Processed foods. Years ago, I wasn’t worried about them. Like most people, I knew eating out at fast food places too often was unhealthy. But thinking about what the term processed foods meant was not on my radar. I went to the store and bought my staples each week and went about my day. Back then I didn’t know that my beloved animal crackers were a processed food. I also didn’t know they were a source of inflammation for my body.
I had a true love affair with animal crackers. I can’t even begin to think of how many bags I consumed over the years. Before kids, after having kids – didn’t matter, they were a staple in my pantry.
20 years ago, I was in the ‘eat low fat’ camp to stay healthy. This snack said ‘Low Fat’ on the front. It was like a match made in heaven.
Animal crackers seemed like the perfect on-the-go snack. They didn’t need refrigeration and seemed to fill me up between meals. I was completely unaware that those processed food ingredients were negatively impacting me.
When There’s More to This Than Meets the Eye
You know that feeling when something’s too good to be true. It wasn’t long before I began to notice my stomach would bloat each time I ate animal crackers. I’m not talking a little bloat, but a reposition the belt bloat.
Eventually, a light bulb went off and I accepted that it was time to move on from this love affair.
Little did I know that this was the beginning of me connecting the dots. Processed foods were triggering a gut reaction.
So what gives?
Understanding Ultra-Processed Foods
The more I learned about processed foods, the more I began to understand my how they affect my body.
Historically, processed foods included any food altered from it’s original state. Nowadays, the term ultra-processed has entered the scene. It was created to further define the next-level of processing.
Basic processing can include techniques such as heating, canning, drying or pasteurizing. What’s important to note here is that a large number of our foods are ‘processed’ in some fashion. This confirms the statement that “not all processed foods are unhealthy”.
That said, some foods that go far beyond the basic processing to earn the badge of ultra-processed. This term was established by a team of Brazilian nutritionists conducting a study in 2016 that linked foods with cancer. In their study, they defined ultra-processed foods as: “industrial formulations with five or more ingredients.”
Ultra-processing is next-level. This stage involves adding flavors, additives, chemical preservatives, sugars, oils, fats, and salt. In short, these are the foods you’ll find packaged and placed in the middle aisles of the grocery store.
Marketers are Good at What They Do
I bought animal crackers because they were low in fat, had zero trans fats, and zero cholesterol. It seemed like the perfect snack, wouldn’t you agree?
Well, my friend, I’m here to share with you what I wish I had known way back then.
Marketers use terms like low fat, zero trans fat, zero cholesterol to sell products. And boy did they work on me! Here’s the hard truth: manufacturers are in the business of making money. They are not concerned whether the food is healthy or not.
Manufacturers hire amazing marketing teams who do their job well. They create beautiful designs, use buzz words to attract, and meet labeling requirements.
So most people, like me, look at the label for animal crackers and think “OK! This is a healthy choice!” and drop it in their cart.
But to know the FULL STORY of what you’re eating, you have to read the label AND the ingredients list.
When it Comes to Your Inflammatory Response, Ingredients Matter
Let’s take a look at the ingredients found in these beloved animal crackers. FIVE out of the NINE shown are inflammatory. That’s over 50%! And on top of that, they lack fiber. Bottom line, animal crackers are void of nutrients and will add MORE FUEL to your inflamed body.
Understanding their impact is critical for those battling chronic inflammation. Let’s break them down.
Enriched flour – ultra-processed wheat flour. Though enhanced with synthetic vitamins and minerals, this refined flour is inflammatory.
Soybean Oil – this refined vegetable oil is high in omega 6 fatty acids. While our body requires these fatty acids, our western diet provides more than we need. Vegetable oils are widely used in processed foods. Though it might seem harmless in this one food, there’s a cumulative effect that takes place. Vegetable oils are often used in processed foods, restaurant cooking, etc… It quickly adds up to HIGH levels of this INFLAMMATORY oil being in our diet, wreaking havoc on our guts.
High Fructose Corn Syrup – an artificial sugar made from corn syrup. Studies show this artificial sugar increases inflammatory markers. High intake over time can lead to a wide range of diseases and illnesses.
Salt – while a little in life is ok, be mindful of how much and how often you take it in. Most canned and processed food contains it.
