Apr 22, 2014

How to Make OK, Better, Best Healthy Food Choices

I write a lot about healthy food choices and I am usually talking about keeping calories low and making smart snack choices.  In another blog I talked about beaver butt being a delicious ingredient listed as 'natural flavor' and how I like to know what I am actually eating.  I also like to reduce the amount of stuff I put in my body because the body is filtering toxins all day long between chemicals in food and/or water, pesticides, pollution, and every day products.  Of course this is achieved by reading labels.  But what if you don't know what to look for?  How do you know what are healthier options?

I have 3 cereals I am going to compare today.  Before I get started let me just say I have nothing against any of these companies and I am not promoting any of these companies.  This is not a mud-slinging fest; I am just using it as an example.

The one of the left has a long list of added vitamins.  Yay!  I love vitamins so that makes this cereal a great source of vitamins and nutrients.  It also has the longest list of ingredients.  Sugar is the 3rd ingredient but, of course, they have to do that because we won't eat it without it, right?  Canola oil, not my fav but I can live.  I don't have wheat/gluten issues or intolerance so I am not bothered by any of those ingredients.  Then I see corn syrup which is not my fav either but at least it is not high fructose corn syrup!

Then there is more syrup and coloring.  Coloring usually has to be filtered by the body which is done through the vital organs such as the liver, kidneys and blood.  It is better to lighten the load on the body so it can do other important things, like maintain a strong immune system :)

Next is natural and artificial flavor.  Hopefully it's not the beaver butt 'natural' flavoring.  Artificial flavoring is listed on Google as 'chemical mixtures that mimic a natural flavor'.  Chemicals?  Ummmm.....well, chemicals can be harsh and carcinogenic so no thanks.  So the ingredients are: sugar, sugar, cancer, sugar and a few good things.  But, the body can filter small amounts of toxic products or chemicals so we won't die if we eat it.  However, with continued exposure day in and day out the body's systems cannot always tolerate it and that is when sickness, ailments and even cancer occurs.  

I have seen many other cereal choices that are WAY worse.  Especially the ones that kids like the most.  That does not mean I do not like them or that I never eat them because I have in the past and if my stomach could tolerate it I may have a bowl here and there.  I should clarify that even though I remember liking the taste, sugary stuff for breakfast makes me sick to my stomach so I haven't eaten something like that in a long time.  Sometimes I like a bowl full of cancer... umm, I mean, chemicals...... OK, OK, I really like it for the taste.  I am not saying NEVER eat stuff with longer lists of ingredients that are potentially harmful.  I am saying it is better to reduce it as much as possible.  Ideally, if we could get away with NEVER eating something that is processed again, that would be the best for our health.  But the reality is that we like the taste of the things that are processed.

A better choice is the middle cereal and as you can see the left choice was Honey Bunches of Oats with the middle choice being Great Grains.  Both by the same company but each catering to a different type of customer.  You know what I really like about the info on Great Grains?  It says "less" processed.  It does not imply that it is not processed but it still appeals to those of us who are conscious of what we put in our bodies.  The list of ingredients is shorter - always a good sign - and the list of added vitamins are shorter.

If you are wondering why I have mentioned the added vitamins it is because vitamins and nutrients should be naturally occurring.  When it is added it is usually because the natural nutrients were stripped from it during the processing.  Plus, it appeals to people who are not getting their vitamins any other way.  Again, this would be because they are consuming a lot of processed food.  It is a great idea to obtain nutrients through your food supply and supplement when short or if extra doses are needed in addition to what you get in your food.  For example, women are encouraged to take in larger quantities of calcium for strong bones to prevent things like osteoporosis.  I do not drink milk so I take calcium supplements to make up for what I miss out on.  The same concept can be applied if a person is low on energy and needs a boost so they could supplement with a variety of B Vitamins and other energy supporting nutrients such as Riboflavin, Thiamine or Niacin.  

You will notice cereal number 3 is organic and has all natural ingredients.  Every ingredient is something that you can pronounce and you know what it is.  Except for maybe mixed tocopherols which are a mixture of products that naturally contain Vitamin E.  Things like green-leafy vegetables, nuts and fish are great sources of this.  This is used to preserve freshness.  I totally understand the need to preserve products in order to sustain any type of shelf life and if it has to be done, I prefer the more natural version.  The other 2 cereals both contain BHT which is a synthetic preservative that may be linked to cancer and tumors.  Oh ya, and some childhood behavioral cases have been reported too.  

When looking to make healthier food choices it is best to find products with ingredients that you, not only, recognize but also know what it is.  For a long time I recognized names of ingredients and thought them to be OK until I learned what they really were and what kind of effects they may have. 

Making a few, small changes here and there will greatly help improve the wellness of your health and the function of your body.  Even if you know yourself to be healthy it is still good to give your body a break.  Repeated exposure to toxins and chemicals can have damaging effects as we age -or even when we are young- but it is like a shiny new car that sits in the sun every day.  One day you might notice the paint is a little oxidized and wonder when the hell did that happen?  It happened slowly, gradually.  We can protect the paint with products and we can protect the body with natural food!

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  1. I am amazed that you can think this clearly at 4:05 AM!!!!!! Very good info and when I was on Weight Watchers, I read the labels and did find a lot of sugar-type items in most foods. Nice job.

    1. Glad you like it. It is just a small little piece on making good choices. There is sooo much more to know :)

  2. TOTALLY in agreement with the organic/ingredients that you actually recognize and can pronounce!!!!!

    1. I would LOVE to grow my own bell peppers and tomatoes but who the heck has time for that!