Many people scoff at the thought of having to ‘clean their diet’. (Again, not a fan of the word ‘diet’, prefer to use nutrition or food sources). It sounds exhausting and as if it would involve a lot of kale and brussel sprouts? If you’re seeking to clean your lifestyle and eat 100% raw, then yes, your food sources will involve fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts, legumes, etc. However, there are very easy switches you can make to your food on a daily basis to eat clean, and you will feel better instantly. I took a walk into the grocery store and snapped photos of food we eat every, such as yogurt, bread, and oatmeal. Take a look at how easy it is to make the swap. When selecting packaged foods, you should know what every single ingredient is, as well as its purpose in your food. That implies that you can pronounce it as well. Don’t know? Take the time to learn and educate yourself about proper nutrition. Your body is a vessel and will do whatever you make it do, and will perform according to however you feed it. So feed it right!
Let’s start with oatmeal. Now if you don’t have time for steel cut oats, or even making oats from scratch in the morning, you may turn to instant oatmeal. No big deal, until you get to the grocery aisle and find 10 different choices. Think about what ingredients should be in your instant oatmeal. Sugar? The one on the left still has artificial flavors but at least the second ingredient is not sugar. Don’t forget sucralose is also a form of sugar. So the box on the right is getting a double dose, even though it says “lower sugar”.
Instant Oatmeal. Easy to miss this one, you assume Quaker is the best so you grab it but you’re also grabbing extra sugar where you don’t need it.
Yogurt. Here I’ve compared two versions of Greek yogurt. The market for it is really hot, so brands will add fruit and flavors to entice you. Greek yogurt is essentially a thicker yogurt, due to the method of straining which removes whey and results in a consistency somewhere between cheese and yogurt. Some brands will add thickeners in lieu of, or in addition to straining to attain the desired thickness. Every brand has its own trade secret / method of straining so beware of ingredients — you shouldn’t see a long list for yogurt, just the necessary probiotics. Also, strained yogurt claims to have twice the amount of protein than regular yogurt, so always check to make sure that is the case.
Chobani Greek Yogurt vs. Dannon Greek Yogurt
The photo to the left is Chobani, arguably my favorite brand. (And yes I’ve visited the #Chobani store in Soho..many times.. You have to go!) To the right is a competitor, Dannon. Both were the strawberry ‘flavor’, both had roughly 11 or 12 grams of protein. I was really surprised to find corn starch and carmine in the Dannon brand of Greek yogurt. I thought yogurts had moved beyond adding carmine. What’s carmine, you ask? It’s also known as Natural Red #4, and is a dye that is extracted from boiling a batch of cochineal insects. A vegetarian’s nightmare! Hence when you see ANYTHING that is pink or red, you should ask yourself, what is creating this color? Sometimes you will find ‘beet juice’, others, carmine. Beware. You don’t need carmine in your daily dose of Greek yogurt, this much I know for sure.
And for the finale, check out 100% whole wheat bread. I absolutely detest the bread aisle because there are dozens of choices, all touting 100% whole wheat, or whole grain, yet you will inevitably find brands that sneak in high fructose corn syrup. Or they will use enriched flour. If the first ingredient is not whole wheat flour, then it’s not good enough for you. Wheat is not white, it is brown, and enriched with sugars to form white bread (pasta, cereal, etc). Stay away from enriched flours in general.
Whole Wheat vs. Whole Wheat
The brand on top is Brownberry, whole wheat flour is the first ingredient. They bolded it to make sure you notice it. There is no HFCS in this bread. The other brand is Butternut. While the first ingredient here is 100% whole grain whole wheat flour, corn syrup and several dough conditioners are also added. Both seem decent when you examine the packaging, but taking the extra second to check the label and weed out the one that has HFCS is the step you need to take when eating clean.
I could have photographed so much more: pretzels, ketchup, cereals, soups, etc to show you how easy it is to make the healthier, cleaner swap. Select foods with ingredients you can pronounce, or sources you are aware of. Don’t be fooled by packaging – READ everything.