Simplify Your Life: Easy Sushi Rice For Lazy Vegans

Simplify Your Life: Easy Sushi Rice For Lazy VegansMost of you know I am constantly working toward simplifying my life. Adding systems, de-cluttering, organizing, tossing stuff, etc, in order to make my life less complicated and easier to handle.

The area in my life that I think I have excelled in this the best so far, is meal planning, prepping, and cooking. I love eating food, a lot of it, and have found recipes that have made my life simple and easy when it comes to time in the kitchen!

I wanted to share with you some of the things that have worked for me!

To start off, in order for any planning, prepping, organizing, etc to work, you have to be willing to make time for it. I am fortunate because I work from home, so I can make things that take a long time to cook (and by long time I mean 30 minutes) while I am working!

IMPORTANT NOTE: If you choose to do this, set a timer on your phone (not the stove in case you leave the kitchen) for when to check on stuff. I have learned the hard way, several times, that it’s super easy to get distracted and forget what you are doing on the stove, and end up with eggs exploded all over the kitchen ceiling (pre-vegan) and a pan melted into the stove, and smoke filling the house. My bad!

Anyhoo…

Even if you don’t work at home, you can find time to prep things that take time to cook. While watching TV, while helping the kids with homework, while you are doing your exercise video (I mean streaming), while you are taking a shower and primping, while you are walking the dogs (short walk only in this case), etc. If something is important to you, you will find time for it!

Here is one of my fave things to prep and have on hand for the entire week…

EASY SUSHI RICE RECIPE!

I love making a giant pan of Sushi Rice because it is simple, inexpensive, and can be made into sushi burritos, sushi rolls, stir-fry, any rice dishes, or even eaten plain. You can make sushi rolls out of any fruits, veggies, etc that you have laying around the house or that you like to eat so it is quick and convenient to have handy. It also makes for a sweet/salty treat for after dinner or after a long workout. It’s versatile and something the whole family can enjoy. It’s healthy and can be eaten warm or cold.

Easy Vegan Rice Burrito Recipe

Here is my recipe…

Time: 30 minutes

INGREDIENTS:

  • Sushi Rice (I have used several brands and they all taste the same to me)
  • Rice Vinegar (I have used plain and with garlic and like both the same)
  • 100% Maple Syrup (I have also used coconut sugar when I was out of maple syrup and it was still really yummy, and a little cheaper)
  • Sea Salt

I make a double batch to save on time and have more available for me, so if you won’t be going through that much, make a single batch.

DIRECTIONS:

Cook rice as directed (my double batch makes 8 c of rice)

When you are 5 minutes away from rice completion, begin making the sauce.

In a saucepan, bring to a boil ½ c of rice vinegar, ½ c of maple syrup, and 1 tbsp of salt.

Once everything is dissolved together (about 1 minute of boiling and stirring), pour the liquid into the rice and stir.

You can eat it immediately if you want to make it into something warm (or eat plain) or you can cool it and store it for later use.

I store mine with a lid on the counter because I like it to stay soft (sometimes rice in the fridge gets hard) and have stored it up to 2 weeks.

I love eating it plain! For meals I usually take a seaweed wrap (nori paper) and lay a thin layer of rice on top, spread vegan mayo on top of the rice, and then add whatever veggies I have or want.

My fave is bread and butter pickles and pickles beets with minced garlic and ginger. I wrap it all up into a “burrito” and eat!

I would love to hear your fave uses for Sushi Rice and other super simple kitchen hacks that have worked for you!

To get an easy vegan recipe in your inbox weekly, go to…
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See you there!

My Fave Vegan Cheeses

My Favorite Vegan CheesesThe number one reason people tell me they could never be vegan is because they could never give up cheese. I get it! It took me months to give up milk and eggs, but literally years to give up cheese.

I’m not an expert on the science, but I do know there are ingredients in cheese that act as opiates, which are highly addictive. So basically, it’s not our fault we can’t kick the cheese habit! BUT! If you have a strong enough reason to give it up, going “cold turkey” is the only way to kick the addiction.

Here are the 2 reasons I wanted to give up cheese:

Health:

Cheese is highly inflammatory. As an endurance athlete, I create so much inflammation in my body already, I don’t need the added joint and muscle inflammation. To compete at a high level, I need to recovery quickly from each workout, and inflammation delays that recovery.

