Like I mentioned on Friday, I recently watched Forks Over Knives. I took a lot away from this video, but today I want to focus on added (unnecessary) ingredients in food.
The first one is probably the one people talk about the most – high fructose corn syrup. According to Wikipedia:
Critics of the extensive use of HFCS in food sweetening argue that the highly processed substance is more harmful to humans than regular sugar, contributing to weight gain by affecting normal appetite functions.
I am very anti-high fructose corn syrup. I was shocked when I found out the bread I was eating had it in it! When I see a food label that says 100% Whole Wheat Bread, I do not expect the third ingredient to be HFCS. I’ve since changed to another brand, same exact bread “name” – 100% Whole Wheat – with no HFCS.
I don’t eat HFCS because of it’s highly processed state – I feel that there is no need to put anything that processed into my body. It’s not doing me any favors – and I try to not eat sugar out of it’s natural state, if I eat it at all (all baked goods aside…).
Second on my list is added sugar. I had another shock when I started reading the box of Wheat Thins. WHEAT THINS! The front of the box proudly exclaims – with 11 grams of whole grain per serving!
Why does something with 11 grams of whole grain per serving need 10 ingredients? 3 of which are some type of sugar/syrup? No HFCS here, but is that really necessary?
Another snack cracker full of unnecessary ingredients and HFCS? Keebler Club Crackers. These darn little guys are oh so good, but you won’t find them in my cabinets anymore.
Instead, if I’m craving a snack cracker, I’ll reach for the Triscuits. Three ingredients: wheat, oil, salt. Perfect.
These are really so good, and have you seen the minis? I love cute food!
The list of foods with unnecessary sugars goes on and on, of course, but here’s a few more that I eat regularly and have been switching to more natural versions: peanut butter, jelly, salad dressing (HFCS alert), pancake syrup (no surprise, HFCS here)… I could go on… Why are food companies sneaking sugar into foods that don’t need sugar? To make it taste better so that people who are uneducated about their food will continue to buy the product. In a hurry and don’t read labels – which I have been guilty of – you’re going to end up with products that are not good for you, even if you think they’re good.
Third, chemicals/preservatives/etc.… This one gets me almost as much as high fructose corn syrup. It really started with soup – I wanted tomato soup – the list of ingredients in Progresso Tomato Soup is absurdly long! Then I thought about Spanish Rice – and my wheels just started turning (I looked up a Spanish rice recipe and already had all the ingredients at home – so I saved my family AND my wallet – BONUS!). Of course my mind immediately started going to the really bad chemical foods:
Margarine – does anybody actually use that stuff anymore? My brother and I talked about this, and he has a friend that is still convinced that margarine is better for you than butter. Shall we explore that?
Okay so that’s a bit extreme…
Ingredients in butter: cream, salt.
Ingredients in margarine: Canola and sunflower oils 74%, water, modified palm and palm kernel oils 6%, salt 1.8%, whey protein concentrate 1.4%, soy lecithin 0.2%, vegetable monoglycerides, potassium sorbate, vegetable color, artificial flavor, citric acid, vitamin A palmitate, vitamin D3, alpha-tocopherol acetate (vitamin E).
WHAT? Eww, right?
Margarine is a synthetic, man-made chemical, alien to our bodies. (Source)
There’s no margarine in my fridge!
One item that really tripped me out today – lemon juice. Real Lemon Lemon Juice says on the bottle: 100% pure lemon juice. Oh really?
Ingredients: lemon juice from concentrate (water, concentrated lemon juice), sodium bisulfite (preservative), sodium benzoate (preservative), and lemon oil.
So, about that 100% lemon juice…
And then there’s my guilty pleasure… flavored non-dairy creamer for my coffee. Oh my gosh, I wish I had never read the bottle.
International Delight flavored cream – more specifically, in Caramel Macchiato – has become a coffee staple. It will now be a coffee no-no once the bottle in my fridge is gone. I learned that good coffee plus a little bit of good (real) half and half or skim milk is just as good, and WAY better for me.
Oh my friend, I will miss you even though you are awful for me…
I won’t even list the ingredients because it’s too much to type…and I can’t pronounce most of them.
And then of course there’s convenience foods that are so loaded with preservatives, chemicals, etc. that even if they’re labeled “light”, “low fat”, “Lean Cuisine”, or what have you – there is no way the items are good for you.
The moral of this long and drawn out story: Don’t believe that a food is what it says it is just because of what it says it is on the front, always flip it around and read the back. You may be surprised. Look for items that live up to their hype, that have very few ingredients in them, and the ingredients that they do have aren’t HFCS, unnecessary added sugars, or chemicals. And whenever possible – make your food from scratch!
Need I say more?