1) SUGAR ISN’T A PROBLEM FOR ME

Sugar dominates the Standard American Diet (SAD), so unless you are vigilant, know how to identify sugar in the sea of packaged foods that comprise the SAD, have officially taken steps to “break up with sugar,” and implement your daily limits, sugar is likely a problem for you. And, I’m not talking about donuts, candy, cake, or cookies.  Most individuals can spot sugar and avoid these foods. It’s the hidden sugars (think sauces, dressings, cereal, yogurt, energy bars, dried fruit, instant oatmeal just to name a few) and “natural sugars” (see #18) that create plateaus in weight loss. Here’s your list of sugar aliases

2) GLUTEN FREE EATING IS HEALTHIER

Gluten free is NOT synonymous with healthier living! Gluten, found in many grains, causes a cascade of unhealthy reactions in people with gluten-related disorders. But, when celiac disease and the subsequent gluten free diet rose to the Nation’s awareness, everyone jumped on the “gluten-free train,” and the marketing genius of food manufacturers  helped many to equate “gluten-free” with weight loss and health. There’s really no scientific evidence to back gluten-free foods as being healthier, and truth be known, any change to one’s diet will almost always result in some weight loss since more mindful eating is required to omit foods/food groups.

3) HEALTH IS NO FUN

Being healthy doesn’t mean you aren’t “fun” anymore or “count me out of festive activities.” When we choose to get healthy, we choose to live fully, to live as our authentic selves…and being okay with it. But, let’s get real, it’s not easy, because your friends associate your healthfulness with your not being fun anymore! Making the choice to put health as a priority in your life, requires that you must first become comfortable with “fitting out”. Please note, you are actually MORE FUN when you are a true version of yourself.

4) YOGURT AND PROTEIN BARS ARE HEALTHY

Yogurt and protein bars are seemingly healthy, clean snacks, Unfortunately, most yogurts contain significant sugar (nearly your daily allotment) such that any benefit from the good bacteria is negated by the high sugar content, since unhealthy gut bacteria feed on sugar.  Always choose plain, unsweetened yogurt with live cultures and good bacteria, especially lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus, that fortify your gut and strengthen your digestive tract. Same thing goes with most protein bars. The chemicals, low quality, processed ingredients, artificial ingredients and preservatives make most protein bars a glorified candy bar. Stick with whole food sourced bars or make your own at home!

5) FOOD CRAVINGS MEAN NUTRITIONAL DEFICIENCIES

There is growing evidence that cravings are more times than not the result of lifestyle imbalances, and usually pleasure centered, rather than the result of a nutritional deficiency. For example, cravings for fatty foods mean you lack calcium (just one example of this overpopularized theory). And while cheese or ice cream might be great sources of calcium, collard greens offer even more calcium! With 85% of Americans said to lack essential vitamins, you would anticipate individuals racing for the best sources, but you don’t see everyone rushing to eat broccoli, kale, or collard greens! We are overfed and malnourished in micronutrients, because of our hedonic eating patterns.

6) DIET DRINKS HELP YOU LOSE WEIGHT

No, DIET SODA is actually sabotaging your health and weight loss goals! Soda, diet or not, is addictive! Diet soda hijacks your adrenal glands, giving you a temporary “high.” It lights up the pleasure centers of your brain with its sweet taste. And, since your cells think they are getting calories and fuel (thanks to the synthetic chemical, aspartame’s sweet effect) but no nutrition is provided, so your cells ask for more. Let’s face it, your body will beg you for real nutrition and fuel until you provide… that’s why you cannot stop! Overeating and weight gain are just the start of Diet Soda issues. Your health is at risk too!

7) IT’S EXPENSIVE TO EAT HEALTHY FOODS

Nutrient dense foods appear to be more expensive because groceries are priced per calorie rather than per nutrient. Consider this, a bag of bulgur wheat, a perfect ground beef substitute, costs the same as one pound of ground beef (currently $3.80/pound), yet the bulgur wheat offers LOTS of healing nutrients including vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants with 17 servings (22 cents per serving) versus just 4 servings (95 cents per serving) in a pound of ground beef that offers little to NO healing vitamins, minerals, fiber, or antioxidants! And, “YES,” learning what healthy foods are affordable is also a trick.especially buying bagged produce as well as grains, and seeds in bulk. Want to try Bulgur Wheat? Check out my vegan taco meat, vegan Italian sausage, or Tabouleh salad

8) FATS AND SATURATED FAT MAKE YOU FAT!

