It is virtually impossible to walk into a grocery store today and buy a food that is not full of chemicals or one that has been altered in such a way that its nutritional value has been drastically reduced. Our food supply is different from what it was even 30 years ago. In an attempt to make food cheaper, last longer, make you physically addicted to it, increase your appetite and literally make you fat, food manufacturers have loaded the food with chemicals and use processing systems that contribute to toxicity. They ultimately destroy any enzymes in the food leaving it devoid of much nutritional value.
I would avoid shopping at the grocery store altogether. In fact I can’t remember the last time I stepped foot into one. Sounds pretty impossible, doesn’t it? Go to a farmers market instead. Buy local organic fruits and vegetables from independent growers that you can talk to and feel confident that what you are buying is good for you. Plant your own garden. Buy your beef, chicken, lamb, eggs from a local farm or CSA. Get to know your farmer!! Buy from your local whole food or natural food grocery stores. Chances are the food in these stores have not been chemically altered, are less likely to contain toxins and have more nutritional value than foods bought at your local big chain store.
Ok so what if I have no other choice but to buy my food from the local grocery store? We can only do the best we can when our options are sometimes limited. Buy the freshest foods possible, lean meats, fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds. Remember though that even whole food stores or health food store can carry products that are not good for you, you must read the labels and know what you are buying.
Here are a few things you should definitely stay away from when reading the ingredients list at your grocery store:
- Aspartame (NutraSweet and Splenda)This is by far the worst substance added to foods. Aspartame is an excitotoxin and it basically ‘excites’ or stimulates our neural cells to death. There are over 90 documented symptoms caused by aspartame including depression, fatigue, memory loss, vertigo and joint pain. According to researchers, aspartame can lead to or worsen chronic illness like Alzheimer’s, MS, chronic fatigue syndrome, Parkinson’s and diabetes. Aspartame should have been taken off the market years ago.
- MSG (Monosodium Glutamate)Another excitotoxin, MSG can found in almost everything from soups to meat. It makes everything taste good and it’s cheap. NEVER buy anything with MSG in it. What is even scarier is that it’s often hidden in food labels making it hard to identify. Watch out for it under names like broth, hydrolyzed, autolyzed, caseinate, gelatin, yeast extract and more.
- High Fructose Corn SyrupHFCS is easily being blamed for the growing obesity epidemic. It really messes with your metabolism. It encourages fat storage, period! Your body doesn’t process high fructose corn syrup the same way it processes sugar. It increases your hunger, so you tend to eat more. The worst part is that it’s in virtually everything we eat. It can even be found in processed meats like salami or ham. Here is a study with tons of information about high fructose corn syrup, diabetes, liver and pancreas function. Especially interesting is its effect on insulin and leptin.
- SugarWe all love sweetness and food manufactures thrive on that. Sugar is addictive and it can found in almost everything. In excess, it spikes insulin levels and creates havoc in your body. It leads to increased weight gain and an astounding number of other diseases and derangements. Be sugar smart!! Eliminate it! The words syrup and sweetener are a guaranteed giveaway. Anything ending in “ose” can usually be assumed to be sugar as well. Here is a list of other hidden sugars to look out for:
- Agave Nectar
- Brown Sugar
- Corn Sweetener
- Corn Syrup
- Dehydrated Cane Juice
- Fruit Juice Concentrate
- High-fructose corn syrup
- Invert Sugar
- Turbinado Sugar
- Malt syrup
- Raw Sugar
- Rice Syrup
Also remember the term “sugar-free” doesn’t always mean that it’s sugar free. If the food contains less than 0.5g of sugar per serving, the term is allowed. If the container has more than one serving it can add up to quite a bit of sugar!
- Hydrogenated and Partially Hydrogenated Oils (Trans Fats)Often found in frozen foods, margarines and bakery items, trans fats are extremely harmful. They are dangerous because of their affect on the circulatory system. They build up inside artery wall and lead to heart attacks and heart disease. Don’t eat it!
- Natural and Artificial FlavoursThe processing of foods has left them severely depleted of nutritional value and taste! Ours foods don’t taste like they’re supposed to anymore. Manufacturers must then add chemicals to them to make them taste how they’re supposed taste. Just because it say’s natural doesn’t mean it’s natural. In fact if you’re not sure or can’t see the difference, I would stay away!
- Artificial ColoursFood dyes are popping up in everything we eat but they are something we don’t usually hear about. Farmed salmon is one of them!! More often than not the nice deep red colour of that salmon filet on your plate is artificially enhanced. Be wary! Many of the common ones you’ll find on labels are Blue 1, Green 3, Yellow 5 and Red 40.
My best advice to you is to stay from labels altogether. Avoid the issue! Buy fresh fruits and vegetables, wild or grass-fed meats, wild fish, nuts and seeds. Stay away from processed foods as much as possible.
If, however, you are going to eat it, read the label carefully. Ignore the front, that’s just advertising to try and entice you to buy the product. Natural doesn’t mean a thing! Unless it says it 100% organic it doesn’t have to be. Really, only 80% of the ingredients need to be organic and the bottom line is organic junk food is still junk food.
And finally, if you can’t pronounce the word or have no clue what the ingredient is, put the pretty box back on the shelf and go grab an apple!
By: Gordana Jakopcevic