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