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

 

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