Wednesday, June 24, 2009

What's In Your Food?

Do any of you ever think about the food that you put in your mouths? I mean really think about it? I guess I always thought that I did, but as I was curiously watching a cooking show that my hubby was watching on the Food Network-while pretending to read a book-I noticed that the chef/cook was using butter to grease her casserole dish with instead of an olive oil cooking spray-as I have been instructed to do. That got me thinking about all of the new fangled, modified, and genetically/molecularly altered foods that are out there on the market; our populations massive consumption of them because they are "healthier;" and the rise in certain diseases such as cancer and MS. Now I know that I may sound like a wacko here, but bear with me.....
Because I had borderline gestational diabetes, because Type II diabetes runs in my family, and because I already tend to show resistance to insulin, I have always been instructed to avoid real sugar as much as possible, and to substitute real sugar for things such as Splenda or Nutra-Sweet.
Have you ever read about how either of those sugar substitutes are made, and the "potential" side-effects?? I have, but I always assumed that the benefits outweigh the risks.
What about butter? I am rather old fashioned in that area, and still use butter, but have you looked at the ingredients in margarine or other butter substitutes?

I guess what I am trying to say is did people 30-60 years ago die of different things than people tend to die of today? Where there more cases of clogged arteries, heart attacks, and high blood pressure from butter and sugar than there are today? Have sugar substitutes stopped diabetes from occurring??? we ingest all sorts of non-natural chemicals and substances, and we really have no idea what they are really doing to our bodies.

Take this can of olive oil cooking spray that we are now told to use on everything. I happen to have one right here, and the ingredients seem pretty benign: %100 extra virgin olive oil, soy lechitin, water, and propellant.

Propellant??? What type of chemicals are used to propel this spray from the can to my waiting pan? Who knows?

So, here is what I have decided to do. I am going to use real sugar-in moderation. I am also going to keep using real butter-in moderation-and I will stop using cooking sprays to grease my pans. I can use a small amount of butter, because I actually know what is in it, right?Will making these small changes prevent me from getting one of the above mentioned diseases? Probably not, but I at least have some idea about what I am putting into my mouth.
I am also vowing to eat more fresh fruits and vegetables, and to try and steer away from more processed foods.

So who wants to join me for a yummy bag of Doritos??? I kid...I!!!!! any of you have any insight on this subject?


cdncowgirl said...

My massage therapist and I were having a similar discussion the other day (tuned more to sugar substitutes because of Pie's issues).
She suggests stevia and/or berry sugar (sp?). Both are supposed to be natural but do not effect blood sugar as much as normal white sugar.

Pony Girl said...

Melanie, I think you have a good point here. I heard that the sugar substitute in diet sodas is evil, and can make your hair fall out and cause all kinds of problems. I think if natural things are used in moderation, they are probably healthier for you. Counter it with eating lots of great veggies and berries and spinach, and you should be good! ;)

Paint Girl said...

Ya know, I haven't really thought about that. You sure get me thinking though. I kinda like to eat and drink and use anything. I should probably really look into these things!

lytha said...

omgosh, i *LOL*d at your splenda/equal/sweet'nlow pic. cuz these ubiquitous packets are really not seen here in germany, and i always bring a costco-sized splenda supply back to germany with me.

since visiting lots of american restaurants, and seeing these pink,yellow, and blue packets on the tables, my man was curious about them. when he first saw my big ziplock full of splenda packets, he said "did you steal those from restaurants?" heheheheheh no.

but here in germany if you go into a cafe or bakery to get coffee, you'll find regular sugar.

HOWEVER if you find a starbucks (lucky for you!) you'll go to the little cream/sugar table and guess what you'll find? SWEET'N'LOW! no kidding. the pink packet from the 80s that tastes and tastes, long after it hits your tongue. agh, i hate that feeling. what on earth would starbucks be thinking, that germans would want that?

ah, because in germany, you can get liquid saccharin for your coffee at the grocery store. i didn't know what this was and tasted it. my gosh how i regretted that. like dumping a pink packet on your tongue. agh.

we drink a lot of coke zero in this house (thank god we can get it here) and my mother in law shakes her head. she also disproves of my yellow packets. so much so that i'm starting to use sugar more and more. what if she's right.

i simply must show your post to my man.

thank you for this little "taste" of america!


