I’m sitting here at my desk reading the label on my boxed nutritional shake. Are you a label reader too? I have noticed lately that we are being bombarded with ads in grocery stores and magazines about the contents of our food. Now these messages are finding their way into our homes via commercials and Network Specials concerning “the state of our food”. How much corn syrup is too much? What are the benefits of Free Range Chickens over steroid-filled poultry? Are preservatives harmful? I’ll do my best to answer these questions for you.
Are we consuming too much corn syrup?
Let’s start with Corn Syrup. The key is moderation. Studies show that Corn Syrup and Cane Sugar (table sugar) have the same effect and our bodies can’t tell the difference. It isn’t a Cane Sugar vs. Corn Syrup debate. What it boils down to is how much of it we consume per day regardless of the source. The average American consumes 156 pounds of sugar per year! Ideally we should only be consuming 6 teaspoons of sugar per day (on a 1600 calorie diet) or 10 teaspoons (on a 2000 calorie diet).
Sounds easy, right? You would be shocked at how much high fructose corn syrup is in your refrigerator right now. One 12 ounce can of soda contains 10 teaspoons of sugar! Foods that are advertised as “healthy diet foods” can be deceiving. One serving of Yogurt with Fruit contains 2 teaspoons. Don’t give up hope, there are many ways to modify your diet and not be left craving your sweet treats.
Don’t avoid sugar all together; your body needs it in moderation. Cravings are partially fueled by your body telling you it’s hungry. You can try to eat 4 to 5 modest meals per day instead of eating a small breakfast/lunch and overindulging at dinner time. This will help keep your blood glucose levels steady throughout the day and help quash your cravings.
Don’t fool yourself! Just because you chose diet soda with your meal doesn’t mean you can go crazy with dessert. Do not keep sweets in your pantry. If you would like to satisfy a craving, buy ONE candy bar, not a box. Many people eat out of boredom. Learn to recognize when you want that sugary snack because you are bored or actually hungry. Remember, sugar will give you energy, but it’s always followed by a “crash” which will make you feel lethargic and tired.
If I can’t pronounce it, should I be eating it?
What about all of those long words found on the ingredient lists of the processed foods we eat? (Monosodium Glutamate, aluminum Silicate, Ammonium Carbonates) We can’t pronounce most of them. We don’t know exactly what they are, but we still consume them. Preservatives are found in all processed food. (This is why our fresh fruits and veggies don’t have ingredient lists, they are pure). Preservatives are especially heavy in canned foods. (Soups, Vegetables, Sauces, etc.)
Vegetables begin losing their nutrients upon harvest. If they are canned immediately, most of the nutrients remain intact; however you will also find a high sodium count along with BPA (a compound added to food to prevent metal corrosion) and Sulfites. Sulfites can cause severe respiratory problems in some people. ₁ When making your choices, look for healthy alternatives such as low-salt and frozen options. Also, most food stored in glass jars contains fewer preservatives than those in aluminum cans. Just one can of vegetable soup can contain up to 70% of the Daily Recommended Allowance of sodium.
Foods high in sodium and sugar can be dangerous to people suffering from Diabetes, Hypoglycemia, Heart Disease, Kidney and Liver diseases, High Blood Pressure and other health issues. Please, take an extra minute and read the labels!
We all have busy schedules and sometimes find ourselves shopping only once or twice per month, so we load our carts up with items that won’t spoil. When it comes to your health, it is much better to go once per week so you can stock up on the freshest foods available. With most things in life, canned food is okay in moderation (when fresh or frozen is unavailable).
Hormonally-Injected Foods can affect our hormones!
Now, let’s talk about hormone-injected beef, pork and poultry. Free Range cattle, swine and poultry are raised on ranches that do not use steroids and feed their live-stock natural oats and grains. On the flipside, there are ranches that inject their live-stock with steroids, such as Testosterone and Progesterone to promote faster growth and larger body mass.
How do the artificial hormones affect us? Consuming hormone-injected foods can cause children to reach puberty faster than Mother Nature intended, causing breast growth in prepubescent girls and boys. In adults it can lead to Ovarian Cysts, Breast Cancer, Kidney problems and more.
Organic food is always a better choice. You don’t have to break the bank to buy healthy Organic foods. Many of the Nation’s largest producers of beef, pork and poultry no longer use hormones. ANYTHING, including vegetables, fruits and even frozen dinners can be organic. Organic simply means that no chemicals were used to treat the product or its ingredients at any point in time before it found its way to your local market.
So, educate yourself on the state of our food. Next time you go to the Market, read your labels, keep yourself informed and make healthy decisions. You care what kind of gas you put in your car, right? Food is our fuel, so pay special attention to what you put in your body.
If you can’t pronounce half of the ingredients, think twice about putting it in your cart. Fill your cart with more Fresh Foods. Choose low sodium and low sugar options when available and only buy Organic beef, pork and poultry…Eating healthy doesn’t have to be a drag, however eating unhealthy will make you feel like you are dragging through your day!
Mark Rosenberg, M.D.