Thursday, September 1, 2011

Processed Foods and Luna Minis

I really love Zone Bars, specifically the chocolate mint flavor.

It's the only bar that doesn't taste like a "bar" if you know what I mean and almost like a treat for me. I've tried hundreds...okay dozens of brands and flavors and I haven't found anything that has a decent balance of calories, protein, carbs and fats like my Zone Bar.

But the major problem with my favorite bar is that it is highly chemically processed and now I can't eat them as much as I would like to.

I have been more conscious recently of the foods I have been eating and trying to eliminate processed foods (almost) completely. This has proven to be quite the challenge for me.

When I first started paying attention to food labels back in 2002 after taking a nutrition class in college, I started cutting down on foods with high fructose corn syrup and hydrogenated oils. If you start looking at the foods in your pantry more you'll notice that almost everything has those two ingredients in there. That is why it is so hard to eliminate everything.

Unfortunately there are just some foods that I cannot quit, but overall I am doing better and have really been filling up my fridge with veggies and foods that need to be cooked within 3 days.

So with that said, my pantry is almost empty! Aside from protein powders, some spices, sauces and Luna Minis (more on that in a minute), that is all I have in there. Even my beloved peanut butter has to be refrigerated.

I was at Trader Joe's yesterday and wanted to raid the snack aisle like I've never eaten! But instead of going down the aisle like I normally do and feel sad, I decided not to even go down that road. It helped a little, but I still felt sad.

Why is it that the foods you know you shouldn't be eating you crave even more when you can't have them?!?

And honestly it's not really actual food I am missing, it's desserts. I love cookies, cakes, ice cream, chocolate by the ton, and milk shakes. Luckily I have never been one to indulge in fried foods or pasta, just the occasional pizza, but I sure make up for it in sweets!

I just want to make it clear that I am not eliminating processed foods to lose weight. I am doing it to feel better and treat my body well. There are so many weight loss plans that include frozen meals and I am shocked that so many people buy into these meals thinking they are going to be healthy if they eat pre-packaged foods. They may lose weight since they are taking in less calories and monitoring their food intake, but they are not healthy by any means.

I do believe in moderation and not depriving yourself. If I could just eat fruit, vegetables, fish and lean meats all the day long that would be fantastic, but a total fantasy.

I remember my mom telling me that when she moved to the US she was sick all the time. She went from eating all of her meals made from scratch to eating packaged foods since it was easy and very new to her. She suffered from headaches, stomach-aches, nausea and some weight gain. As she became more familiar with the stores and products (she couldn't read English), she started cooking again and started feeling better.

Well, I can't seem to give up protein bars completely since they are great on the run and great as a quick snack to hold you over, so I have started eating Luna Minis instead. They are 70% organic and I can pronounce almost all of the ingredients.

As for the Zone Bar, I think I can pronounce like 3 out of the 25 things listed. I really like the Luna Minis since they contain a lot less sugar than the regular size and are half the calories; not to mention pretty cute looking. The regular size is great for an actual meal replacement, but the sugar content is too high for me.

Here's a great article I found that breaks down what you shouldn't be eating. It looks like a lot and it is. This article does not in any way portray my way of eating, but I included it because it's good to use as a general guideline.

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