Beginner’s Guide to Cutting Out Processed Foods and Refined Sugar

Hello!

So this video I actually recorded and uploaded onto Youtube the same day as my Processed Food Free for 1 Year- Story and Results Video, and thought I had posted it on here as well.  However, apparently I missed posting it here, so here it is! 🙂

In this video I give an explanation of what processed foods are, what foods I eat when trying to eat real foods (and avoid processed foods and refined sugar), what to avoid, and what to look for.  This video did end up much longer than I really had intended it to be, but it gives overall answers to the questions I list above.  Enjoy!

Have a sunny day!

~Kim

Please note: If you are worried about starting this type of diet, or whether it is right for you, please consult your doctor.

Advertisements

Processed Food Free for 1 Year: Story and Results!

Hi everyone!

Back on April 23, 2012 (as I was preparing for the college semester to close within a few weeks), was my 1 Year anniversary of starting the No Processed Foods and Processed (Refined) Sugar Challenge, AKA The Real Food Challenge!

Partly in celebration of this, I recorded a video a few days ago explaining what personally led me to decide that I wanted to stop eating processed foods and refined sugar.  Closer to the end of the video I do also talk about the results I have seen since following this for a year! (I do want to clarify- I lost the 35 lbs. between April 2011 and November 2011.  I have not lost any more weight since then.)  As always, if you have any questions, please feel free to ask! 🙂

Have a sunny day!

~Kim

Please Note: If you are worried about starting this type of diet, or want to know whether it’s right for you, please consult your doctor.

Simple Ways to Reduce Plastic in Your Life AND Save Money! The Using Less Plastic Challenge

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hello! 🙂

Ok, so the image above of women wearing plastic face protection from snowstorms may have not caught on (thankfully), most of us can still reduce plastic in our lives very easily!

Here are some simple ways to reduce plastic in your life (adding onto my previous Using Less Plastic Challenge Posts).  Most, if not all, of these simple steps help you save money in the long run too!

1. Switch to body oil to moisturize your body.  Most lotions come in plastic tubes or plastic bottles.  By switching to body oil packaged in a glass bottle with a metal lid, you help to make sure that the packaging is truly able to be recycled.  Just make sure that your skin is damp (just after taking a shower is a good time to moisturize skin with oil), and you do not need to use very much.  A small amount really goes a long way.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2.  Switch to handkerchiefs.  This may seem like it does not actually have to do with plastic, but it does.  Most disposable tissue boxes do have a plastic window around the opening where you grab a tissue from.  Handkerchiefs are so much more economical (only have to buy them once and they last for years) and you can just throw them in with any wash load you wish.  Plus they feel, and are, so much softer on your nose!  The above image is my collection of handkerchiefs that I have been using for several months now 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. Switch to at least a couple natural homemade skincare products.  I know it is hard to switch all of your skincare products over, but even just switching over one or two helps to significantly reduce the amount of plastic consumed.  Honey is an awesome cleanser (the only one I use at this point) and fresh lime juice is a wonderful acne and acne scar treatment.

Click here to see My Skincare Routine for Clear Skin Naturally post about how I use these!  You will also save money by switching to these if you typically use a little bit more pricy cleansers and treatments.  Also, you will not have as much visual clutter in your bathroom.

4. Switch to a safety razor.  What is a safety razor?  It is like a disposable razor, but rather than throwing the razor away, or buying new cartridges and throwing the old ones away, you buy a metal razor (some do have plastic handles) and you just replace the blades.  I have not bought a safety razor yet (I’m using up my disposable razors first) but many people who do use them say they give closer shaves, and that you do need to use a lighter hand when using them (ever notice how much pressure you have to use with disposable razors to shave?).

