Here is a list of my pantry “staples” for after you complete this cleanout!
A lot of us have been stuck inside our homes more than planned this winter due to the pandemic. Take advantage of the time at home by focusing on a healthier you! Here are five tips to help ditch processed foods and move toward a more whole-food diet. Don’t stress about being perfect, as always baby steps! Be sure to check out my posts on a cleaner healthier home and eating organically.
#1 Use It or Lose It!
We all have that pantry or fridge filled with salad dressings and condiments. Start by looking at the expiration dates and go from there. Use the rest of this list to decide whether toss it. If it has unhealthy oils (look at the #2) or unrecognizable ingredients (probably artificial ingredients, preservatives or chemicals) and isn’t a main staple in your house, trash it. If it is a staple, look for a healthier brand alternative! Check out my gluten or dairy post for swaps, or reach out!
#2 Examine Your Fats
Most people are “fat phobic” so they use fat-free options which are actually worse for our bodies. The alternatives are not natural and make more work for our body to process. A lot of these oils are rancid and only allow for more oxidative stress to occur which results in increased inflammation in our body. So do yourself a favor: toss those vegetable oils and use some good quality grass-fed butter!
Where to start:
- Toss out fats that are unhealthy for you! These include any generic vegetable oils (canola, safflower, sunflower, soybean, corn, cottonseed, peanut).
- Replace with tallow, lard, ghee, duck fat, coconut oil, avocado oil, grass fed butter, and olive oils. I personally love cooking with ghee!
- Toss anything that says “hydrogenated” or “partially hydrogenated” as these are trans fat.
#3 “Search Out” Sugar
Most of us know sugar is not needed in our diets, but let’s face it: it’s delicious! There are better and healthier options to enjoy your baked goods and sweet fixes. You don’t have to be perfect; enjoy that cake or ice cream when warranted. Real sugar is ALWAYS better than an artificial or zero calorie alternatives which are unnatural and require our body to work harder to process as well as unwanted side effects such as digestive and hormonal symptoms.
Where to start:
- Toss anything with high fructose corn syrup, artificial sugars, or bleached and altered sugars.
- Here are the most common artificial and sugar alcohol sugars to avoid:
- Aspartame (Equal, NutraSweet). It’s mostly used to sweeten diet soft drinks.
- Saccharin (Sweet’N Low, Sugar Twin). It’s used in many diet foods and drinks.
- Sugar Alcohols (Erythritol, Maltitol, Mannitol, Sorbitol, Xylitol)
- Saccharin (brand names: Sweet ‘N Low® and Sugar Twin®
- Sucralose (Splenda). It’s in many diet foods and drinks.
- Chose unprocessed cane sugar such as raw turbinado, coconut sugar, maple syrup, and raw honey (my fav). Your body needs sugar to function, everything in moderation!
#4 Ditch the Chemicals
If you have followed my other posts, you are probably aware that this is a fav subject of mine. The chemicals found not only in our foods but also in household items are extremely disruptive to our bodies. Once you become educated on what is in the food we eat and what we use to clean our homes, it isn’t a surprise that chronic illness and poor health continues to climb. For the purpose of the pantry cleanout, we can simply say that fake ingredients can cause direct damage to our endocrine, digestive, cardiovascular, immune, and neurological systems while offering no nutritional benefit. As a result, they have no place in our homes or on our plates.
Where to start:
- Look for ingredients such as food dyes, artificial sweeteners, preservatives, MSG (which has many names), artificial flavorings, and thickening agents.
- If you don’t recognize the ingredient or it is an acronym, chances are that it’s processed and our body can’t recognize or use it either.
- Fortified and enriched foods. Unfortunately, many fortified or enriched foods are heavily processed and packaged making it harder to process. These enrichment is added because they often come with high sodium, fat, and sugar content which depletes nutrients!
- I know this is an expensive step, so start small! Swap out your pantry staples such as mayonnaise, salad dressings, and frequently eaten snacks for healthier ones and go from there. That is where most cheap oils and chemicals are hidden.
#5 Replace Refined Grains
A lot of people suffering chronically have issues with grains. Grains are not meant to be eaten with every meal and snack despite the food pyramid recommendation of whole grain servings a day. Gluten can be very inflammatory in our bodies and unfortunately grains are not the same as they were when our ancestors ate them. If you can tolerate grains, eat them in the whole form and soak them, if applicable. If you are just trying to live a healthier lifestyle and can tolerate grains, don’t beat yourself up for the pizza or cake. Live your life but know how to make smart choices!
- Bleached or enriched flours are not whole grains. If you tolerate grains, try flours in their whole or sprouted form.
- Use flour alternatives for those who cannot tolerate grains (such as coconut, cassava, tigernut–my fav flour).
- Soak your grains (click for a detailed guide) It removes something called Phytic Acid which aids with digestion of grains and helps the absorption of nutrients. Print this out and put it on your fridge for future