For folks who registered at - you should be receiving updates at the email you registered with (please check your junk mail if you find your inbox is not receiving). The information in those updates is to help educate and motivate participants in the challenge.  These updates are available below for you to review and are available to you in case you’ve missed an email update or would like to review a particular subject or email of interest.  The purpose of the updates is to just be short, digestible (pun intended) tidbits to help you successfully participate in the 2nd annual SPH Sugar Challenge. Good luck!

Email 1 -- 12/18/20 -- Welcome and Get Ready!

Congrats! You’ve taken the first step towards a healthier you by registering for the 2nd annual SPH January sugar challenge. For a bit of background -- as a licensed dietitian and wellness expert, I have taken every January for the last 11 years as an opportunity to reset and start the New Year off with a bang. I absolutely love the holiday season, and much like most of us I found myself not feeling so fabulous after so much celebrating from Thanksgiving to New Year’s eve. My January challenge originally started with sober January (meaning no alcohol for 31-days) but has grown to focus on no added sugar. I have modified the challenge to be first and foremost no added sugar – and if you are game to also abstain from alcohol you would be doing your body and brain a double service. That’s just my recommendation to get the full benefits. But, no added sugar is the ultimate goal and if that’s all you want to challenge yourself with, you have full support from me! Why? The entire purpose is to reset our metabolisms and stabilize our blood sugar. Our metabolisms are designed very carefully to break down foods into their nourishing components and send that energy to our cells. The problem is that our diets (along with too much added sugar and alcohol) have forced our bodies to compensate how they digest. Over time, we actually change the way our bodies break things down and in the midst create chronic inflammation. Think of it like a brand new car with a new engine. Over time, without careful attention the engine becomes “mucked” and just doesn’t run as well. Much like an engine, our bodies could use an overhaul. Hence, a detox of sorts to clean out our engines and get us running much smoother. Better energy, better sleep, the list goes on and on. By February you'll feel fabulous! Please click on this link for the “rules”: Sugar Challenge Info. You can also follow @thefoodstoeat on IG and The Foods to Eat on FB for more engagement and more information as we go along. I can only send so much info in an email like this, so if you have social media let's connect! I’ll send another email next week about food labels so you'll know how to identify added sugar.  Get your friends and family to register at this link: Sugar Challenge Registration. The more the merrier! Get ready to feel great!!

Email 2 -- 12/24/20 -- Getting Prepped -- Food Labels!

Hello! Happy Christmas eve, and I hope you're looking forward to 2021! Today marks 1 week until New Year's Eve which is the last night to indulge before your 31-day detox. As a reminder, the 31-day challenge is a focus on abstaining from added sugar and other sweeteners, but it is recommended to also detox from any alcohol (only because the blood sugar highs and lows alcohol causes acts like the sweet stuff to your body). You are also welcome to take it a notch up and remove any refined grains and synthetics. Find more info at: Sugar Challenge Info. And, if you happened to miss last week's email please visit: Missed Email. Getting Prepped! It is encouraged to spend this next week getting prepped. What's crucial is to understand just what you'll be cutting out for the month. Easy to understand are the sweets -- cookies, soda, etc. -- but in our modern era it's important to also recognize all the alternatives. While I should have called it more appropriately the "Sugar, Sweetener, and Sugar Alcohol Challenge" -- it just didn't have the best ring. Haha! See below to get the skinny on what the challenge is so you can start to assess and make a plan. Sugar? Sweeteners? Sugar Free? This challenge incorporates not eating or drinking anything sweet that is added to food -- whether you're adding it or the manufacturer is adding it -- but rather relying only on the natural sugars already in the raw food (i.e, fruit, milk). So, this includes regular table sugar - any natural sweeteners like agave, honey or maple syrup - and any alternatives like stevia or the like. And, let's not forget any of the sugar alcohols that aren't considered added sugar on the labels but can be found in the ingredient list. You'll recognize them because they end in "-'ol" (i.e. erythritol, manitol, sorbitol, etc.). They're used because they have zero calories and are 100x sweeter than table sugar -- better for cost and promotion. If a sweetener is not in your food on its own -- it's added. And, that's what this challenge is -- we want to refrain, reset, and recharge. More information on the exact body processes to expect in January will be sent next week. Food Labels: Added sugar and sweetener isn't always the easiest to locate. There is one definitive place to look when you're buying food for meals + snacks - the food label. Note, sugar is necessary in food products to keep food shelf stable so you'll be hard-pressed to find pre-packaged snacks without it. And if you eat out a lot -- you don't have access to an ingredient list and it is 100% expected your food has added sugar. Just an FYI! Look to the food label and you'll find info in the ingredient list and also the added sugar list. Some food labels just list all natural and added sugars together -- so you'll need to identify it first in the ingredient list. Added sugar is prominent in about 75% of the grocery store -- so spend some time looking at those 2 places. Be careful -- just because you see "0 grams" for added sugar, look to see if there are sugar alcohols in the ingredient list. Anything "sugar-free" is a dead giveaway. p.s they make it confusing it on purpose! Ever wonder why sugar is listed in grams even though we don't use the metric system? hmmmm. Some major culprits are: flavored yogurt, beef jerky, cereals, dressings, sauces, condiments, snack bars, alternative milks, coffee creamers -- the list goes on and on. Next week I'll send an email each day to help you better prep with meal and snack ideas, etc. This will be an awesome challenge and you'll learn a lot and by mid-January you will feel a major difference! Enjoy the Christmas festivities!

