>> Thursday, April 26, 2012
As you know, I've been on a little quest to start eating healthier. My first step in the process was to start following some blogs and facebook pages to help in figuring out my action plan. One of those blogs I started following was naturallysavvy.com. It's a great blog with lots of health related posts with a focus on whole foods eating and natural health. So, when I saw that they were coming out with a new book and were looking for bloggers to review it, I signed up! And guess what? I got picked! Yay!
The book is called, "Unjunk Your Junk Food". What a great title. Because honestly, no matter how healthy you are, you still have snack foods or quick foods that you grab when you are in a hurry or just want a snack. But at the same time, you don't want to sabotage your healthy, clean eating by grabbing the wrong things.
The book starts out by going over some definitions. It was helpful to me because I'm just starting out on this journey. It listed some good ingredients with funky names...like ascorbic acid...did you know that it's Vitamin C? And it lists bad ingredients, like Potassium Sorbate...did you know that it's a preservative that has been "linked to asthma, skin rashes, diarrhea, and hyperactivity in some people" (page 23)? But, I would have thought that ascorbic acid would be bad for you (acid, hello?) but something with potassium would be ok. Obviously I have a lot to learn!
The book also has a list of 7 worst ingredients in food...check out the article on their website that goes into a little detail. But those ingredients aren't always clearly identified on the label, so how do you know for sure? That's why it's awesome that this book also includes a "Worst Ingredients" chart on page 25. It's actually a tear-out page to keep in your purse so you can check the labels before you put something into your cart. The front side of the sheet are the worst ingredients and the back contains ones you should have caution in consuming. For me, this alone was the best part of the book....it's definitely something I will be carrying with me when I'm doing my shopping. You can also download the list if you register on their site!
So, the rest of the book is practical applications of what you just learned. It goes through different categories of snack foods and gives you an example of a bad choice with the following page showing you a much better choice. The snack food categories it covers are: 1) Chips, Dips and Party foods, 2) Ice Cream and Frozen Treats, 3) Cookies, 4) Chocolate, 5) Cakes and other desserts (Yay!), 6) Granola Bars and on-the-go snacks, 7) Candy, 8) Soda and other drinks.
Here's an example of one of the pages...my favorite, Cookie Dough Ice Cream! So, on the left it shows the bad option including the ingredient list with the worst ingredients printed in red and the ones to beware of in orange. And there are like 170 pages just like these! The thing I find most helpful is that I'm able to look at the highlighted ingredients in the bad ice cream, so I know what to look for when I go out and buy some for us. Obviously all the ingredients are listed on the master list, but I found it extremely helpful to have an idea of what to look for in each of the snack categories.
So, after reading the book, I went through our snack cabinet to see what was in there. It needed organizing desperately anyway, so it was great timing! Here's a "before" photo...
And here it is all organized out on the counter. Now the fun begins of looking at the ingredient lists!
I have a mix of "healthy" options and "not at all healthy". I'm currently in the phase of buying better food for our family, but I hate to waste things so I haven't made a purge and thrown any of the bad things away. First up are some Special K cracker chips that I bought last week. They taste good, but they do contain TBHQ in the ingredients. TBHQ is on the worst ingredients chart (red) because it is a petroleum-based food additive to increase shelf life. According to the book, "it has been associated with nausea, vomiting, tinnitus, and prolonged exposure has been linked with cancer"(page 24). Bummer...looks like these go on the "do not buy again list."
Next up is my beloved girl scout cookies. I love the shortbread ones, and the ingredient list actually looks ok until you get down to the very bottom and see "artificial flavoring". According to the book, "artificial flavoring is a blanket term that could include on or hundreds of unnatural additives. For example, a typical artificial strawberry flavor contains forty-nine chemical ingredients!" (page 23). Unfortunately, this was also the case for my favorite brownie mix, Ghirardelli Dark Chocolate.
The worst offender I found in the snack cupboard were Cheese Curls. My boys love them and while I didn't think they were the best choice (obviously), they were much worse than I thought and I won't be buying them any more. They contained MSG, artificial colors, artificial flavors (all on the worst foods list), and Disodium inosinate and disodium guanylate (2 flavor enhancers on the "beware" list).
Fortunately, the book had Cheese puffs (p40 & 41) and compared the Cheetos (bad choice) to Barbara's Cheez Puff Bakes, Original Cheddar. I haven't purchased these before, but will definitely be looking for them as a replacement.
So, after organizing the snack cupboard, I had to check the freezer for my coveted Ben & Jerry's ForoYo Half baked ice cream. And I'm so excited that it doesn't have any of the worst ingredients or the caution ingredients! Yay!
So, what are the results from this snack cupboard clean-out? First, I definitely need to start reading the ingredients list before putting things into my cart. I will be carrying the list of the ingredients to avoid and beware in my purse to reference if I have questions while I'm shopping! I have a lot to learn, but this is a great resource for beginners. If you are interested in buying the book, you can find it on Amazon. You can also follow Naturally Savvy on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.
* I received a free book in exchange for my review. The opinions expressed are my own and I did not receive any monetary compensation for my review.