My Food Journey
How I've shaped and changed the way I eat
How I've shaped and changed the way I eat
I am one of those people that like to know what I am eating. I'm always label reading for ingredients and nutrition information. I try to mostly eat whole foods (fresh fruit, veggies, meats... things that have not been processed, or things that are one ingredient). I try to shop for organic or Non GMO verified foods. Now there's a new concern: synthetic bioengineered food, or synbio food for short.
It's all still new to me, as I have just recently heard about this a couple weeks ago and the research is still new. Here's a very basic understanding of how synbio foods are made: It's basically making DNA that does not naturally exist. This DNA is able to mimic smell, look, and taste of things that do naturally exist. The first "successful" attempt with food was making synbio vanilla flavoring. Apparently vanilla flavor was too costly to make, so scientists found a cheaper way to make their own DNA strands to create something that tastes like vanilla flavor. Now we are making artificial ingredients of artificial ingredients!
I would not have a complete problem with this if the food industry was giving us freedom of knowledge on consumption. From my current understanding, it will not be mandatory for the food industry to label which foods are synbio foods, just like they are not legally forced to label foods that are GMO (You can thank Monsanto for paying off states in court hearings to prevent you from having the right to know).
I just want to be able to know that the apple I'm buying and eating is really an apple, and that it is pesticide free, and that it has not been altered with DNA from a fish, and that it hasn't had its DNA created in a lab. Is that too much to ask for!?
One beneficial claim is that with making synbio foods, scientists believe that they can make more cost effective food, and more volume of food... in hopes that this will help the world hunger problem. My question is, will it really be beneficial in the long run when we are no longer eating real food?
What are your thoughts? I'd love to hear comments about this one!
Here are some sources about synbio foods:
The food industry loves and profits from misleading consumers. They are always using new gimmicks to deceive shoppers. The current food trend is moving towards a healthy direction... that's great! The downside is that the food industry is using this to their advantage. Don't be deceived! Not everything that seems healthy is healthy. One of the most confusing and misleading foods out there is one we eat in America on a daily basis... bread. We love our bread! We love it so much, that it has become a problem with weight control and many internal health issues. So, we've wised up and disciplined ourselves; cut out white bread products and stick with whole wheat. Our other downfall? We are too trusting with what the marketers tell us.
Deception: Not all wheat breads are truly whole wheat.
They're loaded with fillers and enriched flour. In fact, if you look at the ingredients, often times whole wheat and whole grain is not even the first ingredient listed! Enriched flour is a fancy way of saying white flour. White flour has no nutritional benefit, it's all been pulled out. Because of this, it is now a simple carbohydrate and turns to sugar in your body!
So, we wised up, we avoided the wheat bread (or bread products), and now buy whole wheat... ANOTHER MARKETING GIMMICK! Whole wheat can simply mean that somewhere in the list of ingredients, whole wheat is one of them. So, what benefit does the food industry have in deceiving us? PROFIT. They are getting away with raising the price of these "healthier" alternatives, while still using cheap to produce fillers (Don't get me started on soy! That is a blog or two all of its own!) that are harmful or lack nutrition.
What to look for: Find bread products that say 100% Whole Wheat
Make sure that enriched wheat flour is not in the ingredients. This will guarantee that you are getting the whole wheat bread that we want.
If only it were as simple as having the catchy words match the product...
I'll be blogging in the future on other marketing ploys:
* no trans fats
Just to name a few
Who doesn't love breakfast!? An All-American breakfast is so popular that even McDonalds is starting to serve breakfast all day. We love our eggs; over easy, scrambled, omlet. Don't forget the crowd pleasing hashbrowns, and of course anything that you can dip into syrup!
There are so many options for syrup: lite syrup, no high fructose corn syrup, less calories... the list is endless. These are always so appealing, especially when you turn them over and look at the sugar content compared to real maple syrup. Many of us would take one look and say, "Whoa! 50 something grams of sugar! I'm getting light syrup!"
Don't be fooled! There are so many nutritional benefits of Pure Maple Syrup.
First and foremost, keep yourself in check. Maple Syrup is supposed to be a condiment, not a side dish. Limit how much you are using. The best way to be aware is to pour what you're using in a separate dipping cup. It will stretch your syrup for longer since it won't be absorbing into your pancakes or waffles.
Second, there are a ton of nutritional benefits of pure maple syrup that you don't get from commercial syrup.
Check it out:
**It has these naturally occurring (NOT ADDED/FORTIFIED) minerals: calcium, manganese, potassium, magnesium, zinc, and iron.
