As quickly as we are transitioning to foods that resonate with our bodies, food manufacturers and bloggers are coming up with faux versions of the foods we have left behind. The other day while grocery shopping, I saw gluten-free couscous. Given that cous-cous is little tiny wheat nodules, it blows my mind that anyone looking to eat gluten-free would be eating cous-cous.
That’s true for most gluten-free products. They are loaded with sugars, starches that we normally don’t eat, chemical flavouring and who knows what else. Another example is non-dairy products. Coconut yogurt – what the heck is that? Isn’t yogurt fermented milk? So essentially it’s a flavoured, sugar-laden product people who are avoiding dairy will eat in the spirit of being healthy. At $8 a pop, it’s a crime to sell this to unsuspecting people, in my opinion.
Instead of making healthy choices, we are removing “the thing” that we feel is damaging our health and eating a fake version of the same food without “the thing”. This perpetuates our emotional attachments to food. If you are addicted to sugar and you start consuming a lot of stevia to get the sweet taste, not only are you not addressing your emotional craving for sweets, but you are maintaining your physical hunger and taste for the sweet stuff. And eventually it’ll lead you back down the sugar path.
I’m not saying that once in a while you can’t indulge in something that resembles the food you once ate. I once made a Tofurkey at Thanksgiving (never again though!) and I regularly put coconut milk in my coffee. There is always going to be the 20%. But everything we eat should not be manipulated versions of foods we are avoiding for our heath.
If you are going to replace your bread, cheese, pasta or afternoon sweets with something, make it a healthy whole version. Here are some examples:
Bread – use collard greens for wraps, have your sandwich fixings on a bed of greens, have a burger on a grilled or baked portobello mushroom as an open-faced burger.
Pasta – make “zoodles” – noodles made with zucchini using a spiralizer, have your pasta sauce over asparagus or green beans, saute some kale in garlic and enjoy with sauce
Dairy – use nut mils or coconut milks. I put almond milk in my shake and my partner uses it in his cereal. I use coconut creamer with no added sugars or chemicals in my coffee. You can also use coconut milk to make whipped cream by putting a can in the fridge upside down. Open carefully and the cream will come out after it has separated from the water. You can whip it as you would whipped cream with a little maple syrup.
Sweet drinks – homemade iced tea with a berry herbal tea, coconut water (amazing electrolyte drink).
A game-changer for me was instead of replacing things, I expanded my repertoire of foods. Trying new fruits, experimenting with vegetables. Focus on the many many choices available to you. Your wallet and your body will thank you for that little reality check.