12 Deceptive Food Tricks

5.0.2It’s a new year – and yes, I’m late on that news, BUT, I thought I would go ahead and jump up on my soapbox to kick it off properly. I know, you’ve been waiting with bated breath.

For some of you real food nerds, this post will regurgitate all of the info you already know, but you should still scroll through and look at the pictures (and maybe even poke a little fun at the companies)!

For others of you, it will shed a little light on some things you’ve already suspected (you can probably stick to bold, highlighted, numbered points and look at the pictures).

And then there are others of you that are really new to this real food journey that need to read every last word, look at the pictures and read ALL of the captions and at the end of it, you will be sitting back in your chair, hands grasping the arms of said chair, gasping for air. Nah, I’m kidding…it’s not one of those, but it might make you a little mad. And you should be..it’s ridiculous.

So, without further adieu I give you…12 Deceptive Food Tricks

Written by Amy Pino

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The Post Where I Ruin Your Life: Pt 2

SugarI know, I have some nerve posting a follow up to a sensitive topic the week of Thanksgiving – Call me gutsy…or stupid…I’ve done a fairly good job at both. But enough about me! Let’s get back to talking about evils of sugar the week of Thanksgiving (mind still reeling? Yeah, me too!)! Anywho, I was asked, by a reader to talk about how we make this low sugar thing work with our kids. My quick answer: they don’t have another option. Ok, that’s trite and I won’t pretend like it doesn’t take work. Let’s face it, it is shoved, yes, shoved in their faces EVERYWHERE: Schools, church, Grandma’s house, their best friend’s house, every event you will ever go to, grocery stores, TV, and don’t even get me started on checkout lines!!! Even my beloved Whole Foods has some sort of chocolate treat at the checkout counter, although it is usually one kind and out of reach of the kids…which I appreciate. So how do kids survive on a low sugar diet?

Of course, the best way is to just not introduce it to them. I’m not even a little bit joking. It can be done. Don’t start them out eating it. That’s what I have done with my youngest. However, I know that most of us are already waist deep in this and are now learning and trying to backpedal. I get that! I was not as strict with my oldest as I have been with the other two; I didn’t know. And that’s ok. This isn’t to guilt you for choices you’ve made up to this point. It’s to give you the information and hopefully arm you with some other options so that you can make informed and better choices in the future.

So here’s what we do: We have talked and continue to talk and educate our kids about what we eat, where it comes from, how it’s made, what’s in it, whether it nourishes our bodies, what junk food it, why we choose to eat mindfully, etc. And they ask questions. We don’t read food labels with them yet. Our oldest is 6 and is probably ready for that, but the others aren’t yet. When we have something sweet, it is usually on the weekend or maybe a special event. Very occasionally, I will make something at home for dessert, but you can bet it will be made with maple syrup, raw honey or coconut palm sugar or we will have fruit for dessert.

Ok, so this is where it’s going to get a little awkward, but here we go: We don’t give carte blanche on fruit and we only occasionally give watered down juice (like 80% water, 20% juice). What?!? Yeah, we’re mean. We have one or two pieces of fruit a day, but juice is mind boggling to me. Have you ever looked at the grams of sugar in a cup of juice? Usually somewhere between 30-40g. It takes around 4 apples to make a cup of juice and yet we wouldn’t sit around and eat 4 apples in one sitting, but we will throw back a cup of juice. Why? Juice has the skin, pulp and henceforth, the fiber removed from it, so it is essentially concentrated sugar. Wait, isn’t fruit sugar ok for you? Not in that amount, friends. I also try to make sure they are getting a good balance of fats and proteins so we aren’t just filling up on carbs and sugar. Eggs are a staple here, avocados go in their smoothies, coconut oil or grass fed butter in their soaked oatmeal, etc. I try to find as many ways as I can to cut back on sugar in recipes and we use an organic liquid stevia (I feel like if I can grow it in my backyard and make it into a tincture like the liquid stevia, it’s pure and safe.) to help with that, but I still try not to make things taste so sweet. I think when you get used to so much sweetness in everything, you want it even more…in everything.

