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These days, we’re hearing a lot about the dangers of hormones and pesticides in our food. We’re also presented with so many options at the grocery store (“Hormone Free! All Natural! Non-GMO!”) that it can be confusing to know where to invest in purchasing the more expensive foods, and where it’s okay to buy conventional fare. 

I’m going to make it simple for you.

The Dirty Dozen

The dirty dozen is a list of fruits and vegetables that you should buy organic or not eat at all. These foods tend to absorb pesticides more easily through their skin, which means that even when you wash them, you’re not necessarily getting rid of all the chemicals. These foods include: Apples, Strawberries, Grapes, Celery, Peaches, Spinach, Sweet Bell Peppers, Nectarines (imported), Cucumbers, Cherry Tomatoes, Snap Peas (imported) and Potatoes. 

If you can’t afford to purchase these fruits and vegetables organic, choose something else.

The Clean Fifteen

On the other side of this list is the Clean Fifteen. These are the foods that are the lowest in pesticides, and the safest conventionally grown crops. They include: Asparagus, Avocados, Cabbage, Cantaloupe, Eggplant, Grapefruit, Kiwi, Mangoes, Onions, Papayas, Pineapples, Sweet Corn, Sweet Peas and Sweet Potatoes. 

Let’s Talk Meat

You are what you eat, and you are what you eat ate (try saying that 5 times!).

There have been studies that suggest a link between young girls getting their periods sooner because of the higher hormone levels in the meat and dairy they consume.

I’m referring particularly to a report by the Cornell University Sprecher Institute for Comparative Cancer Research. This study found inconclusive evidence that girls are becoming sexually mature at a younger age and boys are experiencing breast enlargement due to the hormones they consume in their meat.

That’s a good enough reason to purchase meat that is hormone-free in my book.

If your chicken isn’t hormone-free, cage-free and organic, you really shouldn’t be eating it. I also urge you to purchase grass-fed beef, salmon that’s hormone-free and swimming in rivers, not cages.

It’s About Small Choices

All these guidelines might be overwhelming if you’re used to purchasing conventionally grown foods. But remember, this is all about small changes. You don’t have to do it all at once. 

For instance, if you’re taking the kids to Chick-Fil-A, order a Market Salad with grilled chicken with light balsamic vinaigrette dressing (390 calories with 28g of protein) and water for yourself instead of a chicken sandwich, fries and sweet tea (1,040 calories and 32g of protein). When you make small adjustments, you’re more likely to stick to the changes and see lasting success. You’ll also see results like clearer skin, weight loss, and more energy.

Take your time, and integrate the changes that you can actually sustain over a long period of time. I want you to know that this can all be done calmly and it is possible to feel satisfied with the food you’re eating while you lose weight as well.

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