In keeping with the healthy theme throughout this site, it’s recipes, and our lives, I want to showcase a few foods that I will not be using and explain why. There are several foods out on the market that have been disguised and even marketed as healthy. Choosing to incorporate them into your daily food habits can not only make you feel sick and zapped of energy, but may be the reason you can’t quite get past those headaches, random allergic reactions, stomach disorders, chronic body aches. Everyone is different and not all bodies react the same to each type of food, but the ones I am highlighting are becoming an increasing problem our American diet. Of course most all foods can be found to have something wrong with them. My goal in this quest to eat healthy is to pick the lesser of all the evils. These are the evils I have decided to avoid:
1) GMO foods
GMO foods, or genetically modified foods, are those that have had genes of the food scientifically altered. Originally, it was meant for good and still is. One of the reasons for genetic modification is to help food grow faster for supply and demand. It was even thought that maybe that would help solve the world hunger crises, but clearly that is not the case. Another reason for modification is to help make certain strains of food resistant to either pests or pesticides sprayed around them. Again, the theory is great. Interestingly, certain livestock and insects will not touch these crops.
A problem right off the bat is that there are only a few companies that are monopolizing this market of genetic modification and profiting off of it, so one would naturally question their motive. Another major problem is that in changing the genetic makeup of these crops and through cross-pollination of the fields, scientists are finding certain mutated genes that were not originally there when the modification was made. Then there is the fear of new allergens being introduced into society. With a seemingly quite dramatic number of people having issues with these specific foods for an unknown reason, my eyebrows are definitely raised….hmmmmm….
Several countries have begun to ban GMO foods. Unfortunately, the most genetically modified foods are some of the most consumed in our country. Here is a short list of the highest modified foods in order from greatest to least: Soybeans 93%, Canola 90%, Sugar Beets 90% (54% of US sugar comes from sugar beets), Corn 86%, Hawaiian papaya 80%, and dairy in the form of hormone infections. Some honey may also be genetically modified as well (mostly in Canada). Rice, and potatoes are said to be the next items out on the market. Wheat was also on topic for a comeback as it was taken off the market in 2004.
Some of the side effects of GMO foods include but are not limited to: difficulty in insulin and cholesterol regulation, infertility, immune system disorder, abdominal issues, increased aging and even organ failure. The ill health effects are just now starting to be discovered, so who knows what other issues this could be causing. The animal lab tests definitely do not look promising on certain GMO’s. While they have been tested and proven safe by the FDA, I am not a huge fan mostly due to the monopolizing nature of the business and cross-pollination causing unwanted side effects so you will not see them on my site.
How to avoid: Look for products labeled “100% Organic” and “Non-GMO” or just avoid them all together.
We are not talking about your grandmothers wheat. The kind that you can hide in because it’s so tall. That variety is long gone. Seems to be that many people’s tolerance to wheat left along with it. There has been a 400% increase in celiac disease over the last 40 years. In 1953, humanitarian and nobel prize winner Norman Borlaug acquired the dwarf strain of wheat from Japan and cross bred it with an american type of wheat forming a cross-bred semi-dwarf variety. I’m sure Mr. Bourlag couldn’t possibly see the effects that would be popping up after this one. He is credited for saving billions and preserving food in many countries. So what’s the big deal? There are a few reasons this new strain of wheat has bad effects on your body:
• It has a decreased mineral content.
• While wheat consumption has decreased from the time dwarf wheat was introduced, our waistlines have grown. There is a correlation with this strain of wheat and belly fat.
• There is a significant increase in Celiac disease.
• It contains a super starch called Amylopectin A which increases the glycemic index and makes it easier for the body to hold onto that extra sugar, converting it into fat. It is found to be the highest concentration in whole wheat, so don’t automatically assume that one is a better choice.
• Contains Gliadomorphins, which pretty much means it reacts to have an addictive relationship with your body, makes you hungry for more, and in turn, you eat more. During a trial study, binge eaters were given the same drug that counteracts morphine, and they ate 30% less.
Of course we have all heard of celiac disease. It is all over health products and in the news these days. The interesting part about Celiac disease is that many of us have it and don’t know it. It doesn’t always manifest itself in intestinal discomfort. Some of the other symptoms include insulin resistance, weight gain, diabetes, schizophrenia, autism, heart disease, diabetes, early death, and can even put you in a bad mood! There are tests to see if you have Celiac disease, but with all the other adverse reactions to wheat, and the fact that it is highly treated with pesticides, I think I’ll stick with an alternative.
How to avoid: If you absolutely MUST eat wheat, buy a 100% organic variety and eat sparingly. Try to avoid processed foods that contain wheat (which is almost everything…and is why you are here…to learn how to make snacks healthier!) Choose a gluten free low glycemic flour such as coconut, sorghum, millet, tapioca, cornmeal, or a combination of whole grains.
You know, funny thing, I used to eat a ton of soy. Tofu, edamame, miso, soy sauce, soy milk, soy creamer, tempeh; you name it, I probably had it or was using it. Not so funny anymore now that I know the side effects that it may have caused some issues in my own body. Plus soy was never very happy with my stomach, or maybe it was vice versa. Intestinal discomfort, among many other ailments, have surfaced lately and the famed soy is getting a second look by it’s once praised soy fans. A big argument is that the asian cultures consume soy and have little ill effects. If you look at the soy consumption of an asian diet vs an american diet, you will see the amount increase by double or triple depending on what we are snacking on.
