the number one trap to going
gluten-free or fat-free or sugar-free!

Posted by on Jun 2, 2014 in Anti-Inflammatory Ideas, Cooking at Home, Gluten Free, Healthier Choices, Holistic Pain Relief, Wellness | 0 comments

Have you decided to clean up your food choices hoping it will give you some pain relief in a more holistic way? If you have, you may fall into this typical, unhealthy trap!

First you decide to start eating gluten free. You think to yourself, “Well shoot, that’s easy—there are so many GF products on the grocery store shelves today.” Don’t you just have to switch bread for GF bread, pretzels for GF pretzels, pancakes for GF pancakes, cookies for GF cookies?

Won’t a few simple substitutions help your pain levels and improve your health? At the risk of disappointing you, the short answer is NO. The longer answer is not necessarily or it depends on your body.

All processed food products (whether GF or not) have many ingredients within them. You know I’m right if you’ve ever looked at an ingredient list, and realized that you can’t pronounce at least half of the ingredients. Why is that?

Gluten-Free Cereal

When one key ingredient (like wheat, saturated fat or refined sugar) is removed, the food’s manufacturer typically uses a variety of other ingredients to approximate taste, texture, or another characteristic. These ingredients can be harmless for many of us, but may also wreck just as much havoc in our body as the original offender.

Eliminating wheat and gluten from my diet gave me a HUGE boost in holistic pain relief of my inflammatory autoimmune arthritis. And about a month later, I had an amazing and disabling quantity of vertigo attacks. At the time, I attributed the vertigo to gluten withdrawal although I had experienced many vertigo attacks in years prior. About a year into my new gluten-free lifestyle, the vertigo started again and ramped up into some additional horrific symptoms. It turns out they were all connected to migraine activity.

It turns out that one of my main migraine triggers is MSG (monosodium glutamate), which hides in many ingredient lists with a lot of different names. On top of that, MSG is derived from “natural” ingredients so it’s even in the healthier  (but still processed) food choices.

But what does all this have to do with the many kinds of food additives? As a holistic health coach, it’s not easy for me to admit that I was regularly consuming some gluten-free foods with had a lot of additives. And I also was making assumptions that food I thought was “whole” wouldn’t have harmful ingredients—I had gotten lazy about checking ingredient lists!

Here’s an example: Head into the dairy section of your nearest supermarket and look at cottage cheese ingredient lists. Shouldn’t they have just a few ingredients – milk, cream, etc.? (Or as I like to joke—cottage and cheese, right?) The organic, hormone and antibiotic-free cottage cheese brands have just as many additives as the conventional brands. If you see eight brands on the shelf, you may find only one with the “old-fashioned” ingredient list. By that I mean less than seven ingredients that only include items your great-grandmother would recognize. Whether you eat dairy or not is a whole separate topic, but if you do then choose the type that has the “old-fashioned” ingredient list!

More importantly, look for ways to incorporate foods WITHOUT ingredient lists and labels. These are the truly whole foods in our lives—food that IS a plant (not food made in plants). These are things like vegetables and fruit, especially those currently in at the peak of their growing season. They are also minimally processed whole grains like quinoa and brown rice. Sustainably produced animal protein is a whole food—if you choose to eat meat.

Anything from a box, especially if it has health claims printed on the front, is suspect. Even though the label says natural and organic, you may find that food additives in that box are NOT helping you stay well.

Please be your own advocate and learn to read the labels. Choose whole foods if you’re going gluten-free, fat-free, sugar-free—that’s the real secret to staying pain-free and healthy!

 

Do you just wish you could find a set of realistic, holistic tools you can put in practice that will minimize your pain and maximize your energy? Download my free PDF report to learn 17 EASY WAYS TO START MINIMIZING PAIN TODAY!

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my client called me a “hater” today …

Posted by on Apr 2, 2013 in Healthier Choices | 0 comments

Okay, so it was really “Cheerios hater,” which seems a little less harsh. And I feel inspired to explain that one to the world at large – what is it about Cheerios that I have an issue with? Whether you think I’m a hater or not is up to you …

Cereal AisleIf you look at the label, one cup of Cheerios has just one gram of sugar and three grams of fiber. Sometimes I use the ratio of fiber to sugar as a way to judge what cereal to suggest. So if that was my only judgement, I’d have to say Cheerios isn’t all that bad. 100 calories, more fiber than sugar, no fat … what more could a healthy eating person wish for?

I’m not the only one discussing this question right now. CNN Health just posted an article today called, “How to choose a healthy breakfast cereal.” (Hint … no Cheerios on the list … )

Well … what are my two main reasons for disrespecting Cherrios?

1. First four ingredients: Whole grain oats (includes the oat bran), modified corn starch, trisodium phosphate and wheat starch. Ingredients are always listed in the order of amount – so the ingredient which makes up the largest part of the cereal is listed first. But there’s no way to know if the largest part is 99% or 30% … it’s just never listed.

Yup, whole grain oats is a positive. A lot of breakfast cereal is still processed through equipment that extrudes it into the round “o” shape … or flakes or whatever. So it bears little resemblance to actual whole oats (think oatmeal here). But fundamentally this is an important first ingredient.

Modified corn starch is corn whose fundamental properties have been changed so that it can be used simply as a thickener, stabilizer or emulsifier. Although I have no proof, most corn in this type of application is likely to be genetically modified (GMO). Because the corn has been genetically altered, our bodies aren’t familiar with how to process it and best draw any available nutrients from it. Then it’s modified again into corn starch, so our bodies aren’t familiar with how to process that either. This kind of long-term confusion can be damaging to our digestion.

Tripotassium phosphate is a potassium salt of phosphoric acid used as an antioxidant synergist, buffer and emulsifier in food. Potassium and phosphate are naturally occurring compounds in our own bodies, so their are few known side effects. But again this is the third ingredient on the list and it just doesn’t sound appetizing to me.

Wheat starch is wheat flour (already a refined ingredient) that has been further processed to remove the proteins from it. Like the last two ingredients, this is used as a stabilizer or thickener. It’s just there so that the “o” stays in an “o” shape. Or so that the “o” doesn’t rot too quickly.

2. Processed, processed, processed: Breakfast cereal can be one of the most highly processed foods we choose during our day. Of course there are cereal choices that may be less processed, but most cereal has been smooshed, mashed, baked, and coated for hours and hours. Check out this video from the folks at How It’s Made. It’s not a whole food like oatmeal, for example. If you are trying to make healthier choices, you want to get closer to whole foods as the basis of every meal.

Better Cereal ChoiceIf not Cheerio’s, then what? Let’s just say that breakfast cereal is something you need to keep in your daily meal plans – there’s no doubting its convenience! What would I pick in this case? Well, here’s an option that isn’t marketed by a huge company spending gazillions of dollars on advertising. Even more important, it’s possible to pronounce the entire ingredient list. Plus it’s nutrition label tells me there’s 0 grams of sugar and 6 grams of fiber – that’s a good ratio in my book. Call me old-fashioned, but if I’m going to buy something in a box I’d prefer a choice like this. While it’s not technically whole food, it has more redeeming value and a whole lot less hype on the front of the box!

I could actually write quite a bit more about breakfast cereal … but I must get going to my day and probably you feel the same way! Let me know what your favorite breakfast choices are – whole foods or not – I’m curious to know. And thanks for reading this far so you know I’m not really a hater!

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Do you just wish you could find a set of realistic, holistic tools you can put in practice that will minimize your pain and maximize your energy? Download my free audio teleclass to learn YOUR MOST IMPORTANT STEP TO MINIMIZE PAIN!

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