scratch these ingredients off your grocery list:
1. high-fructose corn syrup
i'm sure you've seen the commercials on TV for high-fructose corn syrup, telling you it's made from corn and "fine in moderation." yes, HFCS is refined from corn, but it is so highly processed, it is not at all in a natural state. since when is something natural created in a lab? it becomes a chemical. it is concentrated, and our bodies were not designed to handle digesting and using concentrated substances well.
HFCS is in everything; often, in foods that would appear to be healthy, such as bread, juice, peanut butter, and yogurt. to eat HFCS in moderation would mean to cut out almost every processed, pre-made, packaged food in the grocery store, as well as any sweet food from a restaurant. this is not something many americans are willing to do. but HFCS is an inexpensive and readily available sweetener that has a long shelf-life, and the government is paying farmers to grow more corn - so it's not something that's going to stop any time soon.
we are consuming HFCS on a crazy level, and many agree this is one of the reason obesity is on the rise. our bodies do not utilize fructose well. fructose causes fat build-up, and it's scary to notice that our portions of food and drink are getting bigger and bigger. a can of coke has about ten teaspoons of sugar (HFCS). can you believe this is nearly the recommended intake of sugar for one day! and how many of us, every once in a while, drink two or three sodas in a day? (um...i know i have. i totally have a weakness for dr pepper.)
you should also know: most corn in the US is genetically modified. HFCS is banned in europe. and that i could not find one brand of graham crackers at my grocery store that did not contain HFCS. (moderation - suuuuuure.)
2. hydrogenated oils
another highly processed food, hydrogenated fats are dreaded transfats. it is made by changing the fat chemically (as is HFCS and other processed "foods"). transfat are the worst kinds of fats, even worse than saturated fats - our bodies do not use transfats like they use natural fats. transfats are great at increasing bad cholesterol and lowering good cholesterol. what is scary about transfats is food companies are not required to put its transfat content on the food label if it is below .4 grams. this means we are consuming foods that contain transfat all the time, raising our intake of transfat far more than we assume. you can guarantee if it has "hydrogenated" or "partially-hydrogenated oil" on the ingredient list, it has transfat. hydrogenated oil is also banned in europe, as well as canada.
good, natural, healthy fat? olive oil, coconut oil, animal fats.
3. monosodium glutamate
oh, good ol' monosodium glutamate. MSG is synthetic glutamate and it's added to food to enhance its flavor. what's crazy is that MSG doesn't have a taste on its own. essentially, it makes your brain believe something that is not there by stimulating the taste buds. but it not only stimulates taste buds, it also stimulates neurons in your brain - when these neurons come into contact with MSG, they work so hard and so fast, shooting impulses so rapidly that they are pretty much worked to death - yes, they die! so once again: MSG can kill neurons in your brain. i always knew there were links between MSG and neurological illnesses like alzheimer's - now i know why. MSG may also lead to emotional disorders, bipolar disporder, autism, and parkinson's disease, among other neurological disorders.
MSG is especially harmful for our children - their little brains are working, growing, and MSG can have adverse effects on their development.
"John Olney, MD, a leading researcher in the field at Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, has estimated that the MSG in a single bowl of commercial soup, drunk with a can of diet, aspartame-sweetened soda, would raise a 2-year-old child's blood level of MSG to six times the concentration demonstrated to cause brain damage to animals."
- Super Natural Home, by Beth Greer
i've read this quote before, but writing this down, i just realized this said six times the amount.
4. artificial sweeteners
i don't really feel the need to write much about these, because i've never liked artificial sweeteners. i think they taste gross, so i've always avoided them. but it is important that you remove these from your diet as well. when buying and eating food, keep in mind that eating as naturally as possible will always better than eating "lite" and "sugar-free." most of the time, the process which these foods go through to become lite and/or sugar-free requires adding chemicals to the product. our bodies are meant to consume real food, not chemicals!
great natural sweeteners include honey, agave nectar, rice syrup, maple syrup, and unbleached, unrefined stevia, which is 600 times sweeter than sugar!
get into the habit of being a label-reader. i've known each of these was bad for years - but i just found out why a few months ago. it takes some practice, and you will be surprised at how everything seems to contain HFCS, MSG, and especially hydrogenated oils. if you cut these things out of your diet, you are already doing your health a big favor.