This is a summary of my health and dietary journey from January 2008 through July 2008.
No matter where we are on our journey or what level our health is at, we all have to remember that achieving and maintaining optimal health is not a one time event. On the contrary, it is a constantly evolving practice that is facilitated by constant research and education. And perhaps the best part, is that it is possible and accessible to each and every one of us, regardless of what age or stage we are in our lives.
Thanks to ongoing reading and research, the past 6 months have brought about a few big dietary changes in my own life. In this segment of evolving wellness in action, I will share with you 5 foods that I have removed from my diet during these 6 months because even though they may have seemed healthy, they really weren’t.
5 Foods I Dropped From My Diet
1. Refined ‘Boxed’ Cereal
Up until very recently, my weekday mornings consisted of refined cereals. I wasn’t consuming the blatantly bad ones, that make one question how these can even be considered as food, but the flake and granola-based ones. I would typically pick the whole grain, fruit and nut cereals like Post Honey Bunches of Oats or Post Selects, with my favorite being the Cranberry Almond Crunch.
Like many of us, I was brought up with the notion that these kinds of cereals provided a smart and healthy breakfast choice, that was also quick and convenient. Well, upon further inspection and conscious awareness about the amount of added sugar in today’s food, I could not look past the fact that sugar is listed as the second most abundant ingredient in most of these products. Additionally, most of them contain at least 3 or 4 other sugars, sweeteners, sugar-like ingredients, or sugar-rich ingredients within the list of ingredients. Yet these are the very same cereals most of us do not associate with being the “high sugar, kid cereals”. Unfortunately, they really are not any better where the sugar is concerned.
The other thing that I noticed is that most of these cereals surpass the acceptable sodium amounts of a 1 to 1 ratio of sodium to calories. So now I am eating too much salt and sugar for breakfast….just great!
When I looked for alternatives, there really aren’t any worth switching to. All the cereals I checked contain some forms of added sugars. So I said good bye to these unnecessary and harmful ingredients, by saying goodbye to all refined ‘boxed’ cereals.
2. Granola Bars
My metabolism is most active in the early part of the day. Therefore, between breakfast and lunch I need and desire a snack. Thinking I was acting in a healthy manner, my go-to option in the last year or two, were granola bars. I thought I was adding a good serving of whole grains to my day and was smart enough to know not to pick any options that were chocolate or yogurt-coated, or had any chocolate or caramel pieces and the like. Though while it may be obvious that granola bars like that are out of the question due to the extreme amounts of sugars, modified, and artificial ingredients, my plainer seeming granola bars definitely didn’t seem like an unhealthy choice. I even focused on picking low sodium, real fruit and nut-based ones, which were made using whole grains.
That was until one day I got really honest with myself and looked at the ingredients and nutrition labels again with a most discerning eye. The facts were staring me right in the face: the amount of sugar in these items was atrocious! They might as well be grouped with the chocolate bars. Like with the cereals above, added sugar was present usually in 4 or 5 different forms and interspersed throughout the ingredient list. On top of it all, they are a form of heavily processed food, which no longer belonged on my journey of moving to whole foods. I simply couldn’t and didn’t want to continue with this habit. I would be so much better off making some homemade versions of some wholesome fruit and nut bars. So out they went — goodbye processed granola bars!
3. Salad Dressing
I love my salads, though up until recently I could not bear the thought of eating them without dressing. Naturally, I tried to pick the dressings that I was taught and up to this point thought were ‘healthy’: low in fat, mostly organic, no dairy, and as natural as possible. But who are we kidding?
Dressings (and condiments) are some of the worst processed foods. The whole “low-fat” bandwagon got us tricked and tricked well. The time came for me to re-examine them from a conscious and discerning perspective. For example, how are they made to be low-fat? The options include some clever food processing and substituting in other ingredients. I used to think they just watered them down as they try to make you think on the labels, but that is only half the story.
The truth is, whether they are organic or not, low-fat or not, salad dressings are packed with more sodium than one should get About 2 tablespoons provide over 300mg of sodium — 20% of your daily sodium intake! (A healthy diet should have at most 1500mg sodium per day.) So this may not be that horrible if you are only eating pure veggies with it, but it becomes an even bigger problem if you are eating any other processed animal or plant food with them. On top of that, salad dressings are notorious for numerous modified ingredients, including GMOs (genetically modified organisms) and added sugars! They have lots of unhealthy fats, inflammatory properties, and most include some combination of artificial flavors, colors, and preservatives.