Email 3 -- 12/29/20 - What to Expect!

Hi All! I hope you all enjoyed your holiday and are gearing up for a great 2021 -- with a recharge and reset for your body and brain. This challenge is designed to help you "clear out the clutter" your body has accumulated, not only over the holiday season but over the time we spend in modern life. As noted previously, the challenge premise is simple: Refrain from any added sweetener, including regular sugar, alternative sweeteners, or sugar alcohols. In addition, it is highly recommended to also refrain from alcohol as the metabolism and effects are similar. If you missed last week's email regarding food labels, all emails are saved at Emails. You can also review and print all the "rules" at Challenge Rules.

What to Expect? First and foremost, cleaning out the system can be a bit uncomfortable (at first). Everybody is different, but in my multiple years of participating the first two weeks are the most difficult. Not only because of changing habits and deliberately having to make choices -- but because I feel like crap. Reason being is that without the added sugar or alcohol, your metabolism still is running at full speed. But without the "distractions" it starts to clean out all the junk from your tissues. This "junk" needs a way out and thus it gets dumped in your blood (the highway) to be excreted. Don't be surprised if your energy takes a dive or your sleep is deep. And, don't be surprised if your moods are all over the place. I don't plan ANYTHING during this time and just allow for hibernation. In my experience, by week 3 I'm a new person. It's amazing.

What to Eat? Everyone's eating patterns are different (this is a problem in itself) because so many of us don't prepare our own meals, don't cook, or survive heavily on pre-packaged foods. This challenge is about getting you back to basics. All real foods are game (except sweeteners like sugar, maple syrup, honey, etc.) and include any foods from the 5 food groups that are in their most basic form (proteins, dairy, fruits, veggies and whole grains). Be prepared to eat simply. Most important: EAT! When you don't eat regularly your blood sugar drops and because of our hormones and the effects our eating patterns have on them, you'll be hard-pressed to find will power when you're HANGRY! Make sure you're eating regularly throughout the day. Try to not make it difficult -- you're body just wants food. Eat whatever, whenever, but just make sure it's real food.

Examples? Like mentioned above, food is just food so eat whatever you want as long as it's "real". This is called a "challenge" because it is so prepare to be patient. I'm not going to tell you what to eat but prepare it yourself and come to work prepared with lots of snacks. Some of my go-tos are eggs, nuts, cheese, fruit, hummus, cut-up veggies, quality lunch meat (look at label for added sugars/sweeteners), beans, smoothies (plain yogurt, fruit), half and half (instead of your favorite flavored creamer), etc. Food can be delicious and not boring -- you can prepare a crustless quiche for breakfasts/lunches, crockpot of chili or bean soup, meat + potatoes + veggies for dinner. Feel free to eat butter (although watch for peanut butter with added sugar) and just get yourself back to basics. Feel like something sweet after dinner? Squeeze a few oranges in a glass -- it'll hit the spot!

