A few months back, I realized that I always felt tired, wiped out, and exhausted. For me, this is what “normal” felt like. As a mom of three beautiful girls, who is quickly approaching 40, I thought to myself, “Wow, so this is what being almost 40 feels like?” Ugh…I honestly felt like I had aged 10 years in the past 5 years, and I did not like it one bit.
Like millions of mothers (and dads putting on sympathy weight) my age, I seemed to put on the proverbial 10 pounds per a child, or so I thought. At the age of 31, one year after giving birth to my third daughter, I lost all of my baby weight. But, within 12 months, I found the 15 pounds that I lost, and they decided to park themselves on my hips for the next 7 years. In fact, no matter how much I dieted or exercised, the pounds kept finding me. I could run, but I couldn’t hide!
Being overweight, I felt crappy more often than I’d like to admit. But, I wasn’t attributing my discomfort to what it said on the scale, I was attributing it to stress, working full-time, and approaching 40. As a former skinny girl who was horrified by her reflection in the mirror, I decided I had to lose weight. At the time, I was more motivated by wearing a size 4 again than I was by getting healthy. Why? Because, I was under the impression that I was relatively healthy already… and boy was I wrong. Dead wrong.
I Began Eating Clean
Before I started eating clean, my freezer was packed full of frozen dinners. I ate wheat bread, pasta and tortillas, and I ate out at least once a week. As a busy working mom, I bought “convenience foods.” I cooked less and used the microwave more. If I had a choice between a salad and a frozen dinner, I’d opt for the frozen dinner in a heartbeat and I’m sure many parents can relate. I justified my choices by thinking, “I work full-time, I’m doing the best that I can do.”
When I began eating clean, I went all in. I removed all of the processed foods from my pantry and fridge so I wouldn’t be tempted. I knew that if I had unhealthy foods in my house “for my family,” I’d eventually cave. So, I got rid of them. But, it was no walk in the park. In the first couple of weeks, visions of bread, pasta, pizza, and chocolate danced in my head nonstop.
To make matters worse, my husband and teenagers were not helping much. They kept running down to the local Family Dollar and Maverick (a gas station here in Utah) to stock up on candy and soda. I even found my husband’s “stash” under the seat in his 4X4. Of course, now that it’s the summer, he’ll have to find a new hiding place for his peanut M&Ms.
It’s been over eight weeks, and he still asks me, “When are we going to get real food in the house?” I’m like, “Real food? We have grass-fed ground beef, organic chicken, ground turkey, wild caught Alaskan salmon, organic produce, raw nuts, and whole-food supplements in the house. Food doesn’t get any more real than that!” If you’re trying to get your family to eat healthier like me, I’m telling you, the struggle is real!
I Broke My Processed Food Addiction
When I began eating clean, something magical happened. After I went through sugar withdrawals for about two weeks, I started to feel different. My headaches disappeared, my knees stopped hurting, my energy came back, and my brain fog was gone. I didn’t attribute these changes to losing weight, I realized they had to do with what I was putting in my body. Suddenly, I began to see processed foods very differently.
Before switching from processed food to wholesome, one-ingredient foods, such as beef, chicken, turkey, fish, raw nuts and seeds, and organic produce, I was one of those people who laughed at the idea of spending more money on organic food. I knew I should’ve been eating healthier than I was, but I explained away my unhealthy choices by convincing myself that it was okay to eat processed food because I was just too busy to do anything else.
When I was a stay-at-home mom, I ate much healthier, but as I began working 40, 50, and 60-hour workweeks, it was all at the expense of my family’s health. Before I knew it, 90 percent of what we ate came from a box or a can; we ate very little fresh food! Considering the fact that processed food is laced with MSG (much of which is listed under deceiving names), sugar, high fructose corn syrup, preservatives, artificial flavors and colors – it’s no wonder why the number on my scale seemed to go up every year!
You know all those ingredients I just mentioned? They’re not REAL food; they’re fake food and they’re virtually useless nutrition wise. If you’re eating canned foods, packaged cereals, processed meats chock-full of nitrates, chips, candy, soda, coffee creamers filled with chemicals, frozen dinners, packaged cookies, boxed dessert mixes, sugary juices, and so on, you’re not doing yourself any favors. You could even be shortening your lifespan by years. The MSG alone in all of these foods is making America FAT!
Processed Food, One of the Evils of the American Diet
If your energy levels are constantly low and you’re overweight, the first place you want to look is your diet. When people’s diet primarily consists of processed foods, usually they’ll get fatter and fatter, but they’ll be malnourished! How could this be?
Imagine if you sat down and ate two bowls of white flour, sugar, and salt mixed together. Sure, you’d feel full, but in reality, you just ate tons of empty calories, devoid of nutritional value. When you regularly consume packaged cookies, crackers, frozen dinners, French fries deep-fried in unhealthy oils, and other foods stuffed with manmade additives, you’re going to pay for it one way or another, whether it’s through Type 2 Diabetes, migraines, excess body fat, heart disease, aches and pains, low energy, or all the above.
If you’re thinking, “I can’t give up my processed foods!” I’ll tell you right now, you’re probably addicted to the chemicals contained in your favorite foods. How would you feel if your loved one was addicted to alcohol, pain killers, or illegal drugs? You’d probably recognize the signs of addiction and withdrawal and want them to seek help. Well, many experts agree that people can be just as addicted to sugar as they are to other harmful substances, such as alcohol and even cocaine!
The problem is, people don’t realize that their diet is silently killing them. Even though obesity and heart disease have become an American epidemic, people continue to literally eat themselves to death. Like me in the past, they laugh at the idea that eating processed food can really lead to chronic health problems, such as obesity, heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, joint problems, and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, among others. But in reality, these foods are leading to all kinds of chronic medical conditions.
So, the next time you automatically think that you’d never give up (enter your favorite junk food here), pause for a moment and ask yourself, “Am I addicted to the unhealthy chemicals in this food?” Because you know what? Food manufacturers add all kinds of harmful chemicals to processed foods, which are known by some of the most educated scientific researchers, chemists, nutritionists, medical doctors, and physical trainers, to be very addicting.
If you feel tired and low-energy on a regular basis, it’s time to evaluate what you’ve been eating. If you switch to a wholefood diet, not only will you lose weight, but you’ll probably be adding years to your life. If you aren’t sure where to start, this is the educational nutrition and weight loss program that I’ve personally found to be pretty amazing.
Elainna Ciaramella is an independent journalist, business blogger, and ghostwriter for entrepreneurs and business professionals nationwide. She has written extensively on the topics of business, entrepreneurship, law, and medicine. She is well-versed in search engine optimization, content marketing, and social media. You can connect with her on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Google +, and Instagram.