One of the BEST ways to start your day!

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Hello friends! I wanted to let you in on my latest healthy find, and give you some info about why it’s my new favorite thing to eat in the morning. Now before I tell you what it is, you have to promise not to say, “EW” and stop reading. You have to keep on reading to get in on this because it’s delicious as well as healthy, I promise! Ok, so here we go, my latest new yummy thing is… plain Greek yogurt. Wait, wait, wait, let me explain. Because I agree with you, plain yogurt is, well, sour. However, I turned plain yogurt into a yummy beginning of the day dish so keep the faith my readers, I’ll get you there too!

Here’s how this whole Greek yogurt thing started with me. I’ve been reading for years about yogurt, in particular Greek yogurt, and how great it is for you. I mean, it is loaded with probiotics which helps to promote a healthy gut and immune system among many other things, it’s higher in calcium than a glass of milk which gives us strong bones and teeth, it has a high satiety rating, meaning that it makes us feel SATISFIED longer which helps us eat less, so it is good for weight loss. Greek yogurt is 30% protein which is great for our muscles, and it’s relatively bland flavor makes it a perfect vehicle for different dishes.

Greek yogurt is by far a better choice than regular yogurt because it has more protein, less natural sugar (about 4 grams in Greek yogurt versus 7 grams in regular), lower carbohydrates per cup, less lactose so it’s easier to digest, and a thicker, smoother texture that helps us feel more satisfied. That’s because Greek yogurt is strained to remove the whey. When whey is removed, so is the water, resulting in a thicker, more substantial yogurt product.

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HOWEVER, and this is a big however, most yogurt products out there, whether Greek or regular, are NOT A HEALTHY CHOICE FOR US. Most yogurts sold at US grocery stores are more of a dessert than a health food. This was my constant problem with yogurt. For years, I would go to the grocery store peruse the yogurt aisle and the backs of the containers of yogurt (remember it’s critically important to read your labels in the grocery store before you make your buying decisions), and be appalled at how much sugar is in these small containers of yogurt. For instance, one six ounce container of Yoplait yogurt may contain 26 grams of sugar (for the red raspberry flavor). General Mills announced last year it would reduce the amount of sugar in their yogurts by 25%, but even so their yogurt products will still have close to 20 grams of sugar in one container.

This amount of sugar would negate the health benefits that the yogurt would provide. Remember to have a healthy gut it is important to avoid sugar as it can cause disease-causing microbes to crowd out your beneficial gut flora. Other problems with yogurt is that it can contain artificial colors, artificial sweeteners, and additives, yet it masquerades as health food.

Another really important point is to eat full fat yogurt, as opposed to low or no fat versions, because low or no fat yogurt does not contain the same levels of CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) or other high quality fats like the omega 3’s found in most whole milk yogurt. Let me tell you why that’s important, CLA helps prevent cancer and aids in weight loss too! Also, vitamins A and D, which are critical to metabolism and good immunity, are fat soluble. So you need to ingest them with fat in order for your body to absorb them.

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There are very few yogurts on the market that make FULL FAT plain Greek varieties with no added sugar, artificial flavors or sweeteners. There are only two that I know of-Fage and Wallaby Organic. However, I’ve read that Fage could possibly come from cows fed with GMO feed. I think that for me though the full fat option is the most important benefit, so I have chosen to use this brand because it’s readily available in most grocery stores. It contains only Grade A Pasteurized milk and cream, and Live active yogurt cultures (L. bulgaricus, S. thermophiles, L. Acidophilus, Bifidus, L. Casel). That’s all it contains. It has 220 calories per cup, with 25% RDA of calcium, 20 grams of protein, and only 9 grams of naturally occurring sugar.

