I start each year with a decision to feed my kids healthy and nutritious food. Needless to say, by the time Halloween rolls around, my resolution gets weaker and weaker and I succumb to my kids’ pleas to have just one small piece of candy. Usually this candy is a bright red, blue or purple color and I cringe as I tell myself that one piece will be okay.
I am always wary of “foods” that come in bright colors. I just keep wondering what Willy Wonka-type scientist is sitting at his desk mixing up all types of chemicals to come up with brightly-colored candies and drinks. So, it didn’t surprise me when I recently learned that my least favorite sports drink, which happens to come in a myriad of bright colors, contains some pretty nasty stuff. A recent article in the New York Times (“Drink Ingredient Gets a Look”, New York Times, December 12, 2012) noted that an ingredient in the sports drink is brominated vegetable oil, used to keep the fruit flavoring (which is also artificial) evenly distributed. Brominated vegetable oil contains bromine, a chemical found in flame retardant products. When it builds up in the body, it can affect the thyroid, cause neurological impairment, and early onset of puberty. The US Food and Drug Administration has deemed brominated vegetable oil “safe for consumption” but has never actually tested the product. In addition to this, there are also artificial colors and flavors, which contain known neurotoxins (which will be the topic of a future newsletter). On top of everything else, these drinks are loaded with sugar. Clearly, these are not ingredients that I want my kids to consume, and it makes me wonder how the large food companies can claim to be looking out for our health when they put these ingredients in our foods.
So, in the spirit of out with the old and in with the new, here are some things that I will work on for 2013:
- Artificially-colored and -flavored sports drinks.
- Artificially-colored and -flavored candy.
- Processed condiments that are loaded with sugar.
- More vegetables with lots of bright colors made by nature, not some greedy corporation.
- New ideas for healthy breakfast foods (this is a constant battle in our house as I try to find acceptable alternatives to oatmeal).
- Homemade ketchup so I don’t have to buy the kind with lots of sugar.
WORTH A READ
Chew on This
by Eric Schlosser and Charles Wilson
I recently picked up a copy of a book my 12-year-old daughter was reading called Chew on This, by Eric Schlosser and Charles Wilson. Eric Schlosser is the author of Fast Food Nation, which examined the fast food industry and its effects to on our health. Chew on This is the children’s version of the book, and is a great read. The authors examine the development of fast food chains in the United States and throughout the world. They then explore where the ingredients in fast foods like French fries, hamburgers and chicken nuggets are sourced from, and what happens when one eats too much fast food.
I would encourage all of you, with or without children, to read it or to encourage the children in your lives to read it. You will definitely reconsider stopping at the local fast food store after reading the book.