Sunday, July 18, 2010

High Fructose Corn Syrup is the Devil! (or just really bad)

I haven't spent alot of time on my blog here discussing food.  I talk about eating better but haven't officially defined for waiting eyes out there exactly what I eat and how it has helped me lose weight.

Wish I could tell you I read one book and that fixed my diet right up.  It wasn't that easy.  In fact, I shouldn't be speaking in past tense because my diet is constantly molding and changing based on new things I learn about food and about how my body reacts to food.  Tonight I will attempt to take you through the food journey with me and then will end with telling you what I eat regularly and what I won't ever eat regularly again.

First, you should know that I used to have a torrid love affair with the following foods: french fries (any kind), fried chicken sandwiches, anything chocolate or really anything sweet, stuffed crust pizza, etc.  Pretty much if it was bad for me or "mostly brown" I liked it.  When I say "mostly brown" I'm describing the foods that you usually see at fast food restaurants.  The plate is entirely tan or brown.  There is no color.  I've learned that the absence of color also means the absence of nutrition in most cases.  I also drank about 2-5 diet cokes each day - and that was pretty much it.  I didn't believe in drinking calories, so that is all I drank.  No water.  Let me also remind you that I felt sick all the time back then.  Always having indigestion, always thinking I was hungry, and always nervous that even after a large plate of food I might still be hungry.  Part of me actually worried that I might never eat again.  Completely irrational but drove me to eat way too much.

I quit diet cokes and thus caffeine cold turkey.  That was not a pretty week.  Lots of headaches.  But once they subsided and I was well hydrated (started drinking a ton of water) I felt really good.  I've had caffeine two times in the last year.  Didn't really have an affect on me - and I lived to tell about it, but won't ever be a regular part of my diet again.

So I decided to eat less fried food at first.  I cut out fries altogether unless I really liked the fries somewhere.  That was pretty easy.  I would still eat the fried chicken sandwich but would have vegetables, a salad or fruit with it.  Eventually I went to grilled - mainly because I started really tasting the grease in the foods I was eating.  It's almost as if my taste buds kind of "woke up" again and I could enjoy flavor of foods - the flavor nature gave them - and not from a dipping sauce covering the fried whatever.

I've gone completely whole grain.  If the bread is white I will likely not eat it - or more than a bite of it (unless its a yeast roll, and that is rare).  My pasta is also whole grain now as well.  I grew up on wheat bread so this wasn't too difficult a change for me.  Brown rice of course.  And whole wheat flour only.

I added lots of green to my diet.  Fresh spinach is a staple in my house - we always have a bag or box of it and I eat a spinach salad with my dinner every night or as my dinner (like tonight for example).  In my salads, I stopped using "fat free" dressings like I thought I had to in order to really be on a "diet."  Now, I don't eat the most fattening kind like ceasar dressing, but I found a light honey mustard I like, or I use less of a full fat dressing.  I don't bathe it in dressing, I just use enough to add some flavor.  I always add crumbled feta cheese and craisins too, and almonds if I have some and am not having meat that night.

I also have grown to love asparagus, broccoli and brussel sprouts, fresh of course (no canned).  I found ways and recipes to cook them that made all the difference for me.  More green.  :)

Reading more about super foods, I learned what they were and tried to add them to my daily intake.  There are so many great and delicious foods out there that I always avoided as I classified them as "diet" food, when really, they are incredibly satisfying, flavorful and good for me.  There's such a difference in how I view a diet now - I am not on a diet, but my diet, i.e., what I eat, has radically changed - enough so that I've lost 60 pounds.  I like that I haven't had to starve to do that.  :)  Here is a list of superfoods to get you started - just google it and you'll find more info than you have time to read.  :)  Really, just remembering that if its dark green or orange its probably good is a good start.

I eat sweet potatoes more than I eat regular potatoes.  I found some great ways to roast them, and prepare them the traditional way but using honey to sweeten instead of sugar.

