5 Food Hacks For Optimal Health And Better Skin


By Jessica Baumgardner

You’re likely being bombarded by plenty of TV ads telling you which way to go when it comes to getting healthy and it can all get very confusing, very fast. Here are my top 5 swaps for a good, clean start to 2015 (and beyond).

1) Dairy

Dairy has high levels of the protein, or “casein” and sugar, or “lactose”, that are very hard for the body to process, lactose-intolerant or not.

Easy Swap: Remove the milk and yogurt at breakfast and replace with something green. Despite the hype, greek yogurt is generally quite processed, with tons of sugar (or chemical-laden fake “sugar-free” sugar), artificial flavors and colors. For many reasons, processed food is not ideal, especially as the first thing that enters your body in the morning! Processed foods are acidic, creating inflammation in the body. And excess inflammation = disease.

Rockstar Swap: Remove all dairy from your day entirely and instead, use the following:

  • Milk – opt for: almond, coconut, hemp, oat, rice
  • Cheese – opt for: nutritional yeast flakes make for a cheesy flavor on their own, or create your own cheese from nuts, such as almond parmesan or cashew ricotta
  • Yogurt/Ice Cream – opt for: almond, coconut products

2) Gluten

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While the idea of being “gluten free” has definitely become a trend, it that doesn’t take away from the fact that many people do suffer from gluten sensitivity, often unknowingly. If you are someone who is sensitive to gluten, this common ingredients can not only irritate the inside and outside of the digestive tract, but your skin, brain (mood, including depression and anxiety), hormones and more.

Easy Swap: Opt for something green first thing in the morning instead of cereal bars or bagels (notice a pattern here?). The first thing you want to give your body in the morning is an easy meal that doesn’t require a whole lot of work to process. Your body spent all night cleansing (and likely still is when you wake up in the morning). Ease your body into the day with whole foods, full of fiber, vitamins and minerals.

Rockstar Swap: Remove all wheat products from your day entirely and instead use the following:

  • Pasta/Grains
    • Brown rice/quinoa pasta
    • Brown rice, quinoa, millet, buckwheat
  • Breads/Pizza
    • Look for gluten-free with minimal ingredients
  • White or Whole Wheat Flour
    • Almond, buckwheat, coconut, garbanzo, oat, brown rice
  • Cocktails
    • Vodka, wine, gluten-free beer
  • Soy Sauce (yes! Even soy sauce has gluten!)
    • Tamari, or choose  coconut aminos for a soy-free option (score!)

3) Refined Sugar

The main idea here is to remove the white and brown refined sugars, BUT ALSO the chemical-based sugar substitutes like Splenda, Sweet ‘n Low and Equal. Sure, these contain 0 calories and are not really sugar. But they are purely chemicals and chemicals are not easy for the body to digest and process. Nor do they provide any nutritional value, whatsoever.

Easy Swap: Use alternatives like raw honey, coconut sugar, pure stevia or maple syrup to sweeten your coffees and (gluten free) baked goods. Fresh fruit is also great to tame your sweet-tooth!

Rockstar Swap: Remove all sweets from your diet, or limit to once per week and treat as an indulgence instead of a habit.

4) Soy


Soy is the most difficult bean to digest. Soy crops are also heavily processed and are one of the biggest GMO-crops out there. Fermented soy, like tamari and miso, is a slightly better option, as it does contain some beneficial nutrients. However, it’s still soy. Soy is also inflammatory and shown to be an endocrine (hormones, thyroid, adrenal glands) disruptor. When you cut out dairy, try not to go the soymilk route. And be careful of soy products, such as fake meat patties.

Easy Swap / Rockstar Swap:  Only one option here: remove processed soy products from your diet and replace with whole, plant-based foods, such as leafy greens, beans, raw nuts/seeds and whole grains.

5) Processed Foods

During processing, the nutrients and fiber found in whole foods are stripped away and problematic ingredients like trans fat, refined sugar and table salt are added. These foods spike (and crash) your blood sugar, cause inflammation in the body (which is the root of disease) and require many vitamins and minerals to be digested. Plus, they are void of nutrients to replenish the reserves in the body.

Easy Swap / Rockstar Swap: Only one option here, too. Remove processed products from your diet and replace with real food! Shop the perimeter of the grocery store and avoid the inner aisles. Look for products that have minimal ingredients and make sure that you understand and can pronounce them.

I encourage you to give these swaps a try! Make a commitment to try these upgrades for at least 7 days. Once your body is focusing less on digestion and breaking down your food, it has more time to focus on all the other functions to keep you healthy, from the inside out.

And let’s be honest, chances are you don’t exactly feel amazing 30 minutes after you’ve had yogurt, or a bagel, or cereal. Or that fluffy coffee drink, loaded with cream and sugar. Starting your day with greens and keeping a healthy balance of whole foods in your diet will give you powerful nutrition, without weighing you down.


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Jessica Baumgardner

Jessica Baumgardner

Certified Holistic Health Coach at Health Coach Philly
Jessica Baumgardner, aka Health Coach Philly, is a Certified Holistic Health Coach. She is dedicated to helping women improve their nutrition, reduce stress, lose weight and increase their energy through her personalized nutrition and lifestyle programs.

Jessica holds a Certification from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, the world’s largest nutrition school and the only school integrating over 100 dietary theories, from traditional philosophies like ayurveda and macrobiotics, to modern concepts.

After successfully using a holistic approach to prepare for her wedding in 2012, Jessica decided to share her knowledge of whole foods and healthy living with women, to help them fulfill their own personal goals.
Jessica Baumgardner


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