Natural Flavor – a flavor additive created or altered from a natural plant. This lab-produced ingredient enhances flavor and drive sales. Many manufactures can use this as an anything goes option to drive the bottom line of their business. Meaning, it operates as a smokescreen to hide other addictive, harmful ingredients.
It’s safe to say this so-called ‘healthy snack’ of mine has long since hit the curb.
What I Eat Instead for Snacks
You can find ultra-processed foods at breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snack time. When you decide to make changes, it can feel very overwhelming. Do not let the overwhelm cause you to become stuck. Start small and commit to making ONE change to one snack. Doing so increases the likelihood of success. You will build momentum changing other meals throughout the days and weeks to come. Here are some swap ideas for healthy, fiber-filled, anti-inflammatory snacks:
mixed raw nuts
an apple with almond butter
dairy-free yogurt with homemade granola
sliced veggies with hummus
1/2 avocado with cucumber slices
As you begin to swap ultra-processed foods for fiber-filled foods, your gut comes back to life. Why? Fiber-filled foods feed your good bacteria. In turn they send out inflammation-reducing compounds and everyone gets happy!
Bottom line: Decide if you want to add fuel to your flames or start taming them so you can get your life back. Check labels and read the ingredient lists on the backs of all ultra processed foods. When we know better, we do better.
Sometimes, things are too good to be true, especially when it comes to food.
Listen to your gut and body – it’s giving you signs as it’s trying to get your attention.
Ultra processed foods are where manufacturers add flavors, additives, chemical preservatives, sugars, oils, fats and salt.
Marketers are in the business of selling products, not providing healthy foods
Become your own advocate and health investigator, read labels and ingredient lists.
Pick one meal or snack to start with as you make changes to your processed foods
Join my Anti-Inflammatory Lifestyle Support Facebook Group, click HERE to join. Here you’ll stay in the know and ahead of curve for your inflammation game
Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links. Any purchases made through these links will result in a small commission for me (at no extra cost for you), but all opinions are my own.
….and I’m ALL IN for the spirit of Christmas! I LOVE searching for the perfect gift, wrapping it in beautiful paper, adding the gorgeous ribbon or bows and tying it off with a beautiful name tag. Then comes the fun of watching loved one’s reactions as they open their gift or hear the joy in their voice when we talk that day – it just LIGHTS ME UP!!
As a Health Coach, wife, mom, daughter, sister, Aunt and friend, I often get asked about product recommendations – which I’m honored and love to share! If I can share an ounce of what I’ve learned over the years and help someone make a positive change, then count me in!
Maybe you’re reading this going through your own health journey and need recommendations on things to add to your wish list. Maybe you have someone you know and love who’s trying to make change in their life and you want to give them the perfect gift that shows you care about their journey. Whether you’re a wellness warrior or love someone who is, this list is for you!
Many people with chronic illness find as they embark on their health journey that the products they’ve been using years may potentially be contributing to their health issues. There are hundreds of chemicals used to create products and packaging that have known or questionable impacts on health and yet they’re still widely used. Its up to each of us to find healthier options. Luckily in recent years, more and more companies are hearing the call for cleaner products, leaving us with a vast selection of products to choose from today! See individual links for the favorites I use and trust down in the list below.
While I can’t personally wrap each gift for you (though if you were local I’d do it in a heartbeat!!), I hope this gift list is a helpful resource for you as you this holiday season.
Now, let the jingle bells ring and the twinkling lights sparkle!
For the Beauty Lover
Counter + Overnight Resurfacing Peel – $63 – Give the gift of aging backwards with this safer peel. Catch the Black Friday Sale, 15% off most items (excludes regimens, collections, Flawless in Five and Get the Look sets) going on now through the 29th.
Counter + All Bright C Serum – $79 – one of the most-loved Beautycounter products and for good reason: glowing and even skin tone with a reduction of age-spots! Catch the Black Friday Sale, 15% off most items (excludes regimens, collections, Flawless in Five and Get the Look sets) going on now through the 29th.
Velvet Eyeshadow Palette – Classic – $50 – 9 beautiful nude and neutral eyeshadows – the perfect gift for any skin tone! Catch the Black Friday Sale, 15% off most items (excludes regimens, collections, Flawless in Five and Get the Look sets) going on now through the 29th.