When we allow ourselves to see these products for what they truly are, it is no surprise that we make shake our head with disbelief, wondering how we ever could have put these things into our bodies. The thing is that increased clarity often comes with an increased improvement in our diets. Truly the better we eat, the better we think, and we begin to see things as they really are. I realize now that all we really need is a simple squeeze of some fresh lemon or lime juice on our salad and a sprinkle of some favorite herbs, and maybe a drizzle of some extra-virgin olive oil. As for processed ‘bottled’ salad dressings, they are history!
4. Dry Pasta
I loved pasta and have enjoyed its many variations throughout my life. I was never one of those people who were afraid of carbs either. We have to understand that carbohydrates are our body’s optimal fuel. The difference and disclaimer here is that they cannot be processed/refined carbs if we are interested in optimal health and weight.
I have long ago replaced regular flour with whole wheat flour and then replaced regular pasta with whole wheat pasta. Then I moved to the fresh, whole wheat pastas that are sold at our local grocery stores, instead of the dry, and I was hooked. What a difference in flavor and texture!
Recently however, the tables have turned and pasta began to feel like such a ‘fake food’ to me. As I move deeper and deeper into the world of wholesome, fresh and living foods, I am taking notice of all food’s characteristics more so than ever. Upon a conscious and discerning analysis, pastas are made of flour, which regardless if refined or whole, tends to act more like sugar within our bodies. This can wreak havoc on our insulin levels because it is quickly digested and easily releases sugars instead of starches or complex carbohydrates. Additionally, the gummy, rubbery texture does not resemble nature’s real food. So I have decided to remove all dry, wheat pasta from my diet, though at this point I will probably still have some of the fresh, whole grain pasta from time to time.
5. Cow’s Milk
Finally, for the finale, comes the big one—cow’s milk. I grew up on cow’s milk. I drank it religiously thinking I was doing my health and bones good. (Oh that clever dairy marketing and its impact.) Like most people in the Western world, I thought it was a necessary part of our diet, especially where the calcium was concerned. After all, we are conditioned from a very early age that “milk does a body good” right? Well, not so. Not only is milk, like any other animal product acid-forming in the body, but it is also one of the most unnaturally fattening substances. To top it off, the pasteurized and refined milk we drink today is a sad replacement for what real cow’s milk is.
Over the past 3 months I did more and more research on whether we are really meant to be drinking cow’s milk as adults, or humans for that matter, and the answer kept coming back a loud and clear—no! I have looked into many studies and research, which all point to the same fact: no other animal drinks milk as an adult, let alone the milk of another species, aside from us. Even for growing kids, cow’s milk is not an ideal food, often bringing with it more problems than benefits, including being mucus-forming.
Thanks to Dr. Pam Popper, I have learned that whole osteoporosis scare is just that a scare and there are hundreds of ways to get calcium in much better ways from plant sources. Ways that do not include the high amounts of fat, especially saturated animal fat. Wholesome plant food sources are alkalizing on our body, so they maintain better calcium regulation within our body to begin with, not causing our body to leach calcium the way highly acid-forming foods do. We also get a more absorbable form of calcium, as pasteurized milk contains a highly insoluble form of calcium. Ultimately, how in heaven’s name did we allow ourselves to get convinced that it was okay and desirable to drink the mammary secretions of another animal. Most people are repelled by human female milk, yet each day we blindly drink the secretions of another animal. Add to that, the secretions from the unhealthiest of animals, ones that are factory-farmed, stressed-out, and drugged-up. There is something so wrong with this picture. But again, things like this come into our awareness as we awaken from the fog that the corporate society has put us in. So when it comes to milk, I’ve kicked the bucket on this habit!
I am thrilled, truly thrilled, to be able to see through the corruption and collusion when it comes to the food industries today. It is not happening overnight and I still have ways to go, but I am learning so much for my personal life and also enhancing my professional knowledge-base to be able to help people in the most optimal of ways.
If you are reading this, please see and know that change is possible. It may be quick or it may be slow, but it is completely doable. We just need to start somewhere, anywhere we may be ready and move from there. Like it happened for me, I know your journey will present you with the next steps as you are ready for them. We don’t have to have it all figured out, we just have to have enough of a desire and open mind to start where we are and take action. Your health is so worth it and as the saying goes: when the student is ready, the teacher will appear.
Wishing you a positively transformational journey!