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Now to the fun part, how did I make it into something that tasted delicious without adding a lot of sugar or calories?!!! The answer came to me one morning when I was searching for something to eat that was full of protein and not too caloric. My S.O. had a container of Fage plain full fat yogurt in the fridge. I looked at the protein level and saw that it had 20 grams per cup and only 9 grams of sugar and I was sold. The challenge was to find something to pair with the yogurt that wasn’t too sugary and would make the plain yogurt taste good. The answer was sitting in a jar right in front of me- peanut butter! I looked at the plain yogurt and I looked at the peanut butter and I thought, “what the heck, let’s try it!” And it was AWESOME! It tasted sweet- but it wasn’t, creamy, and had a wonderful texture. The peanut butter only added 1 additional gram of sugar, and just like that it became my new go-to morning meal. Here’s how I did it:

Take a cup of Fage full fat yogurt, add a teaspoon of peanut butter, and a few shakes of organic cinnamon and mix it all together. Eat immediately. It has 283 calories, 22.3 grams of protein, 10 grams of sugar, 11 grams of fat (and remember that fat is GOOD FOR YOU)and 25% of your calcium for the day. It will keep you full and satisfied. In fact, I usually make a cup of this and then only eat half of it, and store the rest in the fridge for the next day. It is a healthy and delicious way to start your day, I promise!

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And that’s all there is to it! I hope you’re now a believer about plain, full fat Greek yogurt, like I am now. You really can add anything to it, but remember to watch the sugar of whatever you’re adding to keep it really healthy. Since it has a flavor like sour cream you can also use it wherever you would use sour cream, because it’s a lot healthier. Eating plain, full fat Greek yogurt will help you to live a life of vitality- with Valerie! 🙂

 

This symptom could negatively affect your health and safety- and it’s 100% preventable!

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Healthy, life-giving water!

Healthy, life-giving water!

Hello my friends! The topic I’m going to talk to you about today came about because of my concern that my daughter, Danielle, is not drinking enough water. I was sure that was really bad for her, and I started researching what and how much we should be drinking. The results were even more shocking than I thought, and not only did I share them with Danielle, I also wanted to share them with my readers as well.

Now we all know that if you’re dying of thirst while being stranded in the desert that is really bad, right? Well, the fact that really surprised me was that if you are 1 to 2% dehydrated, which would show as symptoms of mild thirst, that can cause problems like headaches, irritability, and impaired cognition. A 2% dehydration level also leads to a 10% decrease in athletic performance, so make sure you’re hydrating before you exercise. Even more concerning, according to a recent Harvard study, more than half of American children are dehydrated and 1/4 of children do not drink water on a daily basis. Boys were 75% more likely to be inadequately hydrated than girls.

If your response is, “What’s the big deal about water, anyway?”, here’s the answer for you. Our bodies are made up of approximately 65% water, which is crucial for blood circulation, metabolism, regulation of body temperature, waste removal and detoxification.

Here’s another concern, children and the elderly have an underdeveloped thirst mechanism, which makes them more vulnerable to dehydration. Also, hunger and sugar cravings could be a sign that you are dehydrated so when you feel hungry, drink a glass of water first. Other dehydration symptoms are fatigue, dizziness, mood swings, foggy thinking and poor concentration, chills, muscle cramps, back or joint ache, dull, dry skin, pronounced wrinkles, constipation, infrequent urination, dark, concentrated urine, and bad breath.

How much water should we drink a day in order to avoid the above symptoms? The Institute of Medicine recommends women drink 2.7 liters (91 ounces) a day, and men 3.7 liters (125 ounces). I don’t walk around with a device to measure how much water I’m drinking, I use the urine rule which means that if my urine is a light yellow color I’m drinking an adequate amount of water. One thing to keep in mind though, if you’re taking a supplement containing vitamin B2 (like most multivitamins) your urine will be a bright, fluorescent yellow after you take it. In that case, use the frequency rule. A healthy person urinates 7-8 times per day so if you are urinating a lot less frequently than that or if it’s just a super small amount, up your water intake.

