Sunday, January 17, 2010

Healthy Change #6: Avoid Chemicals in Foods

When I started this journey to share our experience in a Peanut Clinical Trial at the Duke Clinical Research Unit, I didn't realize that it was going to lead me down the path to also sharing what I'm learning about the food we eat.  I feel though that it all ties together. We're at Duke because Abigail has a peanut allergy.  I'm now reading labels and questioning ingredients because Abigail has a food allergy.  I also believe that the food we are eating and the environment that we now live in is a major contributor to the rise in food allergies.

Having to read the label of every single item that I purchase and spending hours reading about the latest news and trends in my search to better understand peanut allergies has opened my eyes to a myriad of nastiness in the food that I was serving my family.  I feel like I might have been able to prevent Abigail's peanut allergy had I known then what I know now, but I try not to beat myself up about it. I was in a different time and place back in 2003.  What I can do in 2010 and the years following just by modifying our diet is try to prevent cancer, high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, depression and other illnesses, attention deficit in my kids (and myself), asthma and other allergies.  That I have control over.  So, in addition to avoiding rGBH, conventional meat and produce, GMO products and farm-raised fish (both still to be discussed) we also try to avoid trans fats, high fructose corn syrup, partially hydrogenated oils, sodium nitrate, artificial sweeteners and artificial food dyes.

It's the weekend, and I'm not going to go through a long list of the pros and cons of different ingredients.  I will though, provide you with a great tool to use when you look at a label and don't have any idea what the ingredient is, much less how to pronounce it.  It's an alphabetical listing of all of the chemicals that food manufacturers add to processed foods.  It's got a great guide that indicates whether the chemical is safe, if you should cut back, if you should try to avoid the food and lastly if you should avoid the food at all costs.  It's not light reading.  I admit, I've not printed it out, studied it in great detail or anything like that.  I did note the chemicals that we should avoid at all cost and 9 times out of 10 will put a product back on the grocery shelf if I see one of those in the ingredient list.

Here's the link:  Center for Science in the Public Interest, Chemical Cuisine.  I'd wish you happy reading, but it's neither light or entertaining!  It is, however, an eye-opener!


Susan said...

WOW - must I really give up Diet coke?? This I knew, but coupled with everything else...

Mom with a Mission said...

Start slow. Pick one change a month. Maybe wait till the very end for the Diet Coke!! I've switched to Jones Colas which use pure cane sugar. Every once in a while I can find Pepsi Throwback which does the same. Only problem is that a can has 40 grams of sugar. I figure though that's better than aspartame.