Have you ever thought about how intimate your contact with food is? It’s more intimate than hugs or lovemaking or even having a baby. The baby is inside the mom, but separated from her in its own little compartment. Food, on the other hand BECOMES a part of the body – your eyes, nose, liver and kidneys are made from the food you eat. And the body has its own repair and maintenance schedule, too. The human brain is nearly 60 percent fat, and studies have related imbalance in dietary intake of fatty acids to impaired brain performance and diseases.
The body has a schedule for repair and replacement of all its cells; those which line your stomach can renew as fast as every two days! Cells that make up your skin are replaced every two to three weeks. Red blood cells, meanwhile, last for three to four months and have a molecule of iron in their center. White blood cells, the main players in fighting infections, can last from a few days to a little over a week.
This is why it is so critical that we manage the flow of nutrients into the body. What you eat BECOMES your physical body! Today I promised to start teaching you about label reading, so let’s begin from the perspective of what is good for the body.
Here are two of my food label principles:
RULE #1: If you are unable or unwilling to read the label, do not risk eating the food and hurting the body.
RULE #2: What it says on the front of the package is advertising; what is says on the back-nutrition label is more likely to be true.
Here are the ingredients from two Cheerios labels: one is the original; one is the new high protein whole grain cereal. There are many products in your supermarkets and health food stores that are the same, and you probably never eat this, but the example is so clear, that I wanted you to see the principles easily.
The original has whole grain oats as its first ingredient, then cornstarch, sugar, salt, TPE, and vitamin E. It has 1 gram of sugar and 20 grams of carbohydrate, and 3 grams of protein; a one cup serving is 100 calories. The cornstarch and sugar are not nutrient rich foods. The cornstarch is likely to be a binder to hold the “O”s in shape, and the sugar is there make it taste good. But one ounce of oats has about 15 grams of carbohydrate, so those numbers could be pretty close.
The new, whole grain, high protein model has Whole Grain Corn as its first ingredient (I bet that is cheaper than oats), followed by something named Cluster which does contain oats (and five other sugars, three flours, and one starch) and the rest of the ingredients contain two sugars and more whole grain oats, with artificial color and BHT. It has 16 grams of sugar and 40 grams of carbohydrate, and 7 grams of protein; a 1 ¼ cup serving is 200 calories. This is nearly twice as many calories per serving than the original Cheerios.
The current FDA labeling rules say that if a sugar does not cause dental cavities it does not need to be counted as sugar. That means the high protein product contains four teaspoons of sugar. And it contains 5 ¼ more teaspoons of products I would call sugars. The fiber is the same in both products.
And the 11-gm protein advertised on the front of the high protein cereal INCLUDES 4 gm from ½ cup of milk.
Now, you ask, why is Theresa doing this? We don’t eat Cheerios anyway! It is because I want to teach you, in these blogs, how to read labels, and this is one excellent example. What I want you to see is:
We have to keep our own goals in mind; newest and best advertised is not necessarily better;
The label says high protein but we have to watch where that protein comes from.
Sugars come in many forms and shapes and sizes; it often is hidden.
Flours and starches get stuck in everywhere;
The labels are designed in a way that is misleading to many;
If it is in the parentheses it still counts; the items in parentheses are not necessarily lower in amount.
We have to consider ALL of the nutrients.
The high protein product is nearly twice as many calories as the original product, and the same number of grams of protein. I would not want to spend 100 calories on these low nutrient additives. (If you add 4 oz milk to regular cheerios you will match the high protein product!)
What’s on the front is the manufacturer placing the product in its best light; you need to read the nutrition and ingredient labels on the back to know the truth about the product.
When I was getting ready to leave home for college, my Daddy told me that when I wondered why someone did something, I should watch the path of the little green dollars. I think that is true today.
We will be having more blogs on label reading and the other nutrients; I want you to know how to choose the foods that are right for you.
On personal note, my new administrative assistant starts on Monday. If your call or email has not been answered, please call again. My surgery is scheduled for February 1, so if you need me, call early in the week.
And surprises! Rev Ken Beldon is speaking at Third Saturday AND starting a meditation group at my office on Monday nights!
And April 5,6, and 7 is our yearly retreat to the shore! Vince DiPasquale and Marty Lerner are coming! The topic is Codependency as the Base of our Addictions! Mark your calendar! You don’t want to miss this!
I hope you are doing well this winter.
Blessings to you,