Eat to Live, Not Live to Eat

Yes, it’s another list. I know you so enjoy being grossed out by your food. I admit, I still don’t want to know exactly what goes into McDonald’s burgers- and yet I don’t have to know the specifics to know that it’s gross. But overall, I think that being educated about what we put into our bodies could help change the way we see food and health.

I recently saw a post on Facebook from Organic Valley and it asked, “Do you agree?”

The gist of the question intimates that food does in fact work either against you or for you. All food. So doesn’t it make sense that we would want to only put the most all-natural, the very best possible food into our bodies?

Based on what I’ve studied and learned over the past ten years I am convinced that additives, preservatives, color dyes, and alternative sweeteners are a major cause for many types of cancer, as well as other things such as dementia, liver disease, obesity, and even ADHD.

It never ceases to amaze me how people want to argue my no swine policy as if they are debating religion or politics. Really? Can you really want to convince me to eat pork when I know 100% that it is poison to my body? WHY? I never tell people that they are wrong, or killing themselves, or say it in any manner that judges them, and yet they still want to argue that there is no basis for my beliefs because I may or may not eat some other questionable foods. I’m pretty sure I’m not asking to be judged just as I do not intend to judge others, so I can only conclude that self-conviction plays a major role in most of these debates.

It doesn’t matter to me what you eat. All I can do is throw the information out there. It’s up to each individual person to make choices that they feel is right for them. It’s funny to me how ruled people are by food. You see it all the time- in alcohol, drugs, sex. Food is no different from any other addictive substance. That’s why so many people fail at dieting. They just can’t gain control over their addictions. The only way to be succesful in changing your eating lifestyle is to look at eating as an addiction.

I still enjoy sweets and treats, but I’m taking responsibility for what I eat. I can still eat anything I want as long as I remember what I’m putting into my body and what the consequences are. Too often people make the mistake of rewarding themselves with food, or with the thinking that it’s just one bowl of ice cream, or one brownie. But if it’s every day then you are not helping yourself. Those things are not meant to be eaten every day.

I have a treat that I truly only allow myself once only every couple of years. It’s so bad. In spite of everything I say about McDonald’s I still love their Filet-O-Fish sandwich. Some of you are saying “ewww” right now and that’s okay 🙂 They are so fattening that I only allow myself one every three or four years. I mean it. I can’t even remember the last time I had one. In the 5 years I lived on the island I had only one. So a few weeks ago I decided it was time and that it was okay, and I got myself a Filet-O-Fish. It was gross. It was not as heavenly as I remembered. Thank God. I’ll never have to struggle with that craving again.

What was the point, you ask? Change they way you see food and the way you eat and it will become easier. I don’t crave ice cream anymore. That doesn’t mean I don’t still like it, but there is only a small margin of it that I feel okay with putting into my body. For example, soft serve ice cream is out- forever. I know what goes into it and I’m not comfortable eating it. The only brands I like are Breyers or Stoneyfield. I’m sure there are good all-natural brands out there, I’m only going by what’s available in my area. I’m a simple person. Chocolate is good enough for me. When ice cream has lots of stuff in it (chocolate chips, cookie bits, sprinkles, etc) it just has more additives and junk.

That’s not to say I still don’t struggle with food. I have a weakness for bread…and pasta….and carbs in general. Most of the time I have to force myself to cleanse it out by restricting my diet for weeks or a month at a time. It’s okay because it is always rewarding and I know that it’s not forever. Weird thing is I always feel SO GOOD when I cut out carbs and fat. I get headaches from food often, which is what prompted me to start studying additives and preservatives in the first place, and I generally go headache-free during these times of cleansing. The health benefits are numerous, but even I know that a little bit of fat and carbs is good once in a while.

So here’s the newest list of additives and junk that’s in your food and how it can affect your health. If you’ve missed my previous posts on the subject you can find them in my Health tab at the top of my blog, or just click the links provided at the bottom.

Carrageenan

 A thickener, stabilizer, and emulsifier extracted from red seaweed.

Found In: Jellies and jams, ice cream, yogurt, and whipped topping

Example: Ben & Jerry’s Cherry Garcia Ice Cream

What You Need to Know: In animal studies, carrageenan has been shown to cause ulcers, colon inflammation, and digestive cancers. While these results seem limited to degraded carrageenan—a class that has been treated with heat and chemicals—a University of Iowa study concluded that even undegraded carrageenan could become degraded in the human digestive system.

*This was disappointing to me because Cherry Garcia was my absolute favorite Ben & Jerry flavor! Proof positive that even when a label says “all natural” it isn’t always good for you.

