Hello 2012! It's the beginning of a new year and it's resolution time! What are your health goals for the year? Eat healthier? Lose some weight? Exercise more? Feel vibrant and energetic? It's absolutely possible to reach your health goals. A diet of unprocessed, whole foods will certainly help...although this transition can take some time (and it should take time...slow changes over time are much more effective in the long-term than fast changes).
So, where should you start? Here is my list of foods to remove from your diet first...your health and wellbeing will thank-you :)
1. Non-Organic Corn, Soy, and Canola
Corn, soy, and canola are the most common crops to have been genetically modified (GMO) in our diet. There are others, but these are by far the most prevalent. Due to our current labelling laws, buying organic is the only way to guarantee you're buying non-GMO versions of these products. Why is this important? Well, in general, we don't know how GMOs affect our body. Animal studies have found that GMO soy leads to infertility, but for the most part these food products have not been studied for their safety. Until they're tested and we know exactly how they affect the body, keep GMOs out of your diet! You'll thank me if/when GMOs are proven to be harmful.
2. Processed Soy Products (including soy milk)
Somewhere along the line, soy has been given a "healthy" label...and for the most part, this couldn't be more wrong. Processed soy; including soy milk, hydrolyzed vegetable protein (HVP), and soy oil, are very hard to digest and can cause a myriad of issues you might not suspect. Unfermented soy can decrease your thyroid function, which can lead to hypothyroidism (lowered metabolism, foggy brain, cold hands and feet), and can contain a high level of phytic acid which binds to minerals and stops them from being absorbed properly....leading to multiple mineral deficiencies.
On the other hand, organic fermented soy (miso, tempeh, high quality soy sauce) are found in many traditional diets and the fermentation process reduces most of the issues associated with soy. Processed soy is found in most processed food, so read the labels of your favourite foods. You'll be surprised how much soy you're eating without knowing it!
3. Sugary Drinks (including pasteurized juices)
Our body metabolizes sugar differently when it comes in a liquid form vs solid food. When we eat a sugary food the sugar is mixed with complex carbohydrates (grains) and usually with some fat and protein (eggs, butter, etc), which slows its entry into the bloodstream. When we drink sugar (sugary coffee, pop, Vitamin Water, etc), the sugar isn't buffered by fat and protein and it enters the bloodstream much more quickly, causing a blood sugar spike (and weight gain).
As well, since drinks don't need to be chewed or broken down by the digestive system, your body doesn't recognize these calories as food intake, leaving you wanting something to eat. Drinks that contain high fructose corn syrup (pop, sports drinks, sweetened juices) can cause even more damage, including fatty liver disease and will help you gain weight even faster! You can easily lose 1-2 pounds per month just by removing all sugary drinks out of your diet. Perhaps have a glass of "regular" water and an apple or an orange instead of juice to satisfy that sweet craving.
4. Processed Fats (including "healthy" margarine)
We know that trans fat is "bad" fat...but what about the trans-fat free margarines? Those are better than saturated fat...right? Absolutely not! Fat does not enjoy being processed, and it takes a lot of processing to turn a mono- or polyunsaturated fat (liquid at room temperature) into a solid-at-room-temperature fat. Plus, they tend to use very cheap oils in these products; like canola, cottonseed, sunflower, and safflower oils. These oils are pro-inflammatory and can exacerbate a whole host of inflammatory conditions; like arthritis, asthma, acne, etc. Remove all highly processed fats and oils from your diet and replace them with less processed fats like butter and olive oil. Your body with thank you!
As a Holistic Nutritionist, I would like to take this opportunity to stress the importance of finding a way of eating that works for you and your body. For more information or for help to create your ideal diet, contact me here.