Simple tips for staying healthy every day

I keep thinking that everyone are aware of what the healthier option of different kinds of food is nowadays, but when going grocery shopping I tend to realize that that isn’t the case. Seriously, the amount of shit food people buy is amazing. Most of you probably do know what I’m about to tell you, but for those who don’t – here you go;

  • Choose the complex carbs. Eating white rice, pasta, bread, cereal etc is like eating paper – there is no nutritional value at all WHATSOEVER. The high glycemic value (GI) makes your insulin levels spike quickly, only to let them drop again and you feel low in energy and just as hungry. They are high in empty calories and do not help your digestive system in any kind of way. Wheat has no benefits.

Let me show you the difference between Australian bread and Norwegian bread.

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So choose whatever contains the most fiber. Or bake your own bread or Norwegian Knekkebrød (crisp bread). Choose oats (WITHOUT ADDED SUGAR) over any other processed cereal. Wholegrain pasta still contains a lot of wheat, but is better than the normal white pasta. If you wanna go crazy (like me), choose buckwheat or quinoa pasta. Wholegrain rice, black wild rice, quinoa, buckwheat, couscous (now and then), lentils, chickpeas, beans, POTATOES instead of white rice.

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  • Eat more vegetables. Make vegetables the main ingredients of your meal. You can pretty much eat unlimited amounts of greens for any meal, as they are low in calories and high in everything else.
  • Think lean. Choose lean protein options. Sure, pepperoni is amazing on anything, but it’s not particularly healthy in terms of fat, salt or.. content. Make chicken, turkey, fish (tuna, salmon, mackerel, basa fish, scampi) and lean red meat your protein source.
  • Be creative in your protein choices. Soy-products like tofu and quorn, greek NATURAL yoghurt (any yoghurt with added flavour is also packed with sugar), cottage cheese, beans, chickpeas, lentils, eggs (eggs are great!), nuts, parmesan cheese.. They all contain protein. In fact, there’s a little protein in pretty much everything that is natural.

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  • Increase your omega-3 intake. In other words, eat fish. Fish has fat that will help your skin, nails and hair look good, it’s low in calories, it’s filling, it’s high in protein and vitamins. Fish is high in Vitamin D, which is needed for your body to take up calcium (if you drink milk/eat dairy, this is particularly important as your body will need the Vitamin D to use the calcium to its benefit – otherwise you’ll be left with brittle bones). I know that this is one of my struggles, so in addition to attempting (all we can do is try) to eat fish at least once a week, I take omega-3 supplements twice a day.
  • Reduce your refined sugar-intake. Avoid food containing things you have no idea what is. Don’t eat biscuits, ice cream, canned fruit, candy, cake etc on a daily basis – those are meant to be an occasional snack, not a part of your diet. Don’t buy juice, soda or cordial, they’re all packed with sugar. Eat at least 5 different kinds of fruit a day to combat your sugar-cravings and provide your body with the needed vitamins.

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  • Eat the right fat. Olive oil, flaxseed oil, coconut oil (the body does not take up the saturated aka bad fat from coconut oil), avocado, nuts (unsalted, preferably not peanuts), fish, etc. NOT chips, anything containing palm oil, or anything high in saturated fat. We don’t want blocked veins, right?
  • Hydrate! Your body needs enough water to carry out all its responsibilities and functions. If your body doesn’t get enough water, it will re-use whatever water is left in your already digested food – and we don’t want ‘contaminated’ water helping the regulations of the body, do we?

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  • Swap your daily caffeine for green tea/herbal tea. Green tea contains heaps of antioxidants and doesn’t stain your teeth. Drinking one coffee with milk and sugar every day on top of your daily intake of nutrition can make you gain about 5 kgs in a year (due to the milk and sugar, obviously).
  • Cook your own food. It’s not hard. It doesn’t require much energy. You can control what you put in your body. And you’ll have leftovers to eat for lunch or to freeze.

Remember to EAT ENOUGH. If you store good food – you will choose to eat the good food. It’s easy.

Oh, and should you wanna know what happens whenever I eat crap food. This is the result of three pieces of brownies. Not cool.

