You know how we find something that interests us and become obsessed? We live and breathe it, no doubt annoying everyone with the constant monologuing and social media posts. We have become those people when it comes to what foods go into our daily diet. My Instagram feed is full of photos of our meals, and conveniently, Facebook duplicates them for that feed. Then there’s the commenting on every post that involves food, detailing why they aren’t good for you—making you ponder on whether or not to unfriend us. It’s a risk we take given our fascination with just how many people have it wrong about what’s healthy and how to knock off those extra pounds.
”I’ve tried everything! I can’t lose the weight!”
Honesty, have you really?
“Dieting is too hard. I don’t want to be restricted.”
What about self-restraint on portion sizes?
“I don’t have the time to prepare healthy meals.”
Conservatively, you’re awake 16 hours in a day, are you sure?
“Healthy foods are too expensive.”
Are your medical fees and supplements cheaper?
There are so many more “reasons” people use for not eating better and I have a response to all of them. If you avoid pretty much everything in the middle of the grocery store, you’d really be better off. All you have to do is control your ingredients…or, at least make better choices on those prepared foods.
We rejoice in the fact we feel better and that we’ve lost most of the inches grown over the past few years from all those bad food decisions. All it took was dishing out only the recommended serving sizes when we eat and cutting out as many added sugars as possible. There is a tendency to fill plates with even the healthiest of foods rather than thinking about quality over quantity.
Eating salads and snacking on granola bars isn’t exactly healthy if the salad is laden with dressing and the granola bar has added sugars. Here are two examples of salad dressing and a granola bar. Aside from the sugar added, there is a slew of ingredients most can’t pronounce.
Ranch Dressing: Vegetable Oil, Water, Egg Yolks, Sugar, Salt, Cultured Nonfat Buttermilk, Natural Flavors, Spices, Dried Garlic, Dried Onion, Vinegar, Phosphoric Acid, Xanthan Gum, Modified Food Starch, Monosodium Glutamate, Artificial Flavors, Disodium Phosphate, Sorbic Acid and Calcium Disodium EDTA as Preservatives, Disodium Inosinate, Disodium Guanylate. Gluten free.
If you only use one serving size of two tablespoons, then it’s one-half teaspoon of sugar poured on your salad.
Oats ’n Honey Granola Bar: Whole Grain Oats, Sugar, Canola Oil, Rice Flour, Honey, Salt, Brown Sugar Syrup, Baking Soda, Soy Lecithin, Natural Flavor.
If you only eat one serving size of two bars in a package, then it’s almost four teaspoons of sugar.
Let’s say you love ranch dressing and want to make it yourself. I’m pretty sure you can pronounce all of these: mayonnaise, sour cream, dried chives, dried parsley, dried dill weed, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, black pepper. Try this recipe for ranch dressing.
Need a snack, here’s what’s in the oats ’n honey granola bar you love so much: dates, honey, natural peanut or almond butter, almonds, rolled oats, and dried fruit. It may take a minute, but try using this recipe.
Although honey is considered a sugar, it’s a natural one that offers nutrients and antioxidants. Pure Maple Syrup also falls into that category. Peanut butter containing ONLY peanuts is a good thing. Simply Jiff Peanut Butter has roasted peanuts, fully hydrogenated vegetable oils, mono and diglycerides, molasses, sugar, salt. Again, this is about trying to limit the intake of added sugars that your body doesn’t really know what to do with—and then eventually turns it into fat.
I have no doubt all this is annoying to think about, but you should. And, this isn’t a “look at me and how great I’m doing” thing. It’s about wanting to share what we know to those we care about. The most common food-related things people post about are:
Sugar-laden Treats – photos of rich cakes, donuts, or various other sweets. Usually oversized.
Food photos – plates filled with delicious meals or monstrous-sized burgers, pizza, etc.
Diets/weight loss – Keto, Mediterranean, Paleo, etc.
Types of Diets
Let’s tackle the diet scene. I can’t even begin to count how emails I get about diets with the notion that this is the ONE for me. I’ve never been a “diet” fan and despise the notion of restrictions–creating menus without diversity. I started looking at some of these diets and learned some basics about each of them. For example:
The Keto Diet: This is the trending diet plan that has essentially replaced formerly popular Atkins. It’s a low carb, high fat claiming to offer many health benefits in addition to losing weight. You drastically reduce your carbs, replacing things such as:
Root vegetables – potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, etc.
Fruits – all except small amounts of berries.
Beans/Legumes – peas, lentils, chickpeas
Types of things you can eat:
Meat – steak, ham, sausage, etc.