I stopped drinking cows milk - and this one you will laugh at - because I'm not a cow.  :)  I tried vanilla soy milk for awhile and liked that - then I found almond milk and I'm in love!  It tastes amazing and is incredibly good for you.

I try to use honey instead of syrup - or I use pure maple syrup instead of any kind with high fructose corn syrup.  So here I go, into my rant about that.  Alot of things are OK in moderation - but I keep finding HFCS in everything!  In whole grain bread, just about anything sweet.  Its frustrating - because this ingredient "can lead to obesity" - well, duh, you eat more calories you gain weight, right?  Since corn is subsidized by the government, it is amazing how HFCS finds its way into a LOT of food.  Just check the lables in your pantry - you will be as surprised as I was.  Do I avoid it completely?  No way.  But I try to limit it. 

What is interesting is I found myself going into "diet mode" pretty early on in this journey.  I was starting to eat low fat this and "fake" sugar in pudding and yogurt.  But I didn't feel really good.  In fact, I went awhile avoiding fake sugar - not really on purpose, I just had decided to get off of my yogurt kick for awhile - and one night I had a dessert prepared with splenda and a big glass of diet juice.  I had my first migraine in 10 months that night.  Coincidence?  I doubt it.

So I am completely over the diet food.  :)  And if it contains fake sugar of some sort I'm over that too.  Fried food for the most part makes me nauseated.  So I'm over that too.

When I eat out I can almost always find something healthy.  But sometimes I want chicken nachos - and I eat them.  And I might "pay for it" later but I enjoy it.  Though well prepared nachos don't have to be terrible for you, cheese, beans, sour cream.  In moderation.  Sometimes I have a cheeseburger (usually not a fast food one, a real one) and I enjoy every bit of it.  Most of the time I eat a grilled chicken sandwich and steamed broccoli.  And I am a happy camper.

I don't do buffets - why would I?  I never eat more than a plate of food anyway.

Snacks - I eat dry roasted almonds - a handful a day usually on a hungry day.  Cheese sticks and triscuits or other whole grain crackers.  Dried plums - yes, I mean prunes and they have a bad reputation but aren't at all like their bad rep.  They are very yummy and satisfy a sweet tooth just fine too.  I also snack on fruit, like apples, bananas, cherries, strawberries.

I love a peanut butter and jelly sandwich on whole grain bread.  Oh - and peanut butter I switched to using Skippy all natural peanut butter.  Only four ingredients.

That is one of my "food rules."  If there are 3 or more ingredients in it that I cannot pronounce easily, it is reaching "fake food" status and I'll probably turn my nose up at it.  If there are more than 3 ingredients overall, I also may avoid it.  I just don't want preservatives and neither does my body.

Please realize that I eat plenty.  I average around 1600 calories a day and 60 grams of fat.  I used to try to eat less than 20 grams of fat in my diet - and that is just not enough.  Good fat isn't the enemy.  Useless fat is.  I'm losing weight successfully because I am fueling my body appropriately.

Oh - and my favorite breakfast cereal is Kashi granola - the honey almond flax variety.  Most mornings I add a tablespoon of semi-sweet chocolate chips to it.  Don't hate.  Its yummy and satisfying.  And dark chocolate is on the superfood list.

So this was kind of an all over the place nutrition post but here it is.  I'm not overly scientific, don't have tons of data to dump on you, but I have almost a year of experience in losing weight successfully and that has to count for something.

Hope you enjoyed it - have questions about food I eat or foods I've tried?  Ask.  I love talking about this stuff.  It has literally saved my life so that makes it kind of a big deal.  :)


1 comment:

Jenny Highlander said...

Good stuff Clara! I read a great book that changed my view on food completely - Intuitive Eating and it echos a lot of what you're saying here. It really helped me to focus on whether or not I was really hungry and if so, what did my body want to eat. That includes sweet potato french fries on occasion, no need to deprive myself of the things I love :) Anyway, I gave up "dieting" three years ago. Keep up the good work, I enjoy watching your transformation.