Organic Produce – the Dirty Dozen

Now that we are beginning to feel the warmth of the weather and feel like we are finally heading in the direction of summer we really need to be aware of the foods that are now at the peak of the season for freshness that we are purchasing. A lot of fresh fruits and vegetables are covered with tons of pesticides. Until recently I did not know that there is a list out there called the dirty dozen. This is a list of foods that you should try to buy organic whenever possible because they are the most heavily covered in pesticides. I feel like the more and more chemicals and things that we put into our foods the worse they are for us. Now, I have not been super strict about eating everything organic at all but I do know that if there are somethings that are better to buy organic then that is what I am going to try to do. Especially since little man is super crazy about any type of fruit that he can get his hands on.

Here is the list of the foods most heavily covered in pesticides.
Dirty Dozen
1. Strawberries
2. Spinach
3. Nectarines
4. Apples
5. Peaches
6. Pears
7. Cherries
8. Grapes
9. Celery
10. Tomatoes
11. Sweet Bell Peppers
12. Potatoes

Then there is a list of foods that is the least likely to be covered in pesticides. These are the ones that you don’t have to worry about buying organic.

Clean Fifteen
1. Sweet Corn
2. Avocados
3. Pineapples
4. Cabbage
5. Onions
6. Frozen Sweet Peas
7. Papayas
8. Asparagus
9. Mangos
10. Eggplant
11. Honeydew Melon
12. Kiwi fruit
13. Cantaloupe
14. Cauliflower
15. Grapefruit

I know that some people really don’t care about things being organic. I have been buying produce for a while and not caring about it either. However, if there is a simple list like this of some foods that would be better for you if you do buy them organic then why not. And now that I have cut out sugars and am really trying to be aware of what I am eating this list is helpful when going to the grocery store. Usually I just put an “o” next to the items on my grocery list so that I know those are the foods that I need to try to buy organic.

Another thing to do is to check out your local farmers markets to buy your produce. This stuff usually doesn’t have as much for pesticides on them since most of the time it is smaller farmers that are selling. Or if you have kids and really feel up to the challenge over the summer, try and make your own little garden and watch at least some of these foods grow right at home. I know last year we grew cherry tomatoes and Ray had a blast picking the tomatoes when they turned red. He also got to learn about taking care of them and watering them. Even if you don’t have much space. I grew mine in a large flower-pot. It is really pretty simple.

If you want to know more information about the dirty dozen list check out the site Dr. Axe Food is Medicine. This gives some more information about the different foods and is a list that has been updated this year.

Cutting Out Sugars

At the beginning of April I decided that it was time to start trying to cut sugar out of my diet. Mainly because my skin has been such a problem in the recent years. (Really ever since I was pregnant and was eating whatever I wanted.) I was hoping that doing something like this might help with all the dryness that I keep getting. And really if my husband has been able to cut out drinking about a two liter of Mt. Dew every day or so since January, I should definitely be able to at least reduce my sugar intake. I first decided to just cut out all extra sugars. This means all cookies, candies, etc that I like to just snack on. That also means even the granola bars that I would always grab. I have always had a huge sweet tooth and will normally eat about a dozen cookies in one sitting. I have been that way ever since I was little and my mom would always have homemade cookies at home.

Since I started doing this at the beginning of April I have noticed some great improvements in my skin. It is not as dry and flaky as it was before. I have also noticed that the bloated feeling that I have been feeling everyday is going away and I feel as though I don’t seem to look as puffy. I have been only doing this for about 3 weeks and I have already noticed some great improvements. However, on Easter I cracked and started to eat some candy and cookies. I have definitely noticed that I am bloated again and my skin is starting to get dry again. I thought that I would be ok with just having a cheat one day but now my will power is gone and I have been sneaking a little candy each day. What I have learned is that if you are someone like me once you start eating the junk foods it is hard to stop. I need to recommit to this and hopefully get back on track in the next day or so.

I know a lot of people that when they cut out sugar they get super into reading labels and making sure that they are not eating any of it. I think that this is the reason that a lot of people just say that it is too hard and difficult to watch everything that you are eating to make sure there is no sugar in it. You would have to completely overhaul your entire lifestyle if this is the way you are going to cut out sugar. I feel that this way of cutting out sugar is great if you are working with a nutritionist but for a normal person (especially me) I don’t have time to spend half our day in the grocery store trying to read labels and figure out what is what and whether I can eat something or not. Especially when sugar is usually not listed as sugar on ingredient lists.

I think that the simplest way is to start by cutting out all the extras that you eat on a regular basis. Then as you get more comfortable with not eating the extras you can try to substitute what you normally buy with healthier versions. Or start learning what to look for on ingredient lists and substitute things one at a time. There are some great apps that are able to tell you better alternatives to a food you normally buy if you just scan the bar code. The one I use is fooducate.

By cutting out sugar this way it makes it not so overwhelming and I am hoping it will be easier to change our eating habits to an overall healthier diet over time. There have been studies that suggest that sugar is a cause of type 2 diabetics, obesity, and even some cancers. Most of the time it is the added sugars in processed foods that are the worst. You cannot avoid all sugar since fruit is a natural sugar but starting out if all the processed foods have sugar in them and you area also eating cookies and candy on top of that it is just not good. Eventually you can switch from eating so much processed foods. I know that for me with a picky eater at home this is going to take some time.

For me improving my overall health is a major reason that I want to cut sugars from my diet, however, I do want to work on that balance because I know what it is like to deprive  myself (from my competing days) and that is just not the way I want to really live my life. The 80/20 rule is a better way to live. But you have to work toward stoping yourself after having one cookie or treat. And also eating clean most of your days but allowing yourself to be happy and celebrate with a piece of cake on your birthday is good for you too. Finding that happy medium and balance is a must. Remember, though, when first cutting out sugars it is going to be hard and you are going to feel deprived. Push through it and if you mess up get right back at it!