Tuesday, June 11, 2013

F#16: Fake Food

In the interest of full disclosure, I should make it quite clear that I am not a "perfect" eater.  I like potato chips and cookies and cakes and can easily eat an entire pizza by myself without so much as a by your leave.

That being said, I am trying to eat "clean" (the new buzzword) or at least clean-er.  I look for products that have short lists of ingredients, and are more or less pronounceable.  This is far more complicated than one might imagine, and yucky things are hidden.

For example, I went to buy Greek yogurt, and had a coupon for Yoplait 100.  Now, I've learned my lesson that things labeled "lite" usually have artificial sweetener in them, so I did check the label, but obviously not closely enough.  When I went to make a smoothie the next morning, I had a little yogurt left on my spoon and I licked it off.  Something tasted...wrong.  I checked the label again and there, buried in the relatively short ingredient list, was Sucralose.  How depressed was I?  Normally, there is some sort of label on "lite" products that states clearly it has artificial sweetner.  But because Sucralose is supposedly made of sugar, I guess they didn't have to.  Guess what I'm not buying again?  Back to the more expensive, but more natural, Chobani.

Another example was when I tried to buy rolls, or English muffins, or whatever.  I gravitated toward the whole wheat and multi-grain products, as I've been told to do.  Little did I realize how many of these also have Sucralose as well.  I finally found a brand (Nature's Own, as well as Arnold) that didn't have it.  Super frustrating.

This is like when I first started trying to cut High Fructose Corn Syrup.  Reading labels, wanting to throw things at the shelves because anything that was reasonably priced for my  tight budget was highly processed, even if I didn't think it was.

So why do it to myself?  Well, I read The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan, and learned a whole lot more about food production than I necessarily wanted to know.  But the gist of it, which makes sense, is that the more processed a food is, the less of it the human body recognizes as food, and all that "extra" has to go somewhere.  Now, in order to keep prices down, additives/preservatives were placed in food, and when people started getting calorie-conscious, sugar was replaced with corn syrup.  But the human body really isn't supposed to process corn that way and, as a result, we are getting fat.  The corn syrup is turned into sugars and then just sort of...sits there.  The body doesn't know what to do, so it becomes fat.  One of the many reasons we have seen expanding waist lines, especially in the USA.

Also, a dear friend of mine had some serious health complications arise in her family, and the doctors were either pessimistic about chances of recovery, or quick to prescribe medication.  This friend of mine chose a different path, and began to eat cleaner, but also  looked into ethnic eating--as in, what did their ancestors eat, and what didn't they eat.  By looking into the food heredity, she was able to change her and her husband's eating and improve their collective health.

As I said earlier, I am not a perfect eater.  I will eat fast food, and I don't think too hard about what goes into the food at restaurants when I eat out.  But I try to manage what comes in to the house, to try to keep down the unnatural items we put into our systems.

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