Most frozen dinners and processed lunch meats contain an ingredient called Monosodium Glutamate (MSG). My personal experience proved to me just how dangerous this stuff is! In college, I used to eat the little packaged noodles with the seasoning packet - you know the ones. I'm not allowed to mention brand names here on Google, so work with me here. Anyway, that little seasoning packet packs a punch when it comes to MSG. I could not understand why I was getting such severe migraine headaches. As I researched, I discovered that MSG can not only cause some pretty severe headaches, but also can trigger heart palpitations which cause chest pain. I gave up those cheap little packages of noodles. I was on a budget - but it just was not worth it!
The ingredient that comes to the mind of most diabetics is Sugar. More times than not, sugar will not be listed on a label as "sugar", but it will have a code name attached to it - be aware of these code names! Sugar is most likely going to be labeled as High-Fructose Corn Syrup (or in Canada, Glucose-Fructose). This evil ingredient can not only contribute to obesity, but causes Insulin resistance and increased belly fat as well as heart disease. Watch for this ingredient in foods you would least expect to see it in - such as mayonnaise or salad dressing. It can be found in cereals and sometimes in something that seems so healthy, like granola! You have to read the ingredient label on every packaged food you pick up. Even when the large print on the front label says things like "Low-Fat" or "Low-Sugar" or "High Fiber", you still need to be a label detective and read the fine print! Don't let the advertising hype dupe you!
When you find a label that lists any sort of Preservatives, put the item back on the shelf and walk on! If something needs preservatives, it means it was not meant to last long without being preserved. If it's an item you can buy fresh, then by all means do so! TBHQ can cause Tinnitus and Flu-like symptoms. Polysorbates (60, 65 & 80) contribute to infertility and is an immunosuppressant. It's also caused Anaphylaxis. Sulfites have triggered allergic reactions, particularly in asthmatics. Sodium Benzoate triggers allergic reactions as well. BHT/BHA is a possible carcinogen and causes liver and kidney problems (a huge concern for diabetics). I know this looks complicated and a little like alphabet soup, but trust me it's worth the effort to sort out all the details and do away with preservatives in your diet.
I think most of us are aware of the danger of Trans Fats in our diets. Those fats will not be so evident on the ingredient label, but will be called Shortening, partially hydrogenated, or hydrogenated. When you pick up that box of crackers or cookies and read these words, put the box back on the shelf and go to the outer perimeter of the grocery store! Buy the healthy fresh produce you see there. If you need a snack, buy some apples! Trans fats contribute to diabetes, heart disease and cancer.
Back in the 1970's the debate was hot regarding Artificial Colors. When I was a kid I remember the great discussion going on about red food coloring and how it caused a host of conditions in children including hyperactivity. I grew up in church, so the big talk was, "Why do we give these kids juice drink and cookies when we know it makes them climb the walls afterward?" This was the question being asked by all the Sunday School teachers - yet, every week the kids got their "treat" - and then the teachers got theirs! Well, it turns out that the artificial colors in foods does cause hyperactivity in children and worsens symptoms of ADD and ADHD. It also contributes to sinus congestion and allergies. Those teachers knew back then - they should have followed their instincts and switched to a better treat.
When you are reading a label and see the words Artificial Flavors, you have to ask yourself, "What flavor IS it, and where can I go to get the real thing?" If something is orange-flavored and has to be induced artificially, wouldn't it just be a better idea to go to the outer perimeter of the store and pick up a few oranges - or in our house, we like those little tangelos. There are over 100 possible chemical combinations that make up artificial flavors. Are you going to trust someone with a test tube for the flavor, or are you going to trust Mother Nature? She's the one who got it right the first time! The possible side-effects of artificial flavors is behavioral in children as well as allergic reactions. You don't get those kind of side-effects with a real orange. Just sayin'...
The last item on our "artificial" list is Artificial Sweeteners. When I was a kid there was one artificial sweetener - saccharin. I remember the first diet soda. It was Tab - and it was terrible! The aftertaste alone could send to straight to the moon! My mom was the only one in our family who drank that stuff. She was the dieter's dieter! If there was a book on dieting, she'd read it. If Jack LaLanne was exercising, she was in front of the TV doing jumping jacks with him! I was in the room laughing, but I digress...
Today the list of artificial sweeteners is mind-boggling! It's getting almost insane. And who do you believe? As diabetics, we have no business using real sugar if we can use a substitute, right? The only real sweetener I trust is Stevia. Now, having said that - here's a list of some of the other stuff:
- Aspartame - Affects the nervous system. Causes headaches, dizziness, memory loss, convulsions.
Stevia is a natural sweetener that does not raise blood sugar. So far, there are no studies to indicate that it has done any harm or causes any adverse symptoms or conditions! Yay - this is good news for diabetics like me!
I know it's quite time-consuming to check every label of every package you pick up at the grocery store. Most people don't - and that's what the manufacturer's are counting on. They have made the labels in such tiny print that sometimes I have to get a magnifying glass out to read it - but I take the time and do it! You'd be surprised at what I find on some of those teeny-tiny print labels! The front of the package has in huge print HEART HEALTHY or WHOLE GRAIN - but then you turn it over - and ah-ha - the back label tells another story!
The challenge to you is to be a better "label detective" for yourself and your family. Your health is worth it!
DON'T EVER BELIEVE THE FRONT LABEL!!!
Just a little reminder... today is NATIONAL STICKY BUN DAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! No, it's not exactly health food, but everything in moderation, right??? If you choose to have a little fun with this today - split a sticky bun with someone else - that way you only get half the bad! Enjoy!!!