Here’s a scary fact about dehydration that I uncovered, according to a study published in the Journal of Psychology and Behavior, dehydrated drivers made twice the amount of errors in a two hour drive compared to hydrated drivers. That is similar to the results of a driver who is under the influence of alcohol- yes, that’s what I said! Frightening!

Need I say more?!

Need I say more?!

A comforting thought though, is that all of this is 100% preventable by simply rehydrating yourself and your children. However, not all beverages are equal. If you’re drinking energy drinks or soda, they are high in caffeine which acts as a diuretic that can dehydrate you. Stay away from those. Also, sodas, sports drinks, fruit juices and other sweetened beverages contain processed fructose which is one of the primary causes of obesity and metabolic dysfunction. One soda per day adds as much as 15 pounds to your weight per year, and it also increases your risk of diabetes by 85%.

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Sports drinks many people believe to be more important to drink when you’re dehydrated than water because of electrolyte replacement. However, most sports drinks contain two thirds or even more sugar than sodas, usually high fructose corn syrups. They also contain artificial colors and flavors which is also not good for your health. Fructose is metabolized by the liver and is the main cause of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Just like alcohol, your body turns fructose directly into fat, which cancels out the benefits of your workout.

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You may be drinking sugar free sodas or sports drinks and think you’re doing something healthy for your body, but that’s absolutely incorrect. Those sugar free drinks will contain artificial sweeteners, which may be worse for you than fructose. Also, many people think they need to drink sports drinks to replenish their electrolytes (salt) lost during exercise, but they usually just use processed salt to do that.

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Also, fruit juices are not a healthy option either. Fruit juices can contain more sugar than soda. For example, one 8 ounce glass of orange juice has 8 teaspoons of sugar, at least 50% of that is fructose. Many fruit juices contain high fructose corn syrup, just like soda. And many fruit juices are made by the same parent companies that make soda pop, so keep that in mind. Now, eating a whole fruit is hydrating like an orange or watermelon, but just remember to eat the fruit, not buy the juice from the grocery store, because the whole fruit contains a lot of fiber too.

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Ok, so what should we be drinking, you ask? Well, of course the answer is WATER. But all water is not created equally and I want to address that as well. First of all, please please please don’t drink bottled water! Those bottles are clogging up our landfills and the plastic contains industrial chemicals like bisphenol-A, bisphenol-S (BPA/BPS) and phthalates which leach from the plastic. Also, just because you’re drinking bottled water, it doesn’t mean it’s any more pure than the tap water you’re drinking, and often times it’s more contaminated.

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Tap water can have many contaminants as well, so the best choice is FILTERED tap water. And use a glass water bottle instead of a plastic one to make sure fewer contaminants get into your water. Filters are inexpensive to buy, and can be easily installed on your kitchen faucet. The best one is a reverse osmosis water filtration system because it removes almost everything bad from your water. Those systems are a bit pricier, but are definitely worth it. If you need a little flavor in your water, like Danielle does, I recommend putting an organic lemon into your water. It makes a HUGE DIFFERENCE IN THE TASTE OF THE WATER.

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Danielle drinking coconut water as I write this post!

Also, another healthy alternative I found for my family to drink is organic coconut water. It’s very hydrating and has no sugar, or artificial colors or flavors. It’s also packaged in a paper carton so it’s more environmentally friendly and there are no chemicals to leach into your beverage. It tastes a bit like a pina colada but with no sugar. It has electrolytes too and at only 43 calories per cup, is a great bang for your nutritional buck. I think it’s a great alternative for those who need a bit more after a workout.

So that’s my wisdom for the day. Get hydrated by drinking filtered water, coconut water, or whole fruit, and avoid sports drinks, fruit juices, sodas, and energy drinks. Look for frequency of urination and urine color as signs of dehydration, and be alert for the symptoms like fatigue, dizziness, thirst, etc. If you feel hungry or have a sugar craving and you’ve just eaten, make sure you have a glass of water before reaching for the cookies or candy, it could be thirst at work. Also, urge your children or elderly family members to drink more pure water, because they may not be as aware of their dehydration as you are. Every time I grab my glass of water I remind Danielle to drink her coconut water because I realize she doesn’t get the thirst signal like she should. Drinking pure water or other healthy options is SO GOOD for you, and will help you live a life of vitality- with Valerie!

