Thursday, 12 January 2012

Big Changes...The Foods We Eat

In the past year, my family has drastically changed the way we eat.  Here are some of the changes we've made:

  • I cut out all pop.  I went from drinking 1-2 Cokes a day (I craved it from the moment I woke up to the moment I went to bed), and for almost 2 years I have not had ONE single pop - not even a sip.  After a month or two, I didn't even crave it anymore, and now I would never dream of taking a sip.  The caramel colouring found in a variety of pop, has been scrutinized in the media as it is believed there are 2 chemicals in the colouring that lead to a higher risk of cancer.  In one can of pop. you are looking at drinking 39g of sugar - approximately 10 sugar cubes.  All the calories come from the sugar.  
  • Vitamin Water.  So after I cut out the pop, I decided to move to a "healthier" choice and began buying Vitamin Water.  WELL, low and behold, I discovered their sneaky ways on a YouTube video.  If you read the nutritional information, you'll see you are actually drinking only 13g of sugar...not nearly as bad as that can of pop, right?  Wrong!  That's if you only drink 1 8oz glass.  Most people end up drinking the entire contents - which equals 33 grams of sugar with all calories coming from the sugar.  The packaging is misleading...and we fall for it.  And the vitamins?  Well, even though there are some vitamins packed in there, you'll have to consume a lot of this sugar-filled drink in order to benefit at all from the vitamins...not worth it.
  • I drink water.  Green Tea - a good quality, loose leaf tea found in your local health food store is preferable.  Chamomile Tea.  And for a treat?  A bubbly mineral water - my favourite being San Pellegrino.  Alcohol is long gone - I have not had a sip of any alcoholic drink in well over a  year.  I do miss a sip of cold beer once in awhile, but it's not worth it.  Alcohol acts on the same receptors as Benzodiazepines, so by drinking even a small glass of beer, I could potentially set myself back from a quicker recovery. 
  • Processed Meats.  This was a big one for my husband.  Every day he packs the same lunch for himself.  Two sandwiches made on Ancient Grain Bread.  The bread is smothered in a thick later of hummus, with two slices of cold meat - ham and walnuts.  After reading several articles on the risks of consuming sodium nitrate (found in cold meats), he had second thoughts.  There is a 15% higher chance of getting stomach cancer from consuming 3oz or more per day of cold meat (or red meat in fact!).  LONG GONE are the ham his lunch consists of 2 sandwiches, smothered in hummus, and now with cucumber slices (still with walnuts sprinkled on top).  Crunchy, fresh and nutritous.  Packed with protein.  And because he leaves the skin on the cucumber, there is added fibre and vitamins (including Vitamin K...found also in Kale).  He finishes his lunch with dessert - a serving of unsweetened applesauce.  This is his lunch everyday - and he never tires of it.  He's an easy man to please. 
  • Meats.  Although I have no intentions at this time of becoming vegetarian or vegan, at the end of the day, I just don't crave meat - at all.  Plus, it's expensive and often packed with unnecessary antibiotics.  Most of our meals now consist of vegetables and grains.  Quinoa, whole wheat pasta, lentils and chickpeas are staples.  Many of the meals I make now are loaded with squash, spinach, onions, garlic, peppers and mushrooms.  I do not eat any red meat.  My IBS screamed at me every time I ate even a small helping of steak - so it is long gone now.  Poultry and fish are the only 2 things I touch now - my favourite being my husband's bbq'd salmon.  Yum.
  • Nutritional Yeast.  My new friend.  It is high in B12, which is something vegetarians often lack.  There is so much I could tell you about this great product.  These yellow flakes are loaded with the B Vitamins, as well as Fibre, Magnesium, Zinc and Protein.  Add it to hummus for a "cheese sauce".  It has a nutty, cheesy flavour and can be added to so many meals.  I do not touch any dairy aside from yogurt, so this has been a a nice addition to my diet. 
  • Chia Seeds.  This is my husband's new favourite.  Better known as the little seeds that make that Terracotta head into a plant (Ch-ch-ch-chia!).  Add these great seeds to your morning cereal or yogurt and you'll be filled easily till lunch.  No more morning cravings.  The little seeds swell over time, keep you full longer!  They are high in Omega-3's, and they balance out blood sugar levels (a great addition for those showing signs of the onset of Diabetes), as well as being a "complete protein"  (unlike peanut butter which is an incomplete protein...this means you have to combine the peanut butter with something else to get the full benefit from it and make it complete).  As a complete protein, you will be given extra energy to get your through the busy day.
For myself, I had a wake up call.  I was getting sick from medication and decided that was the push I needed to make some changes in my life.  In the end, they were big changes.  I'm sure some may think I'm being too strict with myself, but eating this way makes me FEEL good.  I have more energy and even my skin looks better.  I like knowing I am filling my body with goodness.  I love that my husband and daughter are right on board with me.  I don't miss red meat or dairy.  I am okay with that.  Does it make it difficult to eat at parties or potlucks because 90% of the meals are coated in gooey cheese?  Yes.  But I am okay with that too!  Now I make sure to make a "safe meal or side dish" to bring along, as well as I eat before I go to the party so I am already full.  I'll leave you with some images of the foods and drinks I love.  Here's to healthy eating in 2012!

My Favourite Bubbly Drink

Nutritional Yeast

Chia Seeds...add a tablespoon to your food!

My husband's Green Tea...a warm and comforting drink that boosts your immune system

Delicious.  BBQ'd salmon, peppers and mushroom from this past summer

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