If I am completely honest with you, the thing that is absolutely the most difficult for me to make much forward progress with, it’s the way that I eat. And this is coming from someone who is really very passionate about putting good things into my own body and the bodies of those I love most.
But I am a human like anybody else. I crave crap too. And I often give into those cravings. But I have also found a few useful strategies in my journey to changing my perspective on food and pursuing the idea of “eating clean” that have helped me make better choices for my body while not depriving myself of the things that I enjoy the most.
So here are a few of the methods that I have found useful. If you have any questions about these, or are interested in any additional help in this area, feel free to email me at email@example.com, or send me a message via Facebook. I am not a doctor, scientist, or expert in this area by any means, but I have done quite a bit of reading and online research, and am more than willing to share some valuable resources with you. But for now, I hope you find the following tips helpful!
Switch out the sugar that you use. Did you know that without certain vitamins, namely B6 and B12 vitamins, our bodies cannot properly digest and utilize the sugars that we consume? Naturally occurring sugars, such as those found in fruits and other plant sources are already combined with the necessary vitamins in order to allow optimal metabolization. Processed sugars, however, like the ones used in most households today and present in almost all packaged foods, have been so heavily altered (through heat treatments and bleaching) that all of those valuable vitamins and minerals have been removed. The resulting product is one that, when consumed, our bodies don’t even recognize. We can’t effectively metabolize these sugars and consequently, our body stores them in our fat cells until it can figure out how to break them down. So, if we can use less refined sources of sugar, we can eliminate some of the issue here. Try using fruits to curb your sweet tooth, or incorporate minimally-refined sugars, such as rapadura, coconut sugar, or PURE maple syrup, into your diet. Your body will thank you for it!
Make your own snacks. Unfortunately, many of the snack options available to us through grocery markets are laden with overly-processed sugars, corn syrups, MSG, and salt, way beyond the quantities that our bodies were meant to process on a daily basis. By bombarding our systems with these and other harmful ingredients, we gradually break down our ability to properly metabolize our foods. One of the ways that we can avoid this is to make our own snacks. And this is actually a lot easier than you might think! Thinly slicing vegetables and placing them in a low-heat oven (say 150 to 170 degrees) is a really easy way to create a healthy alternative to potato or tortilla chips. You even make your own protein or granola bars without having to even turn your oven on! Buy some popcorn kernels from the bulk section and have a little fun popping your own (¼ cup of kernels in 2 tablespoons of melted coconut oil over high heat). Add a little salt, black pepper, and a dash of cayenne for a tasty, low-calorie snack that’s devoid of all the nasty and harsh chemicals that are leached into your popcorn when you use microwaveable bags.
Switch to raw or less-pasteurized dairy. One of the greatest travesties in modern society (in my perhaps not-so-humble opinion), is the pasteurization of milk products. I will only say this once, so listen closely. HEAT PROCESSING DENATURES FATS AND RENDERS THEM NUTRITIONALLY VOID. I understand that initially the pasteurization of milk products was meant to protect consumers from the dangers of harmful bacteria that would sometimes end up in our dairy products as a result of uncleanly manufacturing processes. Today, however, manufacturing regulations require the use of naturally antibacterial materials, such as stainless steel. As a result, manufacturing processes have become much more effective at providing us with a clean and safe end product, and renders pasteurization unnecessary. But instead, pasteurization has become the norm, and the dairy products that the vast majority of western cultures enjoy is pretty much empty in terms of healthfulness. Pasteurization also kills any beneficial cultures that are naturally present in raw dairy products and that keep our gut healthy and functioning optimally in terms of its ability to metabolize and absorb the nutrients in ALL foods which we consume.
Choose more nutritionally-available bread options. This is a confusing statement, I realize, so I will explain. The grains that we consume are products of the seeds of a variety of plants. These seeds are often left in whole form (think quinoa or barley), or ground down into powders (flours, certain breakfast cereals, steel cut oats, etc.). As a protective design feature, these seeds have two elements in particular that make them difficult for our bodies to fully break down upon consumption. These elements are phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors. Phytic acid also contributes greatly to tooth decay, but that’s a story for another time. Basically, these elements prevent us from digesting these grains in a manner that we are able to access all of the nutrients that the grains hold. Think of it as a wall, a barrier I suppose. Anyway, by “pre-digesting” these grains through soaking or fermenting, we can greatly improve the amount of nutrients made available to our bodies in consuming these grains. So what does this have to do with the bread that we choose? It’s actually very simple, really. Many grocery stores have sprouted breads (Alvarado Street brand, for instance) and ALL grocery stores have sourdough breads. Both of these provide us with tasty and truly nutritionally-dense bread options.
Soak your nuts. Um, that’s getting a little personal...OMG, those are not the nuts to which I was referring, OBVIOUSLY! Get your minds out of the gutter!...Anyway, if you like to snack on almonds or other raw nuts, as many folks do, soaking and dehydrating them before consumption is actually a pretty easy thing to get in the hang of. And the principle is the same as with changing the breads that we choose to use. Nuts are seeds too, so they too possess the nutrient-blocking phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors. To learn more about grains and ways that we can make better choices regarding the grains and seeds that we eat, check out this article by Wellness Mama.