What’d you have for lunch today?

At the core of how we feel, how we function, and how we think is how healthy we are. If you’re not healthy, it’s hard to get  organized – and don’t even think about getting big, cool projects done!

healthy-food-heartA huge part of being healthy is eating healthy.

  • How careful are you about the food you put in your body?
  • Do you read labels and understand what the ingredients are?
  • When you go out to eat, do you know the ingredients used by the restaurant?

If you’re looking for a primer on healthier eating, I’d suggest Michael Pollan’s book In Defense of Food. Michael is a terrific writer and his book explains how our food supply works, as well as what additives in food do to your body.

Michael suggests a few simple rules when it comes to eating:

  1. Eat less.
  2. Eat mostly plants.
  3. Don’t eat anything you can’t pronounce.
  4. Don’t eat things that have more than five ingredients.
  5. Mostly shop the edges of the grocery store for fresh, none-processed items.

After reading several of Michael’s books and listening to other food-revolutionists, I started reading food labels and was amazed at two things. First – reading labels at the grocery store takes time. Second – there are a lot of weird ingredients in what seem to be pretty simple foods!

I’ll give you one example: Ritz crackers.

I grew up eating Ritz. I love Ritz. And I hesitated to read the label – I didn’t want them to be bad for me! But here’s what’s in them.

UNBLEACHED ENRICHED FLOUR (WHEAT FLOUR, NIACIN, REDUCED IRON, THIAMINE MONONITRATE{VITAMIN B1}, RIBOFLAVIN {VITAMIN B2}, FOLIC ACID), SOYBEAN OIL, SUGAR, PARTIALLY HYDROGENATED COTTONSEED OIL, SALT, LEAVENING (BAKING SODA AND/OR CALCIUM PHOSPHATE), HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP, SOY LECITHIN, MALTED BARLEY

So… enriched flour isn’t cool because it has ingredients I can’t pronounce.

The next one I don’t love is “shelf-stabilizer” partially hydrogenated cottonseed oil. According to sharecare.com, “Partially hydrogenated cottonseed oil is added to processed snacks. While it’s not entirely hydrogenated, it still isn’t a very healthy choice. It has triple the saturated fat of canola and safflower oil. It contributes to chronic inflammation that contributes to a number of diseases.”

Next up? High fructose corn syrup. We all know this isn’t great for you. No sugars are great for you. But what’s disturbing about HFCS is that it appears to have links to obesity. And it’s tucked into all sorts of foods so it adds up in your system. Best to steer clear.

The last ingredient that pops out is soy lecithin. This is an emulsifier – it helps ingredients blend well together. That doesn’t sound bad – except that soy lecithin’s ability to emulsify fats “makes it an ideal ingredient for nonstick cooking sprays and soaps”. I don’t like eating things that go into soaps.

Bottom line? There isn’t anything in Ritz that’s toxic or illegal, but there are too many food additives for my taste and here’s why. Food additives are not regulated by the FDA. When an additive is invented, it is GRAS – “generally recognized as safe” – until a number of people make a complaint. That’s right – someone invents an additive and you are the guinea pig to see is if it’s okay to ingest. Over time. And with all the other additives in your food.

So Ritz are gone from my pantry. [sigh]

You know that I don’t like to waste time, and I will tell you that reading ingredients is a GREAT use of your time.

I just realized I’m writing this on Valentine’s Day. DON’T read the ingredients in that box of chocolates you got!  Here’s what the FoodBabe blog had to say about that. Oh, my.

Peace and love from snowed-in Maine. A foot of snow arrived yesterday, and more is no the way tomorrow.

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Photo by Bill Maxwell

 

 

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