To hear the full back story, click here!
The spark notes version of what I'm about to share is that Mark and I have changed our eating habits SLOWLY, but surely over the past two years! We started with two road blocks:
1) Mark is stubborn and likes his food to taste good. There was NO sneaking chalky-granola-tree-hugger food into our cupboards without him noticing and never TOUCHING it.
2) I am stubborn and have a very hard time breaking nasty habits. I am the most undisciplined person I know. SO, I knew any healthy changes we made would need to be slow, steady, noninvasive and relatively pain free.
We started to worry more about the things we ate more. To learn about our bread choices, click here! To learn about our milk choices, click here! To learn about our yogurt choices, click here!
Oh my word! I've talked to SO many of you who have been trying Ezekiel bread, Greek yogurt and coconut milk! So fun to chat with you all. Hope you're enjoying the process of finding something that works for you!
Today, I'll share more about our drinking habits...as if the milk post wasn't enough, we're chattin' about more liquids, today, folks!
We started by drinking just about everything. Lots of milk (which I covered earlier), soda, flavored waters, smoothies, shakes, regular water...just everything.
I can't say that we've taken as many specific steps towards healthier hydrating options, but I can share some of the larger broad brush stroke commitments we've made in regard to our liquids.
1) Water - Okay, let's get this topic over with first. It's probably the one that I will catch the most heat for. My disclaimer - Like I've said before, I am just sharing from our personal experience and learning. Don't get super scared or defensive. Just do yourself a favor, research this topic, talk to professionals, and choose for yourself, based on what you find out.
We started by drinking any and all waters...just regular ole tap water was fine for us.
Later, we started learning about large amounts of chlorine, heavy metals, contaminants and other toxins in water. We learned about potential cancer risks, allergies, thyroid issues and immune system complications. Check out some of these articles:
Bottled water isn't much better, and includes many of the same yucky things...
Our solution? We bit the bullet and invested in a reverse osmosis system for our home, which filters out flouride and the other nasty chemicals. Beware of Brita, Pur and other filters - most do NOT remove flouride. Just food for thought! Anyway, our reverse osmosis system was a chunk of cash up front, but in thinking about how much we drink water, it was a valuable investment for us.
We've also learned about harmful BPAs in popular water bottles. Chemicals that are used to produce the bottles can seep into the water itself and put you at risk for diabetes, cancers, hormone issues, Down Syndrome and Alzheimer's. When Mark and I travel, we try not to buy plastic water bottles and bring our own BPA-free reusable water bottles instead.
Last but not least, we drink A LOT more water than we used to. I can't tell you how many times I've had a headache (or some other weird sick feeling) start...but then, I guzzle insane amounts of water throughout the day and the headache and/or sickness seems to melt away. Not kidding. Try to drink half your body weight in ounces every day.
The trick to drinking more water for me has been using straws. Weird, I know. If a water bottle has a straw, I'll drink it like it's my job. To keep ourselves accountable, Mark and I carry our water bottles everywhere - the office, driving around town on errands, trips, and at home. Heck, even if I go spend some time in our basement for a while, I'll be sure to bring my water bottle. Our water bottles are at our bed stands every night, too.
Water. It does a body good. (insert charming, forced, infomercial sort of smile...)
2) Soda, Juice, and other packaged beverages - This covers most of the things you'd buy pre-packaged at the grocery store... Pop, sports drinks, flavored waters, juices, etc. We started reading nutrition labels on these products and were stunned at the amount of sugar in all of them.
I mentioned this in an earlier post, but I think it is important enough to mention again. If there is ANYTHING you start to cut down on in your diet, consider cutting sugars! Why? You will lose a lot more weight, you will protect yourself against cancers, you will lessen the amount of inflammation in your body, slow the aging process, and you will boost your immune system! Check out these articles. Sugar and Weight Loss Resistance | Sugar and Connections to Cancer | Sugar and Your Immune System | Sugar and Depression
So, I am not saying you should never have a cookie, a piece of chocolate or a good ole baked potato... I am more talking about the crazy amounts of hidden sugars that we ingest without even realizing it. Especially in our drinks.
20 ounces of regular cola has about 65 grams of sugar in it. A 20 ounce sports drink, about 35 grams. An energy drink, about 54 grams. The worst news (at least for me) is that the bottled Starbucks frappucinos have 30 grams of sugar. Even "healthy" flavored vitamin waters have upwards of 15 grams of sugar and lots of artificial ingredients. I've heard that a person shouldn't ingest more than about 50 grams of sugar per day, so seeing as how there are many, many more grams of sugar in your potatoes, breads, pastas, fruits, sauces, and just about everything else we eat, I'd say we don't have a lot of wiggle room to work with.
Okay, okay... I know there are DIET soda and beverages out there. Less sugar, right? Yeah. True. But, at the same time, the artificial sweeteners might be even worse for you than the actual sugar. Though sugar isn't such a good thing, at least your body can recognize it as something that is natural. Think about reading a bit about artificial sweeteners and their potential dangers - Artificial Sweeteners More Dangerous Than You Imagined
Overall, we finally just bit the bullet. Cold turkey. We don't drink ANY pop or soda any RARELY drink any other packaged beverage. Like, really rarely... I can't brag, though. I grew up with no pop in the house and never really crave it. Talk to Mark about the woes of giving up sugared drinks. He will tell you how hard it is, but how much it is worth it. :)
3) Coffee Beverages - This covers the drinks you have made for you at coffee shops... You should talk to a barista who knows a little more about this subject than I do, but, in my own experience, I've learned that almost all mixed coffee beverages, including lattes, cappuccinos, hot chocolates, mochas, etc. are mixed with flavored syrups. Many of these syrups include extra amounts of sugar, artificial colors, high fructose corn syrup and other artificial sweeteners. I am not saying this is the end of the world, if you are drinking them in moderation, but for a girl like me, I'd rather have my sugar and artificial ingredients in plain sight - a pile of chocolate chips every now and then. Instead of flavored coffee drinks, now Mark and I have our healthier favorites. His is an Americano (espresso and water), mine is a plain latte (espresso and steamed milk, minus flavorings or syrups). We'll also order plain coffee and use a little bit of half and half to cream it up, if we're feeling like it.
4) Smoothies - Again, the kicker is sugar. Before you order any sort of smoothie from a place like Juice Stop (a personal favorite) or any other place, read the nutrition facts and ingredients. You will probably find a large amount of hidden sugar in the yogurts, artificial syrups or previously sweetened fruits included in the smoothies...even in the ones that are labeled as "healthy" and full of protein. Bummer, dude. Mark and I have these in moderation...they are few and far between in our diets. Instead, we've learned to make our own smoothies. Our favorites include mixing things like plain greek yogurt (tons of protein!), peanut butter, and bananas. My healthier and bolder friends blend spinach, kale, chia, and other crazy health ingredients in the mix. If you make a smoothie at home, you can control the ingredients and sugars more easily.
There you go, folks. Hope you're not overwhelmed. Let me remind you to research some of these things, take some practical baby steps and find out what works for you.
Good luck, friends.