Animals:

I used to think dairy wasn’t cruel treatment of animals because I just figured “cows needed to be milked”. The more I learned about the dairy industry, the more I was repelled about the practices of most dairy farms, and didn’t want to contribute to the abuse of animals anymore.

Once you have decided you want to give up cheese, you are on your way. Unfortunately, it’s not easy! Fortunately it is easier for you NOW than it was for me 10 years ago!

WHY? Because non-dairy cheese subs are 1,000,000 times better than they were even a year ago!!! They are healthier, have much better consistency, and many even taste like cheese!

I have tried pretty much ALL non-dairy cheeses, here are my 3 faves…

Slices:

I am a grilled cheese fanatic! For my grilled cheese I need a cheese that melts well and tastes like “American”, “Cheddar”, or “Provolone”. Follow Your Heart brand slices have all 3. I love the flavors, consistency, and meltability of all their slices. These aren’t in most grocery stores, but are in most health food stores like Whole Foods and Sprouts.

Shreds:

For meals like pizza, lasagna, and enchiladas, I like to use shreds since I’m pretty lazy and don’t even own a shredder. My fave shrerdded “cheese” is So Delicious brand “Mozzarella” and “Cheddar Jack”. These melt easily, taste great, and are stringy and gooey like real cheese! These are newer and harder to find. The So Delicious website has a store locator for you. I found them at Whole Foods.

Blocks:

This was the biggie for me. For years during my quest to give up cheese, I was fine with the slices and shredded options, but couldn’t find a block with the flavor AND consistency that I loved about cheese. So every once in a while I caved and chowed a block of cheese.

Along came Follow Your Heart Blocks and I was FINALLY able to give up cheese 100%. I love the consistency (hardness) and flavor (mozzarella and provolone are my faves). I can cut up pieces to have on crackers or just unwrap and take a bite directly out of the block with 100% satisfaction! You can find these at any health food store and Follow Your Heart has a store locator on their website as well.

I hope these are helpful! It took me years to find cheese alternatives that were good enough to help me give up the real thing, but once I found these, the rest was history! I haven’t eaten cheese in 3 years and don’t miss it AT ALL!!!

To be a part of our Plant Powered Community…
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Or text FFFF to 22828

Enjoy your new “cheese”!!

See you soon!

Surviving the Holiday Feeding Frenzy

Surviving The Holiday Feeding FrenzyIt’s that time of year again when many of us throw our nutrition and exercise plans out the window!

And we all know the result…an extra 5 or 10 pounds and a major panic attack in January. For those of you under the age of 30, that New Year’s Resolution of yours will take care of things. For those of us over 40, it’s a little more complicated.

What to do? Here are some tips on enjoying good holiday food without packing on the pounds…

1. Practice mindful eating

One of the best things you can ever do for yourself is to learn how to eat mindfully. With roots in Buddhist teachings, mindful eating means paying close attention to the taste, texture, and “mouthfeel” of every bite you take – of slowing down and savoring every single bite.

Mindful eating also means paying attention to internal cues for hunger and satiety and heeding those cues as often as possible. Studies show that mindless eating almost always results in excess calories.

Here are a couple of excellent articles on mindful eating:

2. Stay active

Weight gain can occur with as little as 100 extra calories a day but working out can keep that from happening fairly easily.

I usually plan a longer workout the days before or after a big event to balance the extra calories I consumed. Exercise can also help you manage stress which is likely to come in handy during this time of year.

Here are a couple ways to make exercise fun and easy:

3. Eat regular meals

Many people skip breakfast thinking they are saving a few hundred calories but this practice is ineffective in promoting weight loss. In fact, studies show that people who skip meals frequently are almost always overweight.

By eating regular meals you are much less likely to overeat at parties or when surrounded with yummy holiday food. Sit down and have a balanced meal three times a day; don’t eat in the car or in front of the TV. Have a small snack before going to parties or gatherings where you know there will be lots of food.

I always drink my Shakeology for breakfast so even on the days when the rest of my meals aren’t as healthy, I at least got one great meal in for the day!

Here is how I keep my holiday eating in check:

4. Modify holiday recipes

Many cookie recipes can easily be made with less fat or a fat substitute, like canned pumpkin or applesauce. I have been experimenting with making recipes vegan and so far they have all tasted AMAZING!

