As I grow older I seem to be developing a much more intimate relationship for food. Previously I was one to disregard the label and shove the Oreo cookie in my mouth, followed by another. It was about the taste. Now, I’m taking time to get to know my food better. This is not to say I’m spending all my time shopping organic or giving up my favorite indulgences. I’m just reading the label and making choices based on more than calories.
To be honest, I really had no idea what anything on the label meant. Then I read Unjunk Your Junk Food by Andrea Donsky and Randy Boyer and found that I could understand what I was suppose to be reading.
The book is more than a chart of the “worst ingredients”, although there’s a ‘Worst Ingredients Chart’ on page 25 . These include “The Scary Seven”:
- HFCS: High-Fructose Corn Syrup (AKA glucose-fructose in Canada)
- TRANS-FATS: Anything listed as ‘partially hydrogenated’ or ‘hydrogenated’ (includes vegetable shortening)
- MSG: Monosodium glutamate
- ARTIFICIAL FLAVORS: Any artificial flavoring
- ARTIFICIAL COLORS: Any type of artificial dyes
- ARTIFICIAL SWEETENERS: Chemical sweeteners including Aspartame, Splenda (sucralose), Ace-K (Acesulfame Potassium), Saccharine, etc.
- PRESERVATIVES: Polysorbate 60, 65 & 80, TBHQ, Sodium Benzoate, BHA, BHT, Sulfur Dioxide (sulfites).
Most of these I understand: artificial colors, artificial flavors, artificial sweeteners (artificial is a dead giveaway). This book is about understanding what we’re eating, why we shouldn’t eat it and most importantly offering an alternative that meets the craving without sacrificing the taste.
Unjunk Your Junkfood is easy to read. I enjoyed the chapter that talks about Salty Snacks. It highlights the worst ingredients and then offers why our body might be craving salty snacks. I have often made the choice of buying Great Value Potato Chips. Budgets sometimes lean this way. Um, the entire page was thumbs down: Monosodium Glutamate, Artificial Flavors and Glycerl tripropionine. The book offers the nutritional information and suggests eating Kettle potato chips instead of the Walmart brand due to less sodium and no msg.
Comparison after comparison from potato chips to chocolate are compared. It’s eye-opening.
I really love the trivia. Even on food that are poor choices, like Snickers, the trivia was interesting.
Did you know:
Created by Mars Inc. in 1930, the Snickers bar was named after one of the beloved horses owned by the Mars family. The bar had global annual sales of more than $2 billion in 2006, becoming the most popular candy bar in the world.
I took the challenge to go through my cupboards. I purchased Nutri-Grain Yogurt Bars thinking they would be a good choice on those mornings we were running out the door like a ricocheting bullet. Absolutely NOT a good choice. They contain high-fructose syrup, TBHQ (preservative), artififical flavor, partially hyrdrogenated oils, artificial colors. Wow!
Then their were the Slim-Fast bars. Holy Sugar! The first two ingredients in them are sugar. Um, doesn’t that negate the purpose of “diet”? They also contain Partially hydrogenated oils, artificial flavors and TBHQ. Oh, boy!
Crystal Light, which I drink to add flavor to my water, turns out to not be a wise choice either. Artificial sweeteners: asparatame, acesulfame, potassium, and artificial color. Drats!
Then I checked the Propel water. It’s water, right? True but to it they have added artificial sweeteners: sucralose, acesulfame, potassium. *sigh*
My biggest take away from this book is that consumers need to be label savvy. We need to realize the chemicals we are consuming and say no. I know my family deserves better.
I recommend this book. It’s easy to read, easy to understand and gives guidance to better choices. It’s available at Barnes & Noble (both in stores and online) as well as Amazon and other online retailers.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”.