ARE THE FOODS YOU’RE EATING SLOWLY KILLING YOU? PART 3: Ingredients

Welcome to Part 3…finally! 😉 I know it has been a minute, but if you need a refresher, you can read Part 1 and Part 2 and then come back to read all about ingredients!

So let’s jump right on in! As previously mentioned in my other posts, I don’t read the nutrition label…ever. I ONLY read the ingredients. The ingredient list tells me what my food mostly contains, if it is safe or full of cancer-causing ingredients, if it is clean or full of additives, etc. So what are some ingredients that you want to avoid? Let me start by saying that the ingredients label will now become your best friend. Ingredients are listed from greatest to least, so if an ingredient is first on the list that means it is most prevalent. The ingredients section is so much more important and informative than calorie content or fat content.

There are so many ingredients that can be added to our food and what I am sharing with you today is just some of the big no-nos. This is your basic list and a good starting point. I’ve used research from Vani Hari and the Dirty Dozen List of Food Additives to Avoid to compile this list (please feel free to visit their websites to learn more about any of the ingredients mentioned).

Carrageenan

Carrageenan is a carcinogenic (cancer-causing) ingredient found in most milk substitute products, infant formulas, toothpaste, deli meats, cottage cheeses, some flavored coconut waters, supplements, juice…the list goes on. Even if food is organic, carrageenan can still be in it!! It has been known to cause digestive problems and intestinal inflammation as well. For a detailed shopping list of specific brands to avoid that contain carrageenan and what products to purchase instead, see Cornicopia.org.

Artificial Flavors

Artificial flavors are just that – artificial. They are synthetic flavors made from chemicals. They are used to make fake food taste good. And we are not just talking a single ingredient either. Each “flavor” can contain hundreds of ingredients, including synthetic chemicals, preservatives, and solvents, parabens and more. 

Artificial Sugars & Aspartame

Again, just like artificial flavors, artificial sugars are just that – ARTIFICIAL. Just stay away from anything that says artificial. Artificial sugars stimulate the brain to actually want more sugar! Aspartame is the same way. It has been linked to an increased risk of brain tumors, lymphomas, leukemia, and heart disease. The University of Texas conducted a study that showed replacing sugar with aspartame actually increased hunger and the subjects compensated by eating even more calories…thus not so “diet” anymore, is it? 

BHT & BHA

BHT is a synthetic preservative (you will see a lot of synthetic preservatives in this list). BHT is an endocrine disruptor. BHT in particular has been shown to affect the signaling from the gut to the brain that tells us to stop eating. It has also been linked to cancer in some animal studies. The EWG has listed BHT on their Dirty Dozen List of Foods Additives to avoid, thus stay away! 

BHA, much like BHT, is a synthetic preservative that is also an endocrine disruptor and also linked to cancer. The International Agency for Research on Cancer classifies BHA as “possibly carcinogenic to humans”. SO WHY IS IT IN OUR FOOD? If agencies and food organizations can show that an additive is cancer-causing, how on earth is it still allowed in our foods? More reason to just avoid heavily processed foods whenever possible. 

Canola Oil

Step away from the canola oil! Throw away this highly refined GMO-laden oil! If you are going to make one change in your cooking, make this your thing! Swap canola oil for organic avocado oil or organic grapeseed oil…but please, no more canola! Why you ask? Canola oil goes through a huge amount of processing with chemical solvents before you purchase it. The FDA does not require food manufacturers to test for hexane residue and canola oil is basically bathed in it. Switching to a healthier oil, like avocado oil, is super easy and no one will notice the difference.

Nitrates and Nitrites

Nitrates and nitrites are synthetic preservatives and are commonly found in deli meats. They have been linked to an increased risk of cancer. When purchasing deli meats, make sure it clearly reads ‘No Nitrates’ or ‘Nitrate Free’. Don’t assume “natural” means that it doesn’t have nitrates. Make sure to read the label!

