When we eat differently, we feel differently! Eat foods high in carbs and the glucose suppresses orexin which controls your wakefulness. So, too many carbs in a meal will leave you feeling tired. If drinking alcohol, energy drinks, and coffee has a noticeable effect on our bodies and mood, we have to know that anything else we consume creates some sort of change to our systems. How your body feels is different when you drink fresh fruit juice vs soda. You will also feel differently if your diet is more plant-based versus meat-based.
Over days, weeks, months, and years your body reacts down to a cellular level to the things you eat.
Don't rely on packaging and labels alone to make decisions on your food choices. It is very easy to be fooled by the food industry. Their job is to make money, not ensure your health. The food industry pays big bucks for a market strategy that plays to our fears and desires. They put verbiage on the packaging that claims things like "natural" or "made with real fruit". We assume it's legit and it's scary that there isn't anyone to protect us from the sneakiness but ourselves.
The FDA has no regulations on these types of claims and so manufacturers of these products can put anything on the packaging without any real fears of retribution. Even the nutrition labels have a range of accuracy they have to legally stay within...a range! So, what you think you're eating can be far worse than what the label states. The FDA doesn't have the means to enforce accurate labeling in most cases.
What that means is we have to be diligent in our choices. Here is my list of 5 food items that most perceive to be healthy but often just junk food, disguised as good choices.
Yogurt - Most of the yogurt available at the grocery store is full of sugar or artificial sweeteners. Make sure you read the labels and check the amount of sugar per serving. I suggest finding a low sugar/sweetener plain yogurt and then add your own fresh fruit and a bit of honey to control the amount of sugar you consume.
Gluten-free processed items - The last couple of years have been great for people with gluten sensitivity and allergies, as the food industry has begun to provide more food items with no gluten. It can seem like a healthy way to go, even if you aren't allergic, but that isn't the case. When it comes to the gluten-free processed items, just eat items containing gluten because oftentimes the gluten-free items have a lot of additives that aren't good for you.
Smoothies - We grab a smoothie and think we are doing ourselves a favor because it just fruits right? Thing is, most have so much added sugar that it's bad for you. Even smoothies without all the added sugar, because of the amount of fruit, are packed with natural sugars and those calories add up very quickly. Try making your own smoothies at home and do 2 parts veggie and 1 part fruit. If you want to sweeten it a bit add in a little organic natural honey.
Bars- When you walk the health food section you will find a plethora of bars...energy, protein, and fiber. They are marketed as healthy but most are a few ingredients away from being a candy bar! They will put trigger words on the packaging like "high fiber" or "high protein" but they forget to mention the high sugar or high fat. If you are looking for a portable snack with fiber or protein, go with some string cheese or an apple instead!
Granola- We all love granola but if we aren't label reading, chances are, we pick granola with lots of trans fats and sugars. Also, the typical serving of granola is so small that it's easy to eat 4x the suggested amount of the already high levels of calories and fat. That is why I am a fan of making my own granola at home. It's super easy and you can keep an eye on how much sugar and how much fat you use. Check out my healthy granola recipes here.
Gluten-Free Apple Bread
Although it feels more like winter than fall around here, everything is apples (and pumpkin) these days. I love the variety of perfectly, delicious apples, that scream Fall to me. My boys and I absolutely adore apple season. We go through 3-4 bags of apples a week, no exaggeration. I had to sneak a few apples just to make this apple bread recipe. I don’t know if I should cry or laugh, but I literally pick up apple cores all day long... from the cup holders in the car to the boy's night tables and everywhere else in between. On the one hand, I love that they love eating apples. On the other hand, it's downright gross and disgusting to find those wet browning cores everywhere. Boys, I tell ya. I shouldn't complain. I’d take picking up apple cores, over wiping toilet seats, any day. But that is for a different conversation.
This recipe also calls for flax seeds as an ingredient. Flax seeds are the highest plant-based source of omega-3 fatty acids we can get. Omega-3 is a "good" fat that our bodies can't produce on our own but it can help lower the risk of heart disease, depression, arthritis, and dementia. Flaxseed is great for the digestive system and a great source of protein and fiber. So I like to sneak them in recipes when I can. With the added flax seeds for healthy omega 3 fats and fiber, you can have your bread and eat it too!
Gluten-Free Apple Bread
Ingredients 1 3/4 cups gf flour ( I use Trader Joes) (can be substituted for regular flour or whole wheat flour)
1/3 cup flaxseeds
2 tspn cinnamon
1 tspn baking powder
1 tspn baking soda
1/2 tspn salt
1/2 cup coconut or almond milk
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
1 tspn vanilla
1/3 cup honey or maple syrup
2 apples, diced
Instructions 1. Add all of the dry ingredients to a large bowl. 2. Add coconut milk, eggs, oil, vanilla, and honey. Mix well until there are no lumps. 3. Add diced apples. Mix again. 4. Pour into a well greased 8 ½ x 4 ½ loaf pan. 5. Bake on 350 degrees for 20 minutes. 6. Remove from oven and let cool before slicing.