Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Hint #5: Eat Close to the Ground

What do you think this product is?

Chicken, water, salt, sodium phosphates. Battered and breaded with: bleached wheat four, water, wheat flour, food starch-modified, salt, spices, partially hydrogenated soybean oil and cottonseed oil with mono -and diglycerides, egg whites, wheat gluten, paprika, dextrose, leavening (sodium acid pyrophosphate, baking soda, monocalcium phosphate, ammonium bicarbonate), garlic powder, yeast, natural flavor (plant source), extractives of paprika. Prepared in vegetable oil (Canola oil, corn oil, soybean oil, hydrogenated soybean oil with TBHQ and citric acid added to preserve freshness). Dimethylpolysiloxane added as an antifoaming agent.

Some fancy chicken casserole?

Good guess. It is actually a chicken patty from a well-known fast food restaurant. Wait a minute. I counted over 30 ingredients in that patty. That doesn't even include the bun. Here are the ingredients for the bun:

Enriched flour (bleached wheat flour, malted barley flour, niacin, reduced iron, thiamin mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid, enzymes), water, high fructose corn syrup, sugar, yeast, soybean oil and/or partially hydrogenated soybean oil, contains 2% or less of the following: salt, calcium sulfate, calcium carbonate, wheat gluten, ammonium sulfate, ammonium chloride, dough conditioners (sodium stearoyl lactylate, datem, ascorbic acid, azodicarbonamide, mono- and diglycerides, ethoxylated monoglycerides, monocalcium phosphate, enzymes, guar gum, calcium peroxide, soy flour), calcium propionate and sodium propionate (preservatives), soy lecithin.

More than likely, both of these foods have been through an overwhelming amount of processing. Have you ever heard the saying "Natural is best?" That has incredible validity when it comes to the nutritional value of the food we consume.

How do you know if a product has been through extensive processing? Simple. Check out the ingredient label. My rule of thumb is, the fewer ingredients, the better. Often, that equates to less processing, less sodium, and fewer chances of mystery ingredients entering into our bodies.

What is in your refrigerator? What about your freezer? Or in the pantry? The cupboards? Processed, packaged items with ingredients you can't even pronounce? Or clean, natural foods? I am sure some of you have a mixture of both, while others distinctly sit on one side of the fence or the other.

With such high incidences of obesity, cancer, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes in the United States today, we should be putting our food under a microscope - reading food labels and checking ingredient lists - and filling up on foods that are close to the ground. Foods that are close to their natural state. Foods that have undergone little-to-no processing before they make it to your mouth.

Good examples would be uncooked plant foods - fresh fruits and veggies, sprouts, nuts, seeds, beans, dried fruit, and whole grains. Some lean means and dairy products could fit into this category as well.

Michael Pollan does a nice job of summing it all up in his book, Food Rules: "Don't eat anything your great grandmother wouldn't recognize as food."

Best of Luck!

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