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The hidden sugar

Knowing the different kinds of names for added sugar is a key to realizing what products to choose and what products to avoid if you want to “eat clean”. I went hunting for a substitute for wraps (or spelt wraps/speltlomper, in norwegian….) today and jeez, they all contain some kind of crap. One of them claimed to be yeast free, dairy free and contain no added sugar, and they were bloody expensive too. I usually always read the ingredients lists of new products (whatever is mentioned first, is what the product contains the most of), and this package of supposedly healthy wraps contained added concentrate of apple juice. Hidden added sugar right there! If you don’t pay attention when picking your almond milk, soy milk, rice milk or oat milk, you end up with added sugars again. You think you’re buying pure dried fruit, but instead it is covered in sugar. Coconut sugar, palm sugar, agave nectar, rice syrup, evaporated cane juice, .. this list can go on forever.

Bree-sweet-tooth-types-of-sugarI eventually found a package of gluten-free wraps, but oh my, the Norwegian spelt wraps are heavily missed. Making them into chips with heaps of spices in the oven did do the trick though, and I had super delicious tacos for dinner. Speaking of sugar and tacos, all the taco spices and sauces contain added sugar too. I know we have a stevia-sweetened sauce in Norway,  but that is yet to come in Australia. iHerb has a taco seasoning thing with no added sugar or salt from All Natural Frontier, and I rarely use anything other than that. You can also make your own mixture with garlic salt, paprika, cumin and such.

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I got a package from iHerb today (discount code: TBW611 to get $5-10 off your first order), and it was full of chocolate-ish-things (even the lipbalm was chocolate flavored). I have a thing for coconut and chocolate so when I found Raw Revolution’s chocolate coconut bliss, I had to order them. Now, these claim to be healthy, raw and all that, but they do in fact contain added agave nectar, and will therefore be a part of my cheat-day – NOT my normal everyday. They are for sure a better option than the average snickers-bar (favourite….), but should not be indulged all the time just because they claim to be healthy.

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I also ordered freeze-dried mango (with no added sugar), and oh my God – why have I never tried that before?! It is so so so delicious. My sister has always been a major fan of dried fruits like apricots and that, but I’ve never really liked it – until now. These little pieces of heaven will for sure be ordered again. When it comes to dried fruit and such, like raisins, dates and figs, it is important to remember that these are pretty high in naturally occurring sugar and therefore also more calorie-rich than your average carrot or apple. One big medjool-date contains about 110 kcal, which is more than a normal banana, so if you are trying to control your calorie-intake you might wanna not overdo them because just like with anything else, we should eat everything in moderation.

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I got to do legs for the first time since being stupid with my ankle this week, and I had forgotten how damn sore it is possible to get from a workout. Learning to not overdo things, I decided to ease off the heavy weights and did my hipthrusts with 65kg instead of the 75 I’ve been doing for a while, but Jesus Christ it still killed. I’ve also realized that I’m lazy doing my ab-workout, so after finishing my bicep/tricep workout this morning I asked one of the bored instructors in the gym to force me to do my abs. I swear, they are still crying. I asked for it, I complained whilst doing it – and I’m probably gonna complain even more tomorrow. But I did it. Happy Marita.

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Zero calories equals healthy.. or?

I am a stalker of nature, and it should not come as a surprise that I read any fitness blog I can possibly find. I’m also very easy to influence and even easier to sell things to. So when all these fitness bloggers are praising the Walden Farms series that iHerb sells, it should come as no surprise that I had to buy their products.

Chocolate, dips, mayo, sauces, syrups. AND ALL WITH ZERO CALORIES. ‘Yum’, they all say. So tasty, so healthy, and such a great replacement for whenever you’re craving sweets.

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Yeah, they lied. What do you think Walden Farms puts in their products when they are calorie-free? Certainly not anything that your body will recognize. And unless you really really REALLY love the taste of fake and artificial food, Walden Farms tastes like crap. In fact, it tasted so horrible that I had to throw it all out.

Here in Australia everything is practically gluten-free and fat-free. Buy a bag of normal lollies and it’ll say 99% fat-free, and buy a bag of sugar-free lollies and it’ll mention something about 70% less calories. 70% less than what, may I ask? And so what if the candy is fat-free, it is still packed with sugar and other artificial stuff.

