It’s natural to find colourful food appealing – as humans, we’re visual creatures. Think about what draws you, for example, to produce in the supermarket – you like bright red strawberries, yellow bananas, blueberries, dark purple grapes, cherry red tomatoes, brilliant green peppers, and so on. You wouldn’t want to eat, for example, a grey carrot or a beige peach. So going colour free can be difficult.
Following a colour free diet doesn’t mean that you give up the natural foods you love; it means eliminating dangerous dyes that are added to your food. Did you know, for example, that a bowl of rainbow-colored cereal can contain compounds that can cause allergic reactions, and have even been implicated in neurological illnesses?
Red 40, Blue 1, and Yellows 5 and 6 have been linked to allergic reactions. Granted, this isn’t common, but it’s reason enough to avoid dyed foods whenever possible. Studies have also indicated that these dyes could cause hyperactivity in some children. Additionally, these dyes along with Blue 2 and Green 3 have been shown to cause cancer in lab animals. Yellow 5 was also linked to mutations.
Food dyes are a relatively new additive. They came into common use when food processors decided to capitalize on our visual nature. At one time, food dyes were natural – beet juice, for example, was used to create red coloring. Of course, food processors are always looking for ways to lower their costs, and artificial dyes are considerably cheaper than natural ones.
In the States, FDA standards for approving food colorings are fairly low. If the risk isn’t actually proven beyond any doubt, the dye gets FDA approval. The laws are similar in Australia. This doesn’t mean that the dye isn’t harmful, just that cause and effect can’t be inextricably linked.
So, how can you follow a colour free diet? Hard as it may be, you should start by eliminating most types of candy. Pure chocolate is dye-free, but colorful marshmallow candies, coated chocolate, jelly candies and waxy candies, to name just a few, all contain dyes.
Read the labels on anything that’s processed. Many cereals are huge offenders when it comes to food dyes. You’ll also find dyes in soups, snack cakes, and even some meats. Yogurt is usually thought to be a healthy food, but read the labels on the fruit varieties – many of them contain little fruit and rely on dye to give the appearance of higher fruit content.
Generally speaking, if a food looks really colorful, and it’s not a fresh fruit or vegetable, it could contain dye. When in doubt, give it a pass.
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If you’ve stopped adding salt to your food, you could still be getting too much sodium. Almost 80% of the sodium people consume on a daily basis comes from processed foods, and you may be eating these regularly without ever reaching for the saltshaker. Therefore going sodium free takes a little bit of work.
Sodium is found in obvious sources, like potato chips and pretzels, but it also hides in a lot of other foods. Because it’s present in virtually everything that’s canned, and also in most frozen foods as well, no one is ever going to be in any danger of getting too little sodium.
Actually, you need some sodium in order to stay alive. It helps maintain cellular fluid levels and facilitates the transmission of information to nerves and muscles. It also aids in nutrient absorption in the small intestine. Too much sodium, though, can play a role in strokes, heart disease and kidney disorders. If you’re thinking of cutting down on your sodium, it’s likely because you’re aware of those health concerns.
Fresh foods are your best friends when it comes to reducing your sodium intake. Choose fresh vegetables instead of canned, and don’t add any salt to the cooking water. If you must use canned vegetables, look at the label, make sure it says, “no salt added,” and then rinse thoroughly just to be sure. One exception to the fresh vegetable rule is celery – it’s actually very high in sodium compared with other vegetables. Three and a half ounces of raw celery contains approximately 130mg of sodium.
Fresh fruits are also fine, as well as whole grain products. When choosing meats, stay away from anything that’s been processed. Ham, bacon, sausage, frankfurters, lunchmeats and cold cuts are sodium minefields. Instead, select lean cuts of meat and poultry, and don’t season with salt. Fresh fish is a good choice, but if you’re going to use canned, make sure it’s packed in water.
Many condiments, and also anything pickled, can be very high in sodium, so keep the use of these products to a minimum.
If you’re serious about cutting back on sodium, consider getting back into the kitchen and making nutritious meals from scratch. There’s very little that you can make from natural, unprocessed ingredients that’s going to contain an excessive amount of sodium. Now just put the saltshaker away, and you’re off to a good start.