Blue #1 (Brilliant Blue) and Blue #2 (Indigotine)

 Synthetic dyes that can be used alone or combined with other dyes to make different colors.

Found In: Blue, purple, and green foods such as beverages, cereals, candy, and icing

Example: Skittles Original

What You Need to Know: Both dyes have been loosely linked to cancers in animal studies, and the Center for Science in the Public Interest recommends that they be avoided.

*I know you’re not surprised how could you be? But the word is in, it’s not just red dyes that are bad. It’s all dyes. Bottom line? Just don’t eat it.

BHA and BHT (Butylated Hydroxyanisole and Butylated Hydroxytoluene)

 Petroleum-derived antioxidants used to preserve fats and oils.

Found In: Beer, crackers, cereals, butter, and foods with added fats

Example: Quaker Chewy Granola Bar Chocolate Chip

What You Need to Know: Of the two, BHA is considered the more dangerous. Studies have shown it to cause cancer in the forestomachs of rats, mice, and hamsters. The Department of Health and Human Services classifies the preservative as “reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen”

*Read your ingredients labels. A general rule of thumb when reading labels: less is more. I can’t imagine why anyone would buy butter that has chemical ingredients listed on the package. Butter should only have 2 or 3 ingredients. If it has more than you’re eating plastic. Gross.

Aspartame

 A near-zero-calorie artificial sweetener made by combining two amino acids with methanol. Most commonly used in diet soda, aspartame is 180 times sweeter than sugar.

Found In: More than 6,000 grocery items, including diet sodas, yogurts, and the tabletop sweeteners NutraSweet and Equal

Example: Diet Pepsi

What You Need to Know: Over the past 30 years, the FDA has received thousands of consumer complaints due mostly to neurological symptoms such as headaches, dizziness, memory loss, and, in rare cases, epileptic seizures. Many studies have shown aspartame to be completely harmless, while others indicate that the additive might be responsible for a range of cancers.

*I’ll never be able to say it enough: Aspartame is poison and it’s disgusting. I can taste it in everything from pop to juice to gum. I hate it. You’re so much better off drinking or eating real sugar than these diet and sugar-free alternatives. Truly.

Alpha-Tocopherol

 The form of vitamin E most commonly added to foods and most readily absorbed and stored in the body. An essential nutrient, it helps prevent oxidative damage to the cells and plays a crucial role in skin health and disease prevention.

Found In: Meats, foods with added fats, and foods that boast vitamin E health claims; also occurs naturally in seeds, nuts, leafy vegetables, and vegetable oils

Example: Campbell’s Essential Antioxidants V8

What You Need to Know: In the amount added to foods, tocopherols pose no apparent health risks, but concentrated supplements might bring on toxicity symptoms such as cramps, weakness, and double vision.

 *I’ve never had any side effects other than heartburn from V8, but still it’s disappointing to learn that there is added junk in it. Read labels and make the best choice for yourself.

Acesulfame Potassium (Acesulfame-K)

 A calorie-free artificial sweetener often used with other artificial sweeteners to mask bitterness.

Found In: More than 5,000 food products worldwide, including diet soft drinks and no-sugar-added ice cream

Example: Edy’s Slow Churned No Sugar Added Vanilla Light Ice Cream

What You Need to Know: The FDA has approved it for use in most foods, but some health groups claim that the decision was based on flawed tests. Animal studies have linked it to lung and breast tumors.

*Remember what I said about ice cream earlier? What it doesn’t say here is also how they add paint thinners to make it extra creamy. Yum.

Cochineal Extract or Carmine

 A pigment extracted from the dried eggs and bodies of the female Dactylopius coccus, a beetlelike insect that preys on cactus plants. It is added to food for its dark-crimson color.

Found In: Artificial crabmeat, fruit juices, frozen-fruit snacks, candy, and yogurt

Example: Tropicana Orange Strawberry Banana

What You Need to Know: Cochineal extract is comprised of about 90 percent insect-body fragments. Although the FDA receives very few complaints, some organizations are asking for a mandatory warning label to accompany cochineal-colored foods.

*I mentioned this in a previous post. This comes from the beetle’s anal juice and is used in vanilla and raspberry flavoring.

Fully Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil

 Extremely hard, waxlike fat made by forcing as much hydrogen as possible onto the carbon backbone of fat molecules. To obtain a manageable consistency, food manufacturers often blend the hard fat with unhydrogenated liquid fats.

Found In: Baked goods, frozen meals, and tub margarine

Example: Jif Creamy Peanut Butter

What You Need to Know:  In theory, fully hydrogenated oils, as opposed to partially hydrogenated oils, should contain zero trans fat. But the process of hydrogenation isn’t completely perfect, which means that trans fat will inevitably occur in small amounts.

