurant doesn’t have to be unhealthy.

The first thing you need to do is fix your mindset. Remember that vacations and business trips are not about the food. They are about taking in the sights, forging tighter bonds with people you know and connecting with people you don’t. It’s about having new experiences and learning new things. It’s all about the journey.

But you still have to order dinner.

Look for “naked” proteins that aren’t covered in sauces or cheese. The same goes for a veggie or potato side. This might be, for example, steak, broccoli and a baked potato. If you don’t see anything that fits the bill, ask your server if the kitchen can prepare something for you.

The salad bar is another great option for your veggie side or even for your whole meal. Stick with fresh veggies, fruits, and healthy proteins such as eggs and nuts/seeds. Skip the (probably premade) salad dressings and ask your server to bring you oil and vinegar to top it off.

For a more in-depth discussion about eating healthy in restaurants, check out my article on the subject!

Falling Off The (Whole Foods) Wagon

Falling Off The Wagon
Falling Off The Wagon

You were fine. Just fine. You were eating well, staying strong and feeling great but the moment you passed through the entrance to the fair, the smell of fried dough hit you. You fell off the wagon and you fell hard. You proceeded to eat your way through the entire fair, reeling from one concession sideshow to the next until you had hit them all. Now you’re feeling guilty, tired, cranky, bloated and more than a little nauseated.

Guess what? It happens to the best of us. Put it in your rear view and climb right back on that wagon!

Here are a few tips to help you feel better fast:

  • Take a walk. A brisk walk will speed up your metabolism, which will help to empty your stomach and shed excess fluid. It’s also a mood booster, Win-win!
  • Drink some water. A steady intake of water will help you lose the bloat, especially if you add a few slices of lemon, lime or cucumber. Coffee and green or hibiscus tea are also natural diuretics.
  • Have a piece of candy. Sucking on peppermint or ginger candy will help alleviate the nausea associated with overeating.
  • Get some sleep. A good night’s rest will leave you feeling strong, confident, energized and ready to get back on track!

Whatever you do, don’t follow through with the promise you made to yourself that you’re “never going to eat again”. Skipping meals will only lead to extreme hunger and another binge.

What are your hacks to survive traveling? Let me know in the comments below!

All my best,

Cynthia
cynthia@cynthiaeats.com

 

 

Creating Healthy Whole Foods Meals For One

So, what the heck is a whole foods diet, anyway? Take a minute to read this for my opinion on the subject on 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 as 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 backyard.

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 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 ever 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 we’re talking about here 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 with 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 where 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 to 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.

For more information on shopping for one person, check out this post.

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

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