Many recipes, you can easily shave a few hundred calories off of each meal without noticing any difference in taste or texture.

I have lots of modified recipes in my weekly newsletter!

5. Don’t drink your calories

One of the easiest ways to gain weight is to drink excess alcohol, soda, or any kind of sweetened drink. Even fruit juice has a fair number of calories and should be consumed in moderation. Choose sparkling water or a natural low calorie beverage when possible.

Most of all, remember what the holidays are all about…being with friends and family. You can enjoy your Holidays and Year End Celebrations without loading up on fat, sugar, and alcohol!
If you want any support or accountability, I have ongoing online support groups for health, fitness, and weight loss!

Join our community…

And love yourself enough to live a healthy life!

Happy Holidays!

See you soon!

Being Vegan is Easy!

Being vegan is easy..Haha! I say that now!! But compared to how hard it was when I first started on my journey, it is! The top 3 reasons people who want to become vegan tell me they “can’t” are cheese, traveling, and non-vegan families.Being vegan is easy..Haha! I say that now!! But compared to how hard it was when I first started on my journey, it is! The top 3 reasons people who want to become vegan tell me they “can’t” are cheese, traveling, and non-vegan families.

I have been working with a test group of 5 people who want to eat plant-based, but haven’t been able to do it on their own (mostly for the reasons I mentioned). I have been mentoring this group for a month now with great success! This is a 90 day individualized program where I create a custom plan for each person depending on their lifestyle, goals, families, budget, health/fitness goals, time restraints, likes, dislikes, etc.

So far, 1/3 of the way into the program, we have 100% success! I so wish I had this kind of help 10 years ago ☺

Let’s talk about these 3 deterrents…

CHEESE!

Geez! Everybody loves cheese. Trust me, I am one of them!! Cheese was the reason it took me 10 years to become a vegan. Not only do we love cheese, but we are physically and emotionally addicted to it. Check out the new book “The Cheese Trap” by Neal Barnard (#promo) for deets, but I 100% agree with everything he writes and know for a fact, I had both a physical and emotional addiction to cheese.

What made it easier for me was when non-dairy cheeses started coming out that felt and tasted like the real thing. When I started getting excited about the vegan cheeses, they would make me feel the same way as dairy cheese, and it was a game changer for me. I am working on an article reviewing a dozen vegan cheeses so watch for that!!!

Traveling.

I travel a LOT! In fact, I am writing this from Delta Airlines flight 1069 from Seattle to Kona. There is so much turbulence it’s insane so this is keeping my mind off of wanting to cry and puke at the same time!

For the most part I bring my own food (earlier on this flight I ate “reverse nachos” where I wrapped Chipotle flavored corn nuts in a piece of Follow Your Heart American “cheese”), but have found these days airports, truck stops, and most gas stations carry fruit, energy/protein bars, nuts, green juices, etc.

Here are my best vegan travel tips!

Family.

This is also valid AND hard to work with, but not impossible. In the case of having a partner, kids, etc who don’t want to eat plant-based, you have 2 options.

One, you can make yourself a completely different meal than the rest of the family (I did this for years as the only vegetarian kid in a meat-eating family) or two, you can make meals where you can add or not add meat (like chicken salad with or without chicken, taco bar with lots of different choices for toppings, spaghetti with marinara with the meatballs on the side, etc).

These are some of this issues I have been helping my clients through over the past month. I would love to hear what other issues you are struggling with so I can address some of those and help you get to where you want to be in your journey toward a life with more plants!

If you want to join the next round of THE VEG CLUB coaching, I am accepting new clients beginning the first week of next month. Email me at coachsmith@usa.com with subject THE VEG CLUB for an application or text me 970-214-7745 for more info.

You can also join the Veg Club here…

www.JoinTheVegClub.com

For vegan recipes…

www.facebook.com/groups/7DayVeg

For quick and easy vegan meals and snack ideas…

www.Instagram.com/ThrowTogetherVegan
www.YouTube.com/VeganDivaKir
www.Facebook.com/JoinTheVegClub

See you there!

Baby Steps: Love Yourself More

Baby Steps Love Yourself MoreI have “struggled” with disorder eating and weight/body issues my entire life. Maybe not in the way many of you have, but in a negative way where I was in a cycle I never thought I would get out of.

Over-eating and restricting with intense thoughts of hopelessness, weakness, worthlessness, and self-hatred woven in Every. Single. Day!

