Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Wellness Wednesday

Tip of the Week: Whole foods not Health foods

Did you know that it used to be legally required for the food industry to print "imitation" on any food product that resembled standardized food but did not comply with that standard? The law was repealed in 1973 because the food industry fought it tooth and nail. After all, they had a lot to lose... who would want to buy imitation sour cream, imitation spaghetti, or imitation bacon bits?

Now, instead of printing the embarrassing label "imitation" on all their sophisticated, engineered food products, they proudly boast of low-fat, high-fiber, and no-cholesterol. (But that is precisely what makes them 'imitation'.)

I have totally fallen prey to the "good nutrient" marketing scheme, as well. I'm no expert on this topic but I'm learning a lot from Michael Pollan's book, "In Defense of Food". The basic idea is that food scientists are continually modifying the foods that we eat in order to pack them full of nutrients they deem as "good" and strip them of nutrients they deem as "bad". Thus we are left, not with real food, but with genetically engineered food products that push whatever nutrient is most popular at the time.

So, in efforts to make things more simple instead of more complicated, it's best to stick with basic "real" foods and ingredients that are recognizable. i.e. For a snack, grab a banana and a handful of almonds instead of a protein bar.

Pollan writes, "The most healthful foods in the supermarket sit there quietly in the produce section, silent as stroke victims, while a few aisles over in the Cereal the Cocoa Puffs and Lucky Charms are screaming their newfound "whole-grain goodness" to the rafters. Watch out for those health claims."

Turns out, a lot of the "health foods" aren't so healthy after all.

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