One small change can make a big difference. Check out this list of 25 small changes I have learned to improve my health. Do you have others to add?
There is absolutely nothing nutritious about soda. Just simply taking soda out of your diet for a month will produce great results, especially in weight loss. A friend who recently did the 30 Day Clean Eating program was drinking at least 64oz of diet coke a day. He replaced the soda with fizz sticks, ate clean, and lost 25 pounds. He reported less bloating and that he could actually taste his food. Yet another who did the program claimed to have an iron stomach, tried a "harmless" diet coke at the movie theater and was ill for hours afterwards. Fizz sticks are alkaline forming, burn stored calories, suppress appetite, boost metabolism, and increase energy. They are only 13 calories and no artificial sweeteners or high fructose corn syrup.
Filled with sugar and not enough fiber to process, you are better off eating a piece of fruit instead. Tired of water? Try a fizz stick. Natural energy from ghuarana and less than 2 grams of real sugar, this is a ph balanced alternative to water and a great pick me up at 10am and 2pm.
3. Skipping breakfast
The chemistry behind skipping meals is an important concept to understand. Most people's bodies create insulin. Eating sugar and acidic carbohydrates causes the body to secret insulin. Insulin signals the body to bring the blood sugar down and hold on to fat. Low blood sugar causes cravings. "Scientists have established that anything that causes a rise in our blood sugar results in inflammation and inflammation is at the basis or virtually every disease process, " Dr. Nicholas Perricone. Some ways to sustain your blood sugar are to eat at regular intervals, about every 3-4 hours with 1-3 snacks in between, avoid skipping meals and eating excessively large portions of refined carbs, and eat balanced snacks or meals that include while foods containing protein, complex carbs, healthy and high quality fats, and fiber. Arbonne encompasses all of these which is why the protein shakes are great for breakfast, even for diabetics, because they don't spike your blood sugar. Our protein shakes contain 20 grams of the most absorbable and digestible form of protein on the market versus an egg with only 6g protein.
4. Protein bars
Again, have you read the ingredients? Artificial flavors and sweeteners and non-digestible protein sources in many of them on the market. First thing to look at is the sugar content. A Cliff Bar has the same sugar content as a bag of Reese's Pieces. What's the protein source? Soy or whey? Soy is highly processed and full of GMOSs and is also estrogen-mimicking. Men don't need more estrogen and neither do women. Whey-based protein bars tend to come from the cheapest form available which is very difficult to digest, but whey also comes from dairy so it's also acidic forming. We need our bodies to be more alkaline. Arbonne has nutrition bars which are a favorite for many, but my absolute favorite is our homemade protein bar recipe using 4 ingredients: chocolate and vanilla protein, almond butter, and agave. You can also throw in whatever toppings you'd like: oatmeal, organic brown Rice Krispies, goji berries, or Enjoy Life chocolate.. Or, you can try these Chocolate Chip Protein Cookies.
I used to drink at least 2 glasses a day. Chocolate milk in the morning and a cold glass of plain milk at dinner. Dairy is acidic with a ph of 6 and is high in sugar. Also, not completely digestible and inflammatory. The dairy industry is HUGE and has brainwashed us into thinking we need it. The US government gives billions in subsidies to the conventional dairy industry. We are not baby cows that grow into a cow that weighs hundreds of pounds. Do you drink milk to get calcium? Only 30% of calcium in milk is absorbed. You get twice as much calcium from a cup of broccoli or other leafy greens. Don't be fooled that drinking skim milk is healthier. That is devoid of the nutritional benefit of drinking milk in the first place. Skim milk was developed as a way to make money from the by-product of stripping milk of its fat to make things like butter and creamers. If you aren't at least drinking organic milk, I encourage you to look that up. Cows are fed hormones and a diet to make them huge and produce more milk and antibiotics to keep them from getting sick. The diet consists of corn (a crop high in sugar and riddled with GMOs) which cows were never intended to eat, but it makes them huge and productive. All that goes into the milk you drink. By the way, toddlers don't need milk to survive or grow. I fed my first 2 kids cows milk because I just followed the masses. They wouldn't take to almond milk with less sugar when I tried to switch them, so now they only drink water. My son has always drank almond milk and has a well-balanced diet, is never sick and is hitting all milestones. Don't just go with what the majority is doing. Research, ask questions, determine why it is you do what you do, and do what's best for you and your family. I used to suffer from seasonal allergies and ever since I stopped drinking milk, I don't have any issues. Coincidence? The research suggests, no.