Natural Flavors

Oh those good ol’ “natural” flavors! What are natural flavors? Well, it could literally be anything! Castoreum (or beaver butt excretions) is just one of the ingredients that could be called a “natural flavor.” We’ll never know what natural flavors are because the food companies won’t tell us as they consider this information proprietary.

According to the FDA, natural flavors can include:

“…the essential oil, oleoresin, essence or extractive, protein hydrolysate, distillate, or any product of roasting, heating or enzymolysis, which contains the flavoring constituents derived from a spice, fruit or fruit juice, vegetable or vegetable juice, edible yeast, herb, bark, bud, root, leaf or similar plant material, meat, seafood, poultry, eggs, dairy products, or fermentation products thereof, whose significant function in food is flavoring rather than nutritional” (21CFR101.22).

Soy Protein Isolate

I know! You think you’re doing good buying that protein powder because ‘Soy Protein Isolate’ sounds so much better than others. Let’s first discuss soy. Soy can possibly cause hormonal disruptions because it has estrogen-mimicking properties and in women it can cause an increase in estrogen, thus increasing your risk for PCOS, breast cancer, cervical cancer and other hormonal-imbalance disorders. Soy is also almost always made from GMO soybeans (unless it is certified organic or Non-GMO Project verified). Most soy products are terrible for your health (this includes soy protein and soy milk) because of the phytoestrogens and being genetically modified, however, not all soy is bad. Organic (meaning no chemicals, fertilizers, or pesticides) fermented soy is actually good for you because of the increase of probiotics that occurs when fermented. Organic fermented soy is loaded with Vitamin K2, and probiotics. I personally like tempeh, a fermented soybean cake with a firm texture and nutty, mushroom-like flavor. When marinated, it takes on the flavor of the marinade and tastes delicious!

Stevia Extract 

I know many of you are confused…so let me state there is a difference between WHOLE LEAF stevia and stevia EXTRACT. I am passionate about avoiding stevia extract! If you don’t know if the product you are buying is using the whole leaf or extract, just avoid it. When I was shopping for protein powders, a lot of them list ‘stevia’ as an ingredient and I personally reached out to the representatives of a very large company to see what was being used (the extract or the whole leaf). They couldnt say! They said their information was “proprietary” so telling me if it was the extract or whole leaf I guess means I can basically copy their recipe, right?!

Back to the extract…

The extract is highly processed! We’re talking a 40-step method using chemicals to process the extract from the leaf, chemicals like acetone, methanol, ethanol, and others! And the chemicals they are using are known carcinogens! So again, when purchasing, make sure it says “Whole Leaf Stevia.”


I know this may seem overwhelming and for quite a few of you, shocking. But honestly, if you are eating organic, healthy, fresh food, you don’t have to worry about all those cancer-causing ingredients and additives. And, sadly, the list above is only about ¼ of the ingredients you want to avoid. Those are just some of my top ingredients to avoid, but certainly not all. If you are interested in a more in depth list, check out Food Babe’s list and also the EWG’s Dirty Dozen: Food Additives.


If you are needing a CLEAN plant-based protein powder that doesn’t contain any of those nasty ingredients mentioned above, then check out my girl Vani Hari’s company, Truvani.

I have shared a few recipes on my blog using her protein powder and I seriously LOVE it! It is clean, organic, healthy and tastes delicious! I drink a shake everyday and honestly start panicking when I am nearing the bottom of the bag!

If you want to snag your own Truvani protein powder, click here and save BIG when you sign up for a subscription. While you wait for your order to be delivered, check out my smoothie recipes here:

Vanilla Almond Smoothie

Y’all. This is my new favorite smoothie!! It is so so easy to make and tastes like an almond butter vanilla dessert. I can’t even describe it well because it tastes so dang good! You could easily swap the almond butter for peanut butter or other nut butter of your liking. I used only seven … Read More