Sugar is the real culprit in our diets, not healthy fats! Fats and saturated fats are not the enemy; they are required for energy, to support hormones and weight loss, to modulate brain function, and to protect nerves and cells just to name a few critical functions. Clearly our bodies need fats. but just as the switch from sugary foods to sugar free foods caused individuals to consume larger “doses” of sugar free, food-like substances, low fat foods have enticed us to eat increased simple carbohydrates, which increase overall cholesterol levels and therefore increased risk of heart disease by triggering your liver to create more fat in your blood. In essence, researchers have found it’s the refined carbohydrates that increased saturated fats! Low fat or no fat just doesn’t equate with health and weight loss. Eat healthy fats to lose weight and to stay healthy

9) EATING HEALTHY FOODS IS GOOD ENOUGH

Ideally we would get all nutrients from our foods, but it’s impossible to obtain when put into practice in the Standard American Diet (SAD). Eating real, whole foods from an organic farm with great soil rotation, no chemicals, with an exacting formula to get all the right nutrients in the right quantities all year long is IDEAL but MISSION IMPOSSIBLE, even for the healthiest people! Sadly our crops are not farmed nor provided in the same way as was once enjoyed as recently as 50 years ago. Add to that labeling that misleads around additives, most aren’t eating the quality, quantity and diversity required to stay healthy and to prevent disease. Your body needs nutrient dense foods for a healthy lifestyle, and sometimes that requires supplementation to determine healthy gene expression. 

10) I NEED MY COFFEE TO GET GOING

You don’t NEED coffee to get going every morning! Coffee is a stimulant, not an energy source, and it can be an addictive one too! It “hijacks” your adrenal glands that modulate the stress hormone, acts as a diuretic, causes blood sugar and mood swings, as well as anxiety. The flipside? Coffee is actually a great source of antioxidants and most definitely puts your central nervous system, heart, breathing rate, and overall alertness on its course each morning. However, most coffee drinkers add sugar, cream, and artificial sweeteners, and they drink coffee in large quantities, many times skipping real meals that contain a wide range of nutrients. Stick to one cup of black coffee daily, and eat a real breakfast such as an apple for more sustainable energy! And, if you really need your coffee flavor and comfort, check out Teccino, a roasted herbal tea/coffee substitute!

11) VEGANS CANNOT GET ENOUGH PROTEIN

According to a 2013 study, vegans, vegetarians, and your average “Joe” are eating way more than the minimum required 42 grams of daily protein, which is necessary for everyday functioning. Protein drives our metabolic, digestive, detoxification and immune functions, as well as the synthesis of important happy, calming neurotransmitters such as Gaba and dopamine. Happily, there are plenty of vegan foods that contain high amounts of clean protein, including spirulina, portabella mushrooms, Brussels sprouts, Nutritional Yeast, Asparagus, peas, and quinoa, just to name a few. Consumption of proein isn’t the real issue, truly it’s  a matter of choosing “clean,” plant-based protein!

12) MY FOOD IS SAFE BECAUSE IT’S FDA APPROVED

The FDA actually does not APPROVE your foods! When was the last time you saw an FDA approved sticker on your apple? Instead they simply provide regulations and maintain that the Nutritional Facts panel is present and allow food companies to self-monitor for accuracy and to maintain that “…the substance is not harmful under the intended conditions of use.” A company’s GRAS (Generally Recognized As Safe) determination is made by in -house experts, voluntarily submitted, and can be withdrawn if put into question, ultimately allowing the food manufacturer to add (food-like substances) to your foods at will, without any particular “approval or regulation.” With little regulation over labeling, it pays to become well-versed in label reading!

 13) CLEANSES AND DETOX PROGRAMS CANNOT REMOVE TOXINS

Cleanses and detox diets have become hugely popular with the notion – or promise – of rapid weight loss and better energy. Inherently, when you make dietary changes, you will likely lose weight, have more energy, and feel better. But, fad cleanses that include starvation, living off of liquids, and short term restrictiveness  – in other words, unsustainable, short-term “fixes’ do not remove toxins (neither those that are created in the metabolic process and/nor those that enter your body through breathing, skin, eating, or drinking). And, “yes” when your kidneys and liver receive more toxins than they can transform and excrete, which is certainly the case in our Standard American Diet, the excess toxins are stored throughout your body in soft tissues, bones, and fat.