Mrs Mom said...

Good post Melanie! We had a discussion recently with Johnny Reb's neurologist about the sugar substitutes, so your timing here is great. (Hey was it Paula Deen you were watching? LOL) Anyways- the neuro feels very strongly that there is a BIG connection with the dementia like states people are more and more slipping into (ie: Alzheimers, etc) and the use of non-sugar sweeteners. Theres a lot of deatil that I don't recall right now from not enough coffee, but the end result is that Johnny Reb now only uses real sugar.

Our theory? All things in moderation. Make as much of our food from scratch (easy when you marry a Use whole foods, and shy away from the processed stuff. I can say from my own exp- we had been drinking that flavored water stuff by the gallon (fruit flavor added, but sweetened wtih an artifical sweetener of sorts,) and I noticed behavior changes (for the worse) in my kids, along with inability to concentrate, restless sleep, and just being miserable. I quit that water stuff, and with in three days, they were back to being normal rotten kids instead of ... "off" or "different". Concinkydink? Maybe... but I feel better about what they eat and drink now!

Carolynn said...

I think there's a real movement toward fresh, 'real' food again. I confess, I will opt for the quick fix more often than I probably should after coming home tired from a day at work. I do use Extra Light Virgin Olive Oil (not in spray form) rather than butter for cooking. It has more of the right kind of fats in it and can also be heated higher without burning. I really only use butter on my toast in the morning. I rarely add salt to my cooking, except my eggs.

Potato chips are my downfall. Seriously. I am completely addicted to them.

Mr. Pollen (I don't recall his first name but he's Tracey Pollen's brother, Michael J. Fox's brother-in-law) has researched this topic and written a book (who hasn't, right?) In any event, I think he's on the right track and has condensed his findings into the following 7 words:

"Eat Food, not too much, mostly plants."

Bon Appetit!


Melanie said...

Great comments you guys! I guess what really got me thinking about it too is that a lot of the so called "health gurus" out there-like Oprah's Bob Greene, who's diet/nutrition advice I never follow-advocate for people to use a lot of these altered foods because they are "healthy" for you.

Cdncowgirl-Yes, I have used stevia, and I also swear by agave nectar. Have you guys tried it? It is sort of like honey, but it has a really low glycemic index.

Mrs. Mom-LOL!!! I think it may have been Paula Deen. Is she an older lady from the South, with silver hair and a flirtatious attitude towards her male guests??
And creepy about what that neurologist said!!!!

Thanks for all of your input! :)

Stephanie said...

Honey is really good too.

Hmmm... yes and no. Ok - sorry this is long. It's something I think about alot.

I think that these sugar substitutes and fat substitutes (Veggie Oil is better than Olean any day) are necessary at least in the short term. Until we figure out how to balance physical fitness and technology and food production/consumption.

Previous generations had physical activity and financial limitations on their side. I mean I listen to my Grandma about how they used to use real butter and the kids ate candy and all of that - but she also had a HUGE garden every year sometimes two all while she worked full time (and there were no plush "computer jobs" then, you worked on your feet most times), she raised 4 kids, canned, made jams, froze everything, sewed the kids' clothes and all of that. She was busy ALL the time - they all were. No one sat and blogged, or surfed the internet or watched TV. They sometimes got to listen to a Radio program at night but until they were finally able to get a TV signal that was it.

The kids ate candy and real sugar, yes, but by her own admission they didn't have money for that stuff very often. So it was in moderation by financial limits. And the kids played outside all day - technically there weren't allowed in the house until dinner time.

It's easy to eat real butter and real sugar and bacon for breakfast when you are that active. It's also easy to fall asleep every night all night. There were far less sleep disorders back then. Once my Grandma did have trouble sleeping while going through menopause and do you know what the doctor told her to do?? Have a beer before bed. There you go! Drink yourself to sleep! LOL! Anyway it worked for her.

