“Find Your Beet”

I thought it was time to actually have a post about “Find Your Beet” since I’ve made this my catch phrase for this blog and now You Tube Channel. Speaking of, if you haven’t already, check out my YouTube Channel!

Okay! So onto finding your own beat when it comes to your nutrition needs. Finding your beat is something unique to everyone since there is no size fits all when it comes to each individual diet.

Although we need to same macro nutrients (carbs, protein, and fats) and micro nutrients (vitamins and minerals), how we individually choose to get those nutrients is our own unique beat. Let’s look a few things to understand why this is important to know.

“Healthy”

Something that is “healthy” for one person might not be healthy for another. Take a few examples of what I mean.

  1. Corn is a whole grain. Pop corn is a whole grain. Therefore popcorn is a “healthy” snack. However, for someone with a corn allergy, popcorn is not a healthy choice for them to snack on.
  2. Bananas are a healthy snack. It’s easily digested and has a good amount of potassium for muscle health and recovery. However, for someone who is diabetic, bananas are one of the fruits that are high-glycemic, and they would need to limit the amount of high-glycemic foods, like bananas, that they have. Depending on the specific day, it might actually be an unhealthy choice.

Get where I’m going here? The food industry has put a healthy label on specific foods and they market it as if those foods are the healthiest choice. In reality, most, if not all, foods have a healthy component to them. Yes including “junk” food.

But what matters is not the specific individual foods you’re eating, but it’s more of the balance of what you are eating that is important. Are you eating a variety of foods? Are you getting enough fiber? Are you being balance in the things you are eating? Those are more of the important factors, not being worried about eating an apple everyday.

Dislikes

I wanted to take a minute and talk about likes and dislikes. For instance bananas – they are high in potassium but I can’t stand them. However, potatoes are actually higher in potassium than bananas, and I love potatoes. So no lack of potassium here!

Now I’m not saying that if you hate a whole food group to exclude it out of your diet. The most common being vegetables. Vegetables are important to include in your diet for fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. However, you can choose the vegetables that you like and not have to eat kale on the regular because it’s “healthy”. So is broccoli, peas, and carrots.

You still need a variety of food groups in your diet to be balanced. But what you choose within those food groups is up to you and your body with how it reacts to it.

Likes

On the other hand, if you really love a food but it doesn’t really love you back would that be “your beet”? Let’s take a minute and talk about a common food that people love but find they can not have too much – dairy, specifically cheese.

A lot of people have an allergy to dairy, but even if you don’t have an allergy, some have found that they don’t feel well after having cheese on the regular.

Just because you like something, doesn’t mean it’s necessarily part of your everyday beat. I love cheese, but I am allergic to it. However, I know I can have some here and there when it’s worth it, but when it’s not, I don’t have it.

Eating foods that make you feel better, sleep better, have more energy, etc. that’s part of finding your beat, and that might mean lessening the foods you love and putting them in it’s proper perspective so you can work with your body to see how it functions the best.

“Finding Your Beet”

Let’s recap for a minute about what I mean about finding your beat and the factors that are involved.

  • Food Allergies
  • “Healthy” and the foods that are truly healthy for your body
  • Dislikes doesn’t mean not eating whole food groups, but choosing the foods within those groups you enjoy eating
  • Likes doesn’t mean because you like it that you don’t have to be balanced with those foods

Finding your beat can be a challenge especially when you don’t want to admit that the foods you love really are not the best to have on the regular. Or you’re not sure if you are allergic to certain things. But it’s well worth finding out.

Bodies Are Constantly Changing

The last point I did want to mention is that our bodies are constantly changing so if something was working, but you find it’s not working anymore, then changing your beat might be necessary. Allergies can pop up, or you might find certain foods that never effected you, are now do so.

Although it can be frustrating, it’s good to remember that you know you. Although your body might be changing and you might need to get used to new habits, it’s all for the better when you are able to work with your body’s needs and not against it. And as always, you can contact me.

Keep finding your beet and I’ll talk to ya’ll soon!

Know Your Ingredients: The Many Names Soy

The next on my “Know Your Ingredients” posts is soy. It’s one of my worst and it’s partly because of how wide spread it’s used, like corn. It’s easy to get an overload of soy without even trying, especially when you have processed foods. It is required in the US and is a federal “Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act” that labels clearly list soy in the ingredients or it could be listed after the ingredients as “Contains: Soy”. Advisory statements like, “may contain soy” or “made in a facility with soy” are optional. Better to know what you’re reading just in case some of these words pop up on the list of ingredients. Let’s break down where soy can be found and what it’s used in.

