I can’t stress enough how important it is to read your nutrition labels when you’re out shopping. The more you do it, the easier it will become and over time, you will know what’s safe and what isn’t. Here are a few tips that have helped us in our quest to eat healthy and thrive.
- Always try to buy foods that look most similar to their natural state. For example, it’s best to buy fresh organic fruits and vegetables. Fresh will always be better than frozen. Stay away from canned all together. In my opinion, you might as well not even eat fruits and vegetables if you’re eating them from a can. They are highly processed and filled with all kinds of additives, hidden sugars, and preservatives.
- Stay away from added sugars. Have you noticed that sugar is the only ingredient on the nutrition label that doesn’t disclose the % amount of what is recommended to consume daily. Hmmm, think about that for a minute. It’s because they don’t want you to know how bad it truly is for you. Here are 25 other names for added sugars that are used to disguise sugar content: Agave, barley malt syrup, brown rice syrup, corn sweetener, corn syrup, dextrin, dextrose, evaporated cane juice, fructose, glucose, high fructose corn syrup, honey, invert sugar, lactose, maltodextrin, maltose, maple syrup, molasses, rice syrup, saccharose, sorghum, sugar alcohol, sucrose, and xylose. I recommend using stevia or monkfruit. But, you have to be careful with purchasing these products as well. Many of the stevia packets on the market have added sugar in them. In fact, if you check out the ingredient label, many times stevia is the last ingredient on the list. Your best bet is buying the pure liquid stevia.
- Always try to buy meats that are antibiotic, hormone and nitrate free. Look for grass-fed meats and wild caught fish. Stay away from pre-seasoned meats as well. They usually contain hidden sugars and are seasoned because they don’t look so great otherwise. If you buy bacon or sausage look for the nitrate free and minimally processed meats. Also look to see if they have added sugars!
- Buy full fat dairy products! Yes, you read that right. When the fat is removed, it’s usually substituted for sugar. I would recommend limiting your dairy, but if you’re going to have milk, buy the whole milk. Don’t eat margarine or those other low-fat butter substitutes. Instead, swap that out for a grass-fed butter (Kerrygold is carried in most stores). Buy full fat plain yogurt and avoid flavored yogurt! Instead, add some fresh berries and if it’s still too tart, try adding and a few drops of stevia. Absolutely stay away from those flavored dairy creamers! Instead swap it out for milk, half & half…or my favorite, unsweetened coconut milk or almond milk. Or, try skipping them altogether and add a spoon of Kerrygold in your coffee!
- Avoid pre-made sauces such as spaghetti sauces, marinades, and the like. They usually have tons of sugar in them. Instead make your own marinara or marinades. It’s incredibly easy and tastes a 1,000 times better. Try pouring some fresh made marinara over spaghetti squash – Yum!
- Don’t eat cereal! There really isn’t a healthy one out there. You might as well pour yourself a bowl a sugar. This is not the way you want to start your day. Instead, start your day with a protein, healthy fat, and carb! Your energy will skyrocket.
- Eliminate chips, crackers, cookies, cakes, and pastries from your diet. All of these items are highly processed and there really aren’t any “good for you” options out there. Even the reduced fat and whole grain options. Keep in mind, when fat is reduced, it’s usually replaced with sugar. And, just because something may have some whole grains in it, doesn’t make it good for you. If you need a crunch try making yourself some kale chips, eating nuts, or have some crunchy veggies with some humus! There are lots of other alternatives. I dare you to google it. 🙂
This is obviously not an exhaustive list, but it’s a jumping off point to be more mindful about what you purchase and put in your mouth. Do your research! Try to eat fresh whenever possible and plan out your meals. Arm yourself with healthy snacks when you’re out and about and try to eat every 3-4 hours, so your blood sugar doesn’t dip. Because when your blood sugar dips, it’s the chips, cookies, crackers, and cakes that are the first on the list to shove in our mouths!
We only have one life – let’s make it count! Here’s to living healthy and thriving.
Peace & Love,