And now we purchase alot of the same foods that she used to buy back them but they are made differently now - more cheaply - with high fructose corn syrup and super refine flours, milk substitutes and chemicals.

I mean if they were to have eaten the food the way it is produced NOW - who says you wouldn't have seen at least some of the same health problems?

Also My Grandma pointed out that "healthy foods" back then were cheaper. Now they are some of the most expensive foods in the super market. If you are on a tight budget or depending on food banks - you get some pretty high fat / high sugar food. It can be very difficult (but not impossible) to eat healthy if you are poor.

So for right now I would say that Margarine, Splenda, and Olean - are the lesser of two evils. The true answer being an over-haul in the way our food is mass produced - and that will only happen when people start making more informed, better educated choices in food and physical activity.

While using real butter and sugar may seem like good choices they are only good when paired with lots of physical activity, and other natural foods. They will only hurt if you make those switches and pair them up with Sweet Cereal in the morning, Twinkies in the kids lunches, chips for snacks, and a regular Pepsi for lunch. Even most kids fruit juices are horrible these days - full of corn syrup and all kinds dyes.

Which I know you already know - I am not trying to lecture you at all - I just see people on TV going off about this stuff as if that's all you have to do to live more healthy. And its just not....sigh.

Sorry for hi-jacking your post!

Melanie said...

You didn't hijack my post at all, you just picked up where I left off-or what I left out due to lack of time-and that was about the lack of physical activity.

It is so true that exercise counteracts the negative effects of our poor food choices-whether they are poor due to lack of time or lack of income-and I wish that our country would totally revamp the way it markets food and advocates for what is healthy.

Your grandmothers wisdom is invaluable and so true! Thanks for sharing it with us. :)

Adventures of a Horse Crazed Mind said...

Screw all this nutrition bullshit! Get me some photos of LOGGER ARMS!!! LMAO!!!

(oh,ok...great post! My stepmother had a saying (actually she had many...including, "this boy is offering himself to you as a door mat, you must learn to wipe your feet on him" )but the one I am thinking of is..."dont eat anything that doesnt go bad in a matter of a few weeks." I think that...for once...I agree with her.)

oregonsunshine said...

First I'd like to point out that cancer rates have really climbed sinc ethe advent of margarine. Also, it's only a couple molecules away from being plastic. And lastly, flies won't touch the stuff, so that has to say something, right?

Mellie, have you thought about getting one of those pump bottles where you can add in your own olive oil to have spray? I'm definitely thinking about it! Just trying to use up what we already have though.

And lastly, I nominated you for an award over on my blog!

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

Great post. I laughed and really liked what Chelsi said about not eating any food that doesn't go bad in a short time. Fresh is truly best.

We watched an experiment done at our local science museum about healthy foods and the time it takes for certain foods to go bad and mold.

The first food was cheese. And the pinned several different cheeses...and cheese product on the wall. You can guess that all the cheeses started to go bad at room temperature within a week...most within days...ALL EXCEPT American Cheese 'product'. You know, that bright orange squares that Americans eat in great quanitities on cheeseburgers and on cold cut sandwiches.It was so bereft of nutrition, that not even mold or bacteria would consume it.

Next up was different types of bread. From unprocessed whole grain to Wonder White.
You know that the whole grain bread molded within a couple days, while the Wonder White bread never molded...even after leaving it up for an extra TWO weeks!!!

And this is the popular bread to feed kids. Pumped full of chemicals to keep it from spoiling, but also to repel insects and bacteria. This is the stuff that goes into our bodies.

gross, huh?

Thanks for the terrific post, Mellie.
Makes me want to go back to my Juicing Days. I used to drink natural fresh fruit and veggie juiced drinks several times a day. I felt better back then, had more energy and was thinner. But then I got lazy with cleaning up the Juicer and all the fruit and veggie leftover mess. And the cost of organic veggies was too expensive.
A package of Ding Dongs is cheaper and faster to fulfill the cravings.
(weak laughter)