I have worked on it like it was my full-time job for the past 8 years and looking at a “Facebook memory” last week reminded me how far I have come in the past 2 years!

I only think about food like 60% of my day, I only dislike my body like 20% of the time, when I binge I gently reduce my calories over several days eating mostly fruits, veggies, and Shakeology® to keep my nutrients up, and I stick almost 100% of the time to my training plan as an athlete no matter how many extra calories I consumed that day. I don’t use exercise to burn excess calories and I train and rest my body as a competitive athlete instead of an obsessed girl desperately trying to lose weight.

I wanted to share my thoughts today to give you hope if you feel hopeless in your quest for unconditional self-love and acceptance like I had so many times in my life. For 20 years I didn’t think I had a problem and I spent the next 10 feeling like I would have this “problem” forever.

I see light at the end of the tunnel. I now see that I can love and nourish my body by caring for it and being gentle with my soul. I don’t need to be rough and abrasive and demanding in order to get to a place where I can feel good about myself and my body.

Thanks for supporting me in my journey!

“You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection”
– Buddha

#lovehealsall

Need a little support and compassion?

https://www.facebook.com/groups/LoveYourselfMore

Want to surround yourself with love daily?

https://www.facebook.com/KirstenMcCaySmith

“What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson

See you soon!

How I Started Eating Mostly Raw Foods

How I Started Eating Mostly Raw Foods - I have been saying for the past 5 years I have been wanting to eat more raw. If you have been reading my blog posts over the past 3 years, you will see me intermittently post how I started “Raw Monday” or “Raw Wednesday”, but I never maintain it for more than a few months.I have been saying for the past 5 years I have been wanting to eat more raw. If you have been reading my blog posts over the past 3 years, you will see me intermittently post how I started “Raw Monday” or “Raw Wednesday”, but I never maintain it for more than a few months.

In January, as I was setting my 2017 goals and for the 3rd year in a row, I wrote down “Eat more raw”.

As soon as I wrote it, I started wondering why this was so hard for me. I believe in what eating more raw foods will do for me mentally and physically. I love almost all fruits and veggies and nuts.

I looked at my daily meal plans and realized I wasn’t buying many raw foods from the grocery store. Why not? I have no idea. My friend, Wendy, who is my voice of reason, suddenly sounded in my head (or I may have been talking to myself) “If you want to eat more raw, why don’t you just eat more raw?” It seemed TOO simple, but I started! And over the past 2 months, I have eaten more raw than not, and as expected, I feel amazing. My body, mind, and soul have completely responded to my new “mostly raw” lifestyle.

This made me wonder why we don’t do the things we know are best for us, that will make us feel good, that will bring us joy or make us happier, healthier, wealthier, etc.

I think it’s one of two things…

  1. It’s too easy NOT to do these things. We get comfortable being comfortable. We aren’t willing to go that little extra step outside our comfort zone to risk possibly being better…of course with no guarantee. We aren’t willing to give up the good to go for the great!
  2. We are stuck in a habit. I was in the habit of eating Daiya Foods Vegan Cheezy Mac (yum) after a long workout. I was used to stopping at Del Taco for a bean and rice burrito (or four) after a race. I was in the habit of eating a pint of Ben & Jerry’s Non-Dairy P.B. & Cookies Ice Cream on Friday afternoons. I was in the habit of eating popcorn at the movie theater. So it never even occurred to me to trade any of these old habits out for new habits that serve me better and move me more toward my ultimate life/health goals.

So next time you are looking at a goal you have (or have had for years or decades) that you aren’t getting anywhere with, ask yourself if it could be one of these two things holding you back. Awareness is the key to change. As soon as I made myself aware that I “wanted” to eat more raw but wasn’t’ really taking the actual steps to “eating” more raw, everything changed. And it actually WAS simple! And easy. And beneficial. And exactly what I needed! Of course I already knew that.

Just Do It.

And in case you missed what I think was the most important sentence of this entire post, I will repeat it…

Don’t be afraid to give up the good to go for the great!