Commons to Avoid: We naturally have developed patterns in our lives that it will be difficult to change habits. Some of the culprits to look out for include: breads, packaged protein bars, granola, yogurt, gum, dressings, beef jerky, dried fruits, fruit juice (just eat the fruit), cereals, common lunch meats, most meals at restaurants, and most of the pre-packaged foods. But you can find quality stuff if you look for it. Remember, just because it says "0 grams" for added sugar, look to the ingredient list for sugar alcohols (they end in "-ol").

I will be sending another email this week. Want more engagement with recipes, tid-bits, etc. for all 31 days? Follow @thefoodstoeat on IG and/or The Foods to Eat on FB.

Email 4 -- 12/31/20 - Get Ready, Get Set, Go!

Happy New Year's Eve! I think we can all admit we're very much looking to putting 2020 in the rearview mirror and ensuring 2021 starts off right! You're doing yourself a much needed favor in joining this year's challenge -- and I promise you it will feel great when all is send and done. Continue to remind yourself that this is only for January -- so if it gets difficult, remain positive and look towards February. As noted before, this is my 11th year leading and participating, and I now look forward to it each year because of how great it makes me feel. Just a reminder, you can find all previous correspondences at: Emails. You can also review and print all the "rules" at Challenge Rules. Just a brief recap -- no added sweetener (sugar, fake sugar, sweeteners, honey, any of it). You want something sweet? Eat fruit. Take it up a notch and also no alcohol -- this is 100% recommended to accompany the benefits of no added sugar. Lastly, you wanna go the whole 9 yards? Abstain from refined grains and synthetics, as well. All explanations found in the Challenge Rules link above.

Slips vs. Relapse? This is a concept used in tobacco addiction therapies -- being aware of slips versus relapses because they are not the same. Everyone has great intentions when they seek to change behavior, but as adults behavior change is hard. And, our brains like to mess with us! It can be normal to "slip" but it must be treated as an emergency. What specifically made you slip? Were you not prepared with snacks at work? Did you allow yourself to get too hungry? Did you have a moment of weakness passing Susie's desk with all the treats on it? Whatever the reason, treat the slip as an emergency and reflect. Then, make an immediate plan that if that situation ever presented itself again, what would you do different? Do not treat it as a relapse or an excuse to throw the towel in. Slips are not relapses.

Prepare and Plan! If you're going into tomorrow without any sort of plan you're not going to make it easy for yourself. Have you assessed your current eating pattern so you know what to avoid? Have you made a plan to keep yourself stocked with foods for meals and snacks? It can be super helpful to not only have food (shop weekly for yourself) but to also think about the times in which sugar and/or alcohol present themselves most often. This way you can actually formulate a plan to avoid. For instance, Susie may always have delicious chocolates on her desk -- whaddya gonna do? Or, what if an urge comes on? What's your plan? A good rule of thumb is count to 200. Seriously :) Also, use deep breaths, get a drink of water, distract yourself. But, make a plan so you know what to do in the moment. Challenge yourself above all else.

Is Food Confusing? As a nutrition expert, I can 100% agree that the basics of eating has become super confusing. This confusion has been totally on purpose and it's why the grocery store is as big as it is and why our health is not where it should be. Food manufacturers only want to sell you stuff so they'll package it however they think it will sell. "Low sugar" or "high fiber" or "low fat". All of this is to keep you from the basics. Eating combinations of meals and snacks from the 5 food groups is the normal way to eat. Fruits, veggies, plain dairy, meat and non-meat proteins, and whole grains. That's FOOD!! You want flavored yogurt? Mix blueberries in plain yogurt (and no! it doesn't have to be Greek yogurt). You want a protein bar? Why not grab a handful of salted nuts and a Baybel cheese round? You're not sure what to eat for lunch because you're in a hurry? Smear a couple pieces of quality lunch meat with cream cheese or hummus, roll 'em up and have a piece of fruit on the side. Eat real food, look at the ingredient lists of packaged stuff, don't eat out, and avoid any ingredient you couldn't get yourself in the spice aisle. Your body just wants real food so don't make it difficult - just EAT! Take a gander at the Almond Milk you think is so healthy....yeah, not so much. The only ingredients in almond milk should be almonds and milk, no? Much like peanut butter should only be peanuts and salt. Or, how about half and half? That's right -- half milk, half cream. If you want mix 4:1 water:almond meal in a blender and make your own almond milk - go for it! But, I bet you won't appreciate the flavor at first. Just sayin' -- all them products wouldn't be around without the Wizard of Oz behind the curtain. And it's messing with your biology.

