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What Fuels You?

When you pull up to the pump to fuel up your Fiat, do you pump in diesel? Nope.

When your Beagle says it’s suppertime, do you fill her bowl with cat food? Probably not.

When your tasty tomato plants need a boost, do you pour on flower food? Of course you don’t.

So why when it comes to our own hungry human selves and nourishing our billions of cells that we rely on to keep us alive and well, why do we think it’s perfectly normal to put things like monosodium glutamate (found in potato chips, fast foods, cold cuts, instant noodles and salad dressings) or a rainbow of dyes such as FD&C Red #2, Blue #1, Green #3, Orange B, and Yellow #6 (found in colored yogurt, flavored applesauce, colorful cereal and candy) into our mouths? Those artificial colors, by the way, are petroleum-based, mixed in a lab and are linked to certain types of cancer in animals AND attention-deficit disorder and hyperactivity in children. MSG can cause headaches, flushing and swollen hands and feet. Not life threatening, but still a sign that your body is trying to get rid of it.

The answer, I think, is that we always have just had those things available to us. My mom gave me all those sweet-to-eat, milk-coloring cereals and that fake squirt cheese stuff on crackers when I was a kid. Didn’t yours?  Probably. Did I give that to my kids when they were little? Honestly, yes. Looking back, I could have made better choices which would give them better options in their future food choices.

No time like the present, right?

So if it’s in the store, it must be generally safe for us to put it in our mouths—well, generally safe, yes.

Good for us, not necessarily!

Stores are in charge of convenience and choice.

WE are in charge of our own choices.

Here’s some food rules to LIVE by:

  1. If it comes from a plant, eat it. If it’s made in a plant, don’t.  Same thing goes for meats. If you can identify the meat, it’s good to eat. Mystery meat? Steer clear.
  2. Stick to the perimeter of the store and focus on fresh, whole foods. Again, if mother nature made it, should be good to eat it.
  3. Ditch the processed muck one bad guy at a time. Start with MSG. If it has it, don’t buy it. Then move on to high fructose corn syrup. Same rule. Continue down the list: food colorings, glycerin, sodium benzoate, sulfur dioxide – you get the picture.
  4. A way to stick with #3 is to just buy items with 5 or fewer ingredients. REAL nature-made ingredients.
  5. Cook one new processed-product-free recipe a week. Start with your favorites and modify them to not include what you don’t want. Love your Mom’s pot roast recipe that calls for a packet of dried onion soup (that also has added MSG, disodium guanylate, disodium insulate and autolyzed yeast extract)? How about skip the powdered, processed stuff and just add your own onions and mushrooms which are the flavor profiles in the soup anyway. Then move on to grandma’s favorite pumpkin pie recipe. Odds are that grandma used good old-fashioned live pumpkins. Ever check out a label on today’s canned pumpkin pie filling? There are 22 ingredients; pumpkin, milk, and 20 things you probably don’t want to eat. You get the picture. Reach out to the depths of the Internet for “additive-free” recipes and re-stock your go-tos.
  6. Pantry re-stock time! No, you don’t need to call in the dumpster company to come pick up your processed pancake mix and everything else currently in your pantry. Over time, replace what you have with better choices.  Search “additive-free” grocery guides online to start replacing your staples.

So, does that sound like a lot of work? Are you ready to make the break from the easy button of buying and cooking with processed foods? I, for one, am going to start with switching up to 100% natural maple syrup and pancakes from scratch for my now-teenage boys. And fresh sharp cheddar cheese (5 ingredients) and cucumbers or grapes instead of the bacon-flavored-cheese-mousse-canned stuff (15 ingredients) on Lord-knows-what’s-in-those crackers (the one’s in my pantry have inflammatory vegetable oil and high fructose corn syrup along with 9 other ingredients).

I feel better already!

Tune back in later this week to read my interview with Dr. Vilen and find out what she has to say about nourishing your cells!

Written by: Kirsten F., Integration Specialist