I’m on Week 13 of the Real Food Challenge 🙂
Week 13: Avoid all artificial ingredients including, but not limited to: sweeteners, flavors and colors.
Our kitchen is almost purged of all artificial sweeteners, flavors and colors. You’d be surprised at the number of BIG BRAND foods and snacks that contain them:
- oranges from Florida contain ARTIFICAL red dye coloring
- side effects from toxic food dyes
- US FDA allows artificial red dyes on oranges without labeling
I started the Real Food Challenge: 14 Weeks to Cut Out Processed Food in May, which is about 6 months ago!
I’ve not been able to do it in 14 weeks but I can positively tell you that our family’s taste buds have changed a lot since I got them on board this “healthy food challenge”.
What are the changes?
1. My son knows the difference between healthy and unhealthy foods. As he has food allergies and food intolerance, he can tell when he has eaten anything he is allergic to. Previously, he would give in to his cravings but now, he avoids these foods on his own.
I was quite surprised when he told me he didn’t want any jam to go with his french toast – he likes it plain. Isn’t that amazing?
He also does not ask for candy or chocolates in the supermarket.
He also knows how to say “no” to them at school, which is a huge lesson because teachers offer them as rewards and friends offer them to him “Try it!”.
One of the older boys (who used to pick on him) now respects his decision when he broke out into hives again after accepting one of his snacks. Now, that boy asks him, “Can you eat this?” 😀
2. He has also learnt to read food labels. He’s interested in food and learning how to cook and he would happily follow either of us to the wet market or grocery store.
- Yummy Earth, Organic Pops, Assorted Flavors, 50+ Pops, 12.3 oz (349 g) – US$6.99 (for my son who is allergic to artificial food coloring)
When he picks up anything from the supermarket, he would ask, “Does this have coloring? (he’s allergic to one type) No sugar in here, Mommy!”
3. He’s teaching his sister about healthy and unhealthy foods. Definitely the *cutest* part of this challenge – I have to hide my smiles when I hear a little voice giving a lecture and the toddler nodding. They are so earnest! LOL.
The toddler loves simple carbs e.g. bread, candy, cookies and man tou, especially as she’s getting a lot of it at her preschool.
Unfortunately, the local Chinese preschool does not encourage packed food – “Our food’s not good enough for you?” -_-
Also, the toddler prefers to eat what her friends are eating or she’s pressured into it. No worries, I’ll pack food for her when she’s older.
4. The Hubs has also made a big switch in his eating patterns. Woo-hoo! I have been worried about his weight gain but now, we are all happy that he’s lost weight. He’s also choosing healthier foods on his own.
I was really happy to see this change in him without my having to lecture, nag or throwing him dirty looks. ^_^
5. I am healthier. This has to be the biggest bonus because I feel better, more energetic and in general, happier about life. That’s really important when you’re a mother to small kids.
I had an annoying rash a couple of months ago (Sept 2011) but that has gone away. I read up on the rash, which turned out to be urticaria.
Did you know that chronic urticaria is a sign of histamine intolerance?
Here are the high-glutamate vegetables TO AVOID:
X Pumpkin – I avoid
X Spinach – I eat a lot
X Tomato – I eat a lot
X Avocado – not so healthy after all
X Pickled vegetables
Here are the LOW-GLUTAMATE fruits to enjoy 🙂
+ Apple – love
+ Figs – love
+ Honeydew – love
+ Mango – love but it’s too acidic for my stomach
+ Pear – love Chinese pears
+ Lychee – too much insecticide
+ Persimmon – love!
+ Blueberries – love
+ Watermelon – love
+ Coconut – love
Here are the high-glutamate fruits TO AVOID:
X Citrus fruits (orange, lemon, grapefruit, clementine, tangerine)
X Banana – my Mom’s fav
X Date – my Mom’s fav
X Orange – Hubs’ fav
X Papaya – my Mom’s fav
X Prunes – my Mom’s fav
X Fruit dishes,jams, juices made with restricted ingredients
Meat, Poultry and Fish
All fresh meat and poultry. Must be bought and cooked fresh.