I want to challenge you to take 1 day and simply add up the grams of sugar in yours and/or your child’s diet. Eat what you “normally” eat and see where you land. I think it will really surprise you, even if you don’t eat “sweets.” I think, though it’s really, really hard at first, we have to retrain our taste buds. It really can be done! It’s amazing when you cut out excess sugars how much more you can taste your food and how sweet desserts (or fruit even) will taste to you when you try to eat them. You will be satisfied with so much less and you notice such a difference in the way you feel and likely, in your weight as well.

If you’re looking for recipes, I’m a terrible person to ask – I rarely follow one. I frustrate the life out of my family and friends because I can never give amounts on anything when asked for a recipe – It just has to taste right, people! However, I do have a nice little recipe collection on Pinterest (not my own recipes for previously stated reasons), so “Follow Me” there and pin your little heart out! And dare I say, Happy Thanksgiving!

Written by Amy Pino

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The Post Where I Ruin Your Life

SugarC’mon, we both knew this day would come. You’ve been dreading it and I’ve been, well, not dreading it, but we knew it would come. Why you ask? Because it must be said…I cannot let you live your life and not know the real truth. But I will warn you, it’s ugly. So here it goes…Sugar is bad for you. Um, Amy, we know that. No, I mean like really, really, horrifically bad! Deep breaths, you’re going to make it through this…I’ve been there, trust me!

See here’s the thing: we say sugar is bad for you and then we go on eating it in blissful ignorance, never really defining bad. And because we don’t define HOW bad it is, we keep eating it…like a lot of it. But Amy, I eat sugar “in moderation!” Yes, I’m sure you do, but here’s the thing: The average American eats around 150 pounds of sugar a year…A YEAR!!! That’s somewhere in the vicinity of 3/4 of a cup a day. Um, Houston we have a problem! So maybe you’re not the average American, but I’m kind-of convinced at this point that none of us know what moderation actually means. (Hint: it isn’t everyday…I’ll give you a moment to recover.)

To give you a comparison, in the 1820’s, each person consumed around 4 pounds of sugar a year (this is “added sugar” not like fruits and vegetables). Even if you aren’t a candy bars and soda kind of person, you are likely still consuming WAAAAYYY more sugar than you would ever guess with the hidden sugars in our food (yogurt, cereal, pasta sauce, salad dressing, juice, etc). So what I’m attempting to do for you is define “bad.” How bad is it really? Lucky for you, I’ve linked a few articles to this so you can see for yourself (also because I feel no need to rewrite something when someone else already did a fantastic job of it). :)

So, go grab your favorite sugar laden Starbucks beverage -it may be the last one you enjoy in blissful ignorance ;), read these and then, do something about it.

– The Really Long Sciency One: Read it!

– The Really Long, Less Conclusive, But Scary Enough One: Read it!

– The Non-Peer Reviewed But Good Overview One (not too long): Read it!

Written by Amy Pino

UPDATE: Read part two of this post: Click Here

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Real Food: My Journey

IMG_1687I’m a Real Food nerd.  As in the glasses wearing, up late at night, armed with my laptop and cup of herbal tea, researching to my heart’s delight, kind of nerd.  A “crazy hippie” as my family has lovingly named me.  And I truly love talking about and helping others; on their own health journey; but that’s just what it is…a journey.  I didn’t wake up one morning and decide that I was only ever eating organic vegetables and grass fed meat for the rest of time….ok, well maybe after a Ben and Jerry’s binge once or twice,  but that wore off the next morning…at breakfast.  I truly admire you people who can make good health decisions before the crisis happens; I’m just not one of you.  It’s my stubborn streak, I suppose – the force runs strong in our family.  No, for me it took several “incurable” health crises to rethink things and make adjustments.  And for so long, they weren’t even permanent adjustments.  I would go back and forth with my diet, hoping that something had changed and I could go back to my beloved processed, sugar-laden, refined carb rich diet.  We had been so good together for so long!  Why God, why?!?  And then I had enough.