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If you are planning to follow a raw food diet, you won’t be spending a great deal of time cooking. Raw food advocates believe that cooking not only destroys nutrients, it can actually make foods toxic.
If you are planning to adopt a raw food diet, it may be because you’ve read that it can help with memory, boost immunity, and give relief to arthritis sufferers. Eating raw foods exclusively is also believed to help with headaches. Other people choose to eat raw foods as a means of losing weight.
Most of what you eat on a raw food diet will be high in vitamins, minerals and dietary fiber. However, you may find that you’re not getting enough iron, protein and calcium so you might want to consider taking a daily multivitamin.
On a raw food diet, you can eat raw vegetables, nuts, seeds, sprouted grains, and raw fruits. Some raw diet adherents will also consume unpasteurized dairy products, while others forego dairy. In most areas, it’s actually illegal to sell unpasteurized dairy products. Raw food adherents may or may not consume raw meat, fish and eggs.
If you’re planning on adopting a raw food diet, you’re going to be spending a lot of time in the kitchen, even though you won’t be cooking. Preparation of raw foods can be very time consuming. You’ll also have to spend a lot more time shopping, since most of the foods you can consume will be organic. Foods can be blended or hydrated, and you can also sprout seeds and germinate nuts. Be careful doing this, though, because there can be a risk of contamination.
Another thing to be concerned about with a raw food diet is foodborne illnesses that can occur with unpasteurized and uncooked foods. You’re going to have to be very careful with cleanliness when it comes to food preparation, and make sure that you’re choosing only the freshest ingredients. Wash your food very carefully, and give extra attention to green onions, lettuce, and raspberries. These are foods that are particularly prone to contamination.
Because of the increased risk of food poisoning, raw food diets are not recommended for people who have weak immune systems or chronic medical problems, such as kidney disease. Raw food diets are also not recommended for seniors, young children, or pregnant women.
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The two types of dietary fiber are soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber helps the body eliminate toxins and waste, and encourages helpful intestinal bacteria. It also slows the digestive process so that you feel full for a longer time after eating, and it helps to regulate the blood sugar.
If you’re considering following a high fiber diet, it’s probably because you want to be healthier. Perhaps you’re troubled by diverticular disease, constipation or hemorrhoids. Low fiber is also connected to excess weight and heart problems.
When increasing your consumption of fiber, you should also make sure to drink more water as well – this aids in the digestion and helps you to avoid stomach discomfort. There are no foods prohibited on a high fiber diet, but there are several that you’re encouraged to eat.
Apples are inexpensive, and readily available. They’re a great source of fiber. Ideally, you should eat apples with the skin on to maximize your intake of fiber. Pears are also a great fruit – with their coarse texture, you can practically feel the benefit!
Most vegetables provide high amounts of fiber. For maximum benefit, don’t overcook your vegetables – steam or stir fry instead of boiling. Broccoli is high in fiber and also provides a number of other nutrients. In the green family, Brussels sprouts are also desirable, but admittedly not to everyone’s liking. You might try cooking them in a cheese sauce, or roasting them in olive oil.
Carrots are best consumed raw, as cooking destroys some of the fiber. If you’re fond of carrots, you might also try parsnips – they look like carrots, except that they’re white and have a much stronger taste. They’re an even better source of fiber, packing twice the content of carrots.
When considering fiber, you almost certainly think of grains, but note that they have to be in their whole form – when grains are processed, the bran is removed, and that dramatically reduces the fiber.
Seeds, especially flax or chia, are excellent sources of fiber.
Don’t overlook legumes – they not only provide fiber, they’re a great source of protein, so if you’re upping your fiber intake while also following a vegetarian or vegan diet, you’re getting double the benefit. Lentils are a common ingredient in several global cuisines, and they lend themselves well to various methods of cooking.
A high fiber diet is easy to follow because you don’t have to take anything away – you just have to add more fiber to your diet, and if you’re fond of the foods listed above, it should be easy!
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If you are planning on following a Paleo diet, the idea is that you’re going to have to eat like a caveman. This means not eating any processed foods.
