Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Labels don’t lie: Know what you’re eating!

March 25, 2014 by  
Filed under Health, News, Opinion, Weekly Columns

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(ThyBlackMan.com) Years ago I read a quote that went something like this: you are held accountable for what you know.

It resonated with me because it fit very neatly into my own personal philosophy concerning just about every facet of life. I have always believed, very strongly, that people cannot be held accountable for something they have no knowledge of. For instance ancient man cannot be held accountable for his lack of poor health which usually came about as a result of his lack of personal hygiene because he didn’t know about the connection between germs and illness.

I get that.

Likewise in our information rich society there really is no excuse to not understand the connection between our diets and our health. There is far too much very well researched and peer reviewed information concerningfood-labels-2014 the danger of a diet that includes an over-abundance of processed, fried and genetically altered food.

It is not lost on me that many of our favorite foods come within the context of what I’d like to call the three c’s, cultural cuisinary comforts. In other words some of our palettes are prejudiced. Most of us like what we grew up eating at the table and reject what we’re not accustomed to. Depending on where you’re from you may have grown up eating food that was encrusted in a fried outer shell, or food high in sodium, or sometimes both.

Before we go deep sea diving on this topic there are a few things that need to be clarified. While sodium and salt are sometimes used interchangeably, they aren’t the same thing.  Sodium is used by the body to help transmit nerve impulses, so it’s not all bad. In fact it’s quite necessary. It is a component of salt and is measured in milligrams. Three grams of salt contains about 1200 mg of sodium Salt, usually measured in grams, contains about 40% sodium and 60% chloride (a very important electrolyte.

The problem comes into play when the amount of sodium in our diets is enough to choke a team of wild circus elephants. According to a recent study by the centers for disease control and prevention African Americans should consume a maximum of 1500 mg of sodium per day. Currently the average American consumes 3400 mg of sodium each day. The vast majority of this comes from packaged, processed store bought ready-to-eat meals and restaurant foods. This is not to mention the fact that most people add a healthy portion of salt and other sodium rich sauces (see hot sauce) to their meal. This leads to high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke.

It’s not like Black folks don’t already have enough things to worry about. Now you can add sodium to the top of that list, right next to poverty, drug abuse and any episode of Love and Hip Hop.

As I’ve armed myself with this knowledge grocery shopping has become an exercise in frustration. Along the way I’ve had a few victories, but for the most part it’s been about delayed gratification.

If you’re thinking that this sounds like a marriage, hold on. It gets better. 

Like a marriage I have become intimately acquainted with the nutritional food partners that I choose to commit to. Like a marriage sometimes what I know versus what I do doesn’t always agree. And, like a marriage, sometimes there are good days, and then there are bad days.

I have come up with three simple rules that help me govern what I eat. They are as follows:

1. Stay away from products that have more than 3 ingredients that you can’t pronounce. If you    don’t know what they are, odds are that your body doesn’t either.

2. If the first ingredient is High Fructose Corn Syrup, sugar, beet sugar, or any kind of sweetener, place product back on shelf and slowly exit the aisle. This doesn’t apply if you’re actually looking for sugar.

3. If the size of the print requires you to use a magnifying glass to read it, most likely the manufacturer doesn’t want you to know something.

Before I committed to staying on the road to wellness I used to indulge in a wonderfully wicked baked fruit-like pie that belonged to a beloved institution of chemically created confections that has recently been forced to shut its doors. Yeah, I used to treat myself to the gooey goodness at least once per week until I read on the label that one of those pies contained over 450 calories and 410 grams of sodium!

Ay, Dios Mio!

In the end I have learned to put the salt down, decrease how much fast food I eat, exercise more and drink enough water to float Noah’s Ark.  I guess you can say that I’ve learned how to make my marriage to food work for me.

I’m not saying that reading nutrition labels isn’t the same as trying to figure out the affordable healthcare act, but hey, it’s your life.

If you’re looking for a great place to get started, here’s a link that I highly recommend. Don’t worry; it’s not trying to sell you anything. It’s for information purposes. Sites like http://www.fda.gov/food/ingredientspackaginglabeling/labelingnutrition/ucm274593.htm make deciphering the code as easy as pie, oops, I mean cake.

Once you understand what you’re reading, the rest is easy. Again, once you’ve become exposed to the truth about things you are now responsible for it.

Bon Appetite.

Staff Writer; Steven Robinson

May also visit this talented writer over at; http://noroomtowiggle.wordpress.com/.


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