When it comes to proper nutrition that leads to lasting results, it’s about making BETTER choices. Now, when I say “better choices,” I am NOT referring to “low fat” and “reduced fat” meal replacement products or processed foods. Typically, these foods are really just replacing the fat with a high amount of sugar, and if you don’t know by now, sugar is what is essentially making us fat! Additionally, when I say to start eating breakfast, this doesn’t mean eating cereal or a bagel with cream cheese, because neither are healthy, nor will they increase your metabolism.
Making better choices means that you need to eat foods that are coming from Mother Nature, not major manufacturers. Each time you reach for food, make the better choice compared to what you did when you started. Every time you pick up anything that is harmful say, “I’m not going to eat this because I’m going to gain way more than I will give up." I would love to be able to tell you the best choices out there and have you go to the market and buy exactly what I say, but I know that isn’t a reality. Everyone has their different food preferences that lead them down their unique paths. This does NOT mean that those paths don’t still end up at total wellness, but one person’s path might take a little longer compared to another. With consistency, we will all get there in due time, friends!
FOODS AGE JUST LIKE US
Foods lose their nutritional value with age, so finding fresh foods to eat is important. If you take a look at iceberg lettuce from the grocery store, it has about the same nutritional value as a piece of paper. If you take a look at some greens grown right around the corner from a local farmer, these are filled with dense nutrients, vitamins and ENERGY! So, what I am really trying to say is to skip the long, drawn-out process that is involved when purchasing foods from a store, which causes your food to lose its nutritional value. Instead, go to a farmer's market – not only is the food going to taste much better but it also supports your local economy.
You should also be eating seasonally. There’s a season for every fruit, vegetable and even some meats. You can look these details up easily online or by checking with a local farmer, but if you can still get strawberries in the grocery store in mid-December, for example, that isn’t right. Not only are you MONTHS removed from strawberry season, but the amount of preservatives put into that fruit to make it last that long is as ridiculous as it is unhealthy, and it could have been harvested way before it was ripe and placed in cold storage, where it more rapidly loses its nutritional value.
WHAT’S WITH ORGANIC?
There is a huge community out there, mostly the healthy population, that swears by organic food products, but there are others, mostly the big farming population, that claim “organic” doesn’t matter. So does “organic” really matter? The simplest way to say it is YES!
Organic is really telling the consumer that the products they are buying are being protected by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to make sure certain unhealthy, synthetic and non-synthetic substances are not being used while farms are producing their food. You are probably thinking to yourself, “Isn’t that how food is produced anyway?” The sad truth is that unfortunately it’s not, and someone has to fight for it to come to you as clean as possible.
According to the Organic Consumers Association (OCA), organic foods are not allowed to contain or be produced with:
- Food additives
- Flavor enhancers like MSG
- Artificial sweeteners such as aspartame and high-fructose corn syrup
- Contaminants like mercury
- Preservatives like sodium nitrate
- Genetically Modified (GMO) crops
- Growth hormones
- Byproducts of corn ethanol production
- Toxic sewage sludge
- Sewage water
- Coal waste
If you didn’t catch a couple of those, yes, I said sewage sludge, growth hormones and pesticides. You would think that anything classified as “food” shouldn’t be produced with ANYTHING listed above, but the harsh reality is that most of our “food” is. This is why looking for a product labeled with the “USDA Organic” seal is EXTREMELY important.
IT’S WORTH IT
Now, when people think organic, they often automatically think, “ORGANIC! That’s so expensive!” Well, the cost is justified through the benefits that you are going to receive from the food itself. Even though, according to the OCA, organic foods are roughly 20% more expensive than non-organic, on average, organic foods are going to provide you with 25% MORE vitamins and minerals compared to the latter.1 If you aren’t worried about the toxic sewage sludge, maybe this will convince you to purchase a higher quality food like organic products.
The bottom line is that when you are choosing organic foods, your body will be able to lose fat more rapidly because you are ingesting less toxic loads from horrible foods, and fewer toxins means faster fat loss. The reason being is that your body is only able to handle so many toxins at one time, and most likely, it already has a massive storage of toxins within your fat cells. Furthermore, the majorities of overweight people have nutrient deficiencies, so the increased amount of nutrients found in organic foods will help address the deficiency!
These recommendations will help you to make positive changes in your diet by consuming QUALITY foods compared to food-like substances. Making a single better choice leads to another, which leads to one more and so on. The next thing you know, those better choices each day end up leading you to your ultimate goal without you even noticing it! Think before you act, and always ask yourself, “How will this decision affect how I feel afterward?” Not only do these healthy choices taste better, but they will make a huge difference in your diet.
THE "DIRTY DOZEN PLUS" & "CLEAN FIFTEEN"
Every year, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) gives a list of foods that are at the highest risk for pesticides in your diet.2 These are the foods that you should always try to choose as organic. Since I am telling you the truth about this world, only SOME of your foods are more important when it comes to choosing organic, which means that your entire grocery cart doesn’t have to be organic. Please visit www.ewg.org for the current shopper’s guide to pesticides in produce.
CAN I AFFORD TO EAT LIKE THIS?