Reach for the Stars-choose healthy drinks at Starbucks!

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This post is in honor of my daughter, Danielle, who has asked me a few times to write about making healthy drink choices at Starbucks. So, I did a little research, some based on my own experience, and compiled a list of what I consider to be the healthiest drink options. Now, remember that for me a healthy drink isn’t only a beverage that is low in calories, after all if that was the only criteria you could just order non fat, skinny everything and you wouldn’t need my help at all. No, for me a healthy drink contains little or no sugar, no artificial sweeteners, and has little or no syrups which often times contain chemicals and other yucky additives. I tried to consider a variety of tastes in putting together my list too, not just coffee (Jacqueline’s favorite), but tea choices too (Danielle’s fave) among others. There is even a smoothie on the list. Obviously you can order black coffee or a tea bag and hot water at any time as well, but remember it’s what you add to it that can turn that relatively healthy beverage quickly to a highly caloric, chemically laden danger zone. With that in mind, I included drinks that give you a little more to start with so that you don’t have to add many extras to it to get it to taste delish. So get ready friends, here it is!

Healthy Starbucks Beverages

My number one choice for you coffee lovers is cappuccino!

My number one choice for you coffee lovers is cappuccino!

1. Cappuccino- Tall, 2% milk, 90 calories, 3.5 g of fat, 9g carbs, 6g protein, 75 mg caffeine. Here’s why I like this one, first, because the milk gives you 6 grams of protein per tall sized (12 ounce) portion, second because there is NO SUGAR in this drink, but you can add Truvia (natural sweetener from the Stevia plant) which they have available at all Starbucks locations, and third because Starbucks always has cinnamon on their condiment bar. Cinnamon is a powerful spice that contains Manganese, calcium and antimicrobial properties, it’s a super spice so any time you can use it, definitely make that healthy choice. But besides that, it tastes really warming and flavorful so it will add deliciousness and health to your beverages, instead of using the syrups that add calories and chemicals. I love the foam of a cappuccino, and because of that foam this drink contains less milk than a latte thus saving you calories in the process. Cappuccino is my favor drink to order at Starbucks by far.

Number 2 is refreshing and delicious!

Number 2 is refreshing and delicious!

2. Teavana Shaken Iced Passion Tango Tea- Tall, 60 calories (sweetened), 0 calories (unsweetened), 15 g carbs (sweetened), 0 g carbs (unsweetened). I met a friend at Starbucks a few months ago and wanted an iced drink without caffeine (because I already had enough for the day that morning), I studied the menu carefully, utilized My Fitness Pal app on my iphone to check the calorie content of this drink, and then ordered it unsweetened. I figured if it had no flavor I would just add honey to it after I gave it a taste, but it didn’t need it because it was delicious unsweeted. It is a hibiscus, apple, lemongrass and passion fruit tea, and it’s as good as it sounds. The ice makes it so refreshing, and I just enjoyed the heck out of this drink. Definitely a great choice!

Chai yes, it is yummy!

Chai yes, it is yummy! Danielle’s favorite!

3. Chai Tea Latte- Tall, 190 calories, 2.5 g fat, 34 g carbs, 6 g protein, 20 % RDA for calcium. I included this one as a healthy option, even though it’s high in calories and carbs because the spices give it such a warm flavor and the milk adds a good bit of protein. I always recommend getting only a tall size of this drink since it’s fairly high in calories; a little bit goes a long way with this one. I always order 2% milk instead of non-fat because though I’d save calories with the non-fat milk, the additional fat in 2% milk allows the nutrients in the milk to be better digested. I also do not EVER order a skinny beverage at Starbucks because they use an artificial sweetener which is more dangerous than the sugar this one contains.