My Favorite Chocolate Smoothie Recipe

Since battling Candida and other health issues (which I will address all of this Wednesday), I had to avoid most all fruit (until recently). Which meant I could not have my normal fruit-loaded smoothies. I also struggled to find a protein powder that tasted delicious and was safe for my Candida. That is until Truvani! … Read More

Not Your Traditional Vanilla Latte

I am loving starting my day with a smoothie and having so much fun playing with different smoothie add-ins and options! The other day I was missing coffee…which I haven’t had since November! My husband grinds the beans fresh every morning and the smell of fresh brewed coffee enveloped and consumed me! I decided to … Read More


Are the Foods You’re Eating Slowly Killing You? Part 2: Sugar

In this new series of posts, I am debunking common myths about food, beliefs that I use to have myself. If you didn’t catch Part 1, you can go read it here.

Today I am sharing all about an important topic that seems to be the hardest one to get out of our diets: sugar! Why should we avoid sugar? How do our bodies react to sugar? And what can we eat in replace of sugar?

I’m sharing all of that today! So let’s dive right in…

Just Say No to Sugar

You probably guessed it already, but sugar is the enemy, not fat, as I mentioned in my last post.. And sugar goes by a variety of different names making it easy for manufacturers to hide how much sugar is truly in a given product.

ThatSugarFilm.com stated:

“When reading a label, it’s important to check the ingredients list and look out for any of the sugars listed. Often SUGAR will be on the list but companies are getting cheeky now and are using these other names like ‘evaporated cane juice’ or ‘organic palm sugar’ as a disguise and to avoid the word SUGAR. These are still an added ‘free sugar’ and usually contain fructose as a sweetener.”

Dangers of Sugar

There are many dangers to having too much sugar. For one, it may cause heart problems. The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey gathered information to identify what could happen when we consume too much sugar. Their results indicated “that most U.S. adults consume more added sugar than is recommended for a healthy diet, resulting in a higher risk cardiovascular disease mortality.”

Diabetes is probably the most concerning when it comes to excessive amounts of sugar. Our liver converts sugar into energy, but when we consume too much sugar, our liver simply cannot metabolize it, thus metabolic syndrome occurs and our bodies become insulin resistant. 

Another trend on the rise is Candida overgrowth, which can occur because of too much sugar, stress, antibiotics, and other factors. I personally was diagnosed with Systemic Candidiasis in November of 2019. It had been growing and happening for a few years. Sugar, even in natural form from fruits, can be damaging when excessively consumed. I was in survival mode as a mother and heavily neglected my body. I ate too much fruit and not enough vegetables and drank too many sweetened caffeinated drinks from a popular coffee chain. I knew I was harming my body, but I kept on consuming and eating too much sugar. I knew better. I go into more detail about my healing journey with Systemic Candida here:

What is Candida?

My Healing Journey I’ve stated in the past that I have been battling many health issues. One of which is Systemic Candida…that means it is in my blood. Everyone, EVERYONE, has Candida. However, it is contained in the gut and in a good balance. However, as soon as you add antibiotics, sugar, gluten, stress, anxiety, … Read More

Since eliminating sugar from my diet (including most fruits) in November of 2019, my Candida is almost completely healed! I have been able to reintroduce some more fruits into my diet as well as other foods that were “banned” from the strict Candida Diet. I went hardcore into the diet and followed it to a T, from November of 2019 to May of 2020. I still follow it a bit (since I still have some Systemic Candida), for instance I am not consuming many high starch vegetables (like potatoes) and only consume a 1/4 of a very ripe banana maybe once a week. I still follow (and always will) a gluten-free, dairy-free, added sugar-free lifestyle.

Honestly, I don’t miss much. My energy levels are so much better than they use to be, my skin has cleared up tremendously, my tastebuds are insane (even the slightest sweet food is crazy sweet!), and food just tastes better in general.

What Sugar Can I Consume?

The most common comment I hear when I tell people I am sugar-free is, “Wow! I could never do that!” And a part of me wants to say, “Your right! If you believe that you won’t be able to do it.”

