You Are What You Eat Not So Pretty, Eh?

Health + Fitness

Kim Barnouin, Author

By Kim Barnouin

It’s amazing how we, as women, are so conscious of our highlights, our perfect jeans and tweezed eyebrows, but when it comes to food, as long as it’s diet, low-fat, low-calorie or non-fat (even better, right?), we are doing a body good.  Hold on, sister.  For all the energy you put into getting all dolled up, it’s time to become a conscious consumer and read labels.  Not Prada, silly. Food.

When you do eat, are you conscious of potential chemicals, additives or preservatives? Starting right now, pronto, I want you to start reading the ingredient roster.  Does it have words you can’t pronounce? Words so long they would make Vanna White’s head spin off? Then perhaps, we should be questioning them. Three of my big food no-no’s, if you must know are:

  • Diet Coke.  It’s not your friend. It may exude a lower calorie count, but it contains aspartame. Aspartame is like nail polish remover, and unless your body is filled with Red Engine #9, this is a no-go.
  • Processed foods.  Some foods are so altered they’re like a bad celeb after too many plastic surgeries. The big culprits are processed meats such as hot dogs, cheap deli meats, canned food, pre-packaged food, high fat convenience food and frozen dinners.  They have additives, trans-fats, saturated fats, artificial flavors and colors, large amounts of sodium and sugar and often enough preservatives to keep your sticky buns on the shelf for 50 years.
  • Artificial sweeteners.  Don’t let those pretty pink and blue packets fool you; they are the devil. Today there are so many natural sweeteners that taste just as sweet, sugar pie.  Consider Agave Nectar, Raw Sugar, Stevia, Evaporated Cane Juice.

And now on to local produce: Are your fruits and veggies organic? Locally grown? In-season?  Here are a few quick reasons why buying from your local farmer is spot-on and ever-so-conscious:

  • Our brilliant bodies were designed to eat in season. Beta-carotene found in the orange pigment of pumpkins and other squashes helps boost the immune system just in time to ward off winter colds.
  • You’ll strengthen your local economy! Buy your succulent delights directly from local farmers or at local farmers’ markets.
  • Locally grown produce is fresher. Produce that you purchase at your local farmers’ market has often been picked within 24 hours of your purchase, while produce that is purchased in the supermarket or at a big-box store is almost always cold-stored or has been in transit for weeks, if not months! Now you know why your “fresh” strawberries are mildewed by the time you’re ready to unpack groceries.  
  • Produce will be cheaper -- so you can splurge on those knee-high boots you’ve had your eye on…
  • Allowing produce to fully develop and reach its ripening peak ensures the full vitamin and nutrient power. Who wants second-rate fruits and veggies, anyway?! Not you. Not me. Not the gingerbread man.

Getting healthy is not immediate. It takes mini strides to get to where you want to be, but the little steps count too. Start with these tips, and you’re one step closer to a healthy lifestyle from head to toe. Good luck!

Kim Barnouin is the co-author of the New York Times bestselling books Skinny Bitch, and Skinny Bitch in the Kitch.  Kim also co-authored Skinny Bitch: Bun in the Oven, Skinny Bitchin’, and the most recent release, Skinny Bastard, the Skinny Bitch version for men.  Kim’s most recent project is the launch of a healthy lifestyle website for women,

Kim Barnouin will be speaking at The Women's Conference 2009.

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  • Ok, I will read every label now. Why? The 100% whole wheat bread that I always buy turns out to have 30 incredients !!! The non-fat PLAIN yoghurt in my fridge is loaded with sugar. I was happy to find labels that listed just one item, like oats or raisons. But what an eye opener this article is. Thank you Kim for this article.

    Posted by cuisinefit, 9 March 2010.

  • I have started to change my taste buds and I am trying to eat a new veggie or fruit...(new for me anyway.) once a month.

    Posted by Phoebemimi, 9 March 2010.