Jacqueline's favorite!

Jacqueline’s favorite!

4. Caffe Americano- Grande, 15 calories, 3 g carbs, 1 g protein, 225 mg caffeine. This drink packs a caffeine punch with 225 mg, which is why it’s Jacqueline’s favorite! The Americano is an espresso that has hot water added to it, which gives it the caffeine of an espresso in a more generous portion size. She orders it plain and then goes to the condiment bar to add a bit of milk and honey, and a generous sprinkle of cinnamon. Delicioso!

Chocolate smoothie with protein!

Chocolate smoothie with protein!

5. Chocolate Smoothie- tall, 250 calories, 45 g carbs, 40 g protein, 8 g fiber, 20% RDA of Calcium and Iron, 15% RDA of Vitamin C, and 8% RDA of Vitamin A. This smoothie is made with mocha sauce, banana, milk, protein powder, fiber powder, and ice. The original version of this smoothie is actually 320 calories, but I saved you 70 calories because you’re going to request for it to be made with a half a banana instead of a whole one, and double the protein powder (they’ll have to put it in a larger cup because the extra protein will make the amount of this smoothie grow a lot!) I included this one on my list even though there are a lot of calories and carbs because for a smoothie it has relatively few calories and it has LOADS of protein which makes it a possible meal replacement. You can request a shot of espresso to add caffeine to it if you need a pick me up also.

Iced green tea is good for whatever ails you!

Iced green tea is good for whatever ails you!

6. Teavana Shaken Iced Green Tea- tall, 60 calories sweetened, 0 calories sweetened, 15 g carbs (sweetened), 0 g carbs (unsweetened), 30-35 mg caffeine. This is a similar drink to the Passion Tango tea, but I included it because it has green tea in it which has antioxidants in it, plus it contains mint, lemongrass and lemon verbena. It also has a bit of caffeine in it due to the green tea so if you want caffeine this would be a good choice. Yum!

Now you’ve seen my choices for healthy drinks at Starbucks, in honor of my Danielle, but I hope it helps you too. There are healthier choices available if you’re careful and know where to look. Let me know how you like any of these drinks if you try them. Consuming healthy beverages will help you live a life of vitality- with Valerie!

 

 

A healthy way to start your day? Oats of course!

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Warm, creamy, yummy- and good for you! :)

Oatmeal- warm, creamy, yummy- and good for you! 🙂

What is your typical breakfast like? Do you grab a quick bowl of cereal before running out the door? I used to eat cereal in the morning too. Here’s the thing though, that isn’t your healthiest option and here’s why. While it seems to be something good (and quick) to eat in the morning, cereal is loaded with fillers that add no nutrition, it’s processed which is never good, and has additives that can be harmful to your mood, behavior and biochemistry. And that is NO GOOD! Breakfast cereals can also contain numerous chemicals, gluten, casein, trans fat, sugar, artificial sweeteners, high fructose corn syrup, and genetically modified flavor enhancing compounds. Yikes, none of that stuff is the kind of thing I want to put in my body!

So what do you eat when you want a HEALTHY START to your day, and you need it quickly too? Why, oats of course! Oatmeal or granola with oats is one of the best ways to start your day, and I will show you how to make it so that you can have a delicious, nutritious, and quick breakfast. My daughters are obsessed with this meal, and ate it twice while they were home for Thanksgiving. It’s easy, warm, comfort food that’s healthy- win win! Oats are low calorie, one cup of oatmeal cooked with water has about 166 calories, add 40 calories if you cook them with milk (like I do), and if you top with fruit add another 40 calories. Oatmeal provides about 4 grams of fiber per cup, which makes it filling and adds to the satiety of oatmeal. It’s considered a low-energy density food, which means that there are relatively few calories compared to the bulk of the food. In a 2010 study published in the “Journal of American Dietetic Association”, people who ate oats in the morning lost weight and enjoyed a greater decrease in their waist circumference measurement than those who ate the same number of calories in a low fiber food. So are you sold on the idea of eating oats in the morning? Good! Then stick with me and I’ll show you how it’s done!