I was in pain.  I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia at 17 and the flare ups were wretched.  I was sick all of the time to the point my Dr. told me I really couldn’t take any more antibiotics for awhile.  My immune system was wrecked.  Then the digestive issues, food intolerances, etc started.  After going back and forth with my diet for several years, I was done.  I was done with the drugs masking the issue; I was done with my stomach being in almost constant pain and distended to the point I looked 4 or 5 months pregnant every time I ate.  I was done with the numbness and stabbing pain down my legs every time I had a flare up.  So, I finally submitted to the journey and I can honestly tell you I’m not sorry.  The fibromyalgia flare ups stopped…it’s been at least 8 years since I had one.  I still have stomach issues, but they are so much better today because I know my food triggers.  I don’t take any medication and I haven’t been sick in years.

My dietary challenges made me pull back from the food world I was used to and made me really start taking a good look at what was in my food.  I’ll admit that at first I was just trying to swap out my box of processed sugar cereal for an organic or gluten free box of…well…processed sugar cereal.  And I did that for awhile, but one day I realized that even the ingredients in my gluten free foods read as much like a chemistry experiment as the standard box did.  Ingredients I couldn’t pronounce and when I looked up what some of those ingredients even were, they were used to manufacture non-food items.  Um, what was I eating and why on earth was I eating it? What was in my food anyways?  How was it being produced?  Where was it even coming from?  Why was food making people so sick?  So many questions, so much research…enter my inner nerd.  My husband and I watched Food, Inc. one evening and it was like being freed from the Matrix!  It was like the exclamation point to all of my own research.

It’s where my food world intersected with Intention.  I began researching everything I could about ingredients and searching for what truly healthy food looked like.  Not “Low Fat” or “Fat Free” or “Sugar Free” “Low Calorie” food, but food that would nourish my body; food that didn’t make me feel bad.  There is soooooo much information our there on what to eat, not eat, etc and everyone has a different opinion.  It’s actually pretty overwhelming.  And there’s “research” for all of it.  And I’ve probably tried most of it.  It’s maddening and completely confusing and who has time for that?  I have a life to live and I don’t want it revolving around food- it had for so long!  So I came up with a couple of “basic principles” if you will, of healthy eating to help cut through all of the craziness. Hopefully they help you too!

1) If God made it, you can eat it.  Question all substitutes.

Ok, so that might feel too simplistic to some.  Just eat things that were intended to be food and nourish your body.  You only get one body!  This excludes anything that has chemicals, preservatives, dyes, flavor enhancers,  artificial anything (sweeteners, flavors, etc.).  Put down the boxed food and run away!   It’s likely masquerading as food, but isn’t.  Deep down, maybe waaaay deep down, you know it’s not good for you…just back away.

2) In as natural a state as possible.  Generally, the less ingredients, the better.  The 5 ingredient or less rule (and they shouldn’t read like a science project).

For us, that looks like:  Adjectives NOT Additives (don’t bust on me for that – I’m proud of that one!):  Grass grazed animals that haven’t been given hormones or antibiotics;  Organic fruits and veggies whenever possible; Non-GMO everything (yeah, I really don’t like those).  There’s more, but you get the point.  This is where we are today.  It’s not where we started.  It’s been a long journey to get there and it didn’t happen all at once, but there are small changes you can make that will make a big difference in your health and in the way you view food.  Maybe you aren’t ready for all the adjectives, but maybe you could simply decide to be intentional in your eating…to nourish your body…to eat real food…whole foods.  If so much of our health and well-being depends on the food we put in, shouldn’t we be more intentional about it?

Written by Amy Pino

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