I’m Eating WHAT?!?!

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I regularly post articles about the scary chemicals in processed “food.” That phrase really is ironic, isn’t it? The word “processed” is the past tense of process which is defined as to convert (an agricultural commodity) into marketable form by special series of steps… According to Dictionary.com, “food” is defined as any nourishing substance that is eaten, drunk, or otherwise taken into the body to sustain life, provide energy, promote growth, etc.”
The key word in the definition of process is, marketable. How could chemicals like CANTHAXANTHIN, POTASSIUM BROMATE or ASTAXANTHIN be marketed? They can’t, so manufacturers use words like “wholesome, low fat, healthy and sugar-free” along with brightly colored packaging to entice people to purchase their chemical-laden products. In case you are not familiar with the additives listed above, let me introduce you! Our friends as Phys.org created a more detailed list that you can visit here.

CANTHAXANTHIN is a pigment added to egg yolks to make them more visually appealing. Tests have shown that large amounts of this chemical can cause retinal damage
POTASSIUM BROMATE increases volume in white flour, breads and rolls. Most bromate rapidly breaks down to an innocuous form, but it’s known to cause cancer in animals _ and even small amounts in bread can create a risk for humans. California requires a cancer warning on the product label if potassium bromate is an ingredient.
ASTAXANTHIN – Almost 90-percent of salmon sold in supermarkets today come from farms. The diet of farmed salmon doesn’t include crustaceans, which contains a natural astaxanthin that causes pink flesh in wild salmon. As a result, producers add astaxanthin to farm-salmon diets for that fresh-from-the-water appearance. Astaxanthin is manufactured from coal tar.

Nothing like loading up your cart with some nice omega-3’s and topping it off with a bit of coal tar!
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So what do we do? To begin, educate yourself! How often do you pick up a box or package off the supermarket shelf and throw it in the basket without even taking a look at the nutrition label or ingredients? I have been guilty of making a purchase simply based on the photo on the package knowing full well the photo isn’t even real food. It is a perfectly molded art project designed to draw my attention away from the actual package contents. Take a look at this quick video to see how they make chemicals look so tasty!

Read labels! This is key when making healthy choices for your family. While it will take some time to completely eliminate chemicals from your diet, this will get you started. A great tip is that if you can’t pronounce it, don’t eat it!

Another great tip is to stay in the outside perimeter of the grocery store isles. Most of the processed foods are located in the center isles. The perimeter is where you find dairy, produce and meat.

Start with small, attainable goals like reading labels and eliminating processed foods from one meal per day or from school lunches. You control what your children eat, so packing their lunch is key! School menus are atrocious! Check out this video of a talk by chef Jamie Oliver. He has made a campaign to educate children (and parents) about food and reform the school lunch programs in western culture.

Try cooking classes as a family. Many grocery store chains and local civic centers offer free or inexpensive cooking classes. Getting the kids involved will make the process smoother because they will have an opportunity to experience the food before they eat it! This also applies to getting the family involved in the grocery shopping. If the kids get to help choose the ingredients, they will be more likely to try new things.

Check out 100 Days of Real Food for some terrific resources to get you started on your journey to a real food lifestyle!

Applying all or some of these tips will help you begin your journey to a healthier lifestyle for your and your family!
If you have already begun, share some ideas to help others in the comment section below. You never know who you may inspire!

Cheers!

Friday Free for All – Heart Health

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I did cook this week but I did not try any new recipes, so in lieu of a Fit Hits the Pan post I will share some info to wrap up Heart Month! Did you know the #1 killer in the United States is Cardiovascular Disease? By controlling diet and getting active, this disease can be prevented. Here are some stats from The American Heart Association:

  • From 1999-2009, the death rate from Cardiovascular Disease (CVD) declined by 33%
  • CVD takes the lives of more than 2,150 American each day
  • Less than 1% of U.S. adults meet the definition for “Ideal Healthy Diet”, essentially no children meet the goal.
  • 32 million adults have total serum cholesterol levels >240
  • An estimated 78 million adults are hypertensive (high blood pressure)

(Source: 2012, American Heart Association)

Heart Disease – Several problems related to plaque buildup in the walls of the arteries or atherosclerosis. As the plaque builds up, the arteries narrow, making it difficult for blood to flow and creating risk for heart attack or stroke.

Steps you can take!

  1. Avoid Processed Foods – Processed foods range from minimally processed (bagged spinach, pre-cut vegetables, frozen vegetables) to highly processed (frozen dinners, frozen pizzas). Not all processed foods are bad but you should avoid any foods that are moderately to highly processed.
  2. Avoid Sodium – 90% of Americans age 2 and older eat too much sodium¹. It is everywhere, often hidden in foods that appear healthy like tomato sauces, canned vegetables, or pre-made salads. Do your homework! Be sure to read labels and nutrition information at your favorite restaurants. The recommended daily intake for a healthy adult is 1500-2000 mg².
  3. Know Your Fats – Limit your saturated fats and cholesterol avoid trans fats. Stick to oils with unsaturated fats like canola, olive and avocado. Oils that are liquid at room temperature are best. Remember to use any oil in moderation! There are a number of healthier substitutes for baking and cooking.
  4. Add Variety to Your Diet – Consume a diet of whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables and lean protein.
  5. Hydrate  – Drink at least 8 – 8 oz glasses of water per day. Water keeps you hydrated and cleans the toxins out of your cells.
  6. Exercise  – Get active! At a minimum, commit to at least 30 minutes of exercise 3-5 times per week.

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¹Center for Disease Control and Prevention, http://www.cdc.gov, 2012
²American Heart Association, http://www.heart.org, 2014