You HAVE to change your mentality. Just knowing that sugar causes cancer, how it causes your body to react just like if you did a line of cocaine, that it is more addictive than drugs, that it causes inflammation in your body, and that is causes a SLEW of other health issues should be enough for you to drop it cold turkey. But again, you have to completely change your mindset. Instead of focusing on all the foods that you canNOT have because it contains sugar, focus on all the foods you CAN have! You can still eat fruit (now, I can’t in high doses because I have Systemic Candida, but that doesn’t mean that everyone can’t…and once my Systemic Candida is healed I will consume more!), replace your cane sugar with raw, natural honey, and it is safe to bake with organic, whole-leaf stevia. I still get to indulge in sweet treats, like mug cakes and chocolate fat bombs.

And when the holidays roll around, I will bake my own sugar-free desserts and bring those for others to eat as well.

My go-to thought that I share often is that we get this one body. God gave you a vessel to live in on their earth and you are to take care of it. Love it well by fueling it with healthy, organic, natural foods that He gave us.

YOU CAN DROP SUGAR!

It is possible!

If you want to watch something to get you fired up some more, I highly recommend the documentary Fed Up.

Another good one is The Sugar Film:

Ingredients

What are some ingredients/additives that you want to avoid? Let me start by saying that the ingredients label will now become your best friend. In my next post, ‘Are the Foods You’re Eating Slowly Killing You? – Part 3’, I will go into actual ingredient names that you want to avoid and why, as well as answer any questions that you have for me via Instagram and Facebook. Look for those polls to come in my stories this week!

Until next time! Have a blessed, sugar-free day! 😉


Are the Foods You’re Eating Healing or Killing You? – Part 1: Calories and Fat

I have shared briefly about my rocky relationship with food in the past and how I did not have a healthy relationship with food. I had enough of battling my eating disorder and unhealthy lifestyle, but didn’t know where to start or how to have a love for food. I thought “fat-free”, “light”, “skim” was what was best…that was all I knew!

I did some research and found the book The Eat Clean Diet by Tosca Reno and absorbed all the information like a sponge! It finally made sense! I learned all the basics to eating clean and what that term actually meant. Reno states that “clean eating is avoiding all processed food, relying on fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains rather than prepackaged or fast food. It may sound counterintuitive, but eating clean allows you to eat more and weigh less because you are making smart food choices.” For me, that also means that what I am eating is organic and free of GMOs and pesticides (which I will go into more detail in my next posts). It took some prep work and planning, but I loved eating clean! I loved feeding my body nutritious, wholesome food!

Then about seven years ago I started following Vani Hari (aka The Food Babe) on Facebook and started reading her blog. Man, did that open a can of worms…in a good way 😉 Haha! I learned so much more about ingredients and additives…which then led me to watch more and more documentaries (like What the Health, Food Inc.Forks Over Knives, GMO OMG, and many more!) and researching more about our food and where it comes from and how it is made/raised. To me, eating healthy is more than just “eating clean.” It is plant-based, organic, pesticide-free, eating sustainably. It is a lifestyle. It is necessary. It is important. God gave us this one planet and this one body, and in order for it to work with us and for us, we need to fuel it the best way we can. In order to prevent illnesses, cancers, diabetes, obesity, we need to give our body wholesome, nutrient-rich foods, free of cancer-causing ingredients. 

Over the next few months, I will post some myths about food and share more of what I have researched over the last seven years, including factual information from reliable sources.

This post we are looking a two big myths:

  1. That calories are created equal and
  2. That fat makes you fat.

So let’s dive right in!

Calories are Not Created Equal

Image: Getty Images/iStockphoto

“While cutting calories might help you lose weight in the short-term, it can be horrible for your long-term health. This is because the ingredients that the industry is packaging up for us are designed to increase their profits while expanding our addiction to their “food-like” concoctions – which eventually expands our waistlines too. Many packaged low-calorie diet foods contain ingredients that can rob us of our health, some cause us to eat more than we should and most of which you would never cook with at home.”

