Healthy Holiday Eating Guide Part 2: Food is Fuel
No shakes, no meal replacement bars, just real food. Fueling our bodies to perform their best is our goal. Eating healthy foods that make us feel good and perform well in the gym should be a top priority for all of us. Food will either make us sluggish and tired or it will give us energy and ready us to take on our workouts. How do you want to feel everyday? The choice is yours!
Grocery Shopping 101
When we make a trip to the grocery store we want to be prepared. Going in without a plan is a sure fire way to get yourself off track and tempted by the “fake food” found in the pretty packages.
Here are a few quick tips to stay on track while shopping.
• Eat a snack first to avoid those tempting samples and the “fake foods” that are found in the center aisles.
• Skip those middle aisles all together if possible. The real food is located on the outer perimeter of the grocery store.
• Read labels. The less ingredients the better.
• Keep pre-packaged food to a minimum.
• Make a list. Don’t go to the store without one!
WHAT NOT TO EAT
• Sugar (white sugar, raw sugar, high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, maltodextrin, brown sugar, sucralose, rice syrup, stevia, agave, and aspartame YUCK, linked to cancer!)
• Grains (including corn, oats, buckwheat, amaranth, etc.)
• Legumes (peanuts, lentils, beans, chick peas)
• Vegetable/Corn Oils (Vegetable oil, Canola oil, Palm Kernel oil, Soybean oil, Sunflower oil, Cottonseed oil, Corn oil, margarine)
• Dairy (with the exception of grass fed butter)
• Gluten free grains like buckwheat and oats are tolerated by some people.
It is recommended that you eliminate these foods and then try to reintroduce them one at a time to see if they are well tolerated by your body.
WHY WE ELIMINATE THOSE FOODS
• Sugar can cause inflammation and insulin resistance in the body. Our bodies can become stressed when we try to metabolize large amounts of sugar. It’s best to eliminate the processed forms of sugar (listed above) and stick with more natural sweeteners such as honey and maple syrup. Even those are best consumed in moderation.
• Grains contain anti nutrients, which damage your gut lining and cause irritation. Most grains also cause the body to release insulin which tells your body to store fat. Along with sugar, grains are the biggest cause of inflammation in our bodies.
• Dairy is high in carbs and produces a strong insulin response. It’s not ideal for anyone wanting to lose weight. Also many people find that they areintolerant to it. If you feel that you tolerate it well, consider consuming grass-fed or even raw dairy. The milk that you find in the grocery store is likely to come from cows that have been fed a diet of grains and soy and confined to a small cramped space. Grass-fed dairy on the other hand will come from cows that have been pasture raised. Their milk will be higher quality.
• Legumes contain phytic acid and lectins. Phytic acid binds to the nutrients and makes them difficult to absorb. Lectins damage our intestinal walls and contribute to leaky gut. They can be found in almost all foods but they are highest in grains, legumes and dairy. Luckily they won’t remove any nutrients you already have in your body but they aren’t nutrient dense foods and should be eaten in moderation. They can also cause digestive issues such as gas and bloating.
• Vegetable and canola oil are hydrogenated oils and are not naturally occurring fats. They are heavily processed and are prone to turning rancid which causes them to contribute to inflammation in your body. Also, these oils are derived from corn which is a common GMO crop in the United States.
• Soy contains phytoestrogens. They mimic the action of estrogen in our bodies without any of the vital functions of estrogen, which means it can cause hormonal issues. Phytoestrogens have also been linked to breast cancer and a disruption in thyroid function. Soy also contains trypsin inhibitors which interfere with protein digestion.
As you can see the list of what not to eat is rather short. Eliminating these foods will give you a “diet” that is non inflammatory. Reducing inflammation will help you heal your body, lose weight and feel better.
WHAT TO EAT
The list of foods that you CAN eat is so long that below we will just cover the way food is grown and what the best choices are. When trying to decide what to eat remember the goal is to eat real whole foods. If it doesn’t come in a package it’s most likely a good choice!
When buying meat use this rating system as a guide:
• Good: Lean cuts of conventionally raised meat
• Better: Organic , grass-fed from a large chain grocer
• Best: Local, pastured, grass-fed, wild game
This system is based on sustainability, taste and animal welfare. For example cows are meant to live outside. When they are raised outdoors on pastures they move around and use their muscles. They get fresh air, sunshine and they graze on grass which is what cows are made to eat.
Cows that are raised by factory farms are kept indoors their entire lives, given little room room move and are fed grain which is not what they are designed to eat.
Which sounds like a better option? When animals are raised in a natural environment and are fed the diet that is best suited to them they end up becoming the healthiest and tastiest meats around. Chickens, cows, pigs, goats, fish should all be sourced from places where they are able to live in their most natural habitat before becoming meat for us to consume as fuel.
Good places to source that “Best” category for both meat and vegetables are farmer’s markets, local farms, CSA (community supported agriculture) and Co-ops.
Vegetables and Fruits
When buying vegetables and fruits use this rating system as a guide:
• Good: Conventionally grown
• Better: Organic, non-gmo
• Best: Local or grown in your own yard
Conventional produce is usually sprayed with a multitude of pesticides throughout the growing process. Because of that process, you can’t wash off the pesticides. Studies have shown that some organic fruits and vegetables contain higher levels of vitamins and antioxidants.
Try to buy organic or local whenever possible. Getting to know your farmer and purchasing directly from them is one of the best ways to ensure that you are getting high quality, low pesticide fruits and vegetables. Also, when you buy from local farms you are directly supporting a family business.
If you really want to have the most control over the food you eat you can grow it yourself. Having your own garden can be fun and rewarding. Also, there’s nothing better than knowing the exact conditions your food was grown in.
Nuts and Seeds
If you tolerate them, nuts and seeds have a place in a healthy diet. Be aware that it’s easy to get carried away with nuts because they make for convenient, portable snacks but they can be high in phytic acid and polyunsaturated fats.
A good way to combat the anti-nutrients like phytic acid, is to soak raw nuts overnight in salty water and then let them dry before consuming. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator and consume them in small amounts
Paleo Pantry Staples
Here is a list of some pantry staples to stock up on. You don’t have to buy all of these at once. Incorporate a few into each shopping trip and before you know it you will have purchased everything on the list.
• coconut aminos
• canned coconut milk
• almond milk
• almond flour
• arrowroot powder
• aluminum free baking powder
• baking soda
• vanilla extract
• unsweetened shredded coconut
• nut butter (read labels, some brands contain sugar)
• dried fruit (read labels, some brands contain sugar)
• coconut oil
• avocado oil
• palm shortening (baking)
• fish sauce
• coconut cream
• apple cider vinegar
• balsamic vinegar
• coconut flour
• grassfed gelatin
If you need any help please feel free to reach out to us :).