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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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