Hey there Rockin Fit Nommers! How did you all do with Baby Step I?! Did you Identify Your Mantra?! If you haven’t already, please stop reading this next step and make sure to go back and start with the first. I think it is so important.
For those of you who have already identified a strong reason for going paleo (or just getting healthier) here is step two:
“Ditch the Big No No’s”
These are things I would tell ANYONE to avoid (Paleo principles aside) at all times. They are man-made “foods” that nature NEVER intended for us to consume. They should be ditched ASAP and avoided as much as possible.
1) Ditch Man Made & Seed Oils
AVOID: Margarine, Butterly Spreads, Canola Oil, Vegetable Oil, Soybean Oil, & more (see guide linked to below).
I know you’ve been told that “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter!” is better for you than real butter, but it is NOT. Real butter is real food. Fake butter is fake food. I could just end it there, but for those of you who need more details, keep reading…
The science-y reason for why man-mad fats are not as good for us as we have been told is because they are highly unstable and inflammatory. Unstable fats are easily oxidized, and as I briefly mentioned in this post, oxidation is what we are protecting/repairing with all those anti-oxidant super foods! These oxidized and damaged fats are also highly inflammatory and inflammation is unfortunately the cause of MANY more diseases and health issues. The paleo diet is meant to reduce or completely avoid causing inflammation in the body.
Stable and undamaged fats, however, are critical for health. Our body’s cell membranes, and most of our brains, are made up of fat – so we need to provide our body with enough to keep those cells happy and healthy. We also need fat for energy and to be able to absorb fat soluble vitamins (A, D, E & K). So I am by NO MEANS telling you to ditch fat completely! Your body NEEDS FAT. It just does NOT need the unstable and damaged kind.
USE: Olive Oil, Coconut Oil, Ghee, Grass Fed Butter (Kerrygold, Smorj, Culture Valley)
Important Note: Heat, light and oxygen are the three things that damage fats – which is why it is important to still use the good fats I’ve listed properly. This Balanced Bites post has a great chart with smoke points of fats and oils. It is important to not heat fats and oils ABOVE their smoke points. In other words, do not roast vegetables with olive oil – roast them with refined coconut oil or ghee.
CHECK OUT/PRINT: Balanced Bites Guide to Fats
Additional Note: Unfortunately most restaurants cook with man made/seed oils. If you limit your dining out and do not ever use any of these oils at home, I say its OK. I still occasionally go out to eat and buy pre-made food from Whole Foods, that are sadly cooked in canola oil. Just make sure to limit your exposure to these oils and you should be just fine in the long run. Also watch out for these oils in other products such as Tuna, Boxed Soups and anything packed in oil.
2) Ditch Chemical & Refined Sweeteners
AVOID: High Fructose Corn Syrup, Splenda, Equal, Sweet & Low, Bleached Stevia (Truvia)
I would hope that merely reading the words “chemical” and “refined” would give you enough reason to stop shaking that Splenda packet into your coffee every morning, but I know most of us need a bit more convincing.
So point #1 is that artificial sweeteners are anywhere from 200-700 times sweeter than regular table sugar! (Yikes). Our taste buds and brains get used to that super sweetness and desensitized to the natural sweetness of natural foods we eat, such as fruits and vegetables. (I kid you not, whenever I do a round of The 21-Day Sugar Detox baby carrots start tasting sweet to me).
Aside from changing how our brains react to sweetness, artificial sweeteners have been shown to reduce good bacteria in the gut, stimulate appetite and, worst of all, cause a list of neurological symptoms such as headaches, mood changes and “fuzzy” thinking. Does any of that sound good!? I hope not…
But what about one of the most common ingredients found in processed foods, high fructose corn syrup? I swear if I had a nickle for every time I read HFCS on a label, I’d be loaded. So what’s bad about it? It comes from corn, right? Corn is natural? The problem comes from its chemical make up, more specifically its chemical bonds (or lack there of). There is no chemical bond between the fructose and glucose in HFCS, unlike regular sugar. This means that both the fructose and glucose are rapidly absorbed by the body, and anytime sugars or carbohydrates are rapidly absorbed it leads to a blood sugar spike. Why is that bad? Because blood sugar spikes cause a lot of insulin to be released (to lower blood sugar) and repeated blood sugar spikes over time can lead to insulin sensitivity – which means your body literally does not respond to it anymore. (Not good!) We need a healthy insulin response to maintain healthy blood sugar levels and avoid developing diabetes.
USE: Green Stevia (or Stevia extract), Honey, Maple Syrup
Additional Note: Unfortunately, avoiding refined and artificial sweeteners also means that you should avoid soda and anything “sugar free” (which will most likely contain an artificial sweetener) such as GUM. Sad news, I know. Check your condiments – chances are they all have HFCS of some sort of syrup in them! You can find “clean” condiments, just read ingredients! Helpful fact: Whole Foods CANNOT carry products with artificial sweeteners in them, so you are safe shopping for anything there!
CHECK OUT/PRINT: Balanced Bites Guide to Sweeteners
What do you think, will you be able to take this baby step by cutting these franken-foods out of your diet?!
Mark’s Daily Apple on Artificial Sweeteners
How Stuff Works: Artificial Sweeteners
Weston A. Price “Know Your Fats”
Mark’s Daily Apple on Canola Oil
How It’s Made: Canola Oil
Balanced Bites on Safe Cooking Fats
Balanced Bites Nutrition Seminar
It Starts with Food
Your Personal Paleo Code