*This is the stuff that I avoid like the plague. I guess it’s a blessing that my body reacts to it the way it does: migraines from hell. Otherwise I’d be none the wiser that it’s pure poison in my body.

Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein (HVP)

 A flavor enhancer created when heat and chemicals are used to break down vegetables—most often soy—into their component amino acids. HVP allows food processors to achieve stronger flavors from fewer ingredients.

Found In: Canned soups and chili, frozen dinners, beef- and chicken-flavored products

Example: Slim Jim Meat Sticks

What You Need to Know: One effect of hydrolyzing proteins is the creation of MSG, or mono-sodium glutamate. When MSG in food is the result of hydrolyzed protein, the FDA does not require it to be listed on the packaging.

*I stand by my previous statement.

Interesterified Fat

 Developed in response to demand for trans-fat alternatives, this semisoft fat is created by chemically blending fully hydrogenated and nonhydrogenated oils.

Found In: Pastries, margarine, frozen dinners, and canned soups

Example: Pepperidge Farm Milano Cookies

What You Need to Know:  Testing on these fats has not been extensive, but the early evidence doesn’t look promising. A study by Malaysian researchers showed a 4-week diet of 12 percent interesterified fats increased the ratio of LDL to HDL cholesterol, not a good thing. This study also showed an increase in blood glucose levels and a decrease in insulin response.

*Damn. I love Milanos.

Lecithin

 A naturally occurring emulsifier and antioxidant that retards the rancidity of fats. The two major sources of lecithin as an additive are egg yolks and soybeans.

Found In: Pastries, ice cream, and margarine

Example: Nutella

What You Need to Know:  Lecithin is an excellent source of choline and inositol, compounds that help cells and nerves communicate and play a role in breaking down fats and cholesterol. There is some concern, however, that the naturally occurring estrogens in soy lecithin can cause hormonal problems in men who consume excessive amounts of it.

*Lecithin is good for your body when taken properly. Your body makes it and it is an excellent source of choline (vitamin B) but supplements are being prescribed by doctors all the time. Lecithin aids in liver function, it boosts memory, protects the heart, relieves heart burn and acidity. It is supposed to prevent gall stones but from personal experience I would say that too much lecithin might actually cause gall stones.

Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)

 The salt of the amino acid glutamic acid, used to enhance the savory quality of foods. MSG alone has little flavor, and exactly how it enhances other foods is unknown.

Found In: Chili, soup, and foods with chicken or beef flavoring

Example: Hormel Chili No Beans

What You Need to Know: Studies have shown that MSG injected into mice causes brain-cell damage, but the FDA believes these results are not typical for humans. The FDA receives dozens of reaction complaints each year for nausea, headaches, chest pains, and weakness.

* A huge source of my migraines in the past.

Olestra

 A synthetic fat created by pharmaceutical company Procter & Gamble and sold under the name Olean. It has zero-calorie impact and is not absorbed as it passes through the digestive system.

Found In: Light chips and crackers

Example: Lay’s Light Original Potato Chips

What You Need to Know: Olestra can cause diarrhea, intestinal cramps, and flatulence. Studies show that it impairs the body’s ability to absorb fat-soluble vitamins and vital carotenoids such as beta-carotene, lycopene, lutein, and zeaxanthin.

*Causes anal leakage. Eww.

Partially Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil

 A manufactured fat created by forcing hydrogen gas into vegetable fats under extremely high pressure, an unintended effect of which is the creation of trans-fatty acids. Food processors like this fat because of its low cost and long shelf life.

Found In: Margarine, pastries, frozen foods, cakes, cookies, crackers, soups, and nondairy creamers

Example: Honey Maid Graham Crackers

What You Need to Know: Trans fat has been shown to contribute to heart disease more so than saturated fat. While most health organizations recommend keeping trans-fat consumption as low as possible, a loophole in the FDA’s labeling requirements allows processors to add as much as 0.49 gram per serving and still claim zero in their nutrition facts. Progressive jurisdictions such as New York City, California, and Boston have approved legislation to phase trans fat out of restaurants, and pressure from watchdog groups might eventually lead to a full ban on the dangerous oil.

*Any hydrogenated oils are bad.

Propyl Gallate

 An antioxidant used often in conjunction with BHA and BHT to retard the rancidity of fats.

Found In: Mayonnaise, margarine, oils, dried meats, pork sausage, and other fatty foods

Example: Pop-Secret Kettle Corn

What You Need to Know:  Rat studies in the early ’80s linked propyl gallate to brain cancer. Although these studies don’t provide sound evidence, it is advisable to avoid this chemical when possible.

