What are you Eating? Check the Fine Print!

Posted on March 1, 2010 by

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Have you ever taken a close look at the label of the food you are feeding your kids, your family, yourself? It is time to open your eyes and start paying attention.

Today, North Americans are deep in a major health crisis. Individually, we must take responsibility for the FAT mess in which we find ourselves. We have to be accountable for what goes into our bodies and the place to start is often on the OUTSIDE of the food; the packaging is the key to making good nutritional decisions.

Food is, too often, all about marketing. TV entices us to try the latest frozen cuisine, touting it as healthy and convenient. Fast food restaurants suggest that they have healthy options but, there is nothing happy about a Happy Meal!

Labels are designed to catch our eye and we are too often the victims of this seductive marketing. Images of fresh fruits and vegetables, golden whole grains, and beautiful healthy faces on packaging attract us to certain food items but do we really investigate what is actually inside the package?

Chemical concoctions that claim to be “better than natural” are really a marketing ploy to make you feel better about what you’re buying. Fake milk, fake cheese, hydrogenated ‘tastes like butter’, and egg replacements are poisons that require your digestive system to work overtime.

If you really want to know what you’re putting into your and your family’s mouth, and ensure it is truly good for them, take the time to read and understand the what the fine print really says … not what the manufacturers or the marketers want you to believe. Terms like ‘Natural’ and ‘Healthy’ and ‘Light’ are misleading. Omega-3s are great for your health when found in fish and olive oil. But in eggs or walnuts, they haven’t been proven to promote health – so labeling these items can be misleading. Sugar can be many things: unrefined is ok but high fructose corn syrup is definitely NOT!

Let’s look at a few terms:

Trans Fat: No Trans Fat on a label generally means that each serving contains less than 0.5 grams. That could mean 0.49 grams. If you have a few servings of No Trans Fat over the course of a day, you could easily be consuming 5 grams of trans fat! Look for Hydrogenated or Partially Hydrogenated Oil on the label. If you see it, you know it contains some amount of Trans Fat so try to avoid it.

Aspartame: Aspartame, an artificial sweetener known as Equal, NutraSweet, or Spoonful is found everywhere: no-sugar candies, gum, diet beverages, and snacks.  Consuming this chemical has been  linked to over 92 side effects from headaches, seizures, memory loss, dizziness, and even death. It is reported that airline pilots are not allowed to consume products that contain Aspartame.

MSG: Monosodium Glutamate is in almost all processed foods. It is a neurotoxin and can cause a wide variety of symptoms like skin rashes, rapid heart beat, depression; it actually makes you want to keep eating. It’s addictive. Yes, it can make you fat. Some products /ingredients that have MSG are bouillon, broth, maltodextrin, and any food that is ultra-pasteurized. The list of food items is vast! Both Aspartame and MSG cross the brain blood barrier and excite your brain cells to death.

Artificial Sweeteners: Splenda(Sucralose) , Sunette (Acesulfame-K) , Saccharin once banned as a carcinogen.

Nitrates and Nitrites: These are found in processed meats like bacon, ham. They also can be added to other foods to act as a preservative and can cause headaches and dizziness.

Potassium bromate
Mostly used in breads and baked goods. It gives a bouncy quality to the product and has been linked as a possible carcinogen. Can cause gastric upset and nervous system issues.

This may seem very confusing and like a lot of effort. But it isn’t! Ultimately, you are responsible for what goes into your body so it’s worth it to take the time to check the label. On some packaging the print is very small so take a pair of reading glasses when you go shopping. If you don’t understand the label or the ingredients, your solution is simple. Do Not Buy It!

So the next time you’re heading out to the grocery store, take some extra time to review the labels of the foods you’re buying. The best rule to follow is to stay close to the source, buying fresh vegetables, unprocessed meats and cheeses, and fresh fruit. If you must buy convenience food, do some research and decipher the labels.

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