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.

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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.

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

Why I’ve Continued Eating No Processed Foods and No Processed Sugar, aka Day 75

Hi!

The past couple of weeks have gone by so quickly for me. I’m sorry I haven’t been blogging! I can hardly believe it’s July 6th already.

So, if I was still counting, (which I haven’t been, but I figured some of you would be curious to know how long I’ve been going without processed foods and sugar 🙂 ) today would be Day 75!

Honestly, it feels like I’ve been eating real foods and no processed foods or sugar for much, much longer than 2 1/2 months.

So, why am I still eating no processed foods and no processed sugars?

I just overall feel healthy now. That was one of my goals when I initially decided to eat this way. And this one change has led to two other changes in my life. After I started this challenge, I began to exercise, started yoga again, and even began to heal my two pulled hamstrings that had “made” me stop doing yoga two years ago (I thought that doing yoga was making them worse. So, I thought I would let them rest. Instead, my hamstrings got so bad on this plan that I would majorly pull them when I leaned over to wash my hands, or when I bent over to pick something off of the floor. They were that bad). The yoga and the walking have been making my hamstrings stronger. The other major change that I started was that I began to really look at how much plastic was in my life and how I could limit it to protect my health and the Earth’s health.

This challenge has even connected me more with my body. I am realizing when I am hungry and when I’m just rummaging around the kitchen because I’m bored, tired, anxious~ place any word you like there. And so, I go do yoga, or just get a glass of water. Anything to get out of the kitchen.

I also have clearer skin. Is it completely clear yet? No, but I know that there are still a lot of toxins in my body that my body is attempting to get out. And, I also know that my skin will never be 100% clear. But, it still is a lot clearer than before I started this challenge, and I’ve even stopped using any acne skincare products.

I am even down to 141 lbs. compared to 156 lbs. when I started this challenge, and this wasn’t even a goal of mine. However, it is a natural response the body has when it is being fed better.

Yet, the one thing that continually brings me back from a craving of chocolate, pizza, a cookie, etc. is that I am feeding my body and my mind right.

It is easy to say, “Oh, but that cookie, junk food, extra-huge portion of steak, or any kind of processed food and sugar tastes so good. I deserve it.”, or “I want it.”

But, do any of us truly deserve or want health problems? Being overweight? Obese? Heart Disease? Diabetes? etc.

No, we don’t! We don’t deserve that. No one does.

So, eat healthy! Eating actual food like fruits, vegetables, whole grains (brown rice, wheat pasta, etc.), milk, nuts, fish, chicken, and those in the right portions, help to nourish you and your body.

Healthy eating:

~ maintains a healthy body weight

~ helps lose weight if overweight

~ helps energize (and eliminates feeling sluggish and tired caused by unhealthy foods)

~ helps lower cholesterol

~ helps lower high blood pressure

~ lowers your risk of Heart Disease

~ lowers your risk for Diabetes, etc.

The list truly goes on and on!

While food-like substances and foods that are high in saturated fat, trans fat (look for hydrogenated oils and partially hydrogenated oils in the ingredients EVEN if the package says “0 g. trans fat”), cholesterol, sodium, high fructose corn syrup, artifical sweetners, and sugar like ice cream, canned soups, crackers, bread, macaroni and cheese, jello, white pasta, white bread, white rice, cookies, chips, etc. only make you feel sluggish, tired, and can make you gain weight. And no one really wants that.

My goal here is to expose you to how much food is processed, and not actual food, around us! How much processed “food” we believe is food because the ads, companies, and our friends are telling us it is food!

Yet, is it food?

With so many processed foods “enriched” and “nutriously rich” are they really enriched naturally? Or, did companies have to add so many vitamins, minerals, fiber, etc. to those “foods” because they were so processed that they barely even resembled food? They are really empty calories that companies sometimes attempt to make “seem” better.

Do you really want to eat foods that are instant? That don’t spoil? That are meant to have long shelf lives?

When it comes to processed foods:

Long shelf lives in the store= Long shelf lives in our bodies

I don’t. I don’t want to eat foods that have ingredients I can’t pronounce, or that have ingredients that I can’t buy or picture that ingredient in its natural form.

And that is why I am continuing to eat this way. I am willing to eat healthy because I know it will be good for me now and later on down the road.

And, it tastes good! 🙂

Anyone can say they will make a change, one day. Are you willing to be different and start making that change today?” ~Kim Maurer

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

Day 2 of Real Food Lifestyle Challenge with Sunny Mother Nature

Happy Easter everyone!

I hope today was a wonderful day for you all, filled with sweets (and I don’t just mean candy 🙂 )!

So, I wasn’t sure how I would fare deciding to have Day 2 of my Real Food Lifestyle Challenge falling on Easter.  By the way, I did change the name of my latest challenge to Real Food Lifestyle Challenge, from No Sugar and No Processed Foods Challenge, because it just sounds more positive and it makes it then sound like I am gaining something, not merely subtracting things (I feel that I will gain from this challenge.  I don’t want to look at the name of my challenge and wonder if I’m only “losing” something). 

And, I have to say, I did have some Easter candy, and a couple French Breakfast muffins my mom made.  My sister and brother-in-law gave me some candy (my favorites too~Starburst and Skittles) for Easter!  So sweet of them! 

They didn’t know I was doing this challenge~and I honestly just don’t have candy, unless someone else buys it for me, so I can’t say that I feel bad for eating some Starburst, Skittles, and muffins (my mom is an AMAZING cook and she doesn’t make these muffins too often).

I did splurge this afternoon, but when dinner came I went back on track. 

 And if you happen to decide to change your eating habits in any way, that is the best way to look at it.  Just accept that you splurged and the next time you eat that day (don’t wait for tomorrow to get back on track!) go back and continue following your new eating habit. 

As the saying goes, “Rome wasn’t built in a day.”  Just being able to go back to your food plan is a huge step in an awesome direction! 

Stay positive and I’m sure we can both make positive, healthy changes to whatever we set our minds to!  

Have a sunny day!

~Kim