Growing up in the South (quick shout out to Sylvester, GA), I ate from my grandfather’s garden, I helped my mom canned fruits and vegetables, and everyone spent significant time cooking food. Fast forward a quarter century (or more) and our fast-paced lifestyle forces many of us to seek out food that requires little time to prepare. Manufacturers have cashed in on this, marketing every kind of foodstuff you can imagine that is easy and fast–microwave dinners, boxed snacks, and grab and go meals.
But don’t think you walk away scot free. This convenience comes with a price. Think about it. Real food isn’t made to sit in a box or bag for long periods of time….so.., chemicals are added to keep the food from going bad. Making them, well, bad.
Look for these ingredients in the food labels and avoid them at all costs. Don’t panic, you can still find packaged options without a health risk, but you must read the labels and avoid the following:
- Artificial Colorings I was shocked to see that even Kraft Marshmallow Crème has food coloring in it. These are chemicals made from petroleum derivatives and have been linked to cancer in various animal studies, are known to cause allergic reactions, and are linked to ADD in children.
- Artificial Sweeteners Aspartame (NutraSweet) has been linked to brain tumors and about 90 other really unpleasant side effects. Diet drinks, ‘sugar-free’ junk should be tossed. NOW.
- High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) It extends the shelf life of processed foods and is cheaper than sugar. The main issue now is that HFCS is that we ingest far too much of it, contributing to our obesity epidemic.
- Partially Hydrogenated Oil (Trans Fat) is an altered vegetable oil. It contains trans fats, which promote heart disease. It’s not just in Crisco anymore. Goldfish and peanut butter just for starters.
- Sodium Nitrates enhance meat products like hot dogs, bacon, sausages, and lunchmeats. Nitrites break down into cancer-causing compounds. “Lunchables” should be re-named Box O’ Migraines.
These chemicals can have surprising side effects: depression, fatigue, headaches, and skin irritations to just name a few. Your best bet is to limit or avoid things in packages, wrappers, and cans, and eat most of your food in its simple, natural state. It will make you feel SO much better. I GUARANTEE IT.