Getting Used to Food! This is a 31-day challenge so be ready for it to be a challenge. The whole point is to get your taste buds accustomed to things not-so-sweet and you'll notice the difference in the first 2 weeks and by week 3 you'll feel like you haven't felt in a long time. In addition, this challenge is meant to pull you away from your norms for a bit, re-establish a working metabolism so then when you do add sweetener here and there or savor that cocktail you're doing so in a normal fashion. This challenge is not supposed to be easy -- but it's worth it!! So you can't have bread for a month - you'll live. Your salad just doesn't taste the same without being doused in your favorite sweet dressing -- you'll find an alternative. But you like potatoes covered in ketchup. Try salsa instead! Treat this next month as just hibernation and a chance to learn. By February 1 -- no matter how you managed -- you'll feel so much better. I promise. And, you'll always take a new habit away regardless.

I will be sending another email next week. Reply with any questions :) Want more engagement with recipes, tid-bits, etc. for all 31 days? Follow @thefoodstoeat on IG and/or The Foods to Eat on FB at The Foods To Eat | Facebook

Email 5 -- 1/4/21 -- Diggin' In!

Happy Monday! Despite my purported cheer...let's be honest. For some, Mondays suck, haha, and mine especially does today. In previous emails (which you can find at: EMAILS) I describe my experiences in the first couple of weeks as "not so pleasant"...and like true fashion here I am on Day 4 not feeling so hot. Please know that's normal. Your metabolism is constantly running no matter what, and when it has a chance to actually concentrate on what it's supposed to be doing (rather than trying to get through all the crap we throw at it) it can be trying. Liken it to finally getting around to cleaning out all those closets. You'll first be throwing everything out into the room so you can go through it, decide what you actually need, spend time discarding what you don't need and finally looking at an organized oasis. It takes time, patience, and diligence. So does detoxing your body. So, my encouragement is to make plans to hibernate, go to bed early if necessary, excuse your moodiness, and expect these first couple of weeks to be unpleasant. If they're not -- you're already winning!!

So Much Sugar and Sweetener!! If you haven't already experienced them, I will assume the frustrations are at an all time high. "What the heck can I eat?" I wasn't kidding when I said 75% of the grocery store is loaded with added sugar, sugar substitutes and sugar alcohols. The only person who cares about your health is you so do not trust food manufacturers. As a consumer it's your duty to determine what's good. I have noticed in my many years that most people who want to be healthy are the ones who are being cajoled the most. The "healthy" food industry has confused us more than ever. Time to take it back!! Here is a list of the many added sugars: different types of sugars; sugar substitutes and sugar alcohols: Substitutes. This challenge is first and foremost to avoid any added sweetener -- whether by your hand or the manufacturers hand. And, just in case you're wondering -- all fruit juice is out unless you squeeze or juice it yourself. To boot, juice concentrate is FOR sure an added sugar.

Food vs. Food Product: For many of you, your diets (or what we in the business call "eating patterns") have been cemented in a lot of food product. There are two types of things we eat (hopefully only two, haha) and it's either food or it's food product. Food is what your body recognizes, loves, and is able to sustain life from -- it provides nourishment. Food product, on the other hand, is mostly adulterated food-like substances that mimic food. It may have real food ingredients but it's also loaded with a ton of other stuff (like sweeteners, synthetics, etc.) so your body never actually gets the true nourishment from the food. More on that in another email. Food product has become a staple of our diets. We eat a lot of food prepared elsewhere and unless you're visiting farm-to-table eateries, most food in restaurants and grocery stores is food product. Why? Because food rots and stuff has to be added to it so it's palatable (and tasty) by the time it gets to your plate. Same reason there's so much food product in stores -- it has to maintain "freshness" or else you wouldn't eat it. How do you determine the difference? Easy. You can find all ingredients on the label. If it doesn't have a label (like fresh fruit) then it's food. Good rule of thumb: If you could get all the ingredients yourself to make it at home, it's food. If you can't, it's food product. And, we are eating and drinking WAY too much food product. This challenge is about getting back to FOOD!

Keep positive! You're capable of making it the 31 days -- and you'll LOVE the outcome.

Email 6 -- 1/6/21 - Gettin' Easier?!