Rosewood Lip Sheer Genius Conditioning Lipstick – $32 – like a lip balm but better! Rosewood is one of my favorite time go-to’s! A warm neutral shade that’s perfect for most skin tones. Catch the Black Friday Sale, 15% off most items (excludes regimens, collections, Flawless in Five and Get the Look sets) going on now through the 29th.
Dazzle Dry – this at-home manicure and pedicure system is the real deal! A safer nail system where each application dries completely within 5 minutes plus it lasts up to 2 weeks!
Dry Shampoo – This dry shampoo is a rock star when it comes to extending your hair wash days! With Light and Dark Lock options, you’ll be set no matter what hair color you have! Use code DLWELLNESS for 10% off your first purchase!
Charcoal Deodorant – Giving deodorant for a Christmas gift? YES, ma’am! Making the swap to safer deodorant can be a game changer for hormones, making anyone on a health journey so much happier!! This is a superstar in odor management without all the harsh chemicals that can disrupt your hormones. Use code DLWELLNESS for 10% off your first purchase!
For the Healthy Foodie
Instant Pot – $79 – A kitchen miracle! From sauteing veggies, cooking meats, soups, stews and beans, to making yogurt, this kitchen workhorse does it all!
Vitamix – $350- From blending smoothies, making soups and pesto to shredding veggies, you’ll wonder how you ever got through a week without having one of these dream machines!
NutriBullet Pro – $86 – An equally impressive workhorse in the kitchen. Perfect for smoothies whether at home or traveling (I have been know to travel with mine because when you’re working to lower inflammation, you’ll do what lever it takes!)
Juicer – $149 – Juicing is an important part of an anti-inflammatory lifestyle, with this juicer you can skip the juice shop and make you’re own daily green juice at home!
Glass storage containers – $28 – swapping all your plastic for glass storage containers can help reduce the inflammatory agents in your environment. This set is perfect for various leftover needs!
Lifefactory Glass Bottles – $23 – Know someone who prefers glass over any other drinking vessel? You’ll love how durable this 22 oz bottle is (I’ve tested the drop-ability factor a couple of times and still own the bottles!)
For the Exercise Enthusiast
Jade Yoga Mat – $79 – This grippy, quick-drying mat helps any yogi stay put throughout their flow.
Ultimate Stash Pocket 7/8 Tight – $89 – Movement is KEY in an anti-inflammatory lifestyle and these tights provide amazing support through your toughest workouts + provide a place for storing your phone!
Swell Stainless Steel Water Bottles – $35 – Ditch the need to grab a plastic bottle of water! These 17oz stainless steel bottles are GORGEOUS and perfect for those on the go, no matter if you’re traveling or running errands. They’ll keep the water cold and you’ll keep unwanted chemicals out of your water (many plastic products release estrogenic chemicals adding unwanted inflammation to your body!)
For the Self-Care and Zen Seeker
Essential Oils – $165 – From aromatherapy that aids in stress relief to topical applications that help reduce joint pain, muscle aches, headaches and so much more, essential oils can be a beneficial part of an anti-inflammatory lifestyle. This starter kit is the perfect way to help someone embark in the world of essential oils. It comes with a gorgeous diffuser and 12 of the most-loved essential oils (Peppermint, Lemon, Lavender, Valour, Panaway, Peace & Calming, Frankincense, Digize, Raven, Citrus Fresh, Thieves and Stress Away). Valued at over $300, as a Wholesale Member, you save nearly 50% for a cost of $165. Contact me here to place your order.
Dry Brushing – $16 – With benefits such as exfoliation, improved circulation and lymphatic drainage, not to mention improving the appearance of skin, a dry brush gift is the perfect gift for someone looking to up their self-care game! Use code DLWELLNESS for 10% off your first purchase!
Lemongrass Body Oil – $42 – the perfect accompaniment to the dry brush. With anti-inflammatory properties, this oil nourishes and hydrates the skin + smells amazing! Use code DLWELLNESS for 10% off your first purchase!
Peppermint Shave Bar – $4.95 – The perfect stocking stuff! Time to kick aerosol cans to the curb and give the gift of this luxurious shave minus the harsh chemicals found in mainstream shaving creams.
