What we eat can either heal our bodies with nutritious rich whole foods, or cause our bodies to work overtime processing foreign food-like substances that have no nutritional value to the body at all. The Standard American Diet, also referred to as the SAD diet, is highly processed with chemically engineered substances that are very low in nutritional value and cause great disharmony and illness in the body. Most of the items seen in grocery stores are processed with preservatives, sugar, and favor enhancers that don’t really serve our bodies to promote health and longevity.
An incredible documentary which breaks the food industry down to a science is Hungry For Change by filmmakers James Colquhoun, Laurentine Ten Bosch and Carlo Ledesma. This documentary does not push one eating lifestyle over another as we are all unique and may require a very individual unique eating solution. But it does put the food industry on “blast” and is a true wake-up call to avoid processed foods like the plague since they are chemically composed to create unhealthy food addictions and do not promote health. This documentary also explains why dieting does not work.
This is one of the best documentaries about food and health that I’ve ever seen to date because it gets across the information of eating whole foods without pushing one specific eating lifestyle which can create immediate defensiveness for viewers. In my opinion this same defensiveness is what causes many to continue eating toxic food without even considering improving the quality of what they eat. Hungry For Change addresses dieting, whole foods, food addictions, detoxing, the issues with sugar, the chemistry that occurs in the body when eating processed foods, and the psychological and emotional effects of how we eat and more.
One shocking surprise that I learned watching Hungry For Change is that propylene glycol (a chemical that I avoid in cosmetics) is used with artificial colors to mimic blueberries in cereals and muffins! This may sound outrageous, yet you can Google it and find articles documenting just this. Once you’ve gained more insight and knowledge definitely continue to further your research and follow a whole foods eating plan which makes you feel amazing. I don’t believe there is only one way to true health and longevity, yet I do believe that processed foods have no place in the equation.
Being Your Own Nutritionist
I’ve been doing my best to eat only organic foods and lately more raw fruits and veggies than I have ever in the past. My understanding of eating a healthy diet has improved tremendously after eliminating processed foods completely, yet I still have more to learn. My general definition of processed foods as anything that has an extended shelf life longer than produce and is not a single food ingredient or created with only whole food ingredients. In general prepackaged foods are questionable. Reading labels of even “health” supplements is necessary as they can contain chemical fillers, artificial colors, artificial flavor enhancers, and preservatives which are foreign to the body.
There are two free nutritional websites/apps that have helped me learn more about my eating habits and how to improve them. One of them is called Fooducate and the other is CRON-O-Meter. Both offer suggestions of how many calories to eat daily to help you gain or lose weight based on your age, gender, and current weight.
The Fooducate app personalizes your health goals by helping you understand your calorie intake and the health of the foods you eat based on your age, height, weight, eating style, and activity levels. You can track your meals, acknowledge how much water your drink, see how many calories burned with exercise, make notes, and see your weight progress if you have a specific goal weight. What I also love about this app is that it will tell you if the brand of food you are interested in is GMO-free and will give you a health rating on the product. Read more on avoiding GMO’s and why here.
Fooducate provides the percentage of whole foods versus processed foods that you eat daily, as well as the percentage of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. This app offers a scanning option to find certain brands of foods as well as a few restaurant items to input as well. You can upgrade with Fooducate to receive a full breakdown of nutrients received from each meal, or you could find all of that information for free with the website CRON-O-Meter.
I learned about CRON-O-Meter through the raw food community. Since using CRON-O-Meter I am very clear now with what vitamins and minerals I am not getting through the current foods that I am eating. This site allows you to see a full breakdown of what you eat every day on a nutritional level in a very insightful way. You can see an example of how everything is broken down in the photo above.
Just like Fooducate, CRON-O-Meter allow you to track your meals and fitness activities while providing a plan based on your age, weight, height, and fitness goals. Being able to see if I have reached my nutritional targets each day is like being my own personal nutritionist. I am clear what vitamins and minerals may need supplementing based on the information on CRON-O-Meter if I am unable to get them from whole foods.
How Fooducate & CRON-O-Meter Has Helped Me
The reason why both Fooducate and CRON-O-Meter have been so helpful for me is that I had been unclear in the past how many calories were good for me to eat as a professional dancer. Many times when we think about calories we think of restriction and deprivation. These two websites/apps have instead helped me to view calories as using whole energy foods to fuel my lifestyle in a healthy way. Even though I do my best to eat well, I did not know exactly how much was needed to sustain myself most effectively for training and performance. Both websites/apps allow you to input the amount and type of physical activity that you do so you are clear how many more whole food calories are needed to feel energized and to sustain you.
Although it can feel tedious at first to input everything that you eat into the website or app every day, you will learn a lot. I started using Fooducate awhile back, then stopped. I also became a bit lazy with preparing meals and stopped paying attention to what my body needed. Once I decided to step up my game and began using Fooducate again and now CRON-O-Meter to help me, I feel empowered knowing how to better care for myself. By increasing the amount of whole foods with larger quantities of raw fruits and veggies, I am now maintaining the muscle mass needed for dance, and my weight is finally consistent versus in constant fluctuation.
Fooducate helped me see where my processed food weakness were, and CRON-O-Meter has helped me understand nutrition better than before. Hungry For Change which I watched on Netflix provided knowledge about the food industry and opened my eyes to this misleading system which has a main goal of profit not health. Lastly please advise a health professional if needed before making any drastic changes to your diet. Learn as much as you can and take your health back with knowledge.
Using food as medicine to sustain you doesn’t mean that it has to be tasteless. When you discover what works best for you, it is not only empowering, yet enjoyable to take care of yourself.
Psst… Don’t forget about the Mountain Rose Herbs Henna Giveaway! It ends Nov 24th!
(Images by Dawn Michelle & CRON-O-Meter)