Hello again! I hope your week is going well and that you're enjoying, or at least managing, the 31-day challenge. As promised, I wanted to email you today to divulge just a bit into some related topics to the detox including Inflammation, Refined Grains (for those abstaining) and isolates -- these used in a lot of protein supplements (bars, shakes, etc.) and also nut milks and many other products. If you've missed any of the previous emails I've sent you can find them all here at: EMAILS.

Is Sugar Bad? Please do not mistake me, I am not attempting to vilify sugar -- including the awesomeness of honey, blackstrap molasses, maple syrup and the like. Our body has a fabulous ability to manage the sweet stuff -- but only when we're keeping within the recommendations. What are those recommendations? Our daily "allotment", if you will, is about 10 tsp/day -- and on average we're consuming 3x that amount. In fact, Americans consume about 66 percent of added sugar per year. Again...this is anything added to a food not what's already located in it (like fruit). In my last email, I linked how many different types of sugars there's CRAZY. As we become more health-conscious, though, we're ditching the added sugar (as are food manufacturers) but we're not ditching our taste buds. We've begun consuming more and more sugar substitutes, including sugar alcohols, that have been shown to be even worse than sugar. The point of the detox is to eliminate ALL added sweetener, whether it's natural or not, and then come February 1 to add back in natural (not fake) sweeteners within the recommended amounts. You can choose how you spend your 10tsp, and of course have those 1-offs where we eat too much cake. It's about our patterns, not our celebrations.

Do we need sugar (or alcohol)? No one needs added sugar. Added sugars do not contribute any valuable nutrition to your diet. That said, life should be sweet. But, most certainly not in the ways we're allowing ourselves to consume it. Food manufacturers are laughing all the way to the bank with the crazy increase of consumption of fake sugars. They're cheap, 100x sweeter than sugar, and they can market their products as "sugar-free" because technically they are. Note: these sweeteners are chemically altered (yes, even Stevia) and our bodies do not like them. Have any digestive issues? Look at your sugar substitute consumption! In small amounts anything that is bad for you is OK. But our habits are called habits for a reason. Reason were getting into dangerous territory? Inflammation.

INFLAMMATION. Inflammation is part of the body's immune system - but it's meant to only be activated in short bursts. With our modern world (poor air quality + water, stress, etc.), the body is already doing its best to manage inflammation. Too much added sugar, fake substitutes, food products loaded with synthetics, refined grains and alcohol all contribute to the inflammation. And, considering our eating and drinking habits are consistent -- that inflammation becomes chronic. In dietitian-world inflammation is known to be the root of all disease, and a reason why we just don't feel good.

What are "refined grains"? Most grain products found in the grocery store are refined. That's because refining the grain (taking out all the parts that rot - but are also the healthy parts) keeps the products from going stale. Back in the day, bread was made homemade with quality ingredients but for anyone who has made whole grain anything - it goes stale, fast. Meaning, you have to eat it. Just an FYI -- real food does rot, haha. But, when bread distribution was getting popular, the rates of spina bifida in babies was also increasing. See, the refinement strips the grain of all the B-Vitamins (Thiamin, Riboflavin, Niacin) and also iron. By law, manufacturers were forced to add back in those vitamins to "cure the issue". But, while synthetic vitamins will work for deficiency they don't work the same when metabolized. The synthetics cause inflammation. And, how much refined grains are eaten? LOTS! Our body can handle low-grade inflammation just fine -- so if you prefer flour tortillas over corn, fine. But, it's important to take a 31- day break, reduce the inflammation, and develop a pattern of eating that includes only refined grains minimally, if at all.

How do I know? Labels are getting super tricky -- on purpose. It used to be refined grains were easily identified in the ingredient list as "enriched grains". Because that was a dead-giveaway -- they then were allowed to list the B-Vitamins underneath the ingredient list as they looked "healthy". But if you knew and saw "Thiamin, Riboflavin, Niacin" with percentages next to them it was a giveaway, as well. Now, they've moved those lists to be a part of the actual label, along with protein, calcium, etc. You need to look. A grain will be whole when it says "whole" before it. Some products will start with a whole grain in the ingredient list, but then list a ton of other grains without the word "whole". In honesty, the entire cereal aisle save for a select few ARE refined. Wanna know what are whole grains? Check out this awesome website dedicated to whole grains:

Protein Isolates? Much like the drastic increase in sugar substitutes over real sugar, protein isolates have made their way into our diets due to our carb-feared lives and our want for more protein. Protein, like carbs and fat, is an essential macronutrient. That said, we have diverted from natural sources and are consuming synthetic versions which do NOT act the same in our body and increases the inflammation (you'll also notice a lot of soy isolates in nut milk products and other "healthy" foods).

