No Sugar and No Processed Foods Challenge with Sunny Mother Nature

Happy Belated Earth Day everyone!

I hope you found some little way to make our Earth a little bit sunnier yesterday, or this week!  Whether it was recycling, cleaning, or planting (like me!) any little bit helps 🙂

I have decided to do a Lifestyle Challenge where I am going to give up sugar and processed foods for two months!

Sound a little extreme?  Perhaps.  However, is my new food intake (I hate the word “diet”~have never been on one, and never plan to be! 😉 ) really that extreme? 

Think of it this way~ how many thousands of years did humans *somehow* manage to live without processed foods and processed sugar?  Yes, thousands!  It has only been since the Industrial Revolution that processed foods and sugars became part of a person’s “normal” food intake.  And when did it happen that more and more people started to become overweight and obese?  When more and more processed foods and sugars were considered “normal” in a person’s daily food intake.  This is food for thought (no pun intended 😉 ) 

What are processed foods?

Basically, processed foods are anything that have been altered from its original state that you are buying.  For example, pasteurized milk is considered processed.  However, if you bought milk from a farm and pasteurized it yourself it would not be considered processed. 

Another way to think of it is anything you buy that comes in a package.  So, anything in boxes, plastic, or glass would be considered processed.

Or, anything that has ingredients that you cannot pronounce, that are not “natural” ingredients (Red 40 vs. corn). 

For me, I am taking a mixture of these three definitions and applying them to my new challenge.  However, don’t feel like everything that would fall into these definitions is “off-limits.”  With this challenge, I am personalizing it to what I feel my body needs to be healthy.  So, I will continue to have pasteurized milk although, no, I won’t be pasteurizing it myself. 😉 

This is about finding balance with foods that were truly meant for your body to be eating.  It’s about not just eating “normal” foods that have been processed so much that most of the companies have to add nutrients back in because the nutrients that were in the food were stripped out when they were processed.

Basically, anyone who decides, or is considering, to cut out sugar and processed foods from what they eat need to decide for themselves how far they are going to go.  For example, some would say that you need to even cut out most fruits because they have natural sugar in them.  For me, that is too much.  On the other hand, I read another blog where someone was cutting out processed foods and he (or she) was eating a deli sandwich with bread (obviously processed), with deli cheese (processed) and then lettuce and tomatoes.  What “processed food” he did not eat was the bag of potato chips that came with the sandwich.  To me, this is not really cutting out processed foods at all.  It is really up to you though.

So, what to do if cutting out sugar?

1. Cut out anything that has high fructose corn syrup as an ingredient.  This little bugger is in EVERYTHING!  Look at the ingredients of your ketchup, your bread, bascially anything you have bought that has an ingredient label!  High Fructose Corn Syrup surprises anyone where it hides! 

Even if you aren’t going to cut out sugar, cut out High Fructose Corn Syrup!  It loves to play with your blood sugar more than refined white sugar does!  It raises your blood sugar quickly and then plummets it even more quickly, making you crave more. 

2. Cut out most processed foods.  Sadly, most processed foods add sugar of some kind to it, to make it taste better.   

3. Look at ingredient labels!  You have to look for any type of sugar (including fructose, high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, glucose, sugar, etc.) on the label.

What to do if cutting out processed foods?

1. Cut out unknown ingredients listed on the package.  Don’t know what propylene glycol is?  Don’t buy it.

2. Go for fresh foods over prepackaged ones whenever possible. 

3. Frozen food, or boxed foods can sometimes be ok too though.  For example, frozen spinach that has no added salt, sugar, or sauce to it is good.  Or, boxed brown rice with the only ingredient on the package is rice. 

4. If you look at the ingredients, and the ingredients listed are actual things you could buy, then it’s good.  Peas, carrots and chicken on a soup’s ingredients?  Awesome!  Thiamin?  Not so much.

So, what will I be eating?

1. Vegetables

2. Meats~ I am not going vegan.  If you are vegan, or want to become one, awesome.  Just make sure that you still are eating and getting the nutrients  your body needs!

3. Complex Carbs~ One of the things I majorly looked at before officially starting this challenge was I wanted to make sure that I would still get carbs.  I am not anti-carbs and do feel that the right ones are needed.  To get complex carbs I’m eating brown rice, sweet potatoes and spinach, and sometimes whole wheat pasta.

4. Fruit

5. Nuts

6. Milk, and some Cheese ~ This is one of those items that I am still going to have although some people would consider it processed.  I am drinking Swiss Milk right now.  However, since I read the ingredients of it~reduced fat milk AND nonfat dry milk!~ I am going to look at the ingredients of other milks.  I may even end up going to organic milk, if it’s pasteurized.  (I’m still drinking it, but knowing that there is nonfat dry milk in my regular 2% milk just makes me wonder..)

What do I hope to get out of this Lifestyle Challenge?

1. More energy.  This is something that recently I have been lacking and I hope that this will boost my energy level.

2. Help clear up my acne.  Recently, my acne has gotten worse and so I want to see if I stop feeding my body processed foods and processed sugars if my acne clears up.

3. Maybe lose a couple pounds.  This is not one of my major goals, but losing weight is apparently one of the effects of no longer eating processed food and sugar.  Like usual, I gained about ten pounds during winter, so if I lost that, I’d be fine with that.

4. Just feel overall healthy.  Not just healthier, but truly and utterly healthy.  I am not one for settling for things that are “healthier.”  I want “healthy!” 🙂 

I know this is a lot of information that I tried to cover in this one blog post.  If something doesn’t make sense, or anything I wrote brings up a question, please leave a comment below and I’ll write back! 

I will be writing continuous updates on my progress during this challenge.  I’m hoping that this goes well and I will be able to keep this as my new food intake to help promote a healthy me.

This Lifestyle Challenge will be difficult.  However, I do have faith in myself that I can do this and that I am worth it. 

If I fall off the wagon and eat something that is not part of this challenge, I am not going to beat myself up about it.  I will just continue on with it. 

This challenge is not meant to make ourselves feel bad.  It is meant to make ourselves feel overall good and healthy. 

Do you think you’ll try this Lifestyle Challenge too?  Let me know!  We can support each other! 🙂

Have a sunny day everyone!

~Kim

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