Now, you can buy a new safety razor, but they are expensive (the cheapest I’ve seen is $60 and up).  So, why not be extra nice to your wallet and the Earth by buying a vintage one? (You won’t be using vintage blades- essentially you’ll only be reusing the handle).  You can buy a vintage safety razor at some antique stores, www.etsy.com, among other sites.  And replacement blades can be bought in bulk on Amazon and are much less expensive compared to the replacement disposable cartridges.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5. Buy some of your clothes secondhand.  Although while researching I do not get a definite yes or no answer, most polyester (if not all) is actually plastic.  Have you heard of the polyester clothing made from PET bottles?  That’s why that is possible.  So, by buying some of your clothes secondhand, you help to reduce the amount of clothing made of thermoplastics, and also help to reduce the amount of clothing discarded yearly.  Buying secondhand also helps your wallet!  If you have a little bit more money to spare, organic cotton, or hemp, clothing are also nice alternatives to man-made.  The image above is a beautiful blue striped sweaterdress that I found at a local thrift store for $2.50!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

6. Make your own laundry soap with castile bar soaps!  Even if we ignore the possible health problems of conventional laundry detergents (including even ones such as Tide Free & Gentle), these along with even most eco-friendly laundry detergents are packaged in plastic.  We can simply avoid this constant buying of laundry detergent packaged in plastic by making our own!  Above is a photo of the container I am using at the moment to hold my laundry soap (It is an old castile liquid soap container.  I plan to switch to a glass container at some point) and an old laundry detergent lid that has the measurements on it.

How to: Take one bar of castile soap and grate 1/3 to 1/2 of a bar.  Bring about one gallon of water to a boil.  When the water is boiling, stir the grated soap into the water, until it dissolves.  Let it simmer for another 5-10 minutes, stirring occassionally.  Then, take the pot off the stove and let the laundry soap cool for a couple of hours (or until it is completely cool).  Lastly, place into a container of your choice.

And there you have a wonderful laundry soap!  I personally use Dr. Bronner’s Castile Bar Soaps.  They smell amazing, and their Baby Mild one is nice if you are very sensitive to scents, or if you have young children.  My three favorites are Lavender, Peppermint, and Baby Mild.  They are a little less than $5 a bar of soap.  You can buy the Lavender and Peppermint scents at Target, or you can buy all of their scents on Dr. Bronner’s site at www.drbronner.com. So, you are paying $2.50 for laundry soap that is safe for the planet, safe for you, you are saving money, and you are reducing the amount of plastic consumed! 🙂  It’s a wonderful feeling.

I’ve found that I use the same amount of this laundry soap as I did with conventional laundry detergents.  If you have not used castile liquid soap to wash your clothes before, I have read that it may take a wash or two for your clothes to get the residue of the previous detergents off.  However, I have not found this to be the case, even when I switched from conventional detergents over to a castile liquid soap I bought (it was so expensive though).  Also, this laundry soap works nicely even in hard water!  I have extremely hard water, and it cleans wonderfully in it.

So there are some simple ways to reduce plastic!  Have you tried any of the suggestions above, or have any others to add?  Any questions?  Leave them in the comment section!

Have a sunny day!

~Kim

Please Note: The image of the women wearing the plastic snowstorm protectors is used under the Commons license, shared by the Nationaal Archief on Flickr, and can be found here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/nationaalarchief/4193509756/  All the other images shown are my own.

Day 100 of the No Processed Foods and No Sugar Challenge

Hi everyone!

Sorry I’ve haven’t written in a while.  The truth is I haven’t been near a computer long enough to write since I last wrote.

I wanted to do a little update though on how my No Processed Foods and No Sugar Challenge has been going since Day 75.  When I counted what day it was, I found out I had made it to Day 100!

Honestly though, I have not been as strict about eating no processed foods or sugar during these past two weeks that I have been during the rest of the challenge.  Basically since I found out my friend Seth died two weeks ago, that first week I ate tons of chocolate (and I hadn’t really eaten any chocolate before that during my challenge).  Then, this past week it was my birthday and so I indulged in “Birthday Magic” a little bit too much.  (“Birthday Magic” is this idea, in my family, that during your birthday or Christmas, etc. that you can eat things you may not normally feel you can eat, without the bad side effects.  ex. “Those cookies don’t have cholesterol or sodium~ ‘It’s Christmas Magic.’ ” ).  I ate I think two dishes of pasta alfredo at restaurants, and at three of the dinners out I ended up drinking very sugary drinks. My mom also made a Shoofly Cake for my birthday (my mom is an amazing cook, and I love her desserts, which she rarely makes anymore because they aren’t healthy enough for her to be able to eat them eating them more than a couple times a year~ so I couldn’t resist eating two pieces 😉 ).  Now, although I did splurge on these things during these weeks, I still consistently ate my other normal stuff~ whole wheat pasta, brown rice, fresh vegetables and fruits, organic milk, etc.  So, it was moreso in addition to my normal eating, or only replaced one meal a day.  Yet, even at that I could tell a difference in how I felt and in my body.