Gluten free oats are a must for my family!

Gluten free oats are a must for my family!

First, things first, it’s all about the oats you choose. There are different kinds of oats on the market, whole oats that still have their hard outer hull, oat groats that have their outer hull removed, steel-cut oats, which are roughly cut groats with an intact bran, and rolled oats, which are steamed, flattened groats. The less processed oats are better for you (naturally) so make sure to avoid instant oatmeal which has added sodium, and oatmeal with flavors added because it’s usually not added naturally. Something I didn’t know until my daughter had a gluten allergy is that NOT all oats are gluten free so I have to make sure to purchase gluten free oats for Danielle. However, I also have steel cut oats at home, they just require a longer cooking time, and I can’t make them when Danzy is in da houz!

Cooking the oats on the stove!

Cooking the oats on the stove!

I usually cook the oats on the stove using milk as shown in the above pic, however, if you don’t have time to cook the oats in the morning here’s a tip for you. Cook the oats in a slow cooker the night before! Take one cup of steel cut oats, 1 1/2 cups milk or if you’re dairy free you can use almond milk, 1 1/2 cups water, 2 apples, peeled, cored, cut into 1/2 inch pieces, 2 tablespoons maple syrup, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 1 1/2 teaspoons of butter, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and FIRST SPRAY THE INSIDE OF THE SLOW COOKER WITH ORGANIC NONSTICK SPRAY (or the oatmeal will stick like glue), and add all the ingredients. Stir, cover, and cook on low for approximately 7 hours. But remember cook times can vary, so if you have a programmable slow cooker make sure to use the timer feature. You can put the ingredients in your slow cooker the night before and awaken to the amazing smell of oats and apples! Either way you cook them, the leftovers store well in the fridge and will even freeze well too.

Homemade applesauce mix in- it's amazing!

Homemade applesauce mix in- it’s amazing!

For me, the key to delicious oatmeal is the mix-ins ingredients with which I choose to flavor the oats. Pictured above is my favorite mix-in, my homemade applesauce. I shared the recipe in my previous post, “An Apple a Day- Makes Applesauce!”, and when added to oatmeal it tastes like healthy apple pie- scrumptious! Just add a few tablespoons of applesauce to your oatmeal (or more if you really like it, like I do) for great flavor with no sugar added.

Pecans- my favorite nut!

Pecans- my favorite nut!

My next favorite mix-in for my oatmeal is nuts, specifically pecans. Pecans are my favorite nuts and I add them to many of my recipes. I chop them and add a sprinkle to my oatmeal. The nuts add a nice crunch and additional fiber and protein too. Definitely a healthy add-in!

Love, love, love raisins!

Love, love, love raisins!

Another flavorful and healthy add-in is raisins. Organic raisins add natural sweetness, fiber and iron to the oatmeal. Plus I love when I put them in the oatmeal and the heat and moisture makes them plump up and get really juicy. So very good!

A great addition to oatmeal!

A great addition to oatmeal!

I love adding maple syrup to oatmeal instead of sugar. It adds a deep, rich flavor that I think tastes better than sugar and goes well with the cinnamon rich applesauce that I’ve already added to my oatmeal. As you can tell we like maple syrup so much that we used it all that morning!

It's a honey of a mix-in!

It’s a honey of a mix-in!

Honey is another great addition to oatmeal. It definitely adds a natural sweetness that substitutes for sugar and tastes light and sweet in the oatmeal. It is always my go-to natural sweetener as I discussed in my post, “A Honey of a Cure!”. Try it, you’ll like it!

I always add a pat of butter to my oatmeal for decadent richness!

I always add a pat of butter to my oatmeal for decadent richness!

