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
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
Savoring the last days of summer this weekend? Looking for that perfect dish to bring along with you to BBQ so your body stays happy and you stay on track with your health goals? I’ve got you covered with these super yummy, nutrient dense recipes!
These veggie skewers scream of summer with their mix of summer squash, zucchini, red peppers, mushroom and red onions. They’re the perfect way to say adios to summer, while also helping you manage your inflammation.
Working to manage chronic inflammation and then staying on track with an anti-inflammatory diet can be challenging when it comes to a gathering like a BBQ or picnic. By planning ahead and bringing food you know you can eat worry-free, you’re not only guaranteeing a pain-free night (after the fun), but who knows, you might even inspire someone else to try these gorgeous dishes. So many people only think they don’t like veggies, but for many, when they give them a try and taste how rich and flavorful they can be, a whole new world opens up!
If you’ve been following me for any amount of time, you know I’m allll about REAL, WHOLE FOOD for managing a healthy lifestyle, no matter what your health circumstances are. And the more colorful you can make your dish, the better! Take this cool and refreshing cantaloupe and cucumber salad. The lively colors will call your name from any table or counter. Though it looks simple, it has layers of flavor, is nutrient dense, filling and DELICIOUS! This is a crowd pleaser…be sure to double the batch if you’re taking it to a gathering!
This bright, vibrant-colored chimichurri sauce gets me every time. It’s true love. Not only is it my favorite color, its made with ingredients that add another layer of inflammation fighting properties to any meal and it’s LOADED with flavor. I mean, the taste will literally blow you away. It adds such a depth of flavor to cooked veggies or salads and is sure to become a staple in your weekly meal rotation.
Bringing colorful produce together not only makes a dish look ah-mazing, it also vastly improves the nutrient content, raising the antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, fiber, etc., all the things that help drive down and move excess inflammation out. You give your body the gift of being fueled by food that satiates, nourishes and tastes incredible. In return, your body takes care of YOU! You won’t find yourself at the end of the day, or the day after that, regretting your choices at the BBQ! You just keep rolling on with your weekend, savoring the end of summer. Seems like a no-brainer to me!!
This meal is the real deal. It checks all the boxes for fiber, good carbs, healthy fats, and protein. With all the colors, you know you’re getting loads of phytonutrients that equate to inflammation fighting goodness for your body!! A definite win for those on an anti-inflammatory diet!
While all this is good and well, you might be wondering, but what about DESSERT???” Don’t worry, I haven’t left that out!
I’ve always loved chocolate, but to be honest, it was Easter 2016 when I had a huge ah-ha moment in my health journey. I had already started making some minor changes, but hadn’t really considered the impact of the occasional processed sugary treat. After eating my beloved Reese’s Peanut Butter mini cup (the Easter Bunny was kind and left me quite a few…so there may have been more than one consumed that day!), I quickly noticed my body tailspin into a pain cycle. It was then that lightbulbs went off and I realized the true impact of processed sugar. It was that incident that set me on the path of healing and health that I now enjoy. BUT, that doesn’t mean a girl doesn’t want to enjoy the occasional chocolatey sweet treat!! It just means that she gets creative and comes up with ways that it can be done with whole, real food!
That’s where this Chocolate Almond Date Bite comes in. It’s so delicious, quick and super easy to make you’ll have a hard time keeping them on hand until you get to your picnic or BBQ!
So there you have it, a quick and easy meal plan for your Labor Day gathering! To make this super easy, like a grab and go file, I’ve combined all the recipes on one download. SUBSCRIBE BELOW, and your recipes will be sent to you. Check your pantry and fridge for ingredients you have vs. what you need, then head to the store (I’ve even included a grocery list for you!).
This Labor Day, enjoy time with friends and family and stay on track with your health. A holiday gathering shouldn’t set you back, it should fill your heart and nourish your belly. When you have a game plan, it’s possible to achieve both!! Have a wonderful, safe long holiday weekend!
Did you know every time you go in to see your doctor about a symptom there are two paths or mindsets you can choose from in terms of taking care of your health? For years, many of us haven’t given it a second thought, but times are changing and so is our health. As the rates for cancer, autoimmune, diabetes, memory loss, pancreatitis, arthritis, and so much more continue to rise, we have to take action. It’s time to make some changes.