I could even tell that I was paying for this through my skin.  I ended up getting 5 pimples, all 5 being painful ones that are the kind that are under the skin, within these two weeks.  Compare this to how my face had for a couple of weeks before that had only gotten one new pimple.  I do know though that these pimples are just my body attempting to get rid of all of the toxins, etc. from my body.  Yet, that is a definite sign from my body that it wants me to go back to how I was eating.  And I’m definitely up for it.  I also know that when I am really consistent with eating real foods that my acne does begin to heal itself and I have very few new pimples that form.  It just makes sense to me that food does contribute to my acne, whether I like it or not.

The other thing I think that is partly what I’m having trouble with these past two weeks is that I am not home right now.  So, this is the first time since this challenge that I did not pretty much have a stable eating plan/habit.  It’s different, and so I have to get used to that and find a way to start eating right, again, but now in a little bit different environment.  It’s not necessarily easy, but I have seen the positive benefits of eating completely real foods, and not eating processed foods or sugar, so I’m willing to get back on track. And I know I can do it! 🙂

I hope your day is sunny!

~Kim

What to Avoid When Trying to Eat Healthy and Eat No Processed Foods or Sugar

Here are the ingredients and foods that I completely avoid since I’ve started eating healthy and have been avoiding processed foods and sugar. Now you can too! 

I’ve also included a couple tips on healthy eating that will help you to start eating healthy too!

This list is long, so just read it over.  If you don’t think you can avoid all of them at this time, it’s ok.  Just avoiding a few of these ingredients and/or foods will help your health. 🙂

Ingredients to Avoid If Avoiding Sugar of any kind:

1. All artificial sweeteners (ex. aspartame, saccharin, dextrose, corn sugar, grape sugar, sucralose)

2. High Fructose Corn Syrup

3. Corn Syrup

4. Sugar

Ingredients to Avoid if Avoiding Trans Fat:

1. Hydrogenated Oils of any kind (ex. hydrogenated soybean oil, hydrogenated canola oil)

2. Partially Hydrogenated Oils of any kind

3. Interesterified Oils of any kind

Any of these oils listed in a food, means that there is some trans fat in that food, even if the label states it has 0g trans fat.  This is because the FDA decided that companies could advertise any of their food products as having 0g of trans fat if it has less than 0.5 g of trans fat in them per serving.  Trans fat is more harmful to your health than saturated fat.

You need to be especially careful of this loophole when the serving size seems especially small.  This can result in you consuming a lot of trans fat when you believe you are consuming none at all.

There are three types of fat: two are naturally occuring and one is manmade.  The two naturally occuring fats are unsaturated fats and saturated fats.  Unsaturated fats are the good kind, and are naturally liquid at room temperature (think olive oil).  Saturated fats are considered the less healthy type of fat (but still better than trans fat) and are naturally solid at room temperature (think butter on the counter).

The third type of fat, and the manmade type, is trans fat.  Trans fats are unsaturated fats that have been modified to be solid at room temperature, not liquid.  This modification is what created margarine, shortening, etc.  However, this alteration is also the reason why they are more harmful than saturated fats.

Other Ingredients to Avoid, to Help Overall Health and to Help Avoid Processed Foods:

1. Artifical Flavoring

2. “Natural Flavoring”

3. Propylene Glycol

4. Caramel Coloring

5. Fake coloring added (ex. Yellow 5, Blue 1)

5. “Enriched” Flours ~ Although some people look at “enriched” foods as a good thing, it really is not.  “Enriched” means that whatever food product it is, has been so processed that the natural vitamins, minerals, and/or fiber that would normally be found in it have been stripped out.  So, companies had to add vitamins, minerals and/or fiber back in to make it more balanced.