**It is filled with antioxidants. These are what help to fight cancer causing free radicals in the body.
Let's take a look at the ingredients in Aunt Jemima Original Syrup:INGREDIENTS: CORN SYRUP, HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP, WATER, CELLULOSE GUM, CARAMEL COLOR, SALT, NATURAL AND ARTIFICIAL FLAVOR, SODIUM BENZOATE AND SORBIC ACID (PRESERVATIVES), SODIUM HEXAMETAPHOSPHATE.
I highlighted ingredients in red that I try to avoid. I don't even know what that last thing is!
I don't know about you, but I will pay the extra money and get 100% Pure Maple Syrup. Yes it costs more, but that will also help you to remember to use less and make it last. There is a reason why you can't get the same size container of pure syrup for $2 like you can the fake stuff. Companies are using cheap products, chemicals and flavorings for you to consume. Quality will always cost a little more.
Here's a site with some fun facts about Maple Syrup! http://deepmountainmaple.com/maple-facts-and-fictions
Previously, I wrote about the importance that healthy fats play in our bodies. Here’s where you need to pay attention to details. Not all fats are created equal. You may look at the back of a label and be confused. What you need to learn about is the breakdown:
There are several types of fats that you can find when looking at the nutritional information and ingredients list, the main ones being: saturated fats, monounsaturated fats, polyunsaturated fats and Trans fats.
The healthy fats: mono and polyunsaturated fats
* Usually liquid at room temperature
*can improve blood cholesterol levels
* can be great for the heart
The not so healthy fats: saturated fats - be aware of your portion control with foods that have saturated fats (can be controversial… I’ll be writing about this more)
* Mostly found in animal products
* can be found in full fat dairy
*can raise total blood cholesterol
* increases risk of diabetes when consumed too much
The dangerous fats: Trans fats a.k.a. partially hydrogenated fats
* Usually chemically made in a lab
* increase your LDL levels (Bad cholesterol)
* Lowers your HDL levels (Good cholesterol)
* used to preserved the shelf-life of many foods
In my personal opinion, there are lots of health benefits to mono and polyunsaturated fats, and there are even some foods with saturated fats that can be helpful. My main concern is the foods that have been manufactured with the additive of Trans fats, partially hydrogenated fats, and hydrogenated fats (and oils). Those are the foods I steer clear of and put back on the shelf.
By: Queue Murphy
Gatorade! Your ingredients are unhealthy for our kids! My kids play sports and their friends love your taste - however, I will not allow my children to have your drink! You are advertised everywhere when it comes to sports - buckets of you are dumped on coaches, you are in every hockey, football, sporting facility. You promote yourself as if you are good for our kids - but let's look what is inside of you.
Let's start with the dyes in all of your drinks - the dyes ... Europe has outlawed dyes because they are considered one of the most dangerous and toxic additives. Unfortunately, you and your lobbyists are too powerful and make sure the US does not put warnings on food labels against these dyes. Every year in the US, food and drink manufacturers place 15 million pounds of food dyes into our foods! You don't seem to have our kids health in your best interest! According to the Center for Science in the Public Interest, food dyes are linked to numerous forms of cancers, along with hyperactivity and other problems! According to CPSI: "The three most widely used dyes, Red 40, Yellow 5, and Yellow 6, are contaminated with known carcinogens … Another dye, Red 3, has been acknowledged for years by the Food and Drug Administration to be a carcinogen, yet is still in the food supply." http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2011/02/24/are-you-or-your-family-eating-toxic-food-dyes.aspx.
THE SUGARS -
http://wywnutrition.com/negative-effects-gatorade-2/, http://www.livestrong.com/article/68710-effects-much-gatorade/, http://fortune.com/2014/08/13/energy-drinks/, http://dailyhealthpost.com/5-things-you-never-knew-about-your-favorite-sports-drink/
Who wants frozen orange juice from concentrate when you can go to the refrigerated isle and get fresh squeezed orange juice? Sure you pay a buck more, but you’re getting a better product. Or, are you? A while ago, I had read several articles and watched news reports comparing brands of orange juice. The results were shocking! Basically orange juice is stored in large vats for months, and even a year (including those “fresh squeezed” juices).
In order to keep the juice in vats for that long, a process is used to preserve the juice, which ultimately makes it flavorless, and I can only imagine that the vitamin content has depreciated as well.
To remedy this, food engineers have created flavor packs. They produce several flavors, selling specific ones to each company. You won’t find that on the ingredients list though!
When I have time, I opt for making my own fresh squeezed juice with juicing oranges. There’s no processing, I’m getting the vitamins from the orange, and the flavor has no competition to anything I’ve ever had from the store. However, when I need convenience, I save my money, skip the “fresh squeezed” and opt for the cheaper frozen concentrate. After all, it’s the same oranges, just a different flavor pack.