In short, basically it's isolating the protein from a real food and adding it into other food products to supplement them. Protein is fabulous -- but is best served in its most natural state. Like stated above, low-grade inflammation from these products can be managed but we're consuming FAR too much of it in shakes, bars, etc. Most of this consumption is folks who want to be healthy but they're being led down a food-product road without reaping any real benefits. Protein works best when it's intact with all the other nutrients found in the food. Taking a 31-day break from these synthetics, along with the sugar that accompanies them, will help reduce the inflammation and help you find other sources to integrate into your eating patterns.

Your friendly PSA from your friendly dietitian! Keep on keepin' on!

Email 7 - 1/11/21 - Movin' Forward

Good morning, and happy Monday! Just wanted to send another note regarding the challenge and to hopefully keep you motivated. We are heading into the mid-point of Week 2, and I'm hoping you're feeling some change occuring. Again, it's different for everyone but the eventual and collective point is by February 1 to feel better and have taken away some better habits (or at least to have learned something new).

In past emails I've discussed a variety of topics related to the challenge so if you've missed any of the previous emails I've sent you can find them all here at: EMAILS. You can access them at anytime to forward or to review.

As noted in previous correspondence, this is my 11th year participating and leading this type of challenge (it started out as just zero alcohol but has morhped to include all inflammatory things like added sweetener, refined grains and synthetics). Again, we just want to give our bodies a break so on Feb 1 they have been reset, recharged and are ready to work much more effeciently. Hopefully by then you can consciously choose which food products can be a part of your eating patterns without them overwhelming your system.

How are you feeling? Hopefully now as you're getting into Week 2 you're noticing some differences. Considering your past dependence on things you're omitting -- this will determine your "withdrawals". For me, the first week is a bit rough, but that's usually because from Thanksgiving to New Year's I'm celebrating so much more with sugar and alcohol that when I abstain I go through a 10-14 day period of "rest". For others, this may be the first time you're identifying all the sweetener, refined grains and synthetics you've been consuiming -- and it takes a bit for your metabolism to gather all the unnecessaries up, get them dumped in your blood, and then find their way out during your bathroom habits. Don't be surprised if you're feeling uncomfortable. In addition, you may have noticed you're not craving sweets and are perhaps becoming satisfied with less food. This is VERY common and it's because without all the ups and downs of blood sugar (spikes cause by sweetener, refined grains and synthetics) your brain doesn't constantly get signals to eat or massive cravings that come out of nowhere. To me, this is the best benefit to eating clean. You end up taking control of your eating rather than your eating constantly taking control of you.

Is sugar addictive? A great thing to understand is how addictive sugar is, which hopefully can help us to better understand the importance of taking a break for improved health and habits moving forward. Most don't know they're addicted and blame themselves for cravings, or weaknesses, or not being able to control will power. But, these same folks probably don't know how hidden all these sweeteners are. You've seen the extensive lists I've sent in previous emails -- added sweetener is BIG BUSINESS! Furthermore, we don't realize our behaviors are driven by addictions and numerous scientific studies have shown sugar can be as, or even more, addictive than cocaine.

Watch this video: Sugar Video and learn more here: Sugar Addictions

Real Food vs Food Product! As you may have already gleaned from past emails or the social media posts -- the premise of the 31-day challenge is to move towards a clean, real food diet rather than consistently relying on food product. Many of those who are on health quests are those who are eating a lot of food product because those "healthy products" are marketed specifically as high-fiber or high-protein or low-carb or low-sugar. Issue remains those products are full of ingredients that are causing you more inflammation and other issues. And, they're ingredients only food manufacturers have access to, which is a dead giveaway to stay away (or keep minimal after Feb 1). It can be SUPER difficult to be 100 percent all the time, but by giving your body a 31-day detox from all the synthetics and added sweeteners you can then re-introduce food product on Feb 1 but much more minimally. Your body knows how to metabolize real food but the more we mess with our food the more we mess with our body. Don't forget: Food is medicine. You're either feeding disease or you're fighting it.