All fish (unless fresh caught)
Processed, cured or smoked meats
Plain eggs (ensure whites are fully cooked)
Raw egg whites (as in some eggnog, hollandaise sauce, milk shakes)
Fats and Oils
All vegetable oils and oils of allowed foods which contain no additives
Meat drippings and fat
Homemade salad dressings with allowed ingredients
All fats and oils with colours or preservatives
X Prepared gravy
X Commercial salad dressings
X Hydrolyzed lecithin
X Spices and Herbs
All fresh herbs and spices are OK
No dried herbs
X Curry powder
X Seasoning packets with restricted ingredients
X Foods labeled “with spices”
X Nuts and seeds
All nuts should be eliminated for the first two weeks on the diet. After this period, nuts aside from those listed opposite may be reintroduced individually to examine tolerance. Begin with macadamias and chestnuts.
All legumes should be eliminated for the first two weeks on the diet. After this period, legumes aside from those listed opposite may be reintroduced individually to examine tolerance. Even if tolerable, a maximum consumption of ½ cup legumes per day is recommended.
Breads and Cereals*
Total of ½ cup per day maximum of the following: Any plain, gluten-free breads, gluten-free oats, gluten-free pasta or other gluten-free grains with allowed ingredients only.
X Foods cooked in oils containing hydrolyzed lecithin, BHA or BHT Baking Mixes
X Dry dessert mixes
Milk and Dairy*
After two weeks on this diet, plain milk can be reintroduced if tolerable
All yogurt (unless specifically cultured with low histamine probiotics)
Recommended to only use when necessary and in minimal amounts:
X Maple Syrup
X Pure jams and jellies
Homemade desserts with allowed ingredients
Prepared dessert fillings
Spreads with restricted ingredients
All processed sugars
All artificial sweeteners
Apple cider vinegar
Gluten-free baking powder
X All chocolate, cocoa and carob
X All products made with artificial flavors or preservatives
Artificial colourings, especially tartazine (also found in medications and supplements)
Prepared relishes and olives
Miso Commercial ketchup
Canned foods and ready meals
Pickled and fermented foods
Yeast and yeast extracts
Benzoates (also found in cosmetics), sulphites, nitrites, glutamate, food dyes
Still and carbonated mineral water
Tea made with fresh sliced ginger and hot water only (helps degrade histamine)
Alcohol is recommended to be consumed in minimal amounts, if at all. However, when necessary, plain vodka, gin and white rum are the best choices on this diet.
Low histamine wine
X Soda and carbonated drinks
X All tea (including green, black and mate)
X All drinks with “flavor” or “spices” Beer, cider and wine (unless specified low histamine wine)
X All other alcoholic beverages
* Starred food categories are not essential in your diet and should be consumed in minimal amounts or avoided entirely to maximize health benefits and symptom relief during your diet.
The low histamine food chart here is meant to show you which foods are safe to consume and which are best to avoid when you want to reduce your symptoms quickly and effectively.
Later, I read up that a rash is a sign that your body’s detoxifying itself.
During my school, college and working days, I ate a lot of fast food and junk food – that’s at least 20 years’ worth of toxins. Our body needs time to adjust.
My skin has improved a lot – I don’t need moisturizers for the dry skin around my feet. My hands don’t peel during winter. Yay! I still get slightly chapped lips, which means that I need to up my veggie intake.
I’m really glad I joined this real food, no processed foods challenge. It’s opened up my eyes to health and nutrition and best of all, providing healthy, nutritious food for family and friends.
If you’re wondering if you should / could do it, give it a try. It’s taken us six months but it’s a journey for a life. Here’s the link to “Real Food Challenge: 14 Weeks to Cut Out Processed Food“. Just do it.