6. Added vitamins and minerals (look at “enriched” flours)

7. Soybean oil, Soy Lecithin, anything soy (soy has become the “new” corn- soy and corn are cheap fillers)  Soy is okay in small amounts for people (ex. Someone who has a glass of soymilk once a day because they are vegan/vegetarian).  However, too many people are getting lots of soy in their diet through processed foods and not even realizing it.  Soy mimics hormones in our bodies, and we need to be careful of that.  Soy is in anything from salad dressing, pasta sauces to chocolate.

Foods (That May Have a “Healthy/Healthier” Reputation), and Food Packaging, to Avoid:

1. Margarines– has trans fat/ hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils in them

2. Shortenings (ex. Crisco) -has trans fat/ hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils in them

3. “Wheat” foods that have 0g of fiber~ this means that it’s overly processed because wheat naturally has fiber in it.

4. White bread

5. White rice

6. White pasta

7. Any foods that are “instant,” or have a reduced cooking time: most of the time, they are more processed than the foods they are imitating (ex. instant mashed potatoes vs. homemade mashed potatoes; parboiled instant rice vs. brown rice)

8. Any foods, including meat, that have high percentages of sodium, cholesterol, or saturated fat

~Sodium- the highest percentage on any food should be 10%, but ideally lower

~ Cholesterol- the highest percentage on meat should be 30%, but ideally lower and should be more around 20% or less for any other food

9. Avoid Food Packaged in Plastics #3 and #6 – these are the most harmful types of plastics.  The chemicals in these plastics can leech into the food the plastic packaging is holding, which then makes it unsafe for our health.

10. Limit and/or avoid Plastics #1 and #7.   #1 Plastic is one that the studies are inconclusive about.  Some people suggest it is harmful while others say it is safe.  Plastic #7 is the miscellaneous category for plastics.  Some plastic labelled as #7 is safe, but other #7s are not.  I like to be on the cautious side when it comes to my health.  So, I try to limit these as much as possible.

 Tips for Healthy Eating and Eating No Processed Foods or Sugar:

1. When looking at any wheat or whole grain products, make sure there is at least 2g of fiber.  This normally means the product is less processed.

2. Look for ingredients that you can instantly imagine in their natural state: tomatoes, brown rice, etc.

3. The fresher the food is, and less packaging there is, the better.

4. Go for the rainbow when selecting fruits and vegetables

5. Eat whole wheat and whole grain foods like brown rice, whole wheat pasta, and whole grain bread- instead of white rice, white pasta, white bread, etc.  Wheat and whole grain are complex carbs, not simple carbs like their white counterparts, which make them a better fuel for your body.

6. Eat only 2 palm-sized portions of meat a day.  This is an easy way to visually see what an 1 oz. serving of meat looks like without having to buy a scale, or carry one around with you everywhere.  Also, this is the amount of meat recommended for a person daily.  Following this keeps in check the amount of cholesterol, saturated fat, and sodium you’re consuming in a day.  The rest of your daily protein should come from beans and/or nuts.

8. If cutting out most processed foods from your diet/food intake, make sure you still get enough sodium.  Most Americans get way too much sodium in their diets/daily food intake because of how much processed foods we eat, and how much sodium is in processed foods.  So, most of the time, Americans have trouble with too much sodium.  For us who cut out most processed foods though, we have the problem of getting too little sodium, which our bodies do need to function (and will cause horrible leg cramps if receiving too little).  So, make sure you have enough sodium by salting your meat a little,  eating salted nuts, etc.

9. If you are financially able, go organic.  USDA Certified Organic foods are regulated and are required to not have pesticides, artifical growth hormones, etc. in them or on them, making them an even healthier choice.  However, I am even not able to go completely organic because of finances.  I have a few items (milk, eggs, cheese, and I believe one other item I can’t think of) that I regularly get organic.

However, I believe that eating fresh produce, leaner meats, and overall healthy foods will benefit anybody’s health regardless of whether they eat only organic foods, only conventionally made/grown foods, or a mixture of both.

That’s it!  Thanks for making it through the entire list!  I did not go into the reasons why I avoid each ingredient and food because I felt that it already was a really long blog post.  So, I only included reasoning when I felt that it was especially needed.

If you have any questions on any of these ingredients or foods- like why one of them is on my list– please comment below, and I’ll answer back!

