These foods can harm you
- Mel’s weekly food pick:
Safe Catch Wild Tuna
- Mel’s weekly recipe pick:
Cranberry Apple Tuna Salad Jar
Last week, I revealed Universal Truth #4: Some foods can heal you. In it I shared a list of healing foods—which I lovingly refer to as Earthfoods—and offered a simple meal planning strategy for building “PeaceMeals.” Seriously…it’s so easy, even a 3-year old can do it!
Today is all about Universal Truth #5: Some foods can harm you. Although I am a firm believer in the freedom of choice, it would be unethical for me not to mention the deleterious effects of certain “foods” and fake ingredients on your health.
Simply put, your body just doesn’t like certain foods and responds in negative, non-peaceful ways when exposed to them. Although I could write an entire book on this subject alone that would leave your head spinning, in this post I will briefly discuss three of these substances: refined sugar, artificial sweeteners, and trans fats. I find that when you focus on getting these particular ingredients out of your diet, the rest of the junk has a way of disappearing.
Sugar is an addictive substance. The more you eat it, the more you crave it. Besides creating an inflammatory environment in the body, dietary sugar causes rapid spikes in your blood sugar, which forces your body to produce the hormone insulin in an effort to sweep up the sugar and store it in your cells. This entire process is by design and is what a normal, healthy and vibrant body is supposed to do! The problem is, the more sugar you eat (and thus the more insulin you produce) your body responds with heightened hunger, decreased metabolism, and increased fat storage.
Yes, since insulin is a fat-storage hormone, the more of it you force your body to produce, the higher the likelihood you will store excess fat.
Understand that the sugar I’m referring to is table sugar, which is most commonly made from sugar cane and sugar beets. It is the type found in highly processed foods, such as sugary treats, cereals and beverages. Although you may not find sugar added to refined, white flour products like bread, pasta, pretzels and crackers, your body readily breaks these foods down into sugar. So in my opinion, they are just like sugar.
Natural sugars on the other hand, are those found in fruits and vegetables. These nutrient-rich foods are loaded with antioxidants and play a role in healing the body by reducing inflammation. They also carry natural fiber, which serves to weaken their effect on blood sugar.
Two pink packets in my already-sweetened bowl of maple and brown sugar-flavored oatmeal. Diet Pepsi with nearly every meal. Diet yogurts and pudding cups for snacks and sugar-free gum when I wasn’t eating. It makes me shudder every time I think of all the chemicals I poured into my body nearly twenty years ago. It’s no wonder it was confused, feeling hungry, craving sugar and riddled with constant headaches! These are just some of the side-effects that can occur on a steady diet of artificial sweeteners.
You see, many people falsely believe they are saving calories when they opt for the light, 100-calorie yogurt, sweetened with aspartame, instead of indulging in the plain, full-fat version. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Studies continuously reveal the dark side of artificial sweeteners, namely aspartame (Equal and Nutrasweet), acesulfame potassium (Sunnet and Sweet One), saccharin (Sugar Twin and Sweet’ N Low) and sucralose (Splenda).
Did you know that sweetness, whether from sugar or artificial sweeteners, enhance the appetite and motivation to eat? Also, because they are hundreds of times sweeter than regular white table sugar, artificial sweeteners encourage sugar cravings and sugar dependence.
Research now suggests that artificial sweeteners actually contribute to weight gain, insulin resistance, and elevated blood sugar. So the very substance we erroneously add to our diet to help us lose weight and gain control of our health, does the exact opposite.
I can’t believe I’m still talking about trans fat. My mind is blown that they are still legally allowed in our food supply, especially since they are banned in many countries!
Trans fats, labeled as hydrogenated oil, partially hydrogenated oil and shortening, are manmade fats that offer not one single benefit to your body. In fact, it is the one substance I insist you remove from your diet if you are looking to improve your health in any way.
Not only do trans fats contribute to inflammation in your body, they increase your bad cholesterol (LDL) and decrease your good cholesterol (HDL)—this is a recipe for heart disease! The good news is, when you spend most of your grocery trip shopping the perimeter of the store, you take a giant leap towards eliminating these harmful fats, as they are found mostly in processed foods housed in the inner aisles.
Microwave popcorn, snack cakes, snack mixes, packaged frostings, soft tortillas, margarine, coffee creamer, cookies and crackers are just a few examples of foods that can contain trans fats. Do your body a favor and read your food labels! If you see the words “partially hydrogenated oil”, “hydrogenated oil” or “shortening” anywhere in the list of ingredients, put it back on the shelf. Many food companies have taken the trans fats out of their products, so if your favorite cracker is still donning these nasty little fats, chances are there is a brand of cracker on the same shelf without them.
Next week I will reveal Universal Truth #6: Some foods are questionable. Stay tuned…you don’t want to miss this one!
Mel’s weekly food pick:
Safe Catch Wild Tuna
Packed with protein and omega 3-fatty acids, tuna fish is a quick, tasty, and economical lunchtime favorite! I like to mix mine with diced red onion and celery, chopped apple, cranberry raisins, and Avocado Mayo (see my recipe below for Cranberry Apple Tuna Salad). You have to be particularly careful with tuna however (especially albacore tuna), because it can contain high levels of contaminants, particularly mercury.
Safe Catch is a trusted brand of sustainably-caught tuna that I feel very safe eating. They test every single fish for mercury content and reject those failing to meet their purity standards– which are even more strict than the FDA mercury action limit.
Because conventional tuna is twice-cooked, it loses beneficial omega 3 oils. Safe Catch tuna is slow cooked only once, retaining more omega 3-fatty acids. So that you may get the most nutrition out of each can, they recommend not draining before eating.
Mel’s weekly recipe pick:
Cranberry Apple Tuna Salad Jar
Tuna salad is an easy and economical lunch solution…but unfortunately, the mayonnaise that typically dresses it, is full of preservatives (calcium disodium EDTA) and pro-inflammatory omega 6 oil (soybean oil). No thank you!
My version of tuna salad uses a simple five-ingredient homemade Avocado Mayo: avocado, lemon juice, extra virgin olive oil or avocado oil, sea salt, and cayenne pepper. I also like a bit of crunch to my meals, so I added chopped celery, apple and red onion. A sprinkle of organic cranberry raisins gives it a nice kiss of sweetness!
I’m a little picky with my tuna too. Safe Catch Tuna is a sustainably caught, omega 3-rich tuna that is tested for mercury content and meets the company’s purity standards— which are even more strict than the FDA mercury action limit.
Instead of bread, I like to serve my tuna salad on Flackers crackers or with a combination of sliced cucumbers, celery sticks, jicama slices, sliced radishes and sweet mini peppers.