*I’m pretty sure microwave popcorn is what caused my body to alert me to the growing number of gall stones I had, resulting in gall bladder surgery. Air-popped popcorn is the only way to go.

Red #3 (Erythro-sine) and Red #40 (Allura Red)

 Food dyes that are cherry red and orange red, respectively. Red #40 is the most widely used food dye in America.

Found In: Fruit cocktail, candy, chocolate cake, cereal, beverages, pastries, maraschino cherries, and fruit snacks

Example: Yoplait Light Fat Free Strawberry

What You Need to Know: The FDA has proposed a ban on Red #3 in the past, but so far the agency has been unsuccessful in implementing it. After the dye was inextricably linked to thyroid tumors in rat studies, the FDA managed to have the liquid form of the dye removed from external drugs and cosmetics.

*Hmm…which beetle’s butt did this yogurt come from?

Saccharin

 An artificial sweetener 300 to 500 times sweeter than sugar. Discovered in 1879, it’s the oldest of the 5 FDA-approved artificial sweeteners.

Found in: Diet foods, chewing gum, toothpaste, beverages, sugar-free candy, and Sweet ‘N Low

Example: IBC Diet Root Beer

What You Need to Know: Rat studies in the early ’70s showed saccharin to cause bladder cancer, and the FDA, reacting to these studies, enacted a mandatory warning label to be printed on every saccharin-containing product on the market. The mandate was removed after 20 years, but the question over saccharin’s safety was never resolved. More recent studies show that rats on saccharin-rich diets gain more weight than those on high-sugar diets.

*With the exception of Stevia there is NO sweetener substitute that is healthy or good for you in any way. NONE. Thos little pink and blue sugar packets are toxins. Use real (organic) sugar, or Stevia, or nothing at all.

Sodium Nitrite and Sodium Nitrate

 Preservatives used to prevent bacterial growth and maintain the pinkish color of meats and fish.

Found In: Bacon, sausage, hot dogs, and cured, canned, and packaged meats

Example: Oscar Mayer Bacon

What You Need to Know: Under certain conditions, sodium nitrite and nitrate react with amino acids to form cancer-causing chemicals called nitrosamines. This reaction can be hindered by the addition of ascorbic acid, erythorbic acid, or alphatocopherol.

*Been known to cause brain tumors, aneurysms, dementia, cancer of all types. In fact, don’t even get me started on this junk….

Yellow #5 (Tartrazine) and Yellow #6 (Sunset Yellow)

 The second and third most common food colorings, respectively.

Found In: Cereal, pudding, bread mix, beverages, chips, cookies, and condiments

Example: Sunny D Original

What You Need to Know: Several studies have linked both dyes to learning and concentration disorders in children, and there are piles of animal studies demonstrating potential risks such as kidney and intestinal tumors. One study found that mice fed high doses of sunset yellow had trouble righting themselves in water. The FDA does not view these as serious risks to humans.

*Oh FDA….You should all be shot.

Xanthan Gum

 An extremely common emulsifier and thickener made from glucose in a reaction requiring a slimy bacteria called Xanthomonas campestris – the same bacterial strain that appears as black rot on cruciferous vegetables like broccoli.

Found In: Whipped topping, dressings, marinades, custard, and pie filling

Example: Newman’s Own Ranch Dressing

What You Need to Know: Xanthan gum is associated with no adverse effects.

*I disagree. Some bacteria is good, yes, but any chemical used just to thicken and whiten a food- No Thanks! What this doesn’t tell you is that Titanium Dioxide is used in the same foods for the same reasons and it is also found in paints and sunscreens.

All this came from Menshealth.com and Womanshealth.com.

It’s been a long post. I don’t always intend to go on and on. If you’re still reading I thank you, and I promise that tomorrow’s post will be nice and short 🙂 God Bless!

Do You Know What You’re Eating?

Cleaning Out My Pantry- The 15 Grossest Things You’re Eating

Eat Frozen, Not Canned

Why is the FDA reluctant to ban BPA’s?

Another basic rule of thumb: If you can’t pronounce it, don’t eat it.
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2 thoughts on “Eat to Live, Not Live to Eat

  1. I love your blog. Julia child said, “Everybody is overreacting. If fear of food continues, it will be the death of gastronomy in the United States. Fortunately, the French don’t suffer from the same hysteria we do. We should enjoy food and have fun. It is one of the simplest and nicest pleasures in life.” Her eating habits killed her at age 91. Had she lived she would have been 100 yesterday.

    • Yes, but food was much simpler in the 40s and 50s. It wasn’t even until the 80’s that processed and convenience foods started hitting the shelves, full of chemicals and toxins. I think there is every reason to overreact.

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