If you’re considering a Paleo diet, you’re probably doing so because you’ve heard or read that it’s a great way to lose weight. The theory is that cavemen weren’t fat, and the evidence gained from examining fossilized skeletons would seem to indicate that this is true. However, whether cavemen weren’t fat because of their diet, or because they expended so many calories hunting, gathering, and generally trying to stay alive is up for debate. It may also be worth mentioning that most cavemen died by about age 30.
Proponents of the Paleo diet also claim that it can reduce blood pressure and lower triglycerides, thereby reducing the risk of heart disease, and that it can control or prevent diabetes. The research really isn’t conclusive on this.
If you’re planning to follow a Paleo diet, you won’t be able to eat grains or dairy. This means that you’ll be missing out on a lot of essential nutrients, so you may want to supplement your diet with a daily multivitamin.
On the Paleo diet, you can eat significant quantities of lean meats, fish, eggs, seeds and nuts, vegetables, fruits, and healthy oils like olive or coconut. You won’t be able to have any refined sugar, potatoes or salt. If your goal is weight loss, you won’t have to count calories, and you’ll find that eating a lot of fruits and vegetables will fill you up quite nicely.
All the foods you eat are going to have to be prepared from scratch, so you should plan on spending a fair bit of time in the kitchen. You won’t be able to use any foods that are processed, and convenience foods are strictly prohibited. Basically, if the type of food you want to eat (other than the healthy oils) wasn’t available in the Paleolithic era, you’re not going to be able to eat it.
The Paleo diet won’t work for you if you plan to combine it with a vegan or vegetarian diet, because the diet is very heavy on animal protein. On the other hand, the Paleo diet is a great combined with a low sodium diet since, of course, salt was not available to our cave-dwelling predecessors. This means that you have to eliminate various other seasonings as well – soy sauce, steak sauce, etc.
If you’re committed to following a Paleo diet, be prepared to eliminate all convenience foods from your diet and consume mostly foods that you prepare yourself from ingredients that our caveman ancestors would have eaten. If your goal is weight loss, it will probably work for you, but most people find it difficult to follow. If you want to try it and need support, there are several online sources that offer recipes, tips and also encouragement.
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Amines are chemicals that occur naturally in several foods. They give food its flavor by fermentation, or through breaking down the proteins in the food. Foods that are very intense in flavor are usually higher in amines. Ripened fruits and aged meats, for example, are high in amines.
If you’re thinking the name sounds familiar, you’re probably thinking of histamines, and antihistamines. When you have an allergic reaction, it’s because of histamines, and taking antihistamines eases the symptoms. When you eat foods that are high in amines, a substance called histidine is metabolized, absorbed, and in people who are amine sensitive, tissues become inflamed and swelling occurs – in other words, you have an allergic reaction.
High histamine foods include alcoholic beverages, smoked fish, chocolate, tomatoes, avocadoes, bananas, and processed meats. Most foods that, in their natural form, are histamine-free, become extremely high in histamine and other amines when they’re processed. Generally speaking, if it’s fresh, you shouldn’t have much of a problem. Make sure that your meats and your fish are as fresh as possible, and as previously stated, avoid smoked products.
Vegetables in general are very low in amines. The exceptions are tomatoes, spinach and eggplant. Spinach, for example, has a whopping 30-60 milligrams of amines per kilogram of product. You also want to make sure that your vegetables are very fresh – remember, the older the food, the higher the amine level.
The rule for vegetables is the same as it is for meat and fish – processing is going to ratchet up the amine level. Plain cabbage, for example, is very low in amines, but if you make sauerkraut, that jacks up the amine level to nearly 229 milligrams per kilogram of product! So, if you’ve heard people say that they’re allergic to sauerkraut, maybe it’s not just that they don’t like it – they really could be experiencing an adverse reaction from eating it.
You can safely consume uncultured dairy products, but avoid ripened cheeses and yogurt.
It probably isn’t realistic to think that you’re ever going to be able to remove all histamines and other amines from your diet, since their production is a natural occurrence in virtually every type of food. But if you make sure your foods are as fresh as possible, and avoid processed foods, you can keep the consumption of amines to a minimum.
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