At first glance, some of the healthy food options might look expensive, but always keep in mind that this is a FAT LOSS program, so you will be eating less. If you are saying to yourself, “I have no clue how to make any of these foods. What am I going to do?” Don’t worry about it! Day by day, you will start becoming a better and healthier chef, which will result in saving money by eating out less often, but still enjoying a delicious and nutritious meal. When you choose quality ingredients, your body will naturally be less hungry because it will sense that it is receiving a substantial amount of nutrients that it needs to properly function. On the flip side, most processed foods contain genetically altered, pro-inflammatory macronutrients, too much salt, sugar, unhealthy food additives, pesticides and hormones. Each of these items, but especially a combination of them, contributes to a lack of the essential nutrients causing your metabolism to slow and your hunger to increase.
I know how tough finances can be. A lot of people tell me that they don’t have enough money to eat healthy, but what they are doing incorrectly is looking for the wrong type of food at the wrong time of the year. Like I said before, you have to learn how to eat seasonally because even though you can get asparagus in the middle of January, they aren’t fresh, and they’re most likely more expensive compared to getting them in July. A good tip to help you save some money is to stock up on healthy food when it’s on sale. The freezer can become your best friend when you buy food in bulk. Just remember that the longer you keep your food frozen, the more nutrients that will be lost. If preparation time is becoming an issue and you want to save some time at the grocery store, use fresh fruits and vegetables at the beginning of the week, then switch to frozen toward the end of the week. Whatever you have for dinner can always become tomorrow’s lunch. You can also use a leftover protein like chicken or turkey for a salad or soup the next day.
BETTER CHOICES CHECKLIST
ü Trade in your normal bread for gluten-free brands like “Food for Life,” which include Bhutanese red rice, brown rice, exotic black rice, rice pecan, rice almond and rice millet breads. Any of the “Ezekiel” breads are also okay, but they do have some gluten in them, so it’s not an ideal choice, but it is a better choice.
ü Mashed cauliflower can replace your mashed potatoes.
ü Brown, black or red rice can substitute for white rice.
ü Organic salsa can be used in place of ketchup.
ü Swap out white potatoes in exchange for red potatoes, yams or sweet potatoes.
ü Replace normal dairy yogurt with cultured almond milk yogurt or cultured coconut milk yogurt. Just make sure that they have less than 15 grams of sugar per serving.
ü Eliminate white pasta and replace it with rice or quinoa pasta or, better yet, spaghetti squash.
ü If you NEED to have a tortilla, find a brown rice version.
ü If you are consuming any chocolate on occasion, use organic 80% or over dark chocolate.
ELIMINATE LIQUID EMPTY CALORIES TO ACCELERATE FAT LOSS
ü Any sweetened teas should be replaced with unsweetened green tea, black tea or any organic tea of choice.
ü Replace juice and soda with carbonated water. To give it a little more flavor, add lemon or lime slices.
ü Eliminate all coffee creamers, both low-fat and no fat. Replace it with unsweetened almond or coconut milk creamers. Make sure that you are drinking them near your meal times in order to accelerate fat loss in between ingesting calories.
ü Remove all sugar from your meals and beverages! If you need a natural sweetener, use small amounts of xylitol or stevia in its place.
ü Any juices should be replaced with their entire form of the fruit. For example, orange juice should be replaced by consuming a whole orange. It sounds like it wouldn’t make a difference, but the amount of fiber that you consume from the whole fruit helps with keeping your metabolism elevated and helps to remove toxins from the body.
ü Because so much of the corn we see today is genetically modified (GMO), remove it completely from your diet and replace it with presoaked beans. Corn is also extremely high in sugar, which doesn’t do you any favors.
ü Lose the light olive oil and replace it with cold-pressed extra-virgin olive oil. First press cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil is the best.
ü Eliminate ALL animal milk from your diet! Instead, try almond milk, coconut milk, hemp milk or rice milk.
ü Eliminate all cheese products and replace them with non-dairy cheese or other non-soy alternatives.
TREATS FOR EVERY NOW AND AGAIN
ü Try “So Delicious” no sugar added coconut milk (or almond milk) dairy-free ice cream. It comes in several flavors, which are all delicious, including butter pecan, cherry amaretto, chocolate, vanilla, cookies & cream, mint chip, chocolate brownie almond, gluten-free cookie dough and more!
ü Try some frozen banana with almond butter “ice cream” for a change-up! Just freeze peeled one-inch banana chunks overnight. Take enough chunks that would amount to one full banana and put it in a blender with 2 tablespoons of almond butter. Blend until it reaches an ice cream-like texture and enjoy!
WORRIED ABOUT CALCIUM? DITCH THE DAIRY
ü Dark green, leafy veggies are really the best.
ü Some others include almonds, bok choy, broccoli, nopals, cauliflower, collard greens, cucumbers, dates, figs, kale, oranges, romaine lettuce, sea vegetables, sesame seeds, spinach, sunflower seeds, turnip greens and watercress.
NEED A SALAD DRESSING?
Apple Cider Vinaigrette
1 cup raw apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons seeded Dijon mustard
¾ cup cold-pressed extra-virgin olive oil
Juice from half of a lemon
½ cup finely chopped fresh chives
½ tablespoon of curry powder
Blend all the ingredients together in your blender until they are well distributed. This dressing is highly recommended for any salads. The apple cider vinegar will help to increase the healthy gut bacteria in your gastrointestinal tract.
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