Soy (or Soya) Products
  • Bean curd
  • Edamame (soy beans in pods)
  • Miso (fermented soy)
    • I use a chickpea miso that I’ve found.
  • Soy sauce
  • Soy based flours, nuts, or sprouts
  • Soy protein
  • Soy Lecithin
  • Tamari
  • Tempeh
  • Tofu
Foods That Most Likely Contain Soy, and Will Need to Check the Label
  • Plant based dairy products: plant based milk, yogurt, butter, cheese, etc.
  • Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP)
  • Canned Broths and Soups
  • Canned Tuna and other Meats
  • Processed Meats / Frozen Burgers
  • Cereals
  • High Protein Energy Bars and Snacks
  • Plant-Based Protein Powders
  • Infant Formula
  • Vegetable Oils
  • Worcestershire Sauce
  • Soy Lecitin: often used in chocolate bars/candy, peanut butter, and margarine.
Other Names that May Use Soy Ingredients
  • Glycine max
  • Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein (HVP)
  • Mono-diglyceride
  • Monosodium Glytamate (MSG)
  • Artificial Flavoring
  • Natural Flavoring
  • Vegetable Broth
  • Vegetable Gum
  • Vegetable Starch

Something to always remember as well, although you might find a brand of, let’s say bread, that doesn’t have soy in the ingredients, it doesn’t mean that it won’t change. They don’t have to tell you when they change their ingredients. It can be a safe bet for a little while, but I always check from time to time to make sure the ingredients are the same as before.

Know your labels. Although it’s good that most packaged food will list if there is soy and clearly state, “Contains: Soy”, it doesn’t mean it won’t sneak in with the vegetable broth or plain “starch”. As with any allergy, especially if it’s severe, be aware and educate yourself. Knowing is half the battle. If you are just learning about this or another allergy, know that it’s okay to feel overwhelmed at first, because it is. But know that the more you learn and the more you adapt to the changes, the easier it becomes and reading labels won’t feel overwhelming and you’ll find your new products and recipes to make in no time!

Know Your Labels: Lactose-Free vs. Non-Dairy vs. Dairy-Free

Did you know that “lactose-free”, “non-dairy” and “dairy-free” do not mean the same thing? It can be confusing and frustrating, but it’s important to know the difference when you have a dairy allergy.

Why It’s Confusing
  • Something that is “Milk” doesn’t mean cow’s milk, or animal milk.
    • Almond Milk, Coconut Milk, Soy Milk, etc.
  • Something that says “Cream” isn’t always cow’s milk.
    • Coconut Cream, Cream of Tartar, etc.
  • Just because it says “Butter” doesn’t mean it’s from dairy sources either.
    • Almond Butter, Peanut Butter, Apple Butter, etc.

Then you have things like:

  • Lactose Free is not Dairy Free
  • Dairy Free is not Non Dairy
  • Non-Dairy, you guessed it, is not Lactose Free

Confused yet?

Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash

Lactose Free

Lactose-Free means that it is only free of lactose, a protein found in cow’s milk that people can have a hard time digesting. Many people lack a specific enzyme to digest this protein and are therefore, lactose-intolerant. There are lactose-free milks and other products, but that does not mean there is no trace of cow’s milk in the product. There are other proteins in milk that are used and can be in products labeled “Lactose-Free”. So good for people who are just intolerant to lactose, but not necessarily allergic to dairy all around.

Non-Dairy

This is one of the trickiest and the one that upsets me. You would think from the label there should be no dairy, or no cow’s milk in the product. Wrong! The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has allowed products with this label to still have animal proteins found in dairy (like whey or casein) to be present. The products that come to mind the most are “Non-Dairy Creamers” like the powdered creamers, and “Non-Dairy Whipped Topping”. Both still have other components of dairy in their ingredients list, but it’s not “Milk” as a whole.

Dairy-Free

This is truly what it says it is. Dairy-free. At least it is for now. So if the product you are holding says “Dairy-Free” and you have a dairy allergy, you should be safe. There are a lot of non-dairy yogurts, cheeses, milks, etc. that truly do not have dairy components in them at all.

Read The Whole Label

Now with knowing the difference, I wanted to talk about a few surprising things I’ve found. There are a lot of vegan and vegetarian “dairy-free” products out there now. Some products are placed next to them and could be safe to assume they do not have dairy. For example: One time when I was testing out some different dairy-free cheeses I came across one right next to the rest of the truly dairy-free products. I read the label. It was a soy based cheese, so for myself I wasn’t going to buy it, but I was shocked to still see “Casein” (a protein found in milk and other animal products) as one of the ingredients. So all though it was “Non-Dairy” cheese, and the first few ingredients looked good and was plant-based, there were still milk based ingredients. Be careful.

Go Dairy Free.org has a lot of information on their site. Here is a Dairy Ingredient List they have that is pretty much all inclusive if you truly do have a dairy allergy.

Bottom Line
  • Educate Yourself
  • Know Your Labels
  • Dairy-Free (right now) is the Label that is truly free of dairy and all that comes with it
  • Know The Different Names of Dairy
  • Don’t get overwhelmed

It can be a hassle. It can start to be a headache, but you’ll realize a lot of the words are similar. Pretty much anything with “lacto” “lacta” “lactu” “whey” “casein” are things you need to stay away from. Buying things without a label like fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fresh meats, etc. you will not need to worry about reading labels or ingredient lists. When most of your basket at the store is full of those items, you won’t need to be reading everything you’re buying.

Work for your body so it can work for you.

