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

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Day 27 of the No Processed Foods and No Processed Sugar Challenge aka the Real Food Challenge

Hi everyone!

Wow, so I started this challenge on April 23~ its almost been one month already!

I wanted to do another update on how this No Processed Foods/No Sugar/ Real Food Challenge has been going for me!

I probably have less negatives to mention this time around than any other time!  The only problem that I have been having since my last update (Day 19) was that I have been having trouble with leg cramps again.  However, I have, so far, not had any other full blown leg cramps, but I have felt that left calve muscle cramping up for the past couple of days.  This was especially true between Sunday and yesterday (Wednesday).  Tuesday driving home from my last final was the worst it felt.  It was so bad that I thought I would get a horrible leg cramp while driving.  Luckily, I didn’t.  Today my leg has been feeling a lot better though. 

Between various people I’ve talked to, we all came to the conclusion that my left calve muscle will tense up more when I’m stressed.  So, that could have been partly why I have been having so much trouble.  (Finals in college do not equal to low levels of stress 😉 ).

Basically leg cramps in calves can happen because of lack of sodium, potassium, or water.  So, whenever I have problems I try to get all three, which does help.  I do believe it gets aggravated with stress too.  Just something to keep in mind.

All the positives I have been having are much nicer though!

1. My acne has started to clear up again!  Right before Day 19, I had stopped using the Bareminerals Foundation in Fair again because I had started to break out so badly on my face and my neck (where I was using it).  And I wash my face twice a day (I do not sleep in makeup), so I knew it was not because I was not washing it. 

Once I stopped using the Bareminerals again, my face almost immediately started clearing up again!  And this was during my finals week, so there was no lack of stress.  I do like to mention when I have lots of stress just because some people will say to me that my acne might have gotten better or worse because of my stress levels, which is true

However, when I find that my acne is actually getting better when my stress levels are getting worse, that then is definitely saying something about this challenge and the positive effects that it is having on my body. 

So, anyone who is having trouble with acne definitely should consider trying to cut out processed foods and/or processed sugars from their food intake. 

I will keep you informed on how my skin is doing!

2. I have lost some weight.  I actually started following this because I was curious whether I was losing weight eating this way, and I found that I have.  At first, I do not believe I was, but I went from at the beginning weighing around 156 lbs. (I might have weighed a little more than that, I’m not sure, but I do know that I at least weighed that before I started this challenge.) to 150 lbs. now.  So, that’s at least 6 lbs. I’ve lost in almost a month without changes in exercise, or anything other than my food intake. 

(I do want to mention that I have never lost weight when I’m stressed.  When I am stressed I either stay the same weight, or I actually gain weight.)

My energy level is about the same though.  I do feel this is more from how much stress I was under from my finals and hopefully, it will begin to go up again once I have rested.

Here’s one tip on how to resist processed foods and processed sugars that has really helped me~

Read the ingredients on labels!  Every time I feel the urge to eat something processed, I read its ingredients and it immediately makes me not want to eat it! 🙂

Whenever I see high fructose corn syrup, propylene glycol, Red 40, Blue 1, hydrogenated oil, interesterified oil, etc. and many other words that I will probably never be able to pronounce on my food ingredient labels, it makes me not want to eat them because I don’t want them in my body. 

Hopefully that will help you resist too!

And I do want to let you know that I did give myself three days before my Day 1 of this challenge to allow my body a little time to adjust.  Basically I switched over to the stuff that I was going to eat during the challenge, but I was still eating yogurt during this time because I wanted to eat it up before I officially started the challenge.  So, I was still getting a little bit of sugar before I cut it out completely.

And, I did not really eat a whole lot of sugar to begin with before my challenge, so I did not personally have some of the major withdrawal symptoms that some people do have while cutting out sugar. 

If cutting out processed foods, or processed sugars is too much for you to do, or if they are so immersed in your daily food intake that you don’t know how your body would react if you cut them out completely, take small steps. 

Cut one thing out from your food intake.  For example, you could cut out high fructose corn syrup, or all hydrogenated oils and interesterified oils (Interesterified oils I just found out about yesterday.  Oils that are interesterified are what companies are now using instead of hydrogenated oils because hydrogenated oils have been labelled as bad for one’s health.  However, interesterified oils are just as bad). 

Cutting out these ingredients may seem like something a little bit too small, but you may be surprised to find how often these ingredients are in food products. 

And be proud of yourself that you are taking a tiny step for your health!  I personally do not believe that any step towards better health is too small, as long as you keep taking more and more small steps. 🙂

Have a sunny day!

~Kim

Day 19 of the No Processed Food and No Sugar Challenge

Hello!

I hope everyone is healthy and doing well 🙂

I’m sorry it’s been about a week since I last posted a blog.  This past week was the last days of classes.  I just finished writing my final paper for my one class that’s due tomorrow, and I just have Monday and Tuesday, with two final exams, two essays, and a presentation, and I’m done with this college semester! 🙂

So, how has it been going with this challenge, for me?

