Cut the C.R.A.P. - 4 Steps to a Healthier Lifestyle

nutritional tips Jul 24, 2019
Cut the C.R.A.P. - 4 Steps to a Healthier Lifestyle

Since I’ve been on this plant-based journey I’ve spoken to enough people to know that while everyone is at a different point on their path to health, most people truly want to be healthy. Not everyone is ready to go cold turkey (pun intended) and give up meat and dairy. But that doesn’t mean you can’t take steps towards a healthier lifestyle.

Here are four easy tips to eat better. It’s quite simple. All you have to do is cut the C.R.A.P.

C – Carbonated beverages

I’m from the midwest – we call it pop. Whether you know it as pop or soda, it’s one of the very worst things you can consume. It’s loaded with refined sugar and has zero nutritional value.

Sugary drinks do a great deal of damage because they contain as many calories as a small meal yet they don’t make you full. Which means that in addition to the calories you’re consuming with the soda, you’re also eating food because the soda hasn’t filled you up. This causes overconsumption of calories which equates to weight gain. Sugary drinks are one of the leading causes to America’s obesity epidemic.

Here are more reasons why soda is a no-go:

  • Large amounts of sugar are turned into fat in your liver leading to nonalcoholic fatty liver disease
  • Sugar-sweetened beverages are thought to be the leading dietary cause of Type 2 Diabetes
  • Sugary beverages have been linked to an increased risk of heart disease, dementia and gout
  • Soda drinkers have a higher risk of cancers
  • The sugar and acids in soda are terrible for your teeth

Those factors alone should be enough to make you want to ditch the soda (and sugar sweetened drinks). Drink water instead!

R – Refined sugar and flour

We’ve just discussed the perils of refined sugar in sweetened drinks so you can can imagine all the damage it causes in foods.

Natural sugar is found in fruit and vegetables and is perfectly healthy for you. In contrast, refined sugar is extracted from sugar beets or sugar cane and then added to food products like breakfast cereal, bread, commercial baked goods (muffins, cookies, cakes), granola bars and drinks. Foods with added sugar are no bueno because they lead to weight gain, increased risk of Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, cancers, acne, wrinkles and accelerated aging. What a miserable list. Stick with natural sugar instead of added!

Moving on to refined flour. Almost all of the fiber, vitamins and minerals have been stripped from it making it empty calories. Both refined sugar and flour are digested quickly leading to blood sugar and insulin level spikes and overeating. The main dietary sources of refined carbs are pastries, snacks, pasta, sweets – basically all highly processed food (which we discuss further down). Like refined sugar, refined flour has been linked to a laundry list of illnesses from heart disease to you name it. Eat whole grains over refined!

A – Artificial sweeteners, flavors and colors

Some of ya’ll were reading about the sugary drinks above and were on your high horse because you only drink diet soda. Welp let me set the record straight on fake sugar.

It’s not much better than the real thing.

Here’s why, artificial sweeteners, flavors or colors are chemicals. Let that sink in. Sounds gross when put that way right. But it’s true.

Additionally artificial sweeteners make you crave sugar, may actually make you gain weight, increase your risk of diabetes, stroke and kidney disease and may be linked to cancer. They are also known to destroy your gut health and impact your hormonal balance.

Artificial colors have been linked to allergic reactions and hyperactivity in children. Artificial flavors typically come from inedible substances like petroleum. I mean, yuck. If it’s made in a lab, it’s generally not the best to consume.

P – Processed foods

Processed foods are altered in some way to make them more convenient, shelf-stable and or flavorful. An important distinction here is that mechanically processed foods are typically a safe bet. It’s the chemically processed foods that are concerning.

For example, apple sauce made from apples that have been peeled, cored and cooked would be considered mechanically processed and would be a healthy option. Apple sauce that contains added sugar, artificial flavors and colors would be considered chemically processed.

Processed foods have been built in a lab to taste great but here’s why they’re awful for you:

  • They increase your risk of cancer
  • They are loaded with sugar, sodium and fat leading to obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and cancer
  • They are addictive causing you to overeat
  • They contain tons of artificial ingredients (the perils of which are listed above)
  • Processed foods are high in carbs and low in nutrients

Some processed foods to avoid include deli meat, bacon, hot dogs and sausages. All have been linked been deemed as cancer causing carcinogens by the World Health Organization. Also avoid sodas (which we discussed), highly processed snacks (I’m looking at your flaming hot cheetos) and commercially baked goods like cookies, cakes and donuts.

Cut the C.R.A.P. from your diet and you’ll be well on your way to a healthier lifestyle.

What are some of the foods you need to eliminate from your diet? What are the challenges you’re experiencing in try to get rid of them?

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