Diet Trends or Diet Snafus? The premise of most modern "diets" as you know them is to lose weight. Scientifically, these diets can work because they are either cutting your calories drastically, reducing or eliminating carbohydrate (so your body burns fat), etc. but they only work short-term - and generally are not good for your health. Taking a month challenge to "clean out" the system is dietitian-approved (by me!) but not if those diets/detoxes are swapping out food for food product. This include protein shakes, bars, zero sugar sweeteners, etc. This is not FOOD and is mucking up your engine. So while it may give you short-term results it's not a pattern to be sustained. And, quite frankly, those "diets" are big business themselves. Buy their products, buy their books, buy their baloney :)

By participating in a real food cleanse, your body is then prepped to be super effecient. Most often a real food diet may be the only "diet" you need. If not, at least you'll be fueled for the next chapter (which should most often include increased exercise). Any pattern of eating that strips you of the most nourishing foods: fruits, veggies, whole grains, non-meat and meat proteins, and wholesome dairy (there's many to choose from) should be seen with a wary eye. The first step in ANY nutrition health regimen is to identify real food and increase the consumption of real food. This may be the longest step before you move on, but it's the most crucial.

More info tips, tricks, etc. on social media. Find @thefoodstoeat on Instagram and on FB at: The Foods To Eat | Facebook. Let's connect! Keep it up!

Email 8 - 1/15/21 - Cruisin' Along

Hello, and happy Fri-YAY! Sending you another note to check-in and motivate to keep you crusin' through the weekend. Today/tomorrow marks the 1/2 way point of the challenge, and I hope you're feeling the positivity associated with cleaning out your system and learning how to move foward with "clean eating." Just a reminder: In past emails I've discussed a variety of topics related to the challenge so if you've missed any of the previous emails I've sent you can find them all here at: EMAILS. You can access them at anytime to forward or to review.

Lessons Learned? Hopefully by now you've come to realize the challenge is about getting "real". First and foremost it's giving up the added sweetener (whether it be real or fake) so you're able to assess both how much you actually consume in your normal patterns AND to be able to choose the natural stuff in the recommended amounts moving forward come February 1. In addition, much like added sweetener, giving up the booze for a month primarily allows you to just let your body "rest" and gives your metabolism time to process all the other stuff. It also allows you to tackle the low-grade issues you may have not realized the alcohol consumption contributed to -- sleep, moods, bloat, etc. Lastly, by learning about and choosing quality whole grains while avoiding refined grains and synthetics, you're allowing your body to reduce inflammation. Inflammation, as noted before, is the root of all disease and the more culprits we can take out of the equation -- the better!

Basics of Biology - No matter who you are - we're all human. And, all humans require food to survive. Despite different genetics, lifestyles, etc. our bodies require essential nutrients to make everything work. Those basic essential nutrients are: carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins, minerals and water. Without these essential nutrients, our machines don't work very well. Unlike a car that will break down pretty quickly without it's necessary components, our bodies will continue to compensate. Hence, why illness comes on slowly. Signs can be there for years until our machines just cannot compensate any longer. This is why it's so important to manage your food appropriately -- so that your machine can keep running like it's supposed to. The human body is AMAZING -- and if you feed it correctly it will do everything you need it to do, including making you feel your best.

Importance of Bioavailability - A foundational philosophy to adopt moving forward is that FOOD IS MEDICINE. Unfortunately, we now have become accustomed to eating so much more than just food -- the consumption of food product has overcome our society, and the main reason why we all are not feeling our best. Do we eat to live, or do we live to eat? Differentiating between food and food product is the first step towards maintaining our health. Reason being is the essential nutrients found in food are available to us based on their "bioavailability". The more processing, the more synthetics, the more refinement, the more isolates -- all of that prevents our bodies from getting the essential nutrients needed for our survival.

Keep Cruisin' -- Real food is there. Many of us, including me, already eat real food all the time. Once you've learned the difference and become seasoned grocery shoppers, cooks, and snack makers it just becomes part of life. There is room for food product -- in many cases it can't be avoided -- and our bodies can handle the low-grade inflammation those products cause. But, if you only have a certain number of meals and snacks each day -- it's important to make sure those meals and snacks gives you your medicine. This is then the foundation for any other health endeavor you seek. Weight loss? Once you're just eating real food you can the assess your patterns to possibly reduce the amount of calories you're consuming. Understanding when we're hungry and when we've had enough is called Intuitive Eating -- and this is only possible once you've cleaned up your diet. In addition, by using food as medicine you're then fueled to up your exercise, which is the ultimate way to lose weight.