It’s been going really well!  Basically I had two days last week (Thursday and Saturday) where I did end up eating not so great foods for one meal, each day.  Thursday was actually my Award Ceremony~ I received an Honors Program Graduate Award from my college.  I was expecting more people to receive it, but there were only two of us! (the guy besides me didn’t show).  But, I did end up eating a bowl of really good soup from Panera Bread.  I honestly haven’t been to a Panera Bread in years so I couldn’t resist! 😉

Then on Saturday, my parents and I went out to celebrate my mom’s birthday (which was on mother’s day this year) and mother’s day!  We ended up choosing Chipotle because it seemed like it would have the healthiest food that my mom could eat.  It was awesome!  I loved the food there!  Sadly, the food was SOOO spicy!  My mouth was on fire! ~ Luckily they had organic milk there.  But we all enjoyed ourselves, my mom, I think, especially 🙂

At this point in the challenge, I don’t think I’ve been having any mood swings because of the lack of sugar or processed food (I have been moody, but I think it’s stress related).  Also, I haven’t been having any cravings for anything.  The only craving I’ve had is the one when I was at Panera Bread, for Broccoli Cheese soup.

Sadly, my acne, and the tiny little bumps I get on my face, has flared up again.  I do think this is partly due to stress though, and I did start using my Bareminerals Fair foundation again.  So, I stopped using that foundation to see if that was partly it.  So far, my face does seem to be slowly clearing up again.  I don’t know what I think about that. 

And, just because I was curious, I did decide to weigh myself either on Day 12, or the day after, to see how much I weighed.  At that time I weighed 156 lbs.  I’ve weighed myself yesterday and today, and I now seem to weigh 152 lbs.   I do weigh myself around the same time every day, and for my height, this is considered in the normal range.  So, if you are considering doing this challenge for weight loss, it is a definite possibility.  Like I said in other posts, I normally gain 10 lbs. over the winter and so that is the weight that I don’t mind losing by summer.  🙂  However, I do think how much you could lose with this type of challenge depends on how much processed food and sugar you normally intake on a daily basis.  If it wasn’t too much (like me), then I don’t feel that there is going to be as big of a weight loss.  But if you do consume more, then you could lose much more weight than I probably will.  Just to keep that in mind 🙂

I do still feel like I have some more energy than I did starting this challenge.  However, I think since this is my last little bit of time in this semester, I am having a little bit more difficulty focusing.  (It probably didn’t help that the project I needed to finish first was the one I really didn’t want to work on 😉 )

So far, I also have not had anymore leg cramps!  I am really happy about this!  But I have been trying to make sure that I do get enough sodium.  There was one day where my left calve did feel a little off (like it was possibly starting to get a leg cramp), but luckily it went away.

Overall, I have been feeling really happy that I did take the plunge and start this challenge because I feel that it has been very beneficial.  I know that Mother Nature would approve 😉

 Once my finals are done, I have tons of blog posts that I want to write, so come back soon!  🙂

Have a sunny day!

~Kim

Day 12 of the Real Food aka No Sugar and No Processed Food Challenge

Hi!

So, I wanted to give an update on how things are going with my Real Food aka No Sugar and No Processed Foods Challenge.

It’s going really well so far!  I have been doing this challenge for almost two weeks now, and I have been sticking to it pretty well.  However, while I was petsitting this weekend, I did end up eating breaded chicken nuggets (as well as my normal vegetables, fruits, organic milk, etc.) every day.  Yet, that is my only real slip up so far.  And I did eat them consciously because I wanted to make sure that I did have enough meat and salt in my diet.

The other thing that happened was that on Saturday when I woke up, I had a horrible muscle cramp in my left leg.  It lasted for a couple of minutes.  Even a couple of hours after the initial pain, I could not walk with my left foot flat on the ground.  My muscle was just that tight.  I definitely feel it was because I must have not taken in enough sodium.  So, basically the first thing I did when I could move was get to the kitchen and eat things with sodium, or added sodium to foods.  By the middle of the day I could walk with my left foot flat on the ground again, and by the evening it was feeling much better.  The next day it was completely gone.

So, just make sure that you are still getting enough sodium.  Otherwise, you will end up having some leg cramps and those aren’t fun!

When my mom started having high blood pressure, not only did she cut back on sodium, but I did as well.  So, it is just so weird adding sodium to foods now.  I’m getting used to it though 🙂

The other thing that I noticed that I do feel might have happened because of the no sugar and no processed foods challenge was that for maybe the first week, or week and a half, I was getting very pissed off very frequently.  Sometimes, there was a reason, and other times, I’m not really sure if there were reasons.

I had read that some people who cut out processed sugars did have major emotional mood swings.  Not all did, but some did.  Luckily, I’ve (so far) just had the angry ones, which I’m perfectly fine with.  I’d rather have those than start crying about something.  I think I am over this now though, which makes me feel better. 🙂

Those are the two things that I’ve noticed that have been negative.

Yet, I have noticed things that are positive as well!  My skin, for one, has started to really clear up!  I do think this is also partly that I did take out some products from my routine that I thought were breaking my skin out.  However, I do feel that this has definitely helped my skin as well!  And no, my level of stress has still not changed~I now have less than two weeks left in this semester in college.  This equals lots of stress until the end of the semester.  🙂

Also, I do feel like my energy level has slowly been increasing, which is awesome!  I still do not feel that it’s where I want it to be, but it is getting there.

I did check my weight a couple of days ago (I don’t quite remember when) just because I was curious to see if I had lost any weight.  I don’t think I did though.  Like I said though, this is not my major concern.  I did want to let you know though, just in case this was one of the reasons you were thinking about doing this challenge.  However, it is only less than two weeks in.

Also, for the past year, I have been having trouble with my stomach (IBS).  I did get it in control in August 2010.  However, every now and then I will have trouble again.  So far, I have not been having trouble while doing this challenge!  That makes me very happy! 🙂

I will continue to keep updating on the positives, the negatives, and my progress with this challenge!  Stay tuned 🙂

Have a sunny day!

~Kim

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