Just about everyone reads labels now a days - it is a key to eating healthier as it gives you clues as to what is in the food. But how do we know what we are LOOKING for? What is a food label? It tells us the ingredients in the food.
What is a Nutrition facts label? It tells us the content of calories, sugar, fats, carbohydrates in the food. This is a measure taken in the lab. Can our bodies be measured perfectly in the lab? Not quite, as we are all so different we may respond to foods differently than others. But a label can at least give us the best clue: what ingredients are used in the food. We teach people to read the ingredients part of the label, not the nutrition facts label, because the nutrition facts label is telling us what the lab found. The ingredients will give us a better clue as to how our body will be able to deal with the food. (Hint: less ingredients = easier to deal with)
The best foods are the whole ones however, which is what I teach: whole foods nutrition. This means eating foods that do not have a label, they are just natural in themselves. A fresh apple chopped onto cooked oatmeal for instance, compared to a packaged apple-flavored granola bar.
The trick is understanding labels, and when to put the food "product" back on the shelf.
Grocery shopping shouldn't be so difficult, should it?
But it is.
It should be easy, simple and without worry, right?
But it isn't.
It should be intuitive, right?
But often, it isn't.
© 1978 Bob Willoughby/mptvimages.com - Audrey Hepburn shopping with her pet fawn, Beverly Hills, 1958.
Even when your adorable pet could be super distracting - reading labels is a key to eating healthier food.
I'm going to talk about the "BIG" 2 things you don't want in your food. One of them is easier to spot than the other. Canola oil is much easier to watch out for compared to artificial sweeteners or MSG, which can be hidden under many different names.
Things you don't want in your food:
- 80% of Rapeseed crops (canola) in Canada are Genetically Modified. There hasn’t been any studies done on the long-term effects of genetically modified food in humans, therefore we believe we should strictly avoid these gene-altered unnatural foods, as the Europeans have.
- The oil is processed in high heats, up to 300°F, creating poisonous trans-fatty acids, which is rarely found in nature. (Omega 3 fatty acids in the oil mixed with high heat have their chemical structure altered – creating rancid oils which create free radicals in the body ---> free radicals are linked to cancer)
- When looking at studies with ‘positive’ results of canola oil (such as studies confirming claims of canola oil lowering cholesterol, etc.,) these studies are usually funded by such companies as the Canola Council of Canada.
- Too many packaged, processed foods have canola oil listed as one of its ingredients, because it is cheap and the hydrogenated oils increase products’ shelf life – thereby increasing profits for companies.
- Too many polyunsaturated oils – especially in the form of commercial vegetable oils – are in the form of double unsaturated omega 6-linoleic acid, with very little of vital triple unsaturated omega 3-linolenic acid. Too much omega 6 in the diet creates an imbalance that can interfere with the production of prostaglandins (hormone like substances that are produced by the cells of the body and have many important functions, including promoting inflammation, pain, fever; supporting the blood clotting function of platelets; and protecting the lining of the stomach from the damaging effects of acid.) This disruption can result in increased tendency to form blood clots, inflammation, high blood pressure, digestive tract irritation, depressed immune function, sterility, cancer and weight gain.
Trust the traditional fats, not the new, highly processed ones. Fats like butter, olive, lard, and coconut oil have been nourishing people for thousands of years.
Such as trans fats, monosodium glutamate MSG, high fructose corn syrup, artificial sweeteners, food dyes (Blue #1, Yellow #6, etc) , sodium nitrate, potassium bromate.
The list goes on.
The saying 'if you can't pronounce it, don't eat it' rings true here.
MSG shows as "autolyzed yeast extract" or "hydrolyzed protein" or "glutamic acid" making it trickier to find, however, following the saying above should help.
Artificial sweeteners can show up as aspartame, Acesulfame K, Aminosweet, Neotame, Saccharin, Sucralose, Sugar alcohol, Maltitol Syrup, Maltitol Powder, Hydrogenated High Maltose Content Glucose Syrup, Hydrogenated Maltose, Equal Saccharin..... the list goes on. Do you think you'd be able to pick these out on a label of food that doesn't need sweetener (like ketchup or a TV dinner?)
If you're consuming a food that contains something created in a lab instead of by nature, you can be sure the body doesn't recognize it. This is not good. We don't want the body to have to deal with things like chemicals that it doesn't understand, we want to nourish it. As well, certain chemicals can cross our blood-brain barrier, making it a 'neurotoxin' and affecting our brain.
Would we want something in our food that affects our brain negatively?
I think not!
Admittedly, it does take a bit more planning and time in the kitchen to prepare food at home, using fresh, locally grown ingredients but these will not contain the strange additives you find in processed foods. But knowing that your food is clean and free of toxic additives like MSG will make it well worth it. Plus, choosing whole foods will give you better flavor and more health value than any chemical filled processed food you could buy at your supermarket.
In Holistic Nutrition we look at the ingredients, not the calorie label.
That's because its the ingredients that count.
The ingredients make up the calorie/fat content, so if we recognize the ingredients then the label doesn't need scrutinizing.
However, if the packaged food contains many of the above ingredients then its wise to put it back. There are many items you can use as replacements, but nothing beats using whole foods in regards to nutrition. This means natural foods like vegetables, fruits, whole grains, (actual grains, not bread) organic meats if you eat it, and fats and oils. We can train our taste buds to go back to our roots and appreciate the taste of whole foods, rather than the high sodium/sugar/flavourings of processed and packaged foods.
Keep it natural, keep it real!
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