As someone who runs a business that focuses entirely on creating gluten and dairy free meals, it may sound like I'm contradicting my entire business by making such a statement. But hear me out!
But the truth is, food marketing is a sly, sneaky, deceptive b**ch.
There are people whose only job is to make you buy their food by appealing to your thoughts, preference, and what you believe to be healthy
They are preying on you.
So right now in our culture, we are having a hay day with gluten free, plant-based, and tons of other vague, misleading terms.
And it's super misguiding.
SO many of these plant-based, organic products still contain ingredients such as:
-High fructose corn syrup
-improperly prepared ingredients that can affect your body such as nuts, legumes and grains
Being food and product literate is vital to you creating a lifestyle that’s sustainable, nourishing and supporting of all your dietary needs. So let’s talk about what you can do to better navigate these foods and feel empowered to make the best decisions for you!
>>How do you know what's worth buying?<<<
1. Start with REAL FOOD. Food that has no ingredient except what it is. Meat. Vegetables. Fruit. Organic whole grains. Raw or soaked nuts/seeds. This should be the foundation of your diet.
2. READ YOUR LABELS. You may be surprised to see what's inside your favorite nut milk or plant based meat. If it's still got added junk, consider making your own, or buying the real thing instead of the
3.EAT PROPERLY PREPARED FOODS. Are the nuts or grains soaked and organic? What kind of oils are being used? Are there a lot of additives in it? If so, is it the best choice for you? Is it something you may want to choose to use in moderation?
4. MAKE THE FOOD YOURSELF. You may actually save money and learn a new kitchen skill! Easiest place to start? Try making your own nut or seed milks if you are bothered by dairy.
5.EAT GLUTEN/DAIRY FREE ALTERNATIVES IN MODERATION. Do I use dairy free yogurt in my cooking sometimes? Yes! Even some dairy free cream cheese. But not always and not often. They should not make up the majority of your diet. Consider these foods as additions to your other main foods.
Beyond the actual process of buying the food, there is a lot to be said about the mental part of why we choose what we do.
I talk a lot about food with people. It’s what I do. And I tend to hear a few similar statements and ideals about food and decision making that people seem to think and base food decisions from, and if we think about these statements and dig a little deeper, we can get to the real issue and find better solutions for you to make your best food choices.
-“I want to help the environment and meat is so bad for the environment, so I’m deciding to go vegan”
Let me just say It’s great people want to do something about the environment and know their daily decisions can make an impact. We all need to think more about it! But we don’t need to eliminate an entire food group to make an impactful difference. Instead of cutting out a whole food group that is actually beneficial to your health, ask yourself a few other things.
-Is there a way you can buy better meat? Meat that is responsibly produced with the environment in mind? Odds are there is! Getting to know your local community farmers is not only a great way to discover around you, but can be a great change you can make to be more environmentally aware. Consider looking for grass fed, pasture raised animals from local farms. These folks take great care of their animals and also responsibly graze animals, focus on soil health, provide proper food to animals to make sure they are healthy and happy. Pasture raised animals also sequester carbon which means they have the potential to make a big positive impact on the environment!
-Don’t know where to start? Go to your local farmer’s market! There you will find several small meat producers. A few I love are Fischer Farms, Becker Farms, Homestead Heritage, Red Frazier Bison, Living Roots Farms and Phelps Family Farms. Also, check out www.marketwagon.com for one stop, all local shopping!
“I don’t feel good when I eat dairy or gluten”
This is becoming more and more common in our society because of the way our food is prepared and grown. And it’s totally legitimate. Our foods are packed with added chemicals, pollutants, toxins and hormones that in turn affect our health! You may absolutely discover that you feel better without gluten and dairy and that they are the main culprits of you feeling bad. But before you swear off gluten and dairy forever, take some time to explore more and discover exactly what is bothering you. Often you feeling bad after consuming certain foods is a symptom of something bigger.
-Often if we are consuming highly processed, highly refined products, we may find digestive upset, reflux, skin issues and even allergies. Gluten and dairy can definitely seem like the common denominator if you’re feeling crappy. But it may also be the quality of food you are consuming. Instead of eating pre-made foods that are highly processed, try replacing them with higher quality products. For instance, if you are finding yourself troubled by regular cheese, try raw cheese or goat cheese. Sometimes we can digest raw cheeses or goats milk better than we can cows milk. Also, if you find yourself feeling unwell after consuming gluten containing products like bread, try breads with different flours! Sourdough is a great traditionally prepared bread that’s also slightly fermented, which can be easier to digest. Instead of unbleached white flour, experiment with heritage flours such as spelt, einkorn, turkey red wheat, rye or red fife. These can all be far easier to digest, not sprayed with chemicals, and more carefully produced and processed.
-Consider other aspects of your health that may be blocking you from being able to digest certain things. Is your gut constantly irritated? Are you suffering from a bacteria imbalance in your gut? Are you constantly stressed? Do you have low stomach acid which makes it harder to digest things? These are all factors that play into what we can and can’t digest. If you feel that something is off with your body, consider checking in with a functional or naturopathic doctor. They will help you figure out the root cause of your symptoms and help you figure out how best to support your body.
“I saw online that eating XYZ is bad for you so I’m no longer eating it.”
This one makes me cringe. It makes me so upset that people are so quick to give up THEIR freedom for food and health based off of something someone else said that they just believed. Or didn’t do the research themselves.
You must advocate for yourself. Period. No one else will know exactly how you feel after eating specific things and what foods help you feel most nourished and supported.
Food marketing and our culture tends to make us forget about the bio-individuality we all have. No one will feel and react the same eating the same exact foods. Which is totally okay! You must eat what makes you feel best. Not what an Instagram fitspo girl said she eats, or that bodybuilder whose body you admire.
You don’t need to fit in any label or niche, especially with food. Don’t want to eat vegan? DON’T. Don’t want to go keto? DON’T. Want to eat just seafood? DO IT! You don’t need to fit into any box. Food freedom is your greatest tool to discovering what will work best for you.
Food doesn't have to be confusing. But you do need to pay attention to it. Because most big brands want you NOT to pay attention. If you’re feeling like you need to make some food changes but don’t know where to start, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Need help with cooking? I’d love to help! My company, Abundant Plate Wellness, offers weekly meal prep with ready cooked meals that are always entirely gluten and dairy free. You can learn more at www.abundantplatewellness.com. Need some recommendations on health professionals in the area? Don’t hesitate to ask. There are tons of resources and people who are passionate about helping others heal and feel good. You don’t need to feel overwhelmed or like food is an obstacle you cannot tackle.
Because if you don't choose to be responsible for your own health, who will be?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Hi I’m Meredith Iacocca! I’m a local chef passionate about creating healthy, nourishing foods. I’m the owner of Abundant Plate Wellness, a gluten and dairy free meal prep company. I’m a dog mom of 2 and love lifting heavy, especially at Barkes Fitness! Learn more about what I do and why I love it at www.abundantplatewellness.com