Spring Cleaning FAQ

Food is under assault by industry and nutrition science, who think they can improve on the foods we’ve had for hundreds of thousands of years. My contention is, they can’t.
 - Michael Pollan

 

-WHAT DO YOU DEFINE AS PROCESSED?

     If you want to get really technical, even cooking is a form of processing your food, so we're saying that we're not going to eat "highly processed foods".  Your food should contain less than 5 ingredients - all pronounceable ingredients - or better yet, no ingredients listed at all because they’re totally natural and unprocessed.  Another good litmus test is that it should be something that could reasonably be made in someone's kitchen.  The more processed it is, the more careful of it we should be. Example: you could reasonably make almond butter by putting whole almonds in a Vitamix for a few minutes, so this is ok for you to buy at the store. However, that processing makes almonds way easier to eat and more addictive (who could eat almond butter by the spoonfuls?), so just be careful, particularly if you're trying to lean out.

 

For further reading:  In Defense of Food and Food Rules  by Michael Pollan

 

-CAN I EAT DAIRY? IS DAIRY PROCESSED?

     Are you sticking your mouth under a cow's udder? If not, then technically yes, it has gone through some processing...which inherently changes the chemical makeup of the food and therefore alters how you body interacts with it and processes it (most commonly, the processing of pasteurization). 

     Another point worth touching on is that many people don't actually digest dairy well in their bodies, but it's not so bad as to cause major health problems so they never bother to cut it out...but you may find that little problems go away (particularly acne or skin problems) and you digest food better.  So even if you're skeptical, it's worth a shot to eliminate dairy and give your body a chance to respond.  If you need to read more on both sides, click here.

 

-IS RICE PROCESSED?  WHAT ABOUT GRAINS?

     We're going stick to the minimally processed versions, so highly processed white rice or instant oatmeal packets are a no-go. Buy brown rice or whole rolled oats in the bulk section (or quinoa, bulgar, etc). If your goal is to lean down, try to keep those to a minimum.  Also, if you feel like you may be experiencing inflammation because of grains, better to steer away from them in general and get starches from squash, sweet potatoes, etc.

 

-how big is a cup of coffee? can i drink decaf?

     We're not going to be super specific on "size" - be your own judge.  This whole challenge is for your own good, anyway.  Decaf won't count against you as another cup, but think about drinking tea or hot water with lemon instead.  Your goal is not to be so mentally dependent on coffee!

 

-IS PROTEIN POWDER OKAY?

 Can you make it your kitchen? Nope.  Add an egg white to your smoothie if you want an extra boost.  Just because a nutrient is on a label doesn't mean that your body can actually assimilate and absorb it.  If you are eating a lot of vegetables and whole food, you are more than likely getting enough protein!

 

-CAN I HAVE SALT?

     If you are adding salt to your meal, that's fine!  You should herbs, salt, and other spices to make your food tasty and enjoyable to eat.  If you are concerned about sodium, keep in mind that for most people, three quarters of sodium intake comes from processed foods, and usually 20-25 percent is from salting our food.  So if you are buying something processed - tomato paste, butternut squash soup, etc - check the ingredients to make sure they haven't added a ton of salt.  Better yet, make the soup yourself!

 

-WHAT ABOUT NATURAL SUGARS LIKE HONEY, MAPLE SYRUP, OR AGAVE?

     -We're going to stay away from these. These are still sugar, and sugar can wreak havoc on our brains and emotions, not to mention the stress it puts on the body.  Honey is generally the best option, but for 30 days, we're saying no to all forms of sugar!  (This includes stevia packets, xylitol, etc.)

 

-Well what CAN I eat?

ENDLESS variety of vegetables and fruits! Have fun and buy produce you haven't tried before.  This isn't about restriction, but about re-training our taste buds to desire things that actual nourish us rather than break our bodies down!