An effective cleanse or detox removes harmful toxins AND replaces them with anabolically healing nutrients including proper hydration, supplements to encourage proper elimination, eating alkalized, nutrient-dense, anti-inflammatory whole foods as well as detoxifying cruciferous veggies and chelators such as spirulina, chlorella, and wheat grass. Gentle exercise, breathing, and proper rest, and overall nurturing behaviors are at the base of any effective detox. My recommended detox? My Move Back Into Your Body Program!  

14) KETOGENIC DIETS ARE THE BEST WAY TO LOSE WEIGHT

The Ketogenic Diet is an effective way to lose weight, to decrease cravings, to optimize your brain health, hormones, and metabolism, but only when it’s used in a healthy manner and not by picking and choosing the parts you like to implement. And while Keto might seem like a new fad, it’s long term benefits to decrease body mass index, to improve metabolic syndrome, to increase (good) HDL cholesterol/decrease (bad) LDL cholesterol, and to decrease triglycerides have been well researched and noted for nearly 20 years.

The tenets of a ketogenic diet include eating plenty of healthy fats, moderate amounts of protein, and limited carbs, and using intermittent fasting to put your body into a state of ketosis, in which your body uses fat for energy rather than burning sugar. Let’s be clear, this doesn’t give the green light for living off of bacon, cheese, ham, and eggs without regard to vegetable consumption. That formula will eventually hand you a health bill for heart disease and diabetes in the long term. With a ketogenic diet, you might lose some weight just by omitting the sugary and refined-carbohydrate-rich foods , but you cannot look beyond the fact that 7-10 servings of vegetables in particular, will keep you alive and healthy for a longer duration! Complex carbs, such as whole grains, beans, fruits and vegetables are your body’s main sources of fuel as well as providing vital nutrients, fiber, and healing compounds.

An effective Ketogenic diet requires you to check your fad diet practices  at the curb and adopt a longterm commitment to a lifestyle of eating healthy plant-based fats with some animal protein (modest amounts of pastured eggs, chicken, beef, or wild fish), and the beautiful rainbow of nutrient dense veggies and low fructose fruits (berries especially). And, in adopting this lifestyle, that also means also dropping the notion of “on again/off again” plan. The whole point of the Keto diet is moving your body into a state of ketosis and keeping it there, rather than keto during the week and conveniently dropping it for drinks and fun on the weekend. I’m not implying perfection forever, but reaching true ketosis is required before personalizing and learning how to maintain your specific ketogenic lifestyle.

 The bottom line with a Ketogenic Diet or any diet is sustainability, which includes your commitment to and learning how to ease into and use intermittent fasting, another tenet of Keto. with the Ketogenic Diet or any diet, don’t start something you cannot continue. Otherwise, it’s a lesson in failure, frustration, and ultimately negative self-talk, which does nothing for your overall health!

 15) EXERCISING ALLOWS ME TO EAT WHATEVER I WANT!

You unilaterally cannot out-exercise a bad diet. You “burn” calories just sitting around (resting metabolic rate/RMR), therefore you don’t actually “burn” as many calories as you think from exercise. A 30 minutes run will burn approximately 300 calories. But, you would have burned around 40 calories just sitting. So you’re real caloric burn is approx 260 calories. Over the course of the week, that’s nearly 300 less calories burned than what you might have thought and over the course of one year adds up to about 4 pounds!  Do you see how this might cause unintentional sabotage? Counting calories is not effective for health or weight loss (see #16); it’s just one variable, and with such precision required, you can see why caloric restriction fails over time.

16) CUTTING CALORIES LEADS TO WEIGHT LOSS

Energy Balance has ruled the day for too long  with the ENERGY IN -ENERGY OUT = WEIGHT LOSS model. But, if you have dieted and counted calories for any length of time, you’ll know this approach doesn’t work; it’s faulty math and has no consideration for gut health! In a calorie deficit model, you must stay within an 8% increase (only 20 calories!!!) in daily caloric intake to maintain weight. A daily gain of 20 calories will yield a 20 pound gain in 10 years! (20 calories x 365 days x10 years)/3500 calories = 20 pounds! Diets don’t work! They require counting calories and using willpower…and you can only do that for so long anyway! Instead, eat whole, nutritious foods throughout the day. Your cells will be satiated on fewer calories, especially when you include protein and fiber with each meal. 

