As I’ve learned and grown in the field of nutrition, my priorities have evolved and shifted too. From someone who obsessed over every morsel of food I ate (or didn’t), as I discuss in The Healthy Life, to someone who now embraces and celebrates balance and indulgence, I’ve run the spectrum of clean healthy eating!
And while I do prioritise balance, there are certain foods that I still won’t eat! Not because of fears about my weight, but because of other issues that can be addressed simply by eating real, whole foods. That’s the beauty of it – there are easy, healthy swaps so that I never feel deprived.
1. Breakfast cereals. Often packed with salt, sugar and preservatives, store bought breakfast cereals are a no-no. Get back to the basics!
2. Processed peanut butter. This stuff is loaded with sugar and preservatives – you can taste the difference if you’ve had the natural kind! No need to add anything.
Swap: Try 100% nut butter, or make your own. I love almond and even sunflower seed butters.
3. Processed bread. Most packaged breads bought in supermarkets are refined, processed, and packed with wheat and gluten, which can make it difficult for the body to digest.
Swap: Choose sprouted Ezekiel bread, gluten-free varieties, or make one of my healthy loaves. This vegetable bread is one of my favs!
4. Processed meat. Are you seeing a trend here? Ditch the processed stuff! And when it comes to meat, consider the conditions the animals have lived in. They’re often crowded and full of disease, prompting the use of antibiotics and growth hormones. Processed meats are also packed with sodium nitrate, chemicals, dyes and flavours.
Swap: Choose grass-fed, organic meat whenever you can.
5. Margarine. While I am a firm believer in healthy fats, margarine is high in trans fat – fats formed during hydrogenation process (turning liquid vegetable oil into solid). Not something we need in our bodies!
Swap: Use organic butter, coconut butter or oil, or even avocado as a butter alternative.
6. Table salt. It’s highly refined, which means it’s left with very little nutritional value. We have a tendency to overdue it with salt as it is, which can lead to hypertension, so it’s best to season with other spices.
Swap: Try Himalayan pink crystal salt when needed for seasoning and baking.
7. Unfermented soy products. Highly processed tofu and soy can mess with your hormones. Not enough information is known at this stage for me to feel the need to include it in my diet.
Swap: Try organic fermented soy products like tempeh or miso.
8. Canned tomatoes. Did you know that canned tomatoes and sauces are packed with salt and sugar? Plus, the resin lining of some tins may contain a synthetic oestrogen called bisphenol-A, which is linked to reproductive issues, obesity and diabetes. No thanks!
Swap: Choose bottled tomatoes, or saute fresh tomatoes and herbs to make your own tomato sauce.
9. Non-organic dairy. Dairy cattle are often treated with hormones, like recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH) to increase milk production – not only is this awful for the cows (think major infections) but it can impact our health as well.
Swap: Use organic milk products, or try almond or coconut milk. If you’re feeling ambitious, you can even make homemade almond milk – it’s surprisingly easy!
10. Pre-packaged, frozen meals. These meals are usually full of sugar, corn syrup, salt and nasty preservatives. Not so convenient after all!
Swap: Set aside some time on the weekend for food prep. Pack pre-made lunches and snacks so that you’ve always got something fresh and healthy to grab when you’re in a rush. I’ve got more tips on that here!
Hi Jessica, I believe in synchronicity so when I was guided to you .on FB I was intrigued and inspired. I turned 46 last week and my husband bought me your book. I wanted to thank you for sharing your wisdom in such a beautifully presented way. My copy is now filled with tabs and post it notes with actual notes throughout. I am dairy intolerant since having my gallbladder removed 15+ years ago, I don't eat meat, very minimal gluten and was told 12 months ago my gut was not digesting my food properly so I wasn't receiving sufficient nutrients and taking supplements would be a waste of time. My weight fluctuates tending to gain rather than lose but now I believe I have a tool to help me bring my body back into balance that I need for my health and longevity of life - so again thank you. The first few steps to creating a stronger path forward for my health has found its foundation in your beautiful book, The Healthy Life.
With kindest regards Samantha
I'm writing this email because I wanted to tell you how much I love your blog and how you really helped me in my health journey. Thank you for sharing all your advices and experiences.
When I started my studies, I was drinking lots of coffee and I was eaten the wrong foods, and feel bad about it, I wasn't at my best. So I had done some research on the net but at first I didn't found advices that are for me, and then I found your blog. It was exactly what I was looking for, good advices and healthy recipes. Now I'm following your advices on rest more, and snacks between meals and prep the meals and take time for myself to reconnect with my body and let go my anxiety, etc, and I have a more balanced life and have a new relationship with food thanks to you.
I bought your book and it's honestly the best book I have ever bought. I suffer from IBS and anxiety. I have paid so much money seeing naturopaths however after reading your book and all of your tips I'm noticing so much of a difference, so simple and easy to follow. And symptoms have dramatically decreased. Also you have helped me to relax. Currently drinking the protein health smoothie! Thankyou your amazing.
Hey Jessica! I haven’t yet brought ‘The Healthy Life’, but I do have the clean life and your slim down plan! I would like to thank you so much for the knowledge your share and the message you put across about health and wellness. I’m studying Nutritional Medicine in Melbourne and absolutely love the philosophy that you share with your JSHealth community. The work you’ve done to show people that leading a healthy lifestyle isn’t boring, tasteless, difficult or depriving is amazing and hope to share the message myself one day. You’ve inspired me to start my own blog , to share the message and have taught me so many things about my own health! You should be proud of your achievements! Thank you again
I searched for help and tips through the Internet and found Jessica Sepel. This is seriously not exaggerated, but she was the reason why I have dared myself to eat again, to have snacks in between, to nourish my body. I could slowly improve my negative thoughts about my body image and my stupid anxiety of gaining weight. Besides, The Cleanest Gut was awesome too! A huge thank you! Especially from my mum. Seriously, without you I wouldn’t be where I am now!
Congratulations on your new book! It looks absolutely gorgeous. I’ve been following you on Instagram for a few years and you’ve inspired me to slowly but surely eat healthier without giving myself a hard time when I don’t. It made me so happy (and weirdly proud) to see the Daily Mail article on The Healthy Life. I remember trying out your recipes before you even had your eBook out! I can’t wait to get my hands on the book. Keep up the great work.
Cooking in this way truly brought out the foodie in me and has instilled a huge passion for health and wellness! Life throws you hard and frustrating things sometimes but I truly believe that this is where we learn more about ourselves and what our passions in life are! Thank you for inspiring me on my journey to health and wellness!
I am a yoga teacher in Johannesburg and am thrilled to have bought your book today. I love making healthy, nutritious food for my family, friends and fellow yogis! Thank you for this book and your inspiration (had to share a pic of my book on my recipe stand in the kitchen).
I bought your beautiful book during the week and told my bestie to go out and buy it also! I love love love it. It is the book I would give to my younger self if I could (I am 41 years old). Everything is just so sensible and informative and is definitely a book all teenagers should have. This should be a text book for girls becoming teens. I will love going back and re-reading it many many times and can't wait to make more of the recipes. Thank you Jess - you are an incredibly inspiring woman and you should feel so proud
My fiancé bought your book and we have cooked some of your meals. Amazing! I love your outlook on a healthy lifestyle and your hints and tips with preparing tasty meals are fantastic. Thanks for reviving us to live a healthier lifestyle and get our bodies wedding ready.
I want to empower you to make good choices, every day. I want you to enhance your understanding of health and nutrition. I'm committed to making sure you live the best life. Because you deserve it. Are you ready to start feeling great?
Let me know your email address so I can send you an eBook '7 Days on my plate' - a little gift from me to you!