6. Creamer in Coffee
Creamers are full of sugar and artificial sweeteners if you are using flavored. See #5. Try coconut milk instead! I love it in my coffee.
This category was one of the hardest habits for me to break. I used to have Hershey's chocolate syrup in my milk every, single morning. Full of sugar and artificial ingredients and no nutritional value. I was addicted. It couldn't be any other brand. Before I gave up my daily glass of milk I eventually switched to an organic chocolate syrup, but during the 30 day clean eating program, I gave up milk altogether and never had it again. Other common syrups include pancake syrup. I was addicted to Aunt Jemima's. That was the only one I liked. Now, I know too much. Filled with high fructose corn syrup and no nutritional value, I have since rid myself of this addiction. Real, maple syrup is a better alternative but I can't adjust to the taste. Luckily, my kids have it so they can still enjoy a breakfast favorite. As for me, I just don't eat it and order it for brunch once in a blue moon.
8. Chocolate chips
A great topping for my ice cream (which I still enjoy every once in a while, but not every night like I used to). Have you looked at the ingredients? Sugar and soy. Soy is a highly processed crop riddled with GMOs and is used as a bonding agent in many products. I discovered the Enjoy Life brand and it tastes delicious. You'll never miss the old stuff.
9. Gluten free flour
We don't buy bread anymore to keep in the house. If you make your own, bread can be nutritious but the stuff you buy at the store is devoid of most nutrients (and using "most" is generous). White flour has nothing to offer but gluten which wreaks havoc on your intestines, some people are affected more than others depending on whether you have a sensitivity. Next time, try gluten free flour to bread your chicken or to make pancakes and waffles.
A health culprit that leads to bloating (aka inflammation). How many times have you felt stuffed and uncomfortable after a big pasta meal? Have you noticed? Gluten, again. And no nutritional value. Yes, even the whole wheat varieties. I've mentioned this in other blog posts, but give brown rice and quinoa pasta a try. Digestible and not inflammatory. You won't miss the old stuff as long as you find a good brand. Trader Joe's option is fantastic.
See #5. Butter is a by-product of the dairy industry. All the negative things about milk are true here. We use Kerrygold when we use butter because it from grass-fed cows and tastes great. Have you heard of it in your coffee? . Side note, butter substitutes (margarine, spreads) are poison. There is nothing real or nutritious about them. Just because it's low in calories or fat free doesn't make it healthy. Good fats are good for you. We need them to survive.
12. Artificial Sweeteners
Also poison. They are a neurotoxin and mess with our hormone levels and cause negative side effects like headaches. There are over 90 medical conditions linked to aspartame alone. Sugar is 8x more addicting than cocaine. It's in everything. It's even in baby formula, so we have been conditioned to crave sugar from infancy. If you have to sweeten something, why not try organic cane sugar or a plant-based sweetener like Stevia or Agave? Just know that our bodies metabolize sugar the same way no matter what kind. Our bodies aren't able to process artificial or synthetic ingredients which is at the route of many health issues. DIET COKE PIC
13. Nutritional yeast or Nooch
Have you heard of it? A well-known ingredient among Vegans, used as a dairy substitute. We use it on roasted cauliflower and popcorn, and it's delicious.
Food eaten closest to it's original state is the healthiest. This is a reason for the building popularity over farm-to-table. Cows, chickens, turkeys, etc from mass-production are fed hormones and antibiotics to grow and produce more than they ever could on their own. Then, it's sold to us. Think of the amount of meat bought in this country- fast food chains, restaurants, grocery stores. It came from an animal. We are what we eat. Buying organic means your meat does not have growth hormones or antibiotics. Getting it from a farm you trust is even better. Have you visited a farmers market? Here is a list of markets in Virginia.
Chickens will eat anything and everything so what they eat is what we eat. Eat organic eggs or even better, know where your eggs come from. I have a friend with chickens who I buy eggs from. I know what she is feeding them and can trust her to keep my food safe. Plus, the eggs taste so much better.
16. Peanut butter
Peanuts hold bacteria and are high in sugar. Why not try an alternative like almond butter? My kids love it.
