/Read the label!

Read the label!

By Laurie Sweig

are a couple of simple rules to good nutrition. One is if your
grandmother (or great grandmother) didn’t use it in her cooking you
shouldn’t be eating it. The other rule is only ever eat ingredients that
you can pronounce. Taking that a step further, let’s include a new
rule: we know what all the ingredients are and why they are in what we
are eating.  
The more processed a food is the less healthy it is for
you. Essentially, a food is considered unprocessed if it is solely made
up of the natural edible parts of plants and animals. Sure, some
fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts and oils are considered processed
because they are a step beyond their natural form but the focus today is
on processed foods and highly processed foods.
Processed: Foods like
canned fruits and vegetables, some cheeses, freshly made bread and
canned fish are examples. They are made from two to three ingredients
(can include salt, sweeteners, and/or fat) and can be eaten without
further preparation.
Highly Processed: In addition to the
incorporation of salt, sweeteners or fat these foods can have artificial
colours, flavours and preservatives. They are typically ready-to-eat.
Sugary drinks, cookies, chips, luncheon meats and breakfast cereals are
all examples of highly processed foods.
Now getting on to understanding some of those hard to pronounce ingredients – here it goes:
Preservatives: Ascorbic acid, sodium benzoate, potassium sorbet, and tocopherols
Emulsifiers (prevents the separation of liquids and solids): Soy lecithin, monoglycerides
Thickeners (to add texture): Xanthan gum, petit, carrageenan, guar gum
Too many to list – pick a colour, any colour. Using artificial colours
in foods is less expensive and has a longer shelf life.
processing came about for convenience but there has been a cost. There
have been studies that have shown that the combination of sugar, fat
and/or salt can intensify cravings and lead to increased consumption. I
am a close relative of the Cookie Monster and living proof of addictive
behaviours when it comes to cookies. We do not have packaged cookies in
our house. There are other foods that affect me that way but apples and
carrots do not make the list.
The point is that it’s important that
we educate ourselves so we are able to make healthy choices. Sometimes
it’s not possible to cook a meal from scratch due to time restrictions
or other demands. That’s cool. The important part is knowing if a meal
is not nutritionally sound and working toward making it the exception
instead of the rule.
Something to think about.
Laurie Sweig is a
certified personal fitness trainer and spinning instructor. She owns and
operates The Point for Fitness. She can be reached at laurie@thepointforfitness.com.