One Simple Step Toward Health: Eliminate Chemical Additives
|November 10, 2011||Posted by carmen under Nutrition|
Are you intimidated by the monumental task of overhauling a lifetime of eating habits? Even though you know you truly want to eat better and feel better, does it seem an impossible task right now because you don’t know where to start and think you can’t afford to eat healthier? If this is you, you are in the right place.
It IS intimidating to switch from the SAD (Standard American Diet) to a diet rich in nutrients. Unfortunately we as consumers are set up to fail by our culture of consumerism and our blind trust in “experts”. Go into any grocery store and you are bombarded with thousands of items that have absolutely no place in a healthy diet. Listen to the news and you are bombarded with conflicting information from “the experts” over and over again that makes it impossible to know who is telling the truth.
If your head is spinning, take a step back and look at the bigger picture.
So what if scientists are debating whether artificial food dyes cause ADHD in kids. The simple fact is that they are made from petroleum and petroleum is not fit for human consumption. Who cares if some people claim that artificial sweeteners cause cancer and others refute it. All artificial sweeteners are chemically made. They are not found in nature and we are experimenting on our own bodies by consuming them. Is it not concerning that we have perishable food that can last for months and months due to the chemical preservatives used in them??
For someone wanting to make changes in their eating habits starting today, the simplest place to start is by choosing to not eat foods with unnatural, chemical additives. Any person, no matter their budget, time constraints, personal circumstances, etc. can choose do this. If you are the person who does the grocery shopping, you can make the choice to not purchase items with chemical additives. No one forces you to buy a box of Lucky Charms or Cheez-Its. These choices are on you.
Yes, you might have to rethink your snack options if you are like most people and accustomed to reaching for chips, crackers or cookies for snacks. How about fresh fruit and veggies that are in season? How about a yogurt that is (gasp) white instead of blue? There are plenty of non-chemical laden foods at the grocery store. Here is my list of healthy snack options that might be helpful to you.
Start reading labels.
If you see lots of words you can’t pronounce on a label, you can probably bet that it’s not a good choice to be putting in your body. The major offenders are the petroleum derived additives. These include artificial colors. If you see a color followed by a number (red 40, yellow No. 5) or FD&C followed by a number you know it is something to avoid. Also included are artificial flavors, most often labeled as “artificial flavors” or “vanillin.” The three major preservatives BHT, BHA, and TBHQ are derived from petroleum are unfortunately found in so many foods…even foods advertised as “healthy.” Artificial sweeteners like aspertame (NutraSweet and Equal), sucralose (Splenda), saccharine (Sweet N Low) have all been proven harmful to human health. Artificial sweeteners have been implicated in contributing to cancer, alzheimers disease, birth defects, headaches, panic attacks, depression, cell damage, nervous system damage, and weight gain. Weight gain…oh the irony! If something is labeled “sugar-free” it probably contains artificial sweeteners.
Here is a handy reference list for chemical additives to avoid on your next shopping trip. It might be helpful to bring this list with you when you shop to reference when you are reading those labels. Here’s to a good start on the path to healthier eating and healthier living!
Artificial Colors — listed as FD&C followed by a number or a color followed by a number
Artificial Flavors — most often listed as “artificial flavoring” or “vanillin”
Preservatives — BHT, BHA, TBHQ
Artificial Sweeteners — aspertame (NutraSweet and Equal), sucralose (Splenda), saccharine (Sweet N Low)
One Last Thought…
This might rub some people the wrong way but I’m compelled to say it… practice self control for heaven’s sake! I’m sorry, but we live in a culture of self-indulgence and there are very few people speaking up and telling people that they can’t, or shouldn’t, always have what they want. Well, I’m saying it. I would LOVE LOVE LOVE to eat donuts and drink coffee. I would love to eat whatever pleased me, whatever tasted good or my old comfort foods from childhood. I would love to pick up a package of oreos or cheetos and munch away. I used to do that. Being sick changed things for me. I have had to deny my desires for the warm fuzzy feeling and the stimulation of a nice hot cup of dark roast coffee. I have had to deny myself the guilty pleasure of stopping at Dunkin Donuts whenever I’m alone in the car and no one will know. Self denial is not a bad thing. We are imperfect beings and do not always have our own best interest in mind. More times than not our desires override our rational thoughts and we indulge in a short lived pleasure despite the fact that we know better. We need to stop making excuses and start practicing good old fashioned self control.
Note: The above is not an exhaustive list…but I think it is a good starting point. I believe in taking small steps in order to avoid the pitfall of getting overwhelmed. If this is all new to you, take the next few shopping trips getting acquainted with the ingredients in the foods you buy. Start looking for alternatives for your favorites that contain these chemical additives. Most of all, realize that you are doing a blessed service to yourself and the rest of your family by taking the first steps toward change.
I’d love to hear your thoughts? Join in the conversation.