Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Health(y) Food

The term health food is so misleading. Often companies will advertise their products as "health food" when in reality it's just "low-calorie" or "low fat" and in order shave the calories they've packed it full of chemicals and things that are way less healthy than pesky calories. So what is healthy food, really? The easiest way to tell if something you're eating is truly healthy is to look at the ingredient list and see how many things you have actually heard of- or better yet, can pronounce. If the number of ingredients you recognize is less than those you do- it's probably not something you want to eat. There are lots of special diets that consist of healthy food- the raw diet, and paleo are just two examples, but it's really not necessary to limit yourself in that way if you don't want to. Educating yourself on things like GMOs, the dangers of soy, what sugar does to your body, and the difference between natural and organic are things that I think are really important. Also, don't be afraid to try and shop healthy. It's not as expensive as it used to be. Grocery stores like Aldi and Kroger are committing to stocking more organic food options at affordable prices. Sure Whole Foods has allure, but I know I can't afford to shop there all the time, and frankly some of their stuff is a rip-off. One of my favorite ways to get healthier food options at reasonable prices is Kroger's Simple Truth line- it's not perfect, but it's almost there, and way better than the alternative.

Right now eating healthy has become very difficult for me. I've been given extreme diet restrictions due to my Systemic Nickel Allergy Syndrome. Most of the easy go-to healthy options are ruled out for me. No salads, no leafy greens, no beans, no nuts of any kind, no oats or whole grains- yikes- it's a nightmare. I also can't eat any soy- which is a sneaky little bugger and hides is SO MUCH. So what am I eating these days? Well, I'm constantly looking for ways to be satisfied and still eat smart. I have found some things that I love and I thought I'd share them with you.

My new fave snacks are That's It bars. They are SO good, and they only contain 2 ingredients. At 100 calories a pop, they're something I feel great grabbing in between meals to curb a sweet tooth or craving. I get these at Kroger- they're pricey at $1.50 each, but it's something I'm willing to pay being that I'm so limited on options. If you have food allergies- these are seriously good. I only recommend the apple and banana if you REALLY like bananas because their flavor is strong. My favorite is the apple and cherry!

Another way I curb my sweet tooth is with vanilla yogurt. I know that Greek yogurt is like "the thing to do" these days, but I honestly can only handle it every now and then. For me I stick with the plain old regular yogurt. When it's on sale I'll buy organic, but most of the time I just go with Yoplait! The only weird ingredient in it is modified corn starch- which means a chemical was added to the corn starch to help it perform in a way necessary for the food- like gelling better for cold foods. Chemicals are never great, but I can live with this- and for those of you that are gluten-free, modified corn starch is definitely still GF. Yogurt is an awesome food to eat for your body, too. Its a great probiotic to help your digestive system and keep you regular! Add some fruit to it for breakfast or a healthy dessert alternative! I can't eat oats anymore, but one of my favorite things I used to eat for breakfast was vanilla yogurt with steel cut oats. Throw 2 handfuls of steel cut oats in the yogurt the night before and in the morning they're soft enough to chew, but still chewy enough to give good texture and help you feel full!
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Fruit is one of the options where I have the most freedom right now. My only fruit limitations are pineapples and raspberries. Lucky for me the whole fam loves fruit, so we've been doing a lot of fruit salads! Grab 3 or 4 of your fave fruits, chop them up and let them sit for just a few minutes to really blend with each other. Yum! I know there is a temptation sometimes to sprinkle a little sugar on top- and I have the BEST solution to that- True Lime is crystallized lime juice and lime oil and it works as the perfect healthy sweetener on fruit salads. A yoga instructor I love introduced me to it, and I'm telling y'all, I am hooked! You'll never go back to regular fruit salads again!

When I want something salty I have 2 go-to options. The first is popcorn. DO NOT EAT MICROWAVED POPCORN. Y'all, for real it is super bad for you. You can trust me, or Google it, because I wont get into the details, it's just not good. When I'm indulging we'll cook our popcorn on the stove in a little bit of canola oil- its delicious. The most low-cal option is to air pop, and air popped popcorn is an awesome snack food if you're trying to cut calories and fat. The other thing I eat a lot of when I need a salty fix is chips and salsa! Now, chips and salsa from Monterrey's may be completely delicious, but those chips are super fried and greasy- so I hate to break it to you, but they're not healthy. Tortilla chips from the store are much better and there are about a thousand different options, so you can find the chip that you like best. The same goes for salsas- my husband makes amazing home made salsa- but we hardly ever have time for that any more. My current fave are the restaurant style salsas- so I feel like I'm eating what'd I'd get at a Mexican restaurant, even though I'm not. 

it's empty because I love it!

For a quick and easy (healthy) protein options I love hard boiled eggs and turkey bacon. Two hard boiled eggs, or 4 strips of turkey bacon are great choices for breakfast or even snacks throughout the day. They're also super easy to pack for lunch to take to work!

If you're trying to eat healthy one thing to do is cut the sodas. This is hard, and I'm not pretending that I don't love my diet cokes and red bull. I'll never pretend to be something I'm not. They're awful for you, though, and if you read my last post you know one of my New Year's resolutions is to drink more water. (I've already had 48oz today, by the way) A great way to ease out of the soda habit is sparkling water. I have always loved Perrier and San Pelligrino, but sometimes I need some flavor and in the past few years have come to love La Croix. They have recently added some new flavors and blends and when I head to the fridge craving a diet coke, I try and grab one of these instead. I really like the melon grapefruit and cucumber berry flavors!

What are healthy foods do you love? Are you in need of a menu makeover? As always, I'd love to hear your thoughts and questions in the comments! xo, Layne

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