The Food Babe

I use to be obsessive about counting calories and would restrict myself to a completely unrealistic number of daily caloric allowances. If only counting calories, I could eat two chocolate “fat-free” cookies and be thrilled because I stayed under 300 calories…or I could drink a massive chocolate protein shake that is full of healthy, nutritious ingredients with no added sugars and still be at 300 calories. Dr. Mark Hyman stated, 

“It is true that, in a vacuum, all calories are the same. A thousand calories of Coke and a thousand calories of broccoli burned in a laboratory will release the same amount of energy. But all bets are off when you eat the Coke or the broccoli. These foods have to be processed by your metabolism (not a closed system). Coke and broccoli trigger very different biochemical responses in the body—different hormones, neurotransmitters and immune messengers. The Coke will spike blood sugar and insulin and disrupt neurotransmitters, leading to increased hunger and fat storage, while the thousand calories of broccoli will balance blood sugar and make you feel full, cut your appetite and increase fat burning.  Same calories—profoundly different effects on your body.”

Please, stop counting calories! Healthy food is just that – HEALTHY. Stop counting and start living! Enjoy your food! Enjoy the goodness that comes from great nutrition.

Fat is Not the Enemy

Image: Brook Health

In the 80s/90s, “fat-free”, “reduced-fat”, and other “health” trends emerged and we all quickly jumped on board thinking that fat was the enemy. We started drinking the skinny drinks and eating the ‘fat-free’ items, but for some reason obesity was on the rise faster than ever.

Coincidence?

Dr. Mark Hyman stated, “When people eat less fat, they tend to eat more starch or sugar instead, and this actually increases their levels of the small, dense cholesterol that causes heart attacks. In fact, studies show 75% of people who end up in the emergency room with a heart attack have normal overall cholesterol levels. But what they do have is pre-diabetes or type 2 diabetes.”

A review of all the research on saturated fat published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found no correlation between saturated fat and heart disease.

Let’s shout that out again…

There is no correlation between saturated fat and heart disease.

As with all foods, quality becomes key here. The fats in a fast-food bacon cheeseburger will have a completely different effect than the saturated fat in coconut oil. So we need to stop classifying it as all the same.

However, some fats are unhealthy, like trans fats and inflammatory vegetable oils, like corn, soy, and safflower oils. “These fats have increased in our diet and foods and they actually make us fatter and cause a rise in inflammations, and that plays a role in most every chronic disease found on the planet. Trans fat is the only kind of fat that has been shown to be categorically detrimental to health.”

You probably have seen the term “partially hydrogenated oils” on some of your food labels. That is a byproduct of an industrially produced trans fat. This ingredients was so common and found in so many processed food items that it was linked to more than a half a million coronary heart disease deaths worldwide…in just one year.

Think the food system won’t do you in like that? I mean, if the FDA allows it in our food, we should be ok, right?

WRONG.

Just look at this data that another reporter found:

“Industrially produced trans fat was banned in the US in 2015, and all products were supposed to be phased out by June 2018, but manufacturers received an extension until January 2020.

Here is the ACTUAL FDA statement from their website:

“In 2015, FDA released its final determination that Partially Hydrogenated Oils (PHOs) are not Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS). The determination is based on extensive research into the effects of PHOs, as well as input from stakeholders during the public comment period.

PHOs are the primary dietary source of artificial trans fat in processed foods. Removing PHOs from processed foods could prevent thousands of heart attacks and deaths each year. To learn more about trans fat, see our Trans Fat page. It’s important to note that trans fat will not be completely gone from foods because it occurs naturally in small amounts in meat and dairy products, and is present at very low levels in other edible oils.

Implementation

FDA is extending the compliance date for certain uses of partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs). For the majority of uses of PHOs, June 18, 2018, remains the date after which manufacturers cannot add PHOs to foods. However, to allow for an orderly transition in the marketplace, FDA is allowing more time for products produced prior to June 18, 2018 to work their way through distribution. FDA is extending the compliance date for these foods to January 1, 2020 (there is a chance that some products you are currently buying could still have PHOs and may still be on the shelves!). This action balances the health benefits of removing PHOs from the food supply with the need to provide an orderly transition in the marketplace.