Butter is another essential for my oatmeal. It adds a creaminess to it and in my opinion nothing else adds that same richness that butter does. And now that we know butter is good for us as I wrote in my past blog post, “Fat doesn’t make you Fat!”, I can eat my butter and be happy! It’s a yummy mix-in!

Spices like cinnamon and nutmeg add tons of flavor and are good for you too!

Spices like cinnamon and nutmeg add tons of flavor and are good for you too!

Don’t forget your spices! Cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, etc, can add substantial flavor to your oatmeal and are non-caloric. It’s like loads of flavor for zero calories! I always add cinnamon to my oatmeal (and many other things as well). It really gives it a warmth that makes it delicious.

So that’s how I make amazing oatmeal! I make it either on the stove or in the slow cooker, but it’s super both ways thus it really doesn’t matter how you cook it. Make sure you don’t use processed oatmeal with artificial flavors, and make your mix-ins healthy and flavorful without adding sugar if possible. Let me know what mix-ins you like to use. You’ve got it now? Ditch the cereal and eat oatmeal. It will help you to live a life of vitality- like Valerie!

Sugar- the new cigarette?!

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True!

True!

Sugar (and artificial sweeteners aka “fake sugar”) is in my opinion the worst thing in the American diet. Sugar, which exists in almost every processed food in some form, leads to diabetes, high blood pressure, liver disease, rotten teeth, promotes weight gain, is highly addictive, raises your cholesterol which can lead to heart disease, and it can give you cancer. This sounds very dramatic, but all of these things are true and as Americans I feel we aren’t being informed about how terrible sugar is for us. This might have something to do with the food industry and how they monetarily support our government- politics of course.

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The point is that sugar is dangerous and I made the decision years ago to eat as little sugar and processed foods as possible. When I made this decision I didn’t even know how bad sugar was for me, I just knew that when I ate sugar I felt shaky and weak, especially with regard to my chronic fatigue syndrome symptoms. They were worse when I consumed sugar so I stayed away from it as much as possible. In the past 10 years I have continued to cut more sugar from my diet and now when I eat sugary things I think they’re too sweet and I don’t like the taste at all.

When I’m craving chocolate, I eat dark chocolate and have grown to love the stronger flavor than milk chocolate, which is mostly sugar anyway. When I’m craving something sweet, I will have a handful of grapes, a clementine, a banana, or some other fruit. I have found that I cannot drink fruit juice anymore because it gives me the same shaky feeling I have when eating dessert.

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Regarding “fake sugars”, I have as much concern about them as I do about real sugar. I don’t think it’s a good idea to stay away from real sugar and then put toxic chemicals in my body, so I just don’t eat sugar, real or fake, very much at all. However, I have heard good things about the natural, plant based sweetener, Stevia, which can help lower blood pressure and ease stomach problems as well as being a natural sweetener. That is promising. Also Xylitol is another sweetener that seems to have some benefits as well. It naturally occurs in fruit and in our own bodies. It is a sugar alcohol and as such has a lower glycemic response than sucrose or glucose. In addition, it helps prevent gum disease. Wow a sweetener that’s actually good for your teeth!

Natural sweeteners are the best!

Natural sweeteners are the best!

If I have to use a sweetener it is usually honey or agave nectar. Honey has anti-viral and antibacterial properties in addition to being a natural sweetener, and I always make sure I’m using locally produced honey as well so I can ensure its quality. Agave nectar is a sweetener used by the Aztecs for thousands of years. It’s from the Agave plant, the same plant used to produce tequila and it has a low glycemic index so it does not raise blood sugar. it has a long history as a miracle plant used to cure various diseases

My conclusion about sugar is that if you have to have sweetener, use Stevia or Xylitol, but in general I try to do without it. I will sometimes use a spoonful of honey or agave nectar as well if I have to have something sweetened but usually I find it better for me to do without. After all, I’m sweet enough as it is!! 🙂