Let’s start off with the fact that it is the most GMO crop in our country. More than 90% is genetically modified. Also, soy is one of the biggest allergens out there today. It has also been linked to infertility, breast cancer, bladder cancer, brain damage, thyroid disorders, kidney stones, infant abnormalities, immune system impairment and a lower testosterone level in men. There is a potential cause of developmental issues in children who are fed soy based formula.
How to avoid: Almost all packaged snack products have soybean oil in them. Avoid them. Some other products containing soy include miso, tempeh, tofu, soy sauce, soy milk and creamer. Try to use coconut or nut milks (almond) as an alternative. Coconut aminos is also a great alternative to soy sauce.
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Peanut butter. Just saying it out-loud makes me smile. I can think of many a happy time with peanut butter, whether it was eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with a nice cold glass of milk, stuffing my face with a reeses peanut butter cup, or just eating it straight out of the jar. Ahhh…good times.
When I was in 4th grade, I had headaches, nasal allergy symptoms, and sinus infections very frequently. My mother took me to an ear, nose and throat specialist who put me on a “sinus diet” (or so we called it). Among the list of common allergens that I was to abstain from for 3 months, peanuts were a big no no. Apparently, even if you are not allergic to them in the anaphalatic shock kind of way, they can still reak havoc on your sinuses. Here are a few interesting tidbits about the popular peanut:
• They contain a naturally occurring fungus called Alfatoxins. This lovely toxin is metabolized by the liver and can be very damaging to anyone who suffers from liver disease. They may contribute to liver cancer and stunted growth in children that have high levels of alfatoxins in the blood stream.
• Alfatoxins love to grow in warm environments…like the shipping process
• Aggluntinin, a lectin is also found in peanuts. This lovely gem has been known to help cancer cells grow, clog arteries, increase bowel, joins and skin inflammation, as well as increase risk of allergy symptoms
• Peanuts are one of the most pesticide contaminated crops
• The number of peanut allergies has doubled in the last decade
There you have it ; the choice is yours to make. I will be going the alternative route!
How to avoid: There are numerous alternatives to peanut butter these days: almond butter, cashew butter, and sunbutter just to name a few. If you really feel the need to eat peanut butter, remember to go with the organic version to avoid those pesticides and whatever you do, avoid eating raw peanuts as they have the highest toxin level.
How bad is peanut butter, really?
Oh my beloved milk. How I will miss you! Or at least miss your taste, not what you’re made of. This item on the list is honestly the hardest for me to set aside, and ironically, I have a full blown allergy to it. Milk is one of the top allergens among not just Americans, but many other ethnic cultures. Most cultures have a 75%-95% intolerance for dairy due to lactose intolerance. This is caused when the body does not produce enough lactase, the enzyme needed to break down the lactose, or milk sugar, in the dairy. Here are some of the other alarming contributors to the demise of my beloved milk and cheese:
• Dairy is made up of Casein, a protein that seem to have cancers causing effects. Casein, which makes up 80% of milk, has been shown to accelerate the growth of tumors.
• Very high in fat and cholesterol, leading to atherosclerosis.
• The lactose in milk increases blood sugar. Cancer loves to feed on sugar.
• A study showed that milk not only did not prevent osteoporosis in women, but also increased their fracture risk.
• Some studies have shown milk to be overloaded with Vitamin D, which may lead to Vit D toxicity, causing excess calcium level in the body.
• Cows have to produce a lot of milk to keep up with the demand. They are given a hormone to help them do this called rBGH. Because of this, many cows get inflammation of the udders called mastitis. They are then given antibiotics to get rid of the infection (instead of stopping their milk contribution to society while they heal). Both the hormone and the antibiotics have been found in milk samples.
• Iron deficiency is more likely on a dairy rich diet.
• No you’re not crazy…cheese is physically addictive! It contains casomorphin which acts as an opiate in the brain causing you to want more. Because cheese is more concentrated than milk, it contains stronger addictive qualities.
• These are the things that have been found in cows milk when tested: blood, pus, feces, bacteria, viruses, herbicides, pesticides, hormones, antibiotics and dioxins. In fact, in one glass of milk, legally there are allowed 135 million pus cells. Gross..
Dairy is responsible for ailments such as intestinal discomfort, eczema, acne, kidney disease, tooth decay, cancer, asthma, irritable bowel syndrome, sinusitis, colitis, and multiple sclerosis, to name a few. I can say personally that my headaches, runny nose, sinus infections and high cholesterol have significantly improved with the removal and/or limited use of dairy in my diet. I guess it’s so long dairy…you’ve been a bad comfort food.
How to avoid: unfortunately dairy is one of those foods that is frequently in many dishes and snacks. Cheese, butter, whey protein powder, milk, yogurt, ice cream…I could go on and on. Try to use alternatives like coconut, rice, and almond dairy products. Goat and Sheep milk products might be another alternative if you absolutely can’t give up dairy and it has completely different properties from cow’s milk, although some people can’t get past the taste.
Check out the Get Snacking page for alternative recipes.
Links on the benefits of goats milk
Debatably, there are many other items I could put on this list, and may still do so in the future, but for right now, these are the food items you will definitely not see in the recipes on this site. Feel free to add one back into your diet if you feel inclined to think opposite of me. I will use the products that have worked for me, both in weight loss, size maintenance, and overall improved health. I hope to help you make a difference in yours too!