Side Note: When you squeeze your own orange juice, it also gives perspective of how much a serving from one orange actually is. Juice glasses are small for a reason. When we are ordering that tall glass of O.J. we are having way too many servings of juice!
Links about flavor packs:
As a kid, my friends and I would always giggle while eating lunch and visualizing ourselves becoming a pizza slice, an apple, or even a cupcake. “You are what you eat!” If only we took this cliche more serious.
We are what we eat. We need to remember that every time we make meal decisions. Now, I’m not saying that I never eat pizza, or a frozen dinner, or that amazing 1,000-calorie Mexican dish from my favorite restaurant, but it is rare. It is also a conscious decision instead of a blind one.
Don’t order, or shop without doing your research. Ignorance is not bliss. Your body knows when you are consuming unhealthy foods and foreign ingredients.
Here is my standard that I strive to follow:
· The majority of my meals should be home made.
· I need to follow the My Plate rule for meals.
· If I do order out, I need to eat at home 4 days in a row (take-out doesn’t count for eating at home)
· If I buy food from the freezer isle or the middle isles (soups, pastas, crackers… I MUST read the ingredients before I decide to actually put it in my cart.
Now, I have seasons of time where life happens, and therefore my healthy lifestyle takes a hit… you know, like a crazy first year of my baby’s life with surgeries, doctor appointments, and new mommy fatigue.
The key is making it a season; don’t give up in defeat. Instead, get back on track!
So I've made a new goal for myself last week; I guess it's more of a rededication. I'm planning meals and cooking at least 5 days out of the week. So far so good! Pre planning has really helped to make it easier and managable. I stumbled on this video earlier today and was really inspired to keep doing what I'm doing! I've been meaning to read the Michael Pollans book, Omnivore's Dilemma, and of course with life had forgotten all about it. Well, it's now back on my list. Here's a 20 min. video of him talking about the value of cooking your own food. It's a lecture focused around another book of his. Check it out for yourself!
Every time I've been disciplined and have planned out my meals for the week, I have lowered my spending and my waistline. Since Baby M, I have fallen into the trap of thinking, I'll get the groceries later, or even, I just get a bunch of random healthy stuff and figure out what to make as I go along.
Well, it hasn't been so easy. I end up spending money on groceries, plus too many meals out! Or, I go to whip up something on the fly only to realize that I need that can of tomatoes, or I'm missing potatoes! Then I don't make the meal, and we end up ordering out... AGAIN! It adds up fast in places we don't want it to.
This week, I am making an attempt to be better prepared. I thought about the variety of protein I wanted: Wild cod, pork tenderloin, ground turkey, chicken breasts. This would cover 5 days (one of them being a leftover day from the tenderloin). That gives me two grace days instead of running around exhausted and realizing that I am on day four of getting something I don't even want to know the nutritional information of like General Tso's chicken. If I don't need both grace days, that's when I can dive into the freezer to thaw out another protein source.
Once I have my protein source, I think of the angle I want to go with it... ground turkey, homemade nachos!
Another strategy, is balancing staple veggies with specialty. When I put the mushrooms and the broccoli in my cart, I know that they can be stretched out and be prepared for two of those meals. Mushrooms go great with almost anything! For my specialty, I don't get as much of it, since it's going to be dedicated to one meal. So far, I've had some good stuff this week, even with a sick baby! Today was my grace day, and tomorrow is homemade nachos!
OK, so this post is dedicated to one of my favorite household staples... the avocado! I... LOVE... THEM!
But they're high in fat! Anyone ever hear someone say that? My reply is, exactly. Remember, our bodies need healthy fats, especially our brains. Healthy fats help our bodies to absorb certain nutrients more effectively. The avocado is exactly that, a healthy fat.
Not only is it a healthy fat, it provides your body with several other important minerals: fiber, vitamin K, copper, folate, vitamin B6 just to name a few. Folate is super important for women in child bearing years. Folate and folic acid (supplement version of folate) are CRUCIAL to a baby's development within the first two weeks of pregnancy. That is a time when usually most women don't even know they're pregnant. It helps prevent problems that are spine and brain related. In addition to eating foods rich in folate, make sure you are taking a folic acid supplement even if you aren't currently trying to conceive at the moment.
Just 1 cup of avocados will give you 30% of your daily intake of folate!
The creamy texture and mild flavor are great as an addition to so many foods. Baby M loves to even eat "rara" (avocado) plain.
Here's a tip... The part of the fruit that is closest to the peel has the most concentrated amount of nutrients, so make sure you scrape the inside of the peel and get that super dark pulp from the avocado. It's super thin and gets overlooked a lot!
Please feel free to comment; how do you enjoy your avocados?