A solid nutritional foundation is THE most important baseline for anything you want to do moving forward. But, if your pattern or chosen diet moves away from real food -- it's a no-no. Don't be fooled by the throngs of marketing techniques designed to alter a healthy diet. Have a great weekend!

Email 9 - 1/22/21 - Normalizing Eating Patterns

Hello again, and happy Friday! Today marks the end of week 3 -- WHOOHOO! You're over half way and nearing the completion of the challenge. Congrats to you as you keep on keepin' on. Today, I'll touch on the specific health benefits (again) of a clean diet, how you're improving digestion, the low-carb emphasis, and how to move forward come February 1. Just a reminder: In past emails I've discussed a variety of topics related to the challenge so if you've missed any of the previous emails I've sent you can find them all here at: EMAILS. You can access them at anytime to forward or to review.

Benefits of Clean Diet - It's worth repeating the benefits of challenging yourself to eliminating added sweetner for a month (along with alcohol, refined grains and synthetics) as its primary purpose is to help reset your metabolism. Your machine (metabolism) is then prepped to handle all of your food choices more appropriately. With too much "junk" in the system our machines just don't run well. As you learn to choose wholesome + nourishing foods you then can reintroduce natural sweeteners + alcohol more moderately while also minimzing the amount of food product you consume -- including the barage of fake sugars and sweeteners that have infiltrated our eating patterns. In addition to clearning your engine out for better metabolism, a clean diet helps to reduce the inflammation caused by meds, lifestyle, and disease conditions, among others. When you eat well, you feel well.

Importance of Digestion - All of our digestive systems work systematically to ensure we're getting the nourishment from food to aid in our survival. This starts in our mouth with chewing and is a process all the way to excreting the waste materials in the bathroom. The body recognizes the nourishment when those substances are broken down and then they're absorbed mostly through the small intestine into the blood system in which those nutrients are then delivered to the different parts of the body where they're needed. By removing too much of the harmful materials the digestive system doesn't like (synthetics in food products) your digestive system can work normally and more healthy.

Unfortunately, digestive problems are on the rise. It's estimated that over 60 million Americans are afflicted with digestive issues, and over 3.8 million people have a correlated primary diagnosis. Some of these issues are acute but others have become chronic -- including both irritable bowel disease and syndrome, along with acid reflux and celiac disease. One of the common denominators in treating and preventing these conditions is reducing added sweetner and synthetics -- most notably too much sugar or too much fake sugar. Reason being is these simple carbohydrates (or fake synthetics) are not digested properly, if at all. This causes the symptoms related to digestive issues including: bloating, gas, diarrhea, and chronic inflammation. All which prevent the digestive system from absorbing the nutrients your body needs, furthering the health ramifications.

Low-Carb Confusion - Many of us have gone down the diet road by participating in a low-carb diet. They are extremely popular but have been widely misconstrued -- with many of these diets removing real food that contain carboydrates and supporting replacement of such foods with products loaded with synthetics (i.e. protein isolates and fake sugars). Remember, carbohydate is an essential nutrient and wholesome foods like fruits, veggies, dairy and whole grains contain carbs for a reason :) Issue is our diets can be too loaded with the non-nutritive carbs or we're just eating too darn much of certain types of foods like pastas and breads. Please note -- by participating in a sugar challenge you ARE participating in a low-carb diet. By choosing more wholesome varieties of carbohydrate you're setting yourself up to continue to modify your eating plan for any desired result, like weight loss. But, replacing real food with more food product is never the way to go.

Moving Forward -- Once you're reset, you can take your dietary challenges further. It's important to eat real food, carbs included, but maintaining balance is the next step. Real food contains calories -- which are units of energy -- and thus if we're eating too much we can have an undesirable consequence. In addition, if we're not eating from the food groups in balance (too much of one group but not enough from another) those same consequences can present themselves. Next week, I'll share some tips and guidelines for those wanting more balance. And, if participaiting in a lower carbohydrate eating plan is next on the horizon for you -- let's just ensure you're doing it the correct way so neither you nor your body suffers :) Have a great weekend!