And if you started reading this article to learn how to incorporate more raw foods into your diet, here are my top 3 tips…

  1. Keep it simple. I tried to make it too expensive and complicated at first by following 3-4 new recipes a day. Now I primarily eat fruits, veggies, and nuts. Just plain. Simple.
  2. Start with one meal a day, not a whole “Raw Wednesday”. I made the mistake of designating an entire day. Now I know I do better just a meal at a time. So that way if I love a certain food each day, like Shakeology, I can still drink it every day. It throws me off when I miss a whole day.
  3. Baby steps. Like always in my life. When I started actually having success with this, it’s when I slowed down and took baby steps. I started replacing one snack a day with fruit, veggie, or nuts. And kept everything else the same. I eased into it by taking out the “chickn” from my vegan Caesar salad but kept the “cheese”. Little changes add up to big changes…ALWAYS!

And above all, like anything, be patient, forgiving, and gentle with yourself.

You’re making these changes to better yourself, not to beat yourself up when you make a mistake. And PS…you WILL make mistakes.

Love yourself more.

See you soon!

Food For Thought

Food For Thought - God damn food! It's such a blessing and such a curse. A necessary evil that brings so much joy!God damn food! It’s such a blessing and such a curse. A necessary evil that brings so much joy!

I think about food WAY more than I want to. It’s a habit I have had for over 30 years. I used to love thinking about food all the time. Planning what I would eat, calculating the exact amount of working out I needed to do in order to eat whatever I wanted, coming up with creative ways to trick my brain into thinking I was eating enough or too much or something healthy or something forbidden.

But now it’s more of a burden. Now I want to free up my mind for more productive thoughts: to plan new things. Maybe new adventures, business strategies, life purposes, visions, or to cultivate more self love and give more to others. And only obsess about which nutrients I need to eat to give me the most energy, make me the best athlete, and make me feel joy every time I put something into my mouth.

Don’t get me wrong, I have come a LONG way!! My food thoughts have gone from occupying 90% of my day to 40%. I’m grateful for the work I have done and e guidance and support I have been given, but now I want more (or less depending on how I look at it). I want food to be a quick decision when I am physically hungry, need to recover from a workout, or need a quick pick me up to get me through whatever else I am focusing all my time, energy, and effort on in that moment.

I am ready to let go of the habit of thinking about food more than what is necessary for me to reach my goals in my business, fitness, personal growth, and life.

I am ready to let go of whatever served me IN THE PAST when I first developed this habit as a child. I am 44 years old now and this pattern no longer serves me.

I’m open to what comes next.

#hopeful

#ihavethepowertochoosemystory

#unconditionalselflove

#lifegoals

These were my thoughts during a 4 hour bike ride at the gym.

#thisiswhathappenswheniletmymindrunfree

Stay in touch!

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See you soon!

My Top 11 Blog Posts from 2016

My Top 11 Blog Posts From 2016 - Food, Fitness, Finance and FunThe reason I started my blog about 2 ½ years ago, was to share my life experiences in hopes that they would help others going through the same issues. The reason my blog is all about food, fitness, finance, and fun in your 40s is because those are the 4 issues in my own life I struggle with the most. I know there have got to be others like me out there, so I am putting my life out there in hopes of connecting with other like me. We are not alone!

So when I get an email from someone saying “Thank you so much for writing this, I seriously thought I was the only one who felt that way” or “OMG it’s so nice to know someone else out there thinks like me” (btw…both actually taken from emails I have received), I get SUPER excited because I know I am making a difference in the life of that ONE person, and that is what I want.

Writing a personal blog is scary. Sometimes I feel like an idiot for failing and screwing up and not learning a lesson until the hundredth time, but if my experiences can help someone else feel not so alone or help them so they don’t have to go through the same hard time, then the trepidation I had to publish my inner most feelings and emotions goes away.

So THANK YOU for loving me for ME and not because I have accomplished something or did something spectacular, but because I am human and flawed and need love and connection as we all do!

I was reminiscing about 2016 and looking through my posts from the past year. I wanted to share with you my top 11 of the year. The reason they are my faves is because they are the ones that gave me the most response from others that they appreciated the post. And the reason there are 11 is because 11 is my favorite number!!

So without further ado…

MY TOP 11 POSTS FROM 2016…

Homework: Do. It. Now!!

Homework: Do. It. Now!!

Vegan…FINALLY!

Vegan…FINALLY!!

