Have you searched for healthy eating tips and still found that you weren’t eating the best foods?
The bad news is manufacturers are making it harder to eat truly healthy foods.
But there is good news.
I have a special guest, Mira, that is known as the Ingredient Guru that will help you understand what to look for when purchasing foods.
Listen to the full podcast above or check out the post below to learn more.
This episode is sponsored by Marianne at Lilla Rose
This post contains affiliate links. This means that I will make a commission at no cost to you when you make a purchase.
Mira didn’t become the Ingredient Guru overnight. It started with her own health journey.
Mira was a busy mom of 3 and really got sick. Her immune system pretty much collapsed and she was diagnosed with several different immune disorders.
As she was working on reclaiming her health no one talked to her about her food.
Later, she discovered the power of what she ate while reclaiming her health.
She ended up going back to school and becoming a nutrition educator, wrote a book, The Pantry Principle, and shortly began speaking.
Now Mira’s mission is to let everyone know that there is no reason for food companies to put crap in our foods.
And we need to learn manufacturing manipulation, plus understand what they are doing to our food so that we can avoid it and make healthier choices for ourselves and our loved ones.
3 healthy eating tips you need to know as you learn to make healthier choices
Disclaimer: You won’t change the foods you eat overnight. This is a process. So don’t beat yourself up when you learn that a majority of the foods that you are feeding your kids aren’t good at all like I did.
Start with these core healthy eating tips to get you started.
1. Get rid of all artificial colors
Read the back of the package of the items at the grocery store. If you see anything that has a color don’t buy it.
These dyes are made from petrochemicals, which are an off product of gas that’s really bad for our brain.
There are studies that have shown that they are terrible for children that have attention-related disorders and can cause more anxiety when consuming these chemicals in children and adults.
2. Buy the dirty dozen products organic
There is an app from the Environmental Working Group that is called the Dirty Dozen.
It will tell you the 12 fruits and vegetables that are contaminated by high levels of pesticides.
These 12 different produce items are sprayed with high levels of pesticides that create a toxic burden for our bodies.
This list is done every year. So make sure to check and see what is on the list at the beginning of the year.
So this year, for example, kale made it onto the list for the very first time.
So if you’re going to buy kale, you need to be buying organic kale. Know that apples and strawberries are always on the list.
3. When purchasing dairy products, buy organic or the products that have a label that says this is made without rBGH or rBST.
rBGH is recombinant bovine growth hormone.
This is an added hormone that’s given to cows to make them give more milk.
Unfortunately, when they milk the cows to make dairy products this hormone does not go away.
So we end up feeding ourselves and our children this female hormone.
There are some studies that indicate that high levels of consumption of rBGH can be tied to girls getting their periods earlier and boys getting man boobs because they’re getting a female hormone.
Avoid this by purchasing organic dairy products. If your budget won’t allow organic dairy products, look for products that have a label that says “this is made without rBGH (or rBST)”
What are whole foods?
So a whole food basically indicates something that you can recognize that has not been highly processed.
For instance, you know what a banana is and what it looks like.
Now if you get a squeeze pack of banana with a combination of other fruits, that is a highly processed food.
So the banana in the squeeze pack is in no way going to be as nutritious as a whole banana because manufacturers have broken it down.
They’ve processed it and then they’ve had to add other things to it to make it shelf-stable.
Manufacturers want to make foods that have a high shelf life so that the food doesn’t go bad quickly and they end up losing money.
But this means that the foods have to be processed and end up not being as healthy or nutritious.
So when we’re nourishing ourselves and our families, we want things to be as close to how foods are naturally produced as possible.
This means that banana looks like a banana and not something else.
The goal is to have a majority of your diet be whole foods.
Yes, there are going to be times that you will have foods that are processed, but try to make as many foods (including meats) be whole foods.
I will freely confess that there are jars have an organic non-BPA lined can of coconut milk or tomato sauce or whatever in my pantry too because I’m not going to go get all of that fresh. But the majority of our diet should be whole foods, produce, you know, meats that we can recognize, not highly processed, not seasoned, not packaged, all of that.
A common myth about grocery shopping
I’m sure you’ve heard these healthy eating tips. Shop around the perimeter of the grocery stores to avoid process foods.
Well, stores and food producers have caught on to this and this doesn’t work anymore.
And if they understand how you’re shopping, they know how to make you buy more.
Now you have to be aware of something called product creep.
Have you ever gone into the grocery store during the summer and while in the produce section getting strawberries you see Cool Whip and small cakes and a sign the says make strawberry shortcake?
Those products don’t belong in that section.
The grocery store put them there. They claim it’s for your convenience.
But really what we know is it’s because they want you to go, oh great idea. I should buy that while I’m here.
This is really popular during Thanksgiving when you are getting sweet potatoes and there is a stack of marshmallows.
Or in the meat section, there are marinades and seasoning packets.
This is product creep. Products that don’t belong in a section that is added for your convenience.
You think you are avoiding processed foods by shopping the perimeter of the store.
But now, conveniently the stores have put other products that don’t belong together for your convenience.
So next time you are shopping to pay attention. And remember that you can’t avoid process foods by shopping the perimeter anymore.