At the same time, the FDA is denying a food additive petition from the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) requesting approval for certain limited uses of PHOs. To allow for time for reformulation, the agency is extending until June 18, 2019 the compliance date to stop manufacturing foods with these specific, limited petitioned uses of PHOs, and until Jan. 1, 2021 for these products to work their way through distribution.”

https://www.fda.gov/food/food-additives-petitions/final-determination-regarding-partially-hydrogenated-oils-removing-trans-fat

The FDA is aware that PHOs are BAD for you and can KILL you, and have known this since 2015…but products can still be on the shelves till 2021…SIX YEARS.

It just makes me so mad. And unfortunately, it is not just with PHOs, but a slew of ingredients that are banned in other countries but allowed here.

And the thought that eating fat makes you fat is completely WRONG. We have GOT to get that OUT of our heads!! Dr. Mark Hyman states that eating fat can actually make you lean:

“Healthy cell walls made from high-quality fats are better able to metabolize insulin, which keeps blood sugar better regulated. Without proper blood sugar control, the body socks away fat for a rainy day. The right fats also increase fat burning, cut your hunger, and reduce fat storage.  Eating the right fats makes you lose weight, while eating excess sugar and the WRONG types of fat make you fat.”

Also, did you know that your brain about 60% fat? Yup! 60%! “Of that percentage, the biggest portion comes from the omega-3 fat called docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Your brain needs DHA to spark communication between cells. Easy access to high-quality fat boosts cognition, happiness, learning, and memory. In contrast, studies link a deficiency of omega-3 fatty acids to depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia (Dr. Mark Hyman).”

The right fats can improve your mood, skin, hair, and nails, while protecting you against Type 2 diabetes, dementia, cancer, and so much more.

Now when it comes to cooking, there are some great healthy oils that are a must to use…and some that you need to toss in the trash immediately.

Canola oil is one of the highest GMO, chemically-laden oils on the market. If you change ONE thing, please swap out your canola oil for avocado oil. It is so simple and the swap is created equal…you won’t even notice it…but your heart and body will feel sooooo much better! I personally love organic avocado oil to cook and bake with, and I also use it to season my cast iron skillets. Organic unrefined coconut oil is another great oil. I use that in baked goods and even raw in my smoothies (and I use it to take my eye makeup off at night!). Organic olive oil makes its way into my diet daily as well! I use it for my salads with a squeeze of lemon and sometimes use olive oil it to bake and cook. Organic grapeseed oil is another good one for baking.

To read more about cooking oils, read The Food Babe’s post about it here (click the image):

To sum up…

Calories are NOT created equal. So don’t worry about how many calories a food has…worry more about where it comes from, how it is cooked, the ingredients and if they are organic or highly processed. Stop counting and start enjoying.

Fats will NOT make you fat! Enjoy healthy, high quality fats, like avocados, nuts and seeds, coconut, hemp, flax, and more! Stop using the highly processed, GMO-laden corn oils, peanut oils, cottonseed oils (don’t forget to read your labels on shelf-stable foods, like bars, cereals, breads, chips, etc. as many companies use these oils because it is cheap. They don’t care about the health effects it has on you…they just want your money).


I hope that this helps to answer some of your clean eating questions and helps to squash some unhealthy thoughts you had about food.

Check back next time for ‘Are the Foods You’re Eating Slowly Killing You? – Part 2: Ingredients’ where I will share a list of ingredients to watch out for and why.

See you all back here Wednesday for my ‘What’s Up Wednesday: July’ post!

Sources:

Top 20 Nutrition Myths

Dr. Mark Hyman: Separating Fat from Fiction

Dr. Mark Hyman: Time for an Oil Change

Dr. Axe: Top 8 Healthy Cooking Oils