Happy Birthday Joey | A Doggie Love Story

Happy Birthday Joey | A Doggie Love Story

Baby Steps: Saving Money

Baby Steps: Saving Money

5 Easy Ways to Drink More Water Each Day

5 Easy Ways to Drink More Water Each Day

You Can Eat Healthy Anywhere

You Can Eat Healthy Anywhere

Eat Your Junk Food With Purpose

Eat Your Junk Food With Purpose

Homework: Set Your Priorities

Homework: Set Your Priorities

5 Super Simple Weight Loss Tips

5 Super Simple Weight Loss Tips

Homework: Do What You Love

Homework: Do What You Love

I Crashed My Car and I Didn’t Cry

I Crashed My Car and I Didn’t Cry

Thanks for being a part of my amazing life <3

I hope you decide to make 2017 your best year EVER!!!

See you soon!

Tips for Eating Vegan on the Road

Tips For Eating Vegan On The RoadI was asked by a friend for tips on eating vegan while on the road, so I thought I would share my tips in case there is anyone out there working toward or living a vegan lifestyle on the road.

This was one of the biggest challenges for me for years when I was “trying” to be a vegan. I spent 3 years traveling in an RV and before and after that, I typically travel at least once a month, sometimes for 2-3 weeks at a time, so I know it gets tricky.

HOWEVER, I will say that now that I am vegan, it isn’t as hard. I think I was using traveling and being on the road and always tired and anxious as excuses to eat the comfort foods that I wanted that were not vegan. I would stop at a tiny town gas station STARVING (of course) and the only option I found was a bag of nacho cheese Doritos 😉

Before you write me off as being judgy or unempathetic, I want to say it IS harder being vegan on the road, but I challenge you to take a close look at your life, habits, vices, etc before blaming travel on your inability to maintain your dietary goals. Like I said, now that I am fully vegan (not just “trying” to be vegan), it’s been much easier to find options on the road. In fact, in my scenario above, I could have grabbed potato chips, Fritos, or another vegan chip option if I wanted chips and wanted vegan!!

Here are 4 tips eating vegan on the road…

  1. Plan ahead. I pack most of my food with me if I can, if not, I check out dining options along the route. The internet makes this option super super easy!! There are also apps for vegan restaurants like Happy Cow. My hubby and I found a cute tiny raw food restaurant in the middle of a small town in Tennessee with that app.
  2. Read ingredients. If you are relying on a gas station or truck stop for meals/snacks, there are plenty of options. All you need to do is take a few minutes and read ingredients. Plenty of nuts, seeds, chips, even candy (while may not be the healthiest choice) are vegan.
  3. Fast Food. Every single fast food joint these days has vegan options. You may have to get creative with ordering, but you can find something if you find yourself in a hurry at the drive through window. You can also look in advance at the restaurant’s website. Most (and all big food chains) have a nutrition info link these days. At Taco Bell I get a bean burrito, fresco style, add rice. And there are Taco Bell’s and Subway’s pretty much everywhere these days!
  4. Have a back-up in case of emergency. Now most people wouldn’t consider not having food in your car an emergency, but if you have read more than one of my articles, we probably have a little in common, so you understand! If I am stuck with no good options and I am hungry and tired from traveling, I will 100% of the time make a poor decision. I found a plant-based protein drink that I love with just water, and I have packets of it and a shaker cup stored in my car. If I am caught without vegan food options and I am already hangry and cranky, I will get a bottle of cold water, mix in my shake, and that will tie me over for a couple hours until I can make a better decision.

I hope these help!

If you have specific questions, I would love to give you answers! You can always email me at coachsmith@usa.com

Or stay in touch through facebook at www.facebook.com/foodfitnessfinancefun

Or through my newsletter at www.foodfitnessfinancefun.com/newsletter

See you soon!

Nutrition Challenge #7: Avoid Artificial Crap: Artificial Sweeteners

Nutrition Challenge - Avoid Artificial Crap: Artificial SweetenersI have an amazing community in a Facebook group who are positive, motivational, inspirational, supportive, and all striving to become a better version of themselves. I started the group 4 years ago and it is one of my favorites groups.

It’s a safe place to share struggles and triumphs and we always encourage every member to be open and honest. We also don’t judge or discriminate as we are all such different people.

Since health and weight loss are highly affected by nutrition, every week we run a nutrition challenge as a group. There are 8 challenges that run a total of 9 weeks. And then we repeat. The best thing about this process is that you can see progress from one challenge every 9 weeks. For example, one of the weeks is AVOID DAIRY. When I first started the group, I wanted to be dairy-free, but was still having it 2-3 times each week. Even though my goal was always 7 days dairy-free, I would still have it a few times a week.