17. Salad Dressing
This is a big money maker. Have you read the labels on salad dressings? Especially the ones that don't require refrigeration? If it doesn't go bad after sitting in warehouses and on shelves for months and even years, it's probably not something we should be eating. Do you know how easy it is to make salad dressing? We just use olive oil and salt and pepper on our salads and it's delicious.
18. Dipping sauces
See #17. Try hummus and guacamole, our family favorites.
19. Conventional vs. Organic
See Dirty Dozen/Clean Fifteen blog post. There's a reason it costs more to buy organic. It costs more to make healthier food. Again, the government subsidizes conventional farmers and make organic farmers jump through expensive hoops. You get what you pay for. We used to have a huge garden in NY and grew our own veggies, but since moving to Virginia, we have a better growing season but too much shade in our yard. Our harvest has been relatively non-existent, not for lack of effort. You can grow tomatoes with full-sun in a pot on a patio. Give it a try! It's a fun experiment to teach kids where our food comes from.
20. Canned Food
Again the idea that if it doesn't go bad after sitting in warehouses and on shelves for months and even years, it's probably not something we should be eating. Filled with preservatives, sodium, sugar, and artificial ingredients, this "food" is heated at such high temperatures before it's canned that it has no nutritional value once you eat it. I do buy organic canned tomatoes and tomatoes sauce, but I look at the ingredients first and tomatoes are the only thing in the can. Again, eating food as close to its original state, is the best.
Are you one that believes cereal is a healthy breakfast? Do you know how cereal is made? It's made through a process called extrusion in which the ingredients are heated to extremely high temperatures and extruded to make the shape that results. Because of the high heat, it kills all nutritional value, so they add vitamins at the end which you see on the box on the front. Sounds great, but our bodies can't process those vitamins, making cereal a meal replacement that is just high in sugar. That's why it fills you up and you are craving something an hour later. Try a protein shake instead!
22. Sports Drinks
Gatorade, Powerade, and most commercial sports drinks all have one thing in common- high in artificial sweeteners, flavors, and dyes. Again, anything artificial cannot be processed by our bodies and are therefore, toxins. Check out Hydration in our Phytosport line. 6 electrolytes and low in real sugar without anything artificial.
The average person needs 25-30 grams of fiber each day. Most people get 4! If you changed nothing else about your diet but got the daily recommended amount, you would lose 9.5 pounds in one year. Fiber is a sponge for toxins. It helps you feel fuller longer and keeps your blood sugar balanced. Some great whole food fiber sources include: split peas, lentils, black beans, Lima beans, artichokes, peas, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, raspberries, blackberries, avocados, pears, barley, and oatmeal. Arbonne also makes a plant-based fiber boost that is odorless, tasteless, and texture less. You can add it to shakes, sauces, and bake with it.
24. Ice cream
See #5. Don't get me wrong, I love some ice cream every once in a while, but I'm always looking for healthier options. I found this recipe for homemade sorbet that is amazing (link), but you can also freeze chocolate protein shakes for a soft-serve frozen dessert option.
Have you ever heard the advice that you should stick to the perimeter of the grocery story? Good advice. Going down the aisle solely devoted to snacks is filled with processed foods with sugar, artificial everything, and no nutritional value. Manufacturers put sodium bicarbonate in these snacks which tricks the brain into craving more which is why you can never have just one. Another popular snack is yogurt. Not only does it contain everything in #5, buts it's really high in sugar. Stick to whole food snacks like dried fruits, nuts, seeds, root vegetable chips, apples, and carrots.
What we eat and drink is either fuel or poison. Notice the common denominators- sugar and artificial ingredients. They are in everything. All it takes is being aware and knowing how to make better choices.
One small change can make a huge difference in your health. Healthy food can be interesting and delicious. It doesn't have to be bland and boring. For some of us it takes re-learning a lifetime of old habits instilled in us from a very young age. This journey has taken me 7 years. It really is a journey of learning how we are affected by what we put in and on our bodies. Every decision has a reaction. My goal is to help you discover which choices might be resulting in negative reactions, so you can live your best life!
If you would like to jump start your health and learn how these things are affecting you, try the 30 Day Transformation! We only get one body. Invest in yourself. Invest in your health. You won't regret it.