You’ve been lied to. Tricked and cheated by “food,” or what you thought was food. You’ve been told food was food when it wasn’t, or worse, been told to believe healthy, essential nutrients were bad for you.
To change that, let’s debunk a few food myths so you can make the switch to a whole-foods, high-functioning lifestyle to help you along your weight loss surgery journey. One little switch at a time can act as the stepping stones towards your goal weight and energy level.
Now, let’s talk about food. In particular, sugars, fats and complex carbs.
It’s time to break up with sugar.
When you eat sugar, especially the processed sugar in store-bought candy, it enters your bloodstream very quickly. Think about it as the infamous sugar rush you get as a result. The hormone insulin is released to essentially soak it up. Your body then stores what it can’t use immediately as fat cells. Almost as quick as you felt the sugar rush, sugar leaves your body, leaving you feeling tired and longing for a nap, or worse: fake hungry. That’s right, consuming sugar can actually block the natural functions in your body that tell you when you’re full, which is why it is so easy to binge on sugar because you never actually feel full or feel hungry again shortly after consumption.
Now, here’s the tricky part; sugar is in almost everything. But, there is some friendlier, naturally occurring sugar out there like glucose and fructose that won’t have such a negative impact on you in your pursuit for a healthier life. Glucose is found in starches and carbohydrates and is an important source of energy in cell function and regulating metabolism. Fructose is fruit sugar. It can also be found in honey and syrups. When that inevitable sugar craving comes along, and neglecting your sweet tooth isn’t an option, reach for some fruit.
As we know, avoiding sugar entirely is almost impossible. And sometimes, we can be tricked by a food that is labeled “healthy” but can really be loaded with hidden sugars. That’s why we’ve done the work for you and listed a few simple swaps you can make right now:
Making The Switch
Salad dressings to oils and vinegars
Yogurt with fruit at the bottom to plain yogurt with natural fruit you’ve added yourself and a bit of honey
Flavored oatmeal to plain oatmeal with fruit and nuts you’ve added yourself
Sugary drinks and flavored waters to water you’ve infused with fruits, lemons or cucumbers you’ve added yourself
Fats, fats, fats, glorious fats! We’re talking about those essential fatty acids that keep you not only looking the part with strong hair and healthy skin, but feeling great as well by supporting organ function, especially your brain and liver. Many vitamins our bodies absorb from our food are fat soluble, meaning they can be dissolved and absorbed into our bodies only when paired with healthy fats.
In the 1980s, fat got a bad rap and has been struggling to recover ever since. Almost every “diet” you saw on the market was low-fat this or low-fat that, when in reality, they were just sugary wolves in a “healthy” sheep’s clothing. Essentially, the calories lost from fat in these items were just replaced by sugar. Trans fats are man-made fats created by injecting hydrogen molecules into vegetable oil to create a product that will never spoil. Margarine is an example of a trans fat that is often used in fast foods and processed foods like store bought cookies, chips and cakes. Think of trans fat as the monsters in your closet or the boogie man under your bed.
Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s get back to the fats we love: unsaturated fats. Unsaturated fats such as olive oil, avocados and nuts have diverse benefits for our bodies, including muscle protection, helping blood to clot, maintaining healthy cholesterol levels and regulating blood sugar. Omega-3 fatty acids are unsaturated fats that protect against heart disease and promote brain function. These essential fatty acids can be found in fish like salmon and tuna.
There are over 20 different kinds of saturated fats. Not all are bad, but it is important to be mindful of saturated fats and limit them when you can. Saturated fats can be found in things like a juicy burger or lamb chop, and dairy products like milk and cheese. You can still gain some nutrients from these foods, but just keep in mind they should be limited.
Making the Switch
A few more benefits of fats…
• Enhances flavors
• Keeps you fuller longer
• Keeps you energized throughout the day
Below are a few more healthy fats to add to your repertoire. Remember fats are great, and even better in moderation:
• Olive oil
• Grape seed oil
• Canola oil
• Nuts and seeds (walnuts, almonds, pistachios)
• Natural nut and seed butters
• Dark chocolate (cocoa 70% or higher)
• Soy beans
• Chia seeds
3. Complex Carbs
Not all carbs are created equal. They can either present you with a lasting source of fuel your body can use as energy throughout the day, or leave your feeling tired, mentally clouded or even still hungry. To better understand the difference, let’s get into what a whole grain actually is.
A whole grain is a seed from a plant, the whole seed, with nothing added or subtracted. There are three main parts to a seed: the endosperm, the bran and the germ. Most of the nutrients are concentrated in the bran and the germ. The bran is rich in fiber while the germ carries things like iron and B vitamins. The endosperm contains the starches.
Refined grains, like the white flour a lot of the big food company types use in their pastas, cookies and breads to produce mass quantities of product inexpensively, are grains that have sadly been stripped of any and all nutrients. Whole grains and refined grains start their life in the same way, as whole seeds. However, in refined grains, the whole seed is processed in a way that removes the bran and the germ, leaving only the starchy endosperm.
Let’s review: the bran and the germ contain a lot of the nutrients that are essential for many of our body’s major functions like nervous system activity or, proper digestion, and act as a fuel source for our muscles and red blood cells. These essential nutrients are given the boot to create these refined grains. That means that all that is left is the almost nutrient-less endosperm which is also usually bleached white to create what we know as white flour. Some nutrition is injected back into these grains to try and replace its original goodness. Yuck.
Complex carbs, or whole grains, can add a whole new dimension of delicious nutrition to your grocery list and your meals, and can help support a healthy, active and energetic lifestyle. Below are a few examples of foods containing complex carbs to pick up on your next trip to the grocery store:
Making the Switch
• Sweet Potatoes
• Quinoa (not as difficult to make as you might think, and there are even precooked options out there that can be popped in the microwave for 90 seconds and voila!)
• Brown rice
• Steel-cut oats
• Black beans
• Pinto beans
• Brown rice pasta
• Whole wheat pasta
It’s time to take back control of your journey towards your goal of a healthier lifestyle. It’s difficult to get it right every time, and that’s okay! It’s a process. You may burn a few new dishes you’re trying out, or maybe you just plain old don’t like the taste of something. Your weightloss journey is about constantly trying new things to see what works best for you and your body. The most important thing is that you are aware of these whole foods. Then you can begin to make these easy switches from “food” to food. Because food can work with you, not against you!
We will be launching a series of recipe guides including many of these delicious, whole foods in the coming weeks. So be on the lookout!
Have a specific recipe in mind that you would like to know how to make with whole food substitutes? Tell us in the comments, and we will include it in our recipe lineup!