Friday, August 12

Are You Eating on Purpose?

Introduction by Ultimate Bootcamp Co-Founder Jill Tomich:
One of the tasks I urge my clients to take on is make 80% of their meals from smart food choices found at the perimeter of the grocery stores. It's there that you'll find some of the most nutritious, healthy foods like fresh fruits and veggies, milks and yogurts, and lean cuts of meats. Whether you joined Ultimate Bootcamp to lose weight, tone up, or increase your sports performance, fueling your body with high-quality meals is important for reaching your fitness goals.

When I met our guest blogger Tracy Harrison - a health counselor based in Framingham - I loved that she was singing a similar tune. In today's Ultimate Bootcamp blog entry she asks a simple question that could change your outlook on food completely: "Are You Eating on Purpose?"

[Read more about the Ultimate Bootcamp Diet philosophy]

It’s almost “back to school” season…a time when we all tend to buckle down and get back to basics. We have so many wonderful goals and dreams and desires and plans! But most of us don’t often think about the fuel we are putting in our bodies in order to get us there. Do you really know what’s in your food?

Let’s start with something many of us use to begin each and every day: non-dairy creamer Do you use it in your morning coffee or tea? Many people do. It’s an enticing choice, both convenient and inexpensive. And we are gently led to believe it will help us avoid the supposedly “terrible” fat in cream. Well, here’s what you are ingesting: Corn syrup solids, partially hydrogenated coconut or palm kernel oil, hydrogenated soybean oil, sodium caseinate, dipotassium phosphate, mono- and diglycerides, sodium aluminosilicate, artificial flavor, annatto color. Let’s see what we have here: more sugar, chemicals, metal, toxic transfats... If one of your 2011 resolutions was to develop Heart Disease, this is a fantastic way to head in that direction!

If you read a food ingredient list and think, “nothing in here sounds like real food”, you are unfortunately going to be right often. Corn syrup is a ubiquitous processed sweetener that when eaten regularly increases appetite and promotes both obesity and diabetes. Of greater concern to me, however, is what comes next in line. Anytime you see the phrase "partially hydrogenated" in an ingredient list, you are dealing with transfats. Food manufacturers use transfats because they extend the shelf life of processed foods. Cookies, crackers, chips, pastries, and soups can remain artificially fresh for (literally) years. Does that sound natural to you? Eating even small amounts of these artificially modified fats has been shown to increase harmful cholesterol, decrease beneficial cholesterol, promote inflammation, interrupt normal brain function, and increase your risk of coronary heart disease by 100%. But unfortunately you won’t find this kind of warning on a food package.

But it gets worse. With increasingly negative press about transfats in the media over the past decade, companies have gotten quite savvy at misleading consumers. Don't be deceived by banners on the front of a food package claiming "zero grams transfats". The FDA allows manufacturers to say "zero" if a serving of their food has a half of a gram of transfats or less. Keep in mind that their definition of a "serving" might be as small as two crackers or one cookie. But what if your personal daily serving is six or seven?

The average American eats out of convenience, often haphazardly, and frequently with poor information. That same average American is also exhausted, overweight, on medication, headed toward chronic disease, and unable to pursue the lives we most want. But it just doesn’t have to be that way! Real health does not have to be boring, complicated, tasteless, or too hard to schedule. It just needs a little priority, education, and planning.

If the idea of focusing on your health feels overwhelming, I have good news for you. You don’t need to turn your diet upside down overnight. And diets, fads, and gimmicks are almost never sustainable. In my experience, it’s the small, informed, step-by-step changes that create long-term, disease-free health. Plan now to make a commitment to your health this autumn. Start by reading food ingredient lists. What’s in your food? If something on an ingredient list doesn’t sound like a real food, it probably isn’t. We become what we eat – literally. So what are you becoming?

One of the things I do as a health counselor is help people to get beyond myths and advertising to discover what’s really in their favorite foods. Then we work together to find healthy alternatives they truly enjoy. If you don’t read food ingredient lists today, I encourage you to start! I often say the front of a food container is just a commercial; however, the back gets us a lot closer to the truth. Look for the phrase "partially hydrogenated" and avoid these toxic fats. Despite media hype otherwise, you are truthfully much better off choosing organic half-and-half or cream for your morning coffee and tea.

It’s back-to-school time, but perhaps it can also be a back-to-health opportunity. Maybe this is the right time – the right year –to focus on you and your self-care. Many times we get so busy taking care of others that we let our own health wane, bit by bit. We postpone our own health wellness thinking we’ll have more time next month, next year,… Don’t let the precious days of your lives pass you by any longer. Make the choice to prioritize your health. Choose to eat on purpose.

Tracy Harrison left an accomplished 15-year career in high-tech to pursue her passions for nutrition, coaching, and teaching. Tracy’s expertise areas include blood sugar management, gastrointestinal issues, fatigue/exhaustion, healthy cooking, myth-busting education, and how to truly have fun with life – no matter how complex it seems. She offers individual counseling and group programs as well as corporate seminars. Learn more about Tracy and sign-up for her free, biweekly e-newsletter at .

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