You feel the way you do because you eat the way you do. I’m thinking of having this tattooed on my arm. Right down my forearm so every time I dig into a bag of chips (plain Lay’s are my favorite) or a bag of peanut M&M’s I will be reminded that I’ve walked this road before and it’s a downhill jog to feeling terrible. Joint pain, inflammation, bloating, tiredness, hormonal changes, insomnia, acne, weight gain- all of these are things that I have discovered are directly connected to what I’m consuming. It’s not just me. Consuming chemically processed foods is bad for all of us.
Just hear me out. I need to tell you that I loved Oreos, Taco Bell, soda and Cheetos just as much if not more than you do. I am not some enigma that woke up one day craving fresh fruit and rice cakes with almond butter. After too much time in my twenties spent feeling terrible, I decided to give an honest effort to eliminating processed foods from my daily diet because I was tired of feeling bad.
Let me introduce you to my friend Michelle
Now, I am no expert on nutrition, but I know people who are! First, I switched from going to a general practitioner for every health concern to a practitioner who specializes in functional and nutritional medicine. That’s a topic for another day, but I also have my buddy Michelle Simmons of Farm Fit Nutrition. She is a personal health and wellness coach specializing in nutrition as well as a friend of mine from high school. I reached out to her to back me up a bit on the tips I’m about to give you to cleaning up your eating habits.?
“I don’t think our generation really understands how well our bodies can work when properly fed. As a society, we are tired, stressed, overweight and overall sickly. Clean eating allows our digestive system to function properly which in turn benefits all the other systems of the body and offers us more energy, mental clarity, and a reduction in most illnesses.” – Michelle Simmons, Owner/ Health & Wellness Coach at Farm Fit Nutrition
What’s so bad about that?
While a lot of foods are processed in one way or the other, chemically processed foods are the ones that you flip the package over and see ingredients that you cannot pronounce. If you wouldn’t eat a full teaspoon full of each ingredient on its own, you probably shouldn’t eat it when it’s added to a processed food. Why not? I asked Michelle. “Food manufacturers here in the United States have a VERY low standard by which to follow. Those chemical ingredients are detrimental to our digestive systems and overall health in the long run.” They put chemicals in our food that aren’t food, people. They are added to change the color, texture, and flavor of the products and preserve them, so they can sit on a shelf for months.
The food industry also adds sugar to nearly everything. It sneaks into our bread, ketchup, “healthy” yogurt, sports drinks and spaghetti sauce. What’s so bad about that? Michelle says, “Sugar is poison. There really is no nice way to say it. Unfortunately, it is in EVERYTHING. It contributes to obesity, heart disease, gut imbalance, diabetes, tooth decay, brain fog, and it also causes you to age faster!”
Ready to make a change?
Some small changes daily can equal big results over time but if the whole idea of quitting processed foods sounds overwhelming to you, I’ve put together three tips to help you start the process.
- Make little changes first. Look at ingredients before you decide to eat something. Eat at home or pack your lunch. Be prepared to be in control of what you consume by grocery shopping for the week and buying things you can prep ahead of time and grab when you’re hungry. Keep snacks like nuts and whole food bars with you at all times! Drink more water. If you’re craving a soda or some sweet tea, drink 8 ounces of water first and then decide if you’re still thirsty.
- Eat only whole foods at breakfast. Oatmeal (not the kind from a packet) or scrambled eggs and fruit are good options and easy to prepare. Starting the day off ‘whole’ can set the tone for changes through the rest of the day.
- Don’t “treat yourself” too soon. It takes weeks to form new habits. Deciding to eat some cookie dough ice cream because you’ve been eating ‘clean’ for a week is a bad idea. Taste buds change over time. When chemicals are reintroduced too soon they change back quickly.
You can do it.
You may still be skeptical or even feeling a little defensive after reading this. “I can’t live without Diet Coke!” I know how you feel. I’ve felt that way before. Here’s what I found though. I can. So, I’m confident you can. Just try it out, one day at a time, and let me know what happens. Prove me right, prove me wrong, but in the meantime prove to yourself that you can do hard things.
Michelle Rawls Simmons is a the owner of Farm Fit Nutrition. She provides individual health and wellness coaching to assist individuals in achieving a healthy lifestyle through nutrition. Find her on Facebook at here and on Instagram by searching @farmfitnutrition.
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