Wednesday, July 11, 2012
So you're navigating the grocery store and you see all those foods labeled "diet" or "low fat" or "no sugar added" or "lite". So you probably think, this must be good for me because they're making it with fewer calories.
Then you turn it over to read the ingredients, the label getting overwhelming with the long list and all those unpronounceable ingredients on the list. You start to wonder what is actually in there and how it was made.
I've been getting closer to the "if I can't pronounce the ingredient then why would it go in my body?" philosophy. Basically if they had to remove one item, they had to add something else to fill it. Many times it's salt that is added "for flavor". Sometimes a "diet" item has the second ingredient listed as sugar (such as "diet" replacement drinks), which they then claim it's only second because it's heavier than other items. "No sugar added" may mean an artificial sweetener was added instead. "Fat free" is even listed on some candies! That is obviously full of sugar, which has no fat.
So you pick it up simply because the front of the packaging says that it's good for you because of one or more of those key phrases (or more that I haven't listed). You bring it home and eat it, wondering why you're still hungry or have become bloated. You try to taste it, only to discover that you're simply tasting salt and fillers. Many items claim to be "fruit flavored" only to see no fruit listed on the back, only artificial flavoring.
In America it's still legal to use food dyes for coloring, think bright colors that you'd think would only be in frostings. You'd be wrong to think they'd only be in that, they're in many cereals, pop, lunchmeats, even in some regular meats like salmon, and many more items, too numerous to list.
There are many natural colorants, such as beet juice, colored carrots, or something called annatto (from a tropical tree). They're better than the petroleum based food dyes, but generally they're in things with a long list of ingredients still.
I figure that if it looks like it came out of a chemical factory (and that's what some "food" companies really are) then it probably really isn't that good for you.
Nature provides the best foods for us. If it came off a plant or from an animal, then it's what we were actually meant to be eating. The closer to nature we're eating, the fuller we'll feel, the healthier our bodies will be and the better our bodies will react to them. I do believe in one degree of separation from nature, as in cooking the item, or boiling it to extract it's usefulness (like sugar, coffee or teas), or letting it soak to extract the flavor (like lemons in water). That one degree of separation is much better than sending it through tons of processes to create something that "tastes like" but is not really anywhere near the item that was first introduced. Butter is one degree of separation, just churned milk fat.
You'd be amazed that you'd find actual taste in items that aren't loaded with "diet" items. Processed foods are really just that, a process to get to the item and not really food anymore.
Have a real potato (small size) and load it up with sour cream (Daisy has just one ingredient listed, cultured cream) some fresh chives and perhaps a crumbled strip of bacon. You can get all that for about the same calories in an ounce of potato chips. Craving pizza? Have a sandwich roll with slices of cheese, tomatoes, fresh basil and toppings you'd normally have with perhaps some sandwich size meat topping you'd get on the pizza, I prefer canadian bacon, but thinly sliced pepperoni works too. Feel the need for flavored drinks? Soak some lemons and limes in water overnight (gently squeeze) for something similar to Sprite or 7up. Crushed mint and cucumbers make for a pleasant flavor also, check the spark recipes for more flavors.
I'm actually finding some "processed" items that come closer to natural. They tend to be labeled "simply" whatever food or "natural". I've found applesauce that claims "no added sugar" and actually doesn't have any sweeteners in it's ingredients. I've found fruit strips that are just pureed fruits and carrot juice. I've found potato chips that have just 3 ingredients, potatoes, oil and salt. It's still the matter or reading the label.
You'll be fuller when you use items with full fat. You'll be satisfied with less food when you're getting more real flavor. You'll be able to slow down to taste your food when there is actually something to taste instead of just salt.
While you're on this food journey, don't forget to eat real food. It's not just about losing the weight, it's about enjoying what you're eating so that you can continue to eat this way for life.