As I write this I am sitting inside of Daily Juice (the one on Duval) in Austin, TX. I'm sipping on a hot hempseed mate latte and watching the interesting people all around me... Like the little girl digging into her "Rawkin' Enchiladas" while her mother drinks some green juice, or the other young girl asking her father about nutrition and people with diabetes, while both of them dig into big salads. People that hang out here are definitely health-conscious, but they all have completely different backgrounds. Somehow nutrition and connecting with their own bodies brings them together here. It's pretty cool how food can do that.
Sometimes I feel that I upset people when I decline a soda or homemade white bread or a handmade cheese and pepperoni pizza. Should we feel this way? Food brings together different families and cultures, and meals have been huge social events for humans for a long time. Does eating healthy have to change that? I dream of the day when all restaurants offer healthy options (and I don't just mean white pasta with some veggies on top) and the government (I'm talking about the US one here; I don't know much about food politics elsewhere) starts educating its people about food based on what's really healthy...you know, not just food that makes the dairy/meat/corn industries and big players like the USDA/Monsanto happy.
Some of the ingredients/foods to avoid:
1. Throw out everything in your house that contains High-Fructose Corn Syrup (which potentially affects your metabolic rate). This is even found in a lot of sauces and condiments like ketchup.
2. Weird ingredients you don't know... why not stick to whole foods? We really don't know the long-term health effects of these isolated chemicals and products.
3. Added sugar! It's in everything, but so many products offer unsweetened versions! Go for those instead.
4. Aspartame, Acesulfame potassium, neotame, saccharin and sucralose are all artificial sweeteners. These bad boys can have some pretty terrible health effects. Sugar-free does not mean healthy. Stay away from Splenda, Sweet'N Low, Equal, etc. I like sugar substitutes like low-glycemic agave nectar, maple syrup, dates or the occasional stevia or brown sugar.
Just because something is approved by the FDA or promoted by the USDA does not mean it is healthy. Seriously. Watch out for products that claim that they are healthy just because of their governmental approval!
On a more positive note, I do feel so much gratitude to places like Daily Juice and all of the little companies they feature here. The popularity of Hail Merry (based in Dallas, TX) and Buddha's Brew Kombucha (based here in Austin) are growing tremendously. I'm obsessed with Thunderbird Energetica bars and probably so many other products I'm forgetting about. How exciting is it to see these products in more and more places? Things are changing. Slowly, but it seems for the better. At least in the health department! Keep your heads up and make healthy choices!