17) NUTS/NUT BUTTER ARE HEALTHY

Nuts are polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats, which can lower cholesterol and reduce risk of heart disease. Walnuts, in particular, are excellent sources of heart and brain healthy omega 3’s. Harvard researchers found that women who ate a small handful serving about five times a week were 20 percent less likely to develop type 2 diabetes than those who didn’t eat them as often. Nuts are a perfect substitute for healthy fats and protein in a vegan lifestyle. Add to that the fiber satiates to keep you full longer. But, like any food deemed healthy, more isn’t necessarily better, especially since nuts are calorically dense, contain phytates that can interfere with mineral absorption and digestive enzymes, and can become inflammatory when consumed in large quantities. Quantity and proper preparation are key with nut consumption. Many individuals get off course by exceeding the handful serving or the 2 Tbsp serving of nut butters OR by eating nuts that have been roasted and salted. Nuts ideally should be purchased raw and soaked to reap their full nutritional benefit.  Add nuts to your diet, prepare properly, and stick to serving sizes!

18) NATURAL SUGARS ARE HEALTHY

Natural sugar is preferred over refined sugars, however this doesn’t give the green light to go overboard, and especially with natural sweeteners such as honey, maple syrup, or agave syrup. Happily they each have relatively lower glycemic indexes and therefore slower release (of blood sugars and insulin) in the body, but be careful! We think of these natural sweeteners as adding more nutrition, so we use even more of these substances. Ultimately, sugar is sugar, and in excess, sugar is inflammatory and fat!! NATURAL SWEETENERS such as dates, apples, carrots, sweet potatoes, coconut/coconut milk, cinnamon, sweet squash are ideal. These foods help fulfill sweet cravings, typically have a lower glycemic index, and they provide nutritional benefits such as vitamins, fiber, antioxidants, and minerals. Know your sugar limits, and don’t overlook juice and natural sweeteners!

19) SOY IS BAD FOR YOU

Depends! Soy is ultra controversial because of their phytoestrogen compounds, leading us to believe their is a link between soy and (breast) cancer.  This concept came as the result of soy consumption with mice, who consumed large quantities of soy, and whose type A (alpha) estrogen receptor was activated, the same receptor that is associated with breast cancer. There are two types of estrogen receptors in the body—alpha and beta, and studies have shown that beta is actually associated with LOWERED risk of breast cancer! In a 2009 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers suggested “[a]mong women with breast cancer, soy food consumption was significantly associated with decreased risk of death and [breast cancer] recurrence.” The beta receptor activation from soy has an anti-estrogenic effect, inhibiting the growth-promoting effects of actual estrogen. Be careful, however, because most modern soy products contain soy derivatives such as soy isolate and soy flour that were extracted with hexane and aluminum processing. Whether you agree with the optimistic research or not (and there are myriad studies to back the positive findings), please don’t look beyond the fact that soy is one of the top GMO/glyphosate treated crops in our Country. Is you include soy or soy products in your diet, please select only fermented, certified organic and/or nonGMO soy foods.  ** Glyphosate is a named carcinogen and the active ingredient in Roundup** 

20) BONE BROTH IS THE BEST WAY TO HEAL AND SEAL YOUR GUT

Bone broth is one way to heal and seal your gut (think leaky gut syndrome), and it has its very dangerous risks. An unhealthy diet and lifestyle create a compromised “leaky” gut that has large cracks or holes, allowing food, toxins, and bacteria to penetrate the system and leak out into your circulatory system. This causes chronic inflammation and ultimately increases your risk of disease. Healing and sealing the gut is on the minds of many, as it should be with 50% of the population suffering from at least one chronic disease. And so bone broth has been the food of choice, since we know it contains large amounts of collagen and glycine, a protein that supports collagen production. As always, quality matters in bone broth and collagen sourcing! Buyer beware! Testing by the nonprofit Consumer Wellness Center showed eight popular bone broth and collagen products to contain hazardous contaminants (think lead, antibiotics, prescription drugs/byproducts, steroids, insecticides and parabens), and unfortunately bone broth from organic chickens was not exempt from contaminants. Play it safe with gut health! Boost your collagen with added vitamin C (berries, bell peppers, broccoli, garlic, cauliflower, dark, leafy greens), ginseng, aloe vera, spirulina, a blue-green algae. One single teaspoon of spirulina from my daily, organic Power Shake contains more collagen promoting glycine and proline than a large egg white!