Seven rules for grocery shopping
Many times we focus on calories when we are shopping for food.
But what we really need to focus on is learning to read food labels. Here is a healthy eating tip:
When looking at the label go down to the lower part of the label that contains the ingredients.
Now pay attention to the ingredients because this is what we actually eat.
You want to apply the Ingredient Guru’s 7 rules for grocery shopping when reviewing the labels.
Do you have to look it up?
You shouldn’t need a degree in biochemistry to understand ingredients.
And you definitely don’t need to consult with an ingredient dictionary to know what ingredients are.
So if you have to look it up, my suggestion is don’t buy it.
Does it have a number?
The foods we eat don’t have a number. You’ve never seen chicken 12. Or apple 64.
There’s just Apple and chicken and kale.
But we look at artificial colors, green number six. Or we look at polysorbate 80. Or all these other things. If there’s a number that indicates that it’s a chemical formulation and so we should not be eating it.
Does it have four or more syllables?
Now this is a little bit of a challenge because there are some words that do have more than four syllables, like macadamia which has five.
But if there is a long chemical name that has many syllables, it probably falls under rule number one. So don’t eat it.
Is it unpronounceable?
Let’s be honest. How many times have you looked at the back of a label and struggled to pronounce the name of an ingredient?
Now I get that quinoa and acai aren’t the easiest to pronounce, but they don’t fall into this category.
If there is an ingredient that you have a hard time pronouncing, don’t eat it.
Does it end with -ate?
Mira’s fun statement that goes with this rule: If it end is a-t-e don’t e-a-t it.
Most of the ingredients that end in -ate are preservatives.
These preservatives negatively impact our health. So stay away from them.
Is it enriched?
Enriched usually applies to grains, especially wheat. It means they’ve broken it down.
So in the case of wheat, they removed whole bunch of things and then they’ve had to add some of them back.
So they remove approximately 22 nutrients and then they add back four to five, mostly B vitamins, sometimes a little bit of iron.
The reason manufacturers started breaking down wheat and making it really refined is because it makes really soft and fluffy foods that are tasty and delicious.
Unfortunately, these foods are nutritionally poor and began to make people sick.
So the government said, you got to enrich it and add it back in.
And so this one applies mostly to things like breads and pastas and things like that.
If you see that word enriched and that’s going to usually be up at the top of the label, it’s usually the first or second ingredient. You don’t want it.
One word that people confuse with enriched it fortified.
Enriching is where you take nutrients out and then you add a few back in.
Fortifying is where you add things that were never in there in the first place.
For example, calcium in orange juice. Oranges do not have calcium, but someone thought it would be a great idea to add it back in.
At the bottom of the list, are there a group of capital letters?
Do you see things like EDTA, BHA, BHT, TBHQ?
These are not words.
These are actually abbreviations for really long chemical names that they can’t fit on the labels.
If the actually spelled out the chemical name it would go back to rule number 4, is it pronounceable?
If you follow the seven simple rules, you will get rid of 80% of the not great stuff for you at the grocery store.
Remember, this won’t happen overnight. Pick one of two rules to work on then incorporate more.
Ideas for some fun snacks that are great for the kids that are picky eaters
Now that you have the idea of what to look for as far as ingredients for foods that you purchase at the grocery store, how do you give picky eater snacks that are actually good for them that they will like and eat?
Mira suggests figuring out what their pickiness is about.
Is it the texture? Is it temperature?
You know, some kids don’t like soft, mushy food. Some kids don’t like hard crunchy foods. Some kids, they have, they create certain rules …
And I do encourage making lateral shifts if you’re transitioning them away from a food that has artificial colors and capital letters and other things, and then slowly make a change.
One thing that Mira encourages, if your child is old enough, is to get them involved in making snacks.
Studies have shown that kids that learn kitchen skills are actually more engaged eaters and they’re more willing to eat things they’ve made themselves.
Take a wide mouth pint canning jar and you can put a little bit of salad dressing, hummus or guacamole in the bottom.
Then cut up all the veggies into matchsticks and stuff them into the jar.
And if you’re going to do guacamole, add a little bit of lemon juice cause otherwise, the guacamole turns brown.
The first one or two coming out is a little bit challenging because they’re all stuffed in there.
But once those first few come out, then they’ve got a dip and the veggie stick at the same time, which is great.
Mira has a trail mix recipe called a 3-2-1 trail mix that is easy for the kids to make.
So it’s three parts nuts. Preferably unsalted nuts.
Two parts seeds, like pumpkin seeds or sesame seeds.
Then one part dried fruit. So if you’re using something bigger, like dried apricots or dried peaches Mira suggest chopping them up.
Have the kids make their own trail mix and put it in their own jar with a cute label with their name on it.
Want to connect with Mira? Go to her website to get more healthy eating tips.
Or get in her Facebook group, Ingredient Guru Support Group.
If you need more help with selecting health foods, Mira has a subscription box called Lean Green Box. Once a month you will get a box of goodies that have to pass Mira’s Ingregident Guru Test.
Make sure to get the book, Are Plastics Making you Fat and Anxious, for FREE here.
This episode is sponsored by Marianne at Lilla Rose
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