Food, food, food, that’s all everyone is talking about now. It’s a wonder why so many people are confused about what to eat as there is so much conflicting information to be found on the internet and through social media. There is a food exercise that I like to take my personal clients through, and this is going through their fridge. They are a little hesitant at first to try it, but once I explain the pros and cons of the food they keep in their fridge, they seem much more at ease to receive my feedback. The food found in their fridge will tell me why they can’t lose weight or why they never have any energy. So read on to see which foods are good, bad, and just plain ugly.
Fresh Fruit – If you’re busy and need a quick snack, pack up the fridge with some fruits that are in season to get a little more variety. Variety is the spice of life so don’t be afraid to try a new fruit the next time you go grocery shopping. Keep some apples, oranges, grapes, and pears on hand if you need to grab something to go. It’s the new fast food. High in fiber, hydrating, and high in antioxidants, fruit is one of the best carbohydrates as its alkaline forming. It’s also rich in vitamins and minerals and packed with nutrients.
Cut Up Vegetables – Always have some cut up veggies on hand for when you’re craving something crunchy and savory. Vegetables such as carrots, celery, broccoli, cauliflower and sliced bell pepper can be eaten on their own or dipped in some great home-made spreads. They provide optimal nourishment as they supply us with an endless supply of vitamins. This is why consuming them every day is so important. They also have an abundance of phytonutrients such as carotenoids and flavonoids. Lastly, vegetables are a group of food that contain low amounts of calories. On average, you are looking at 50 calories or less (per cup) from most of the worlds’ healthiest vegetables.
Home-Made Dips – Pass on store-bought snacks that are loaded up with fat and sodium. Instead, create your own healthier homemade versions of dips. Home-made hummus is a great alternative to store bought hummus. Why? Store bough hummus is loaded in oil and sodium which can you leave you feeling de-energized and it’s high in calories. Beans are the backbones of many dip recipes so find some great recipes on-line which will leave you feeling good and energized. Try to omit using oil when making your dips as oil is considered not to be a whole food as it’s refined and loaded in fat.
Nut Butters – A tasty alternative to processed peanut butter. If you’re not allergic to tree nuts, you can choose from a number of heart-healthy nut butters including peanuts, cashews, almonds, walnuts, and hazelnuts. A wide-range of nut butters provides a variety of health benefits including: protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals and phytochemicals. Be careful of processed nut butters you buy as they can be very high in fat, sodium, and especially high in sugar. It takes seconds to whip up a batch of your favourite nut butter in your food processor or vitamix.
Non-Dairy Milk – Switching to non-dairy milk is helping thousands of people prevent milk allergies and sensitivity reactions to dairy milk. Many people have experienced weight loss from just going dairy free which includes milk, yogurt, butter, ice cream, and cheese. For myself, switching from dairy milk to non-dairy milk helped me with IBS and reduce the symptoms caused by it. There are so many non-dairy alternatives (cashew, almond, rice, coconut) available to consumers that by trying them all, I’m sure you will find something that suits your taste buds.
The Bad & Ugly
Processed Meats – I generally only visit the produce section in the grocery store unless I need some baking supplies. When I have to venture to the baking aisle, I cringe at the processed meat aisle as I walk by. Processed meats are so high in sodium and many of them contain 1,000 mg of sodium per serving. Also high in fat, processed meats contain toxic chemicals, heavy metals and environmental pollutants.
Soda – Don’t drink your calories. Calories in liquid form do not satisfy hunger as those consumed in solid form. A can of soda contains about 140 calories and about 10 teaspoons of sugar. Diet soda isn’t any better. Besides soda being a contributor to weight gain, there are no vitamins or minerals contained in these sugary drinks. This is one of the main foods that I have my clients stop taking these drinks immediately. Instead try put some fresh lime or lemon slices into a glass of water.
Mayonnaise – I find this to be one of the most popular processed foods in my client’s fridge. When you think that there is approximately 100 calories per tablespoon, that can amount to a lot of calories and fat. Mayonnaise is also high in cholesterol as one of the key ingredients is eggs. Since cholesterol can only be found in animal products, it’s a product you might want to avoid if you have high cholesterol.
Processed Frozen Meals – Having ready-made frozen meals on hand may sound like it’s saving you time in the kitchen, but the amount of fat and sodium contained in the sauces of these meals is where the calories can add up. The reason people buy these meals so much besides the time saving approach, is that manufacturers praise their product as the perfect meal for someone trying to control their portion sizes and lose weight. However, these meals are very low in nutrients and high in fat. Many of these meals contain very little vegetables which is where you obtain all the nutrients from. Instead, purchase frozen veggies, cook your own vegetables, and create your own sauces.
Butter – The spread that most people have in their fridge and use at every meal. But one tablespoon of butter contains 100 calories, 7 grams of saturated fat, and 30 mg cholesterol, so it’s not hard to see why so many people cannot lose weight as they are consuming so much butter at every meal. Unfortunately margarine isn’t much better. Try a delicious nut butter as an alternative.
Tomorrow’s Task: Open your fridge and take inventory. Start by eliminating one of the food items from the ‘bad and ugly’ list.
If you don’t have bad food in your fridge, you won’t eat it. It’s as simple as that. I tell my clients to start reading the labels on the processed food they buy when they go grocery shopping . If they don’t understand the ingredients, they shouldn’t be putting foreign substances into their bodies. Also, if you have to buy processed food, which many people have to, if sugar is contained in the first 3 ingredients, I suggest they put it down and find another alternative. Sugar is very addictive and found in almost every processed food on the grocery store shelves. We are so taken in by food manufacturers terms of ‘low-fat’ and ‘fat-free’ that we forget to really educate ourselves on what is really good and what is really bad.
As whole food vegans, there are many food alternatives you can try to the food you are consuming now, especially if it’s on the ‘bad’ list. Again, it takes time for your taste buds to change. When I was in the process of eliminating oil from my eating regime, it took time to adjust to not tasting the oil on my food, but now I don’t miss the taste all or all the extra calories. In fact my body has a negative reaction to oil now. I’m not surprised. It’s a highly refined food and we (Art & I) are eating so clean that it reacts severely in a negative manor when there is a foreign substance in it.
Art & Mauren