Better Living With Better Food Choices
As a nutrition coach, I am passionate about what our family members eat, not only the quality of food, but also where it comes from, and how it is raised. We focus on making good choices but also love to splurge by having wine with dinner, potato chips as a side to our BBQ, or ice cream with homemade chocolate fudge sauce for dessert.
So here are JNC Better Living’s recommendations for changing your family menu for Better Living:
Our first suggestion is to buy organic options whenever possible.
What is Organic? The definition of Organic is a food produced without the use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides, or other artificial agents.
Why should they be avoided? Pesticides have negative effects on the human body and are known to disrupt hormone function and have strong associations with some types of cancer, asthma, childhood leukemia and Parkinson’s disease.
Where to shop? The obvious places to shop are Whole Foods and Sprouts, who’s reputation was founded on “Healthy”. However, there is a growing demand for Organic food, and even less expensive alternatives, like Walmart and Aldi’s, have expanded their selection of produce and meats to include many organic options.
Second, we suggest that you replace products that contain High Fructose Corn Syrup with products that have natural sugar.
What is High Fructose Corn Syrup? It is a processed liquid fructose-glucose sweetener made from corn.
Why should it be avoided? Since the 1970’s, when this product was introduced, Americans went from consuming zero pounds to an average of 60 pounds per year. High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) adds unnatural amounts of fructose into the diet, which the human body has not evolved to handle properly. In addition, new research suggests that HFCS can trigger body-wide inflammation and obesity, and it is linked not only to obesity, but to cancer, heart disease, tooth decay, liver disease and dementia as well.
Where is it found? It is found in many products, even those you would not suspect to have much sugar. Some examples are ketchup, honey, A-1 steak sauce, mayonnaise, salad dressing, chocolate syrup, ice cream, canned fruit, juice, soda, and our favorite mixer, tonic water.
What should I purchase? Replacing products with organic, means they do not have high fructose corn syrup in them, or you can look for popular brands, that now commonly label their products with a “No High Fructose Corn Syrup” or “Made with Real Sugar" designation. Following are some examples of branded products that we use at home and also see in some of our favorite healthy restaurants:
Hershey’s Simple 5
Fever Tree Tonic Water
Izze Carbonated Beverages
Next I would suggest eating foods with a Non-GMO designation.
What is Non-GMO? This means the food is made without ingredients derived from genetically engineered organisms.
Why should it be avoided? Foods with genetic modification (GM) have only been around since the early 90’s and there is a great deal of recent controversy about them and linked, but not proven to elicit toxic and allergenic reactions. The European Union (E.U.) has banned drugs used to raise farm animals in the U.S., including bovine growth hormone to increase milk production, and ractopamine, administered to increase the weights of pigs, turkeys and cattle prior to slaughter plus eight countries in the E.U. have banned GMOs all together. Therefore, my suggestion is to avoid them by looking for foods that indicate "Non-GMO”. Non-GMO is another way of saying…’naturally grown’ and at least we know that designation isn’t harmful!
Where is it found? Growth modifications are found in animals as well as plants, such as soybean, corn, cottonseed, and canola.
Reducing Food Additives is another area worth reviewing and modifying in your diet.
What are Food Additives? These are substances that are added to food to enhance its flavor or appearance or to preserve it.
Why should they be avoided? Food additives have been found to be carcinogenic, cause attention deficit, memory loss or skin and nerve issues. The E.U. banned the following food additives which the US manufacturers are still using:
Potassium bromate and azodicarbonamide (ADA)—whitening agents and flour additives used in baked goods to help them rise
Brominated vegetable oil (BVO), used in some citrus-flavored drinks
Preservatives BHA and BHT
Yellow food dyes No. 5, No. 6 and red dye No. 40
How to Avoid? Organic food has minimal additives, so this is one way to ensure you are avoiding them. Choosing whole foods instead of processed packaged food, is another way to eliminate them from your diet. And finally, avoid fast food and restaurant food that doesn’t promote farm to table and sustainable practices.
Our last suggestion is to buy foods with a designation of "No Sugar Added”.
Where to find? No sugar added can be found in foods like apple sauce, canned tomatoes and jelly that are naturally sweetened by the fruit or vegetable. Kroger (Fry’s) have a few products, like their applesauce, which calls this out. It is also popular with European foods. My husband and I buy many imports because these products are healthier options made with less sugar, and actually taste much better than American made.
As you may have seen, more and more restaurants are featuring healthy options and there are healthy restaurants popping up all over, like Flower Child, Freshbox, True Food and Tryst Cafe to name a few. These seem to be busy all the time. And when we quiz our friends and colleagues about why they choose these places, they indicate it’s because they can trust the health, safety and pedigree of the food…and because “it just taste’s better”!
Thank you again for giving me the opportunity to share this with you, and may it promote for you and your family, a healthier, better life!