1. Dairy. Unless organic, dairy is often packed full of hormones and antibiotics which can cause our endocrine systems to go a bit haywire. Many of us have some type of sensitivity to diary, whether it’s lactose, casein, or whey. These sensitivities can manifest as abdominal pain, diarrhea, frequent colds or sinusitis, headaches, irregular periods, and skin disorders such as rashes or, most commonly, acne.
Substitute: Almond, rice, or soy milk are great substitutions for regular milk. Silken tofu can be whizzed up to replace sour cream or yogurt. For heavy cream in any recipe, cover cashews in hot water and soak for about 10 minutes and run them through the blender. You can dilute this more and make your own cashew milk.
2. Sugar. The cause of many common problems today including diabetes, polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), headaches and migraines, arthritis, IBS, acne, and obesity. Gradually cut this down and you’ll slowly realize that your taste buds quickly adjust. Here’s a challenge: drop one sugar out of your coffee. In a few days, you’ll already be down a teaspoon. If you’re a pop junkie, don’t switch to diet - this is actually worse for you due to the sweetening chemicals and their affect on insulin.
Substitute: Natural forms of sweetener such as honey, maple syrup, or stevia.
3. Processed foods. Often full of preservatives, sugar, flavour enhancers, and other shady characters, processed foods are a mystery to your digestive system. They can contribute to problems such as headaches, migraines, IBS, colitis, and depression to name a few. Sure they’re quick and they last a long time, but it’s best to keep these to a minimum.
Substitute: Real, whole food. Experiment with cooking and practice combining a protein source with a whole grain and lots of veggies.
4. Gluten. So many people are sensitive to this and it doesn’t mean you have Celiac Disease. Symptoms of a gluten sensitivity range from gas and bloating to skin conditions, sinusitis, migraines, and all sorts of more serious digestive disorders. Often with most sensitivities, it’s a dose-dependent thing. The more you have, the more you react and vice versa.
Substitute: Rice or quinoa for couscous, rice pasta for wheat pasta, rice paper wraps for wheat wraps, oat or gluten-free flour for all-purpose flour in baking, and use rice cakes for PB&J sandwiches.
5. The Dirty Dozen. This list of produce can be found on the Environmental Working Group’s website (www.ewg.org) and contain the highest amount of pesticides. I’d like to include non-organic meats in this as well, not only due to their antibiotic and hormone content, but also for the environmental impact.
Substitute: Where you can, buy these organic or focus on the Clean 15 produce selections. For meats and eggs, if you can go organic, do. Otherwise, look for grass-fed beef or try going vegetarian for a few days per week by using tofu in stir-fries, vegetable protein “meats”, or good ol’ beans and rice.