After a few 9 week rounds, my dairy started going down to 1-2 times a week, and then to once a week. I eventually succeeded with my goal of 7 days without dairy!! Baby steps (of course) but in the end I accomplished what I set out to do. And as most of you know, I am now 100% dairy-free and have been since the beginning of the year.

Now if you don’t WANT to do all 7 days, you can set your OWN goal. For example, one of our weeks is AVOID SUGAR. I for sure want to cut down on sugar, but I like to have a treat now and then, and I love oatmeal with PB and Grade B Maple Syrup. So my goal is for sure to cut down, but not necessarily to cut it out. So I look at my week ahead and my activities and decide how many days I want to aim for. It’s usually 5.

I like to do the challenges from least to most difficult for most people so that we see some successes before the struggles set in.

Today we will talk about WEEK #7: AVOID ARTIFICIAL CRAP: Artificial Sweeteners

I like to group all artificial stuff into one challenge. CRAP=sweeteners, colors, flavors, etc. Basically anything artificial that is in our foods…which is WAY more than we think. In fact, there are many labels that read: natural and artificial flavors (colors, etc) so foods we think are all natural, actually have a mixture of natural AND artificial crap min them…BUMMER!!!

So this challenge is truly a challenge. Label reading is the key to getting this right.

There are so many artificial sweeteners, colors, and flavors out there, I am going to divide this article into 3 parts…starting with artificial sweeteners.

With obesity on the rise, artificial sweeteners with no calories popped up everywhere. At the time, they seemed like a good idea until further research showed the side effects weren’t worth it. These fake sweeteners cause symptoms that range from headaches and migraines to weight gain and even more serious conditions like cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

What many people don’t realize is that artificial sweeteners also can cause a dangerous addiction, an addiction to overly sweet foods. They retrain the taste buds to need more and more, sweeter and sweeter foods. This leads to even greater incidences of obesity, type 2 diabetes, kidney damage, and more.

Here is a list of artificial sweeteners. Bring this list with you while learning to read labels. If even small amounts of these sweeteners are in your foods, I would avoid them all together.

  • Aspartame
  • Acesulfame potassium
  • Alitame
  • Cyclamate
  • Dulcin
  • Equal
  • Glucin
  • Kaltame
  • Mogrosides
  • Neotame
  • NutraSweet
  • Nutrinova
  • Phenlalanine
  • Saccharin
  • Splenda
  • Sorbitol
  • Sucralose
  • Twinsweet
  • Sweet ‘N Low
  • Xylitol

Here is a list of products where artificial sweeteners are typically found that you may not know about…

  • Toothpaste and mouthwash
  • Children’s chewable vitamins
  • Cough syrup and liquid medicines
  • Chewing gum
  • No-calorie waters and drinks
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Salad dressings
  • Frozen yogurt and other frozen deserts
  • Candies
  • Baked goods
  • Yogurt
  • Breakfast cereals
  • Processed snack foods
  • “Lite” or diet fruit juices and beverages
  • Prepared meats
  • Nicotine gum

Two years ago on New Year’s Eve, I gave up artificial sweeteners. The hardest part for me was gum. I was a HUGE gum chewer and almost all gums (even ones with sugar) have artificial sweeteners in them.

So practice reading labels until you are confident you understand all the different artificial sweeteners that are lurking in your foods. An easy trick is to eat whole, real foods like fruit, veggies, and grains. Then you don’t have to read labels!! If you can’t pronounce the ingredient, your body PROBABLY won’t like it!

Here is an article I like on sweeteners…

http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-25390/the-best-worst-sweeteners-a-health-coach-explains.html

And here are some comments from participants…

“I didn’t realize I was eating so much crap until I started reading labels. Thanks for making me aware of this!”

-Kayla

“I can’t believe there are artificial sweeteners in toothpaste. I’m so glad I did this challenge so that I can make smarter choices for my entire family.”

-Kara

Here are deets on the Avoiding Artificial Crap challenge…

And join us for info, articles, support, accountability, and education here…

https://www.facebook.com/groups/RealResultsROCK/

And put down diet coke and sugar-free candy STAT!!!

See you SOON!