I Always Had “A Different Beet”

Hello and welcome to my nutrition and wellness blog!

My name is Amanda Arroyo. I am a Nutrition and Wellness Consultant. I received my certification from AFPA in January 2019. I wanted to start my blog with sharing a little about myself and why my diet and nutrition needs have always had “a different beet“. (For the full story, visit My Story page.)

Food Allergies Then

I was 5 1/2 years old when I had my first allergy test. My back was so small they had to finish the test on the back of both my arms. I don’t remember much other than the itching and the fact they had to test me again on another day because my reactions were spreading and crossing barriers so that they couldn’t tell which was which.

It ended up showing I was allergic to dairy, soy, corn, most grains, most fruits and vegetables, pork and shrimp. I’m not even going to get into the seasonal and environmental allergies. I was a bubble child. A lot of my food allergies were not detrimental, but definitely lowered the quality of my life if I had too much.

My parents did their best in trying to make sure I was taking in what I needed to grow, enjoyed what I was eating, and able to eat with the family without eating too differently. That was hard to do in the early 90’s in a suburb town in Indiana. The small health food store had a few things, but most had soy or other ingredients I couldn’t have, so my Mom ended up making a lot just for me.

Food Allergies Now

I’ve grown out of most of my food allergies, but there is plenty I still need to watch out for. Soy and corn are the ones I constantly need to be careful with since there is so many products that have them in it. There are others but not as common. Dairy is something I keep away from on a regular basis, but there is a time for everything including cheesy pizza. There are times it’s worth it, and other times it’s not. My body definitely has no problem telling me what it can take, and what it can’t.

One thing that I’ve noticed is that if I keep my food allergies in check, my seasonal allergies are bearable with a little bit of attention and maintenance. With learning more, I figure it’s because I can keep my inflammation down internally by keeping my body and immune system from reacting to the food that I eat (something I can control) and my body only needing to focus on my environment (something I can’t always control). Plus the fact that I love being outdoors and having the windows open when it’s nice outside, which here in Texas usually means when my allergies are the worst, I need to keep what I can control in check so I can enjoy the little things in life and not have to worry.

Eczema Then

Along with allergies, I also had eczema from the time I was born. My mom took out cow’s milk early on realizing it was making it worse. At that time, there was not a lot backing up that eczema was related to being an allergic reaction. How I wished I could have been a case study! My arms, the back of my legs, my face… everywhere. After my allergy test, allergy shots, anti-histamines, and avoiding my major allergies, it did get better. There was so much that effected my dry, itching, burning, and red skin that it was almost constant, whether relatively controlled or a full blown breakout.

Eczema Now

Even now I deal with it, but I have been able to control it with diet and some lifestyle changes. It still shows up around my mouth and in the delicate skin between my fingers, but I usually can treat it naturally without steroid creams or medicated creams, and most of the time it gets better in a few days. I can keep it to where it looks dry but not red, inflamed, and burning. Of course hormones and stress levels effect it too, so there is only so much I can do there. I regularly have to manage it and sometimes it doesn’t matter how much I do, it’s just going to take time.

My Switch to Plant-Based

Along with watching my allergies, I made the jump to being plant-based. There was a time in my early 20’s that it didn’t matter what I ate, my stomach would cramp, and I would have IBS pain at least once or twice a day. Salads, smoothies, etc. It didn’t matter. I did better when I went back to my allergy diet when I was young, but even then I was still in pain. After a few documentaries (because it always starts with a documentary) I decided to try out a whole food plant-based life style and keep with my allergy diet. It was tough and took some planning, but I did it and within a week the pain stopped completely. Within 2 weeks I was sleeping HARD, and within 4 weeks increased energy and no desire to look back. I still have issues with IBS here and there when I get off track, but with my normal diet that I’ve found that works for me, I don’t have the pain anymore.

An interesting thing that happened was that I realized some of the foods I was avoiding by default from my allergy diet, I didn’t have much of a reaction anymore, if at all. Which I was grateful for since now my variety of food opened up. I have now been meat-free for over 5+ years, and dairy and egg free strictly 100% for 2 years, and about 90-95% of the rest of the years. However, it seems like eggs are making their way back in. Eggs were never a protein I had an allergy or issue with and knowing that some of the plants that are high protein like soy and some types of peas, eggs are making more of an appearance recently. We essentially need the same things nutritionally, but everyone has their own beat.

My husband on the other hand, is not plant-based. He’s made some healthy strides in the last few years. He’s slowly gotten off of fast food, stopped drinking sodas, and decreased his processed sugar intake, along with lessening his red meat intake. I made a blog, The Shared Skillet, to post about the meals I would make for us and now will be posting some of those recipes (some of them upgraded) here on this blog along with the nutritional benefits.

Thank You

Thank you for stopping by and reading my first post! If you’d like to know more about my relationship with nutrition and food, visit My Story page. I look forward to sharing with you the things I’m currently learning, the things I have learned, the mistakes I’ve made along the way, and my recipes that my family enjoys. I’m looking forward to the upcoming years with this blog and I hope you can be a part of it too!