This is not an all-inclusive list.  This is only what I can think of right now. I will be continuously adding things to it when I think of more.  🙂

Did I miss an ingredient or food you think needs to be avoided?  Or, did this list help you start eating better?  Comment below and let me know! 🙂

Have a sunny day, and happy healthy eating and grocery shopping!

~Kim

“Why settle for eating healthier, when you could be eating healthy?” ~Kim Maurer

Today’s Cup of Tea is Sencha Green Tea with Sunny Mother Nature

Feel the wonderful benefits sink in while enjoying a cup of Sencha Green Tea with Sunnymothernature!

Do you love the finer things life has to offer?  That’s what you get with Sencha Green Tea!  Green Tea in general is really good for one’s health (although all teas have health benefits).  As with all teas, there are different qualities.  Compass Teas’s, at www.compassteas.com, Superior Sencha Green Tea is one of the top qualities of Sencha Tea available.  

Sencha Green Tea is considered to have a more refined taste.  Also, it is interesting to note that Sencha Green Tea actually brews green, not yellow or yellowish-green like some other green tea varieties.

Green tea in general has antioxidants, minerals and vitamins that are all good for one’s health.  It can possibly help your immune system, prevent diseases, help with mental clarity, etc.  The list can go on and on with what green tea can do.

I find that if I want to focus more, without becoming anxious, or hyper, green tea is amazing.  It relaxes me, but focuses me at the same time.

Today, I decided to brew some Sencha Green Tea because I wanted the awesome health benefits from it~ as well it is said to help clear your skin.  Yet, even if it doesn’t help my skin clear up, I know it is helping my body, mind and spirit in many other ways.

My Sencha Green Tea is from Compass Teas, at http://compassteas.com/oolongclassic-1.aspx (and yes it’s this link even though it says Oolong Classic) for 2 oz. for $9.25.  And, the best part is that this Sencha Green Tea is organic!  Sencha Green Tea can be found at other tea suppliers and wherever tea is sold too.

So, sit down and have a cup of Sencha Green Tea with me.  Mother Nature will love that you are doing a little something to improve your health, which in turn improves Mother Nature’s health! 

Have a sunny day!

“Sometimes the world feels scary and unsafe, but if you and I have a cup of tea, it’ll suddenly feel much more like a warm and inviting place.” ~Kim Maurer, aka Sunny Mother Nature

Please Note-I am affiliated with Compass Tea Company.  The price and ounces listed here were correct at the time I posted them.  They may change without my knowledge.

Sunny Mother Nature Says Healthier is NOT the Same as Healthy

Sunny Mother Nature says that healthier is not the same as healthy!

I always find it amusing when people tell me that the margarine, or butter they use is so much healthier than the butter that they used to use.  Or that the chocolate they’re eating is healthier because it ONLY has 5g of saturated fat compared to 9g in the chocolate they normally buy.

Yes, buying “healthier” products is better for all of us than buying what we may normally buy.  I do often times buy that “healthier” margarine and the “healthier” chocolate myself.  Yet, is that 5g of chocolate really that much better than the 9g?  Especially if we eat more than what we would’ve eaten if it was the 9g?  I’m not saying continue buying the 9g chocolate, or the really high cholesterol, high saturated fat, high sodium butter, chips, frozen food, etc. at all. 

No.  My question and worry is that people will assume that by eating and buying these “healthier” items, they will believe they are eating “healthy”.  When, in actuality they may be far from eating healthy.  We may still be getting high amounts of bad cholesterol, saturated fat, and sodium by eating these “healthier” products. 

And the food ads are no help here.  Even various chips have on their packaging that they have 25% less fat than the original chips!  Yet, when you look at the back, they are still not that healthy of a chip.

So, what to do?  Well, I do not believe in depriving oneself of anything.  Instead, moderation is key. 

Look at food labels for the amounts and percentages of cholesterol, fats, and sodium, especially, in a product.  You will be surprised how high some of these percentages really are.  (This does take time, but it’s worth it.)

Just buy less processed and packaged foods.  Many packaged foods aren’t really that good for us anyway. 

Buy more actual fruits and vegetables-not fruit juices, or fruit snacks. 

And please, eat healthy, not “healthier”.  Mother Nature will be sunnier just thinking about it.  After all, if we’re all eating healthy, that means less packaging waste and less energy consumption for Mother Nature to deal with.