What’s in YOUR Diet?

10 Jan

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.

united-states-of-food-additives

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!

Wheat Thins

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.

Club Crackers

Instead, if I’m craving a snack cracker, I’ll reach for the Triscuits. Three ingredients: wheat, oil, salt. Perfect.

Triscuit

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?

Paula Deen

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.

Caramel Macchiato

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!

 Not on a Diet

Need I say more?

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11 Responses to “What’s in YOUR Diet?”

  1. Veronica January 10, 2012 at 7:16 am #

    I would add to this – take what you read in the nutrition facts with a grain of salt (no pun intended heheh). HFCS shows up in almost everything packaged and/or processed and is sometimes listed under a different name.

    Also “natural” is not a term regulated by the USDA or the FDA and means pretty much nothing, so take a closer look at anything labeled “natural” or for that matter, “organic” – the USDA has some loosey-goosey rules on that too.

    Have you ever read Food Politics? It’s written by a nutritionist and is VERY interesting…she also wrote a book called What to Eat – it’s like 600 pages or something but incredibly helpful. I highly recommend these two books!

    Good luck with this…it’s a pretty ambitious undertaking 🙂

    • runcupcake January 10, 2012 at 9:50 pm #

      Oh, I know it. Too much to read, so much info out there. I’m just going to do the best I can, and then some, haha I hope.

      It is pretty ambitious, you’re right. I haven’t read either of those books – I’ll definitely look into them, thanks for the tip!

  2. Lindsay @ The Lean Green Bean January 10, 2012 at 8:33 am #

    great post! i went through the same thing with my bread and crackers a couple years ago!

    • runcupcake January 10, 2012 at 9:49 pm #

      I couldn’t believe it. I am loving that I am armed with so much information now, so I can be very careful and choose my foods carefully.

  3. jobo January 10, 2012 at 9:17 am #

    halle-freakin-lujah!! I love this post! IT’s about REAL foods, WHOLE foods, no fillers. I absolutely agree. But uh, no idea about club crackers, never looked! love those suckers too haha! But Triscuits are pretty delish as well 😉 Awesome post!

    • runcupcake January 10, 2012 at 9:48 pm #

      The club crackers are seriously good, it’s too bad.

      But yes, REAL foods, WHOLE foods, I am already seeing a difference in how I feel.

  4. Tina @ Best Body Fitness January 10, 2012 at 3:33 pm #

    There are SO many sneaky things in foods it shocks me too. I am really trying to be more aware of them this year too.

    • runcupcake January 10, 2012 at 9:47 pm #

      I was so shocked, I still am. I am making it a point to read every label from now on. I don’t want to be caught off guard!

  5. JessSutera January 12, 2012 at 9:52 am #

    LOVE this!! I have been veering farther and farther away from pre-packaged crap as much as I can – though the one point you raised that I hadn’t considered? Margarine! I need to become a real butter user all the time. Not that I even use margarine all that much but why even bother with it if the real stuff tastes better and is so much more wholesome in the grand scheme of things, right?

    • Paula Salisbury January 13, 2012 at 12:06 pm #

      I used to be one of those people who would say “What causes cancer this week will probably be good for you next week” and I truly did not believe that anything in food actually “caused cancer.” Guess again!

      I’ve worked at RI Hospital for almost 10 years now and have worked in Hematology/Oncology for the past 1 ½ of those 10. I began learning a lot about cancer once I moved into this department, as my boss does stem cell research and talks about it constantly!

      Ironically, I was diagnosed with breast cancer in July 2011 – ME?? Cancer? That can’t be right – that only happens to other people.

      Fast forward to now, and after two surgeries, 30 radiation treatments, numerous doctor visits, and two extensive meetings with nutritionists’ boy did I have no clue!

      I claimed to “eat healthy” since joining Weight Watchers approximately 5 years ago, but really, as Sam said I was still putting junk into my body because I was still buying processed food! (As an aside, much as Weight Watchers works for people who really try– they do nothing but push their products, which are full of what by the way? Oh yes chemicals and additives, and all kinds of unnatural junk!)

      Okay back on track – the moral of this reply is this: If you’re reading this you probably already believe that eating all natural is good for you for many reasons, but know this: the chemicals, additives and unnatural junk that people put into their bodies DO have cancer causing agents in them – they basically promote the growth of the abnormal cancer cells. I’m not a doctor and could not even begin to try to explain it so if you are interested and want an explanation from a professional, talk to your doctor and I’m sure he/she would be happy to explain it!

      In the meantime I’m going on the advice of my physicians and eating a natural diet high in protein, low in fat, and doing my best to limit red meat to once per week!
      Good luck to everyone and stay healthy!

      • runcupcake January 13, 2012 at 12:16 pm #

        Dear Mommy,

        Thank you for writing a book. 😉

        But yes, I’m glad we’re all getting on this track of eating the things we should really be putting into our bodies and no more junk!

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