Cheese – unprocessed cheddar, mozzarella, goat, etc.
Low-carb Veggies – most greens, tomatoes, onions, peppers, etc.
Do you know how many vitamins and nutrients are in fruits? They are naturally low in fat, sodium, and calories. There’s a bonus, too…no cholesterol. They may have sugar, but it’s the good kind as it also has fiber—which helps blood cholesterol levels. There is no substitute for what they do for you—so, save your money on vitamins and special juices and embrace this type of carbs.
The same applies to root vegetables. Sweet potatoes are laden with fiber, vitamin C and A, not to mention antioxidants. And, oh-my-god, don’t sprinkle brown sugar on your sweet potato—because…well…it’s a SWEET potato. By the way, garlic is a root vegetable—think on that one a while. Here’s a guide to help figure it all out.
When it comes to beans and legumes, I’m a selective fan. Nevertheless, I am a fan. So whether I’m eating pinto or black beans, I’m getting my amino acids, protein, antioxidants, iron, fiber, etc. Beans and legumes are good eats and better made fresh at home, but we all do what we “can.”
Shall I go on? I can tell you’d like me to, so here a couple other diets I explored:
The Paleo Diet – This one advocates eating the same foods that your hunter-gatherer ancestors allegedly ate. The paleo diet consists of eating whole foods, fruits, vegetables, lean meats, nuts, and seeds. It restricts the consumption of processed foods, grains, sugar, and dairy, though some less restrictive versions allow for some dairy products like cheese. I will say a lot of our meals follow the paleo guidelines and I’m delighted with the recipes. Here’s a website I frequently use that has a ton of fabulous meals you can make.
The Mediterranean Diet – This one advocates eating plenty of fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes, tubers, whole grains, fish, seafood, and extra virgin olive oil.. Foods such as poultry, eggs, and dairy products are to be eaten in moderation—red meats are limited. It does restrict refined grains (white rice or flour), trans fats (frozen pizza/fast food), refined oils (vegetable/canola oil), processed meats, added sugar, and other highly processed foods. Again, a lot of great recipes to add to your menu without having to restrict your entire diet.
There are literally hundreds of diets to choose from. I find the best way to choose one is to piece it together based on your needs. Don’t completely restrict yourself, but have self-control. There is no right or wrong, just moderation on your portion sizes and sugar intake. I’m not saying it’s easy. In fact, it’s one of the hardest things we’ve had to do.
We recently watched a documentary-style movie called FED UP. It’s essentially how we (everyone) have been so wrong about food—in a humorous and informative fashion. The movie claims it will change how we eat and it was a real eye-opener for us. I highly recommend watching it and guarantee you’ll invariably start paying attention to nutrition labels on the foods you buy. The amount of added sugars in almost everything we buy at the grocery store—sans the produce and fresh meats—is overwhelming. The labels of low or fat free, healthy, low-carb, among others, is misleading the public on how much sugar is actually added.
Did you know there are about 56 different names for sugar? Food companies are finding new ways to add sugar by simply renaming them—sometimes making it seem like a healthy additive. It’s not, so pay attention.
I know our daughter is hating the changes we’ve made as we not only point out all the sugar and unhealthy ingredients in the foods she likes, but we don’t buy most of them anymore. We do get her a few of her favorites things, like Hershey’s Chocolate Syrup to make chocolate milk. However, she has to measure out only a serving size, which is one tablespoon. Her macaroni and cheese is now Annie’s, which has better ingredients than Kraft’s version. We understand she wants the quick and easy meals, not ingredients to make them. However, she also wants a better complexion and more energy to get through her day. The key is involving her in the menu and letting her go through the cookbooks to pick out what she wants to eat. Her school choices are awful and she sent us photos of the healthy foods to show why she won’t bother choosing them. It’s really no wonder kids select pizza, French fries, and hamburgers. And, it’s also no wonder that kids are developing Type II Diabetes and becoming obese. I’ll no doubt have to blog about that, too. In the mean time, I want to make sure she has good choices at home.
I will conclude by saying sorry, not sorry, should you still be reading this post. If just one person gets something from it and attempts to better their diet just a little, I’ve succeeded. Meanwhile, I will relish in the fact I have lost twenty pounds since we started eating actual portion sizes and limiting added sugars. I will embrace having more energy and the feeling better throughout my day. I will be continue to be assertive with our daughter, not giving up on changing her view of healthier foods. I will persevere in my search for new ways to appreciate asparagus.
I will not, however—under any circumstances—find value grapefruit or papaya. They are the fruits of the devil.