The only way to create so-called “pseudo-foods” (as in food tricking you to thinking it is actually..food, when in reality it is only a bunch of artificial makeup) is to add tons of chemicals. Adding chemicals results in depriving the food of its nutritional value, hence leaving it calorie-free. Does that mean we should be eating it everyday? N to the O, we shouldn’t. I’ve quit crap food, sugar and candy for a reason – I want to take care of my health.

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I have friends who substitute their daily chocolate with sugar-free chocolate, “healthy” protein-bars etc. Doesn’t that sort of defeat the purpose? Yes, I stocked up on sugar-free chocolate when I was back home, but that doesn’t mean I justify eating it on a daily basis just cause I’m craving things and they qualify as “healthy”.

Eat the real food, and keep the chocolate (no matter if it is sugar-free, healthy, calorie-free or normal) for where it belongs – the weekends.

But honey, you need a little bit of sugar

Yes you do. The natural kind. Not the kind found in candy. Not the kind found in your artificially, processed cereal. And not the kind found in your soda or orange juice. You need the natural sugar, or glucose, that your body makes from the food you eat, such as fruit, complex carbs and vegetables.

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Author of Fat Chance: Beating the Odds Against Sugar, Processed Food, Obesity and DiseaseRobert Lustig, explains that sugar is addictive. In humans, fructose (commonly found in artificial and processed food) lights up the reward center in your brain called the nucleus accumbens on MRI; however, after repeated exposure, the reward center lights up less and less, and you will be needing more and more to achieve the same effect. Fructose has effects on the reward center similar to alcohol; and can implement a “vicious cycle” of consumption and disease. Thinking of chronic diseases, evidence links sugar directly to heart disease, type 2 diabetes or cancer.

But fructose is found in fruit?!?! Yes, it is. But fruit also contains magic amounts of fiber, making the fructose harder to absorb. Little amounts of fructose is not dangerous, large amounts is, as it may overload your liver being consumed and absorbed at once – and we do not want that, do we?

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Discover good nutrition compares natural sugar to artificial sugar:

An average orange has about about 3 teaspoons of natural sugar and a cup of strawberries has less than two teaspoons. And on top of that, you’re getting 3 grams of fiber, a full day’s worth of vitamin C, antioxidants and some folic acid and potassium – and it’ll only cost you about 50 or 60 calories. By contrast, a 0,5L coke will set you back about 225 calories and, and will for sure not be supplying any antioxidants, vitamins, minerals or fiber. You’ll simply be enjoying carbonated water, artificial color and flavor, and somewhere in the neighborhood of 60 grams of added sugar. So what sugar did we say we wanted again?

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Line, my fellow Norwegian, highly enjoys her sugary poison and would probably never give up her treats. But she recently decided to give up sugar on weekdays. It has been a week and she has succeeded, claiming that this will continue next week too. She says it was hard the first days, but found solutions to the late night snack cravings; smoothies, bananas, other fruit, loads of chewing gum, and homemade granola. Accidentally putting candy in her mouth mid-week, thinking it was sugar free, put a little nervous breakdown to display, but she concluded “it didn’t count”. Has she noticed any benefits? The initial candy cravings disappeared after a few days. “If I can do it, anybody can”, she says.

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Now, my rule is having a candy-day once a week, Line’s is more.. quitting it Monday-Thursday. But we all have to start somewhere, don’t we?

We know where the obvious sugar is found, but for some reason people tend to think that other processed food is free of sugar. It is not. ABC Health and Wellbeing suggests to stay away from:

  • sugar-laden breakfast cereals – some of these contain up to 30 per cent sugar (breakfast cereal review here). Despite claiming to have enough fibre to get you through the day, they contain the wrong fibre that is full of phytates – substances that bind essential minerals and take them out of the body, and thereby steals your much needed minerals.
  • premade meals and sauces (yes that includes your baked beans and canned soup).
  • supposed ‘health foods’ such as muesli bars and other snacks found in the health food section.
  • spreads including jams and sugar-free fruit spreads, as well as less obvious suspects such as peanut butter.

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How about we try to limit our sugar-intake to once a week guys, read the labels of your food, choose the ones with ingredients you actually can pronounce, and maybe we get to save our bodies from a couple of internal inflammations too.