Posted by: molander | September 10, 2009

It’s All About Choice

“Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence.” -Vince Lombardi

Applying this philosophy to the things we choose to put into our bodies will yield improvement. How much improvement is up to us.  It’s all about choice.

In a perfect world we’d still be living in the Garden of Eden, eating what Adam and Eve ate (with the exception of the Forbidden Fruit, of course). Whether or not you’re a person of faith, there’s no denying our bodies were designed to be fueled with clean, whole foods. If you haven’t already heard about it, there’s a huge branch of nutritionists and loyal followers in the Raw Foods Movement. I do believe in the merit of this philosophy but I’m having trouble with the practicality.

However, since “perfection is not attainable”, we can certainly chase it and arrive at an improved diet. Where to begin? Hmmm… for us, it was the elimination of highly processed foods from our pantry.

Processed Foods

Definition: any food that is changed from its natural, raw state (thank you, Wikipedia). So technically, peeling your banana would be processing it, huh? So… let’s concentrate on removing HIGHLY processed foods. .. things that are dramatically changed from their raw state or were never foods to begin with!  Try this definition, courtesy of a writer, Eric Thorn: “For us, “processed food” is food which has been chemically altered through additives such as flavors, flavor enhancers, binders, colors, fillers, preservatives, stabilizers, emulsifiers, etc., or which has been manufactured through combination or other methods. Generally speaking, if the ingredients aren’t “natural”, then we consider it to be processed.”

All these things are what Jillian Michaels refers to as “endocrine disruptors” which throw our metabolism off balance.  Funny how the FDA assures us that these types of things are… and I quote… “generally recognized as safe”. Ex:  butylated hydroxyanisole, (a common preservative aka BHA), has been “generally recognized as safe” by the FDA, but is still “reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen.”

Huh? So is the FDA saying, “Uh, yeah… BHA probably causes cancer in humans. But don’t worry about it. You’ll probably be alright.”

Unfortunately, BHA isn’t the only thing we’re confronted with on a daily basis nor is it only in one product we’ll use. It’s in HUNDREDS! Plus there are tons of other chemical preservatives, artificial coloring, artificial flavoring, pesticides and herbicides we’re ingesting, breathing or touching on a regular basis. Maybe ONE of these, in the tiny amounts tested, exposed minimally can be “generally recognized as safe” but what about the millions we’re bombarded with all day… over time?? It the CUMULATIVE effect that increases our health risks. We can’t live in an environment free of these things (perfection) but we CAN make choices to reduce our exposure.

Here’s an example… let’s say you’re easing into this healthy lifestyle. You’ve made good choices for days and you’re craving some mac and cheese.  (This is really NOT on the list of great foods but going cold turkey (no pun intended) in the quest for healthier eating is usually a recipe (no pun intended) for disaster.) So which would be a better choice? Which would be a step toward improvement:

Using organic ingredients wherever possible: 12 oz 100% whole wheat macaroni; 2 cups skim milk; 2 Tbs butter; 1/3 cup whole wheat flour; 2 cups grated cheddar cheese; ½ cup Parmesan cheese; pepper to taste

— Or —

Kraft Macaroni and Cheese – The Cheesiest

Ingredients: ENRICHED MACARONI PRODUCT (WHEAT FLOUR, NIACIN, FERROUS SULFATE [IRON], THIAMIN MONONITRATE [VITAMIN B1], RIBOFLAVIN [VITAMIN B2], FOLIC ACID); CHEESE SAUCE MIX (WHEY, MILKFAT, MILK PROTEIN CONCENTRATE, SALT, SODIUM TRIPOLYPHOSPHATE, CONTAINS LESS THAN 2% OF CITRIC ACID, LACTIC ACID, SODIUM PHOSPHATE, CALCIUM PHOSPHATE, MILK, YELLOW 5, YELLOW 6, ENZYMES, CHEESE CULTURE). CONTAINS WHEAT, MILK.

Obviously, the better choice is the recipe with actual FOOD as ingredients! BUT WAIT!! Just LOOK at all the vitamins and minerals Kraft listed after “enriched macaroni product”! Sounds good, eh? Well….

  1. Vitamins/minerals had to be added back in since they stripped them all out of the wheat in the first place in an attempt to make the pasta taste ‘better’ and it’s still not equivalent to the nutrients in the whole wheat.
  2. Processed pasta has a high glycemic index which will raise your blood sugar level too high-too fast.
  3. 100% whole wheat pasta has more fiber which is good on so many levels.
  4. The chemical additives in the Kraft version are unrecognizable to the body and kind of freaks it out a bit. It wasn’t designed to deal with these foods so it simply has to “guess” how to metabolize them. And when one hormone gets a little off kilter, it knocks all the other off with it. Do this a lot over time… and, well, your body gets completely out of whack. In creeps health problems like infections, mood swings, obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer to name a few.
  5. Chemical additives have been banned in Europe and Australia due to health concerns, particularly in children. Kraft complied, reformulated their products FOR THEM but not for us here in the States! Why?  (Click Here for an easy way to share your concerns with Kraft if you feel so inclined.

I’d like to cover more about how these chemicals affect our metabolisms specifically but this is enough for today.

Perfection is not attainable. Many things are beyond our control. Moving toward excellent health… well… that’s just a matter of choices. What’s going into your body next?

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Responses

  1. […] share this quote before in a post about choices because it is PERFECT for our purpose of healthy nutrition choices. After all, it’s all about […]


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