Over the years, we’ve all become accustomed to a ‘have an ill, take a pill’ mindset.
On this path you seek out whatever pill will take care of your symptom, be it over-the-counter or prescribed. The problem with this mindset is you’re only taking care of symptoms. At the end of the day, you’re still left with the unknown root cause lying within you. What does this mean? The pill you take will help alleviate symptoms for a short while. But not long after going off them, inevitably, your symptoms will come back. Think about how often you have a headache and reach for an Advil or Aleve. Did you know sometime headaches can be caused by lack of hydration, stress, lack of sleep, certain foods, skipped meals, etc.? If your first action is to reach for the ibuprofen, you’re missing out on a crucial opportunity to take care of the root cause that driving your headache. And this leaves you open to the potential of having bigger problems down the road.
Does that Mean I’m Anti-Medicine? No.
All that said, I want to be clear and state that I’m not anti-medicine. I believe medicine serves a vital purpose in our health care. The problem is, we as a society have become conditioned to wanting everything fixed quickly and choose to reach for the medicine cabinet first before taking a step back to look at our lifestyle. Often there are changes we can make there first and foremost. In many cases, when we reach for the pill first, we‘re essentially masking the problem, making it harder in the long run to discover the true issue. With this mindset, we take medicine, then many times find we have new problems creep up that develops as a side effect to the medicines we take! So you see it starts a vicious cycle of trying to take care of symptoms instead of taking care of the root cause. How many of you are on nine, ten, eleven different daily medicines? Friends, there is a better way!!
Enter the PILL and SKILL mindset. Here you take an active role to learn more about what YOU can do to improve your health.
While doctors work to help make us feel better, ultimately, the responsibility for our health falls on each of our own shoulders. While in a lot of cases there’s a true need for medicine, especially acute care, often there are other things we can do ourselves to improve our health. What if, instead of asking your doctor “Do you have a pill for that?” you say “is there a skill I can learn to improve my health?” More often than not, there is! While taking the time to look at your lifestyle can seem daunting at first, its usually the best place to start. Most of us already know the things we need to change, we just get caught up in the feeling of being overwhelmed and not knowing where to start.
This is where I come in as a health coach
So many people struggle with excess inflammation in their lives, leading to achy joints, stomach issues, added weight, eczema/skin irritations, high blood pressure and cholesterol, trouble sleeping and so. much. more. This is the first layer…the ‘signs’ that your body is trying to get your attention. Left unchecked, you may find yourself with a more serious diagnosis. Friends, we live pro-inflammatory lifestyles. We don’t move as much as we should, drink enough water as our body needs, we rely on processed, fast food, sleep just a little, then get up and start all over again.
Maybe you’re already in a place where your doctor has told you to make changes in your lifestyle or maybe you’re tired of being tired, achy and sleepless and you’re ready to do something about it. If either of these describe where you’re at, keep reading!
Many have found transitioning to an anti-inflammatory lifestyle has been a game changer for their ‘itisis’. By making changes that reduce the inflammation in their body, they regain control and get back to living life! I have a huge heart and passion for helping others who are ready to do the work so they can achieve the same freedom and get back to living life to it’s fullest! In my practice, I work with clients who want to achieve a more vibrant, healthy life. They may or may not already know they things they want to change. I walk alongside them in the process helping discover areas for improvement, uncover their strengths, help set goals and hold each accountable along the way. As they start to find success in achieving small goals, the big end-goal seems less daunting and transformation starts happening.
Are You Ready for a Fresh Mindset?
Which mindset do you have in your health journey? If you’re a pills and skills mindset, keep doing you and spread the news! If you’re in the pill-for-an-ill camp, YOU ARE NOT ALONE! The great majority of us have been going along with the flow. It’s only as we’re getting sicker and sicker that we started to question some things. And now that I know better, I want to make sure others know better. Are you ready to take charge of your health? To enjoy the freedom that comes from living an anti-inflammatory lifestyle? What’s one change you can make this week to start your journey? Don’t know where to start… Let’s talk!