I get lots of questions about why I avoid certain things in the food I eat. Since it’s such a common question I decided to write about it.
First, let me say I now follow the 80/20 rule, which means I allow myself to eat what I want if I REALLY want it. I used to be more stringent, but it was stressing me out! That being said, as I’ve come to love the taste of real, nourishing food, rarely do processed foods, sugar, and sweets sound good. If I have dessert, it typically has ingredients I’m comfortable consuming. There are times, like traveling, when it’s almost impossible to completely avoid nasty ingredients. I do my best to pack healthy snacks, but sometimes on a road trip, a convenience store snack sounds good 🙂
Second, if you’re used to eating processed foods, it can be overwhelming to change your habits. Since you probably want to make a permanent change, I recommend going slow, and taking your time. How I eat today, looks nothing like it did ten years ago. The more I learned, the more things changed. At times, it was difficult, especially when I was ahead of the curve with cutting out sugar, processed foods and eating organic. People would look at me like I was crazy, and it still happens.
I learned not to be bothered by those crazy looks! I now feel better than ever, thanks to changing my eating habits. It also helped my body heal from the damage caused by late stage Lyme Disease. I’d rather spend my money on “healthy care” now than “sick care” later!
Here’s quick list of the top four ingredients I avoid!
- Artificial Colors, Sweeteners and Flavors
- BHA and BHT
MSG – This nasty neurotoxin is one of the worst. MSG can be found in almost all processed foods. It negatively affects the nervous system, and brain. Truth in Labeling provides excellent information about MSG. Another good reason to be a label reader, is because MSG goes by several other names, making it harder to avoid it. I found very detailed list of it’s other names, and the link is below.
Artificial Colors, Sweeteners & Flavors – The names of these say it all, artificial! They don’t belong in our food, or my body. Artificial colors can trigger hyperactivity in kids. Dr. Mercola and Dr. Oz both provide excellent information about these additives. The artificial sweeteners that are “supposed” to help you lose weight, can actually make you gain weight! One “natural” sweetener Dr. Oz mentions is agave nectar, which I don’t use or recommend. Initially, I was a fan! After more research, I learned how refined, and “unnatural” it is. Even though it’s low on the glycemic index, it has more fructose than high fructose corn syrup. That totally defeats the purposes for using it
BHA and BHT – These preservatives are found in food, and personal care products. They are known endocrine disruptors. What’s annoying is Vitamin E is a perfectly safe preservative, but since it’s more expensive it’s used less often. Soon, I’ll have a post with more about toxins hiding in your personal care products.
Nitrates – There is some controversy regarding nitrates because they naturally occur in some fruits and vegetables. I’ve decided the potential risks aren’t worth it. Healthychild.org provides good information about nitrates, their link is below.
Here’s some links to excellent information about the four items I mentioned above.
- MSG – Hidden Sources of MSG and Are you sensitive to MSG?
- Artificial Colors, Sweeterners, & Flavors – Article by Dr. Mercola, two articles by Dr. Oz on Food Dyes and artificial sweeteners. And one more from How Stuff Works.
- BHA & BHT – Article from Campaign for Safe Cosmetics.
- Nitrates – Article form Healthychild.org.
Hopefully, this post makes it easier for you to avoid these ingredients. This is by no means a list of every unhealthy ingredient out there. These four I try to avoid, at all costs. A good rule of thumb is to stay away from ingredients on the label you can’t pronounce!
I’d love to hear what ingredients are on your “avoid” list. Or if you have a question about an ingredient, let me know!
May 6, 2014 at 1:18 am
Thanks for the info. Jen! I’m currently trying to overhaul my family’s eating but am taking it slow so I don’t get overwhelmed.
May 8, 2014 at 2:50 am
Awesome! Going slow is best 🙂
October 22, 2015 at 6:02 am
Please add carrageenan to this list. It is in so many foods. It is what scientists give to rats to induce arthritis! Study it!
October 22, 2015 at 7:00 am
Thanks I’m aware of carrageenan and many others. This is just a brief list of what I absolutely always avoid.