Saturday, July 19, 2014

Truth in Advertising: Healthy Eating

Having to watch your sugar, cholesterol, and/or sodium intake is rather enlightening. You begin looking at labels—I mean really looking. You start wondering just how much of the “food” you are eating is actual food, and how much is filler or preservatives.

Now, I’m not a nutritionist, nor am I a vegan, vegetarian, or Paleo eater. At least not yet on the latter, and I will nvever be a vegan. I like meat too much—get you mind out of the gutter, y’all! But it’s true—fish, chicken, pork, steak—I like ‘em all.

I also don’t really care for too many veggies, and rarely do I like them unadorned. But I’m working on that one. One thing I am becoming attuned to is fresh vs frozen vs canned or jarred.

Of course, fresh is best, with frozen is a close second for healthy eating with convenience. Canned and jarred you have to really watch---not only for the measurements of the ingredients, but for the serving size as well. This label warning goes for anything packaged.

For example, two different brands of honey. One has only 15 calories, the other 60. If that was all you looked at, it would be a no-brainer. But, the first one’s serving size is a teaspoon (tsp), and the second one is a tablespoon (Tbsp). Now, you have to be able to convert, and do the math. For those who cannot, I’ll do this one for you. One tablespoon equals three teaspoons, so take the 15 calories from the first honey, and multiply by three, to get 45 calories. So, the first honey is still better, calorie-wise, than the second, but not by as much as a first viewing would have you believe.

Another thing I began to pay attention to is the actual list of ingredients. If they were messing with us on serving sizes, what else were they misleading us on? For example, a box of broccoli au gratin rice should be rice, broccoli, and cheese, shouldn’t it? Well, if that’s what you thought, you’d be wrong, as I was. There are enough preservatives, chemicals, and colors to make your head spin. Now, I’m not blaming the folks who make this boxed “food”, because without preservatives, they would not be able to sell their product in such large quantities, and the shelf life would be minimal. However, I can realize that this is not the natural food that I am looking to put into my body.

With this in mind, I have recently switched back to actual butter, after reading numerous articles warning that margarine was more closely related to plastic than to milk. That article was bullshit according to Snopes, but margarine does contain poly- and monounsaturated fats, which are shown to be far more unhealthy than regular saturated fats. Besides, butter is cream. Period. Maybe a bit of sea salt. Look at a list of the ingredients in margarine and you will find quite a few more than that.

Same with cheese—we have recently switched to real cheese from so-called “cheese product”. Cheese product is not even close to natural. It’s more convenient to eat than pure cheese, as it comes in those little individually wrapped packages, but real cheese tastes SO much better.

The local farmer’s market in my new home town apparently has fresh eggs. I’ve been reading that the eggs you buy at the grocery store can be around thirty days old by the time we buy them. I’m looking forward to tasting some farm-fresh eggs.

Little by little, I am becoming more informed about my food, in an effort to live a healthier and, barring accident or unforeseeable illness, longer life. 

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