Jellies – Shimmers – $39 – for a 5-pack ($7.80 per jelly!) – Buy one and break it up for multiple stockings!! Catch the Black Friday Sale, 15% off most items (excludes regimens, collections, Flawless in Five and Get the Look sets) going on now through the 29th.
Luminous Lid Cream Shadows – $ 39 – for a 4-pack ($9.75 for each shadow!) – Another gift perfect for splitting up and gifting many! Catch the Black Friday Sale, 15% off most items (excludes regimens, collections, Flawless in Five and Get the Look sets) going on now through the 29th.
Good Scents Hand Cream Trio – $34 – for a 3-pack. Winter hands be gone no matter if you’re on-the-go or at home! These luscious creams are perfect to slip in your purse or keep on your nightstand. At $11.33 each you can split and gift to a few of your BFFs! Catch the Black Friday Sale, 15% off most items (excludes regimens, collections, Flawless in Five and Get the Look sets) going on now through the 29th.
Lip Balm – $4 – A balm that soothes your lips and smells amazing (all while being free of harsh chemicals found in most mainstream lines!) is the perfect addition to any stocking! So many yummy scents to choose from (Peppermint is my favorite!!) Use code DLWELLNESS for 10% off your first purchase!
The health of your gut may be contributing to the symptoms you’re experiencing on a regular basis. More and more, gut health is making headlines. And for good reason.
Our gut microbiota is a workhorse for our body. Not only is it involved with our digestive function, research is showing how intertwined it is with the immune system, cognition, hormonal balance and gene expression. Some liken it to being a command center for human health.
What is the Gut Microbiota?
The gut microbiota is defined as an abundant, diverse community of microorganisms living within your gut walls. We have 39 trillion microorganisms in our colon. Within this colony, there are bacteria, viruses, fungi, parasites and archaea. Most of the species are bacteria. These single-celled microorganisms work together to create a vibrant community of diverse microbes who all are able to ‘get along”.
What You Eat Matters
The food you eat matters. Your microbes eat what you eat. Not only do they help break down your food so you can absorb vital nutrients, they also create compounds that impact your health. Their metabolism of the food you eat will either produce health promoting compounds that reduce inflammation, bringing balance to your body OR compounds that inflame your body.
The question is, which bacteria are you feeding? The health of your gut is in your hands. Will you feed the good guys or the bad guys? Feed the good guys the right things and you maintain a happy camper colony life where a diverse microbial community lives in harmony. Feed the bad guys and the diversity starts to change and problems begin to brew.
When Problems Creep In
Too often these problems creep in and stick around long enough that we begin to normalize them. We accept joint aches and pains, fatigue, digestive issues (bloating, constipation, diarrhea), acne, eczema, psoriasis, poor sleep, brain fog, memory issues, etc. as part of our life. Friend, these symptoms are not normal. You should not settle.
I say that with complete empathy. No judgement here…I totally get it!! (been there, done that!).
If you’re experiencing these types of symptoms, your gut may be out of balance, leaving your body INFLAMED. These are signs it’s sending, trying to get your attention. Settling, pushing them aside or accepting them as part of life will not bode well long-term.
Left unchecked, you may find yourself on the path to chronic illness. However, by doing the work now, you have a chance to turn things around.
If you’re one of the approximately 133 million people who’ve been diagnosed with chronic illness, DO NOT lose hope. You can still work to bring balance to your gut, inflammation levels and body. It will take some investigative work, determination and time, but it’s possible. Some find they’re able to reverse their condition. Others find a balance where they have better control of their condition.
Bottom line: it’s imperative to listen to your body. Become curious about what’s causing the symptoms. Take action.
Our gut microbiota is intertwined in major players in our body: digestive function, hormonal balance, immune system, gene expression and cognition
There’s 39 trillion microorganisms that we’re supporting in our gut alone
Our microbes eat what we eat
Feed the good guys and begin to enjoy peace and harmony in your gut and body
Feed the bad guys: diversity changes and problems brew
Listen to your body. Become curious and take action
Join my Anti-Inflammatory Lifestyle Support Facebook Group, click HERE to join. Here you’ll stay in the know and ahead of curve for your inflammation game