Tips To Read Food Label

One of the most important things you can do for your own nutrition is to know what you’re eating. In recent years, food labels have become much more user friendly and you really can know exactly what you’re putting in your body.

Your relationship with food is very important. What you eat can help to give you energy, improve your immunity, and allow you to combat many diseases. But it can also do the opposite – leave you feeling weak and even cause disease.

But if you’ve never given your food much thought, reading food labels can be intimidating. There’s a lot of information there. Deciding which information is important and which isn’t can be challenging. Once you know the basics, though, you’ll read those labels with confidence.

Be Smart about Serving Size

Begin with looking at the serving size on the label. Sometimes people miss this part of the label and then have an inaccurate idea of what’s actually in the food. For example, if you have a can of soup and the label says it’s 2 servings, that means that the information on the label would be doubled if you ate the whole can.

Labels have gotten better in the recent past. For example, a can of soda used to be 1.5 or 2 servings. But now when you look at the label, one can of soda is a whole serving because most people will drink the entire thing. A 20 oz bottle, though, is more than 2 servings.

Calorie Breakdown

Once you know the serving size, you’re ready to move on to looking at the quality of the food you’re eating. The most obvious information you can get from your food label is about the breakdown of calories.

The label will tell you how many calories are in each serving. Calories are the measurement for how much energy it takes down to break down the food. The higher the calories, the longer it will take to break it down.

Your metabolism is the measure of how much energy you burn over a period of time. While we often think of exercising as burning calories, the effect of exercise is small compared to the total calories you burn.

When your heart beats, you breathe in and out, your body breaks down nutrients and makes new blood cells you’re burning calories. That’s why you need an average of around 2,000 calories in a day.

There are three basic biomolecules that your food can give you: proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. Food labels tell you exactly how much of each you’re getting in a serving of food. The label also tells you how many grams of that food you need in a typical diet.

Depending on the label, the following are the major categories you’ll find:

*· Total calories per serving

*· Grams of carbohydrates

*· Grams of fat

*· Milligrams of sodium

*· Grams of protein

*· Vitamins and minerals, if any

Within those major categories are some subdivisions to help you understand even more about what you’re eating. Let’s take a look at those subdivisions and what they mean for you when it comes to your diet.

Not All Carbohydrates are Created Equal

When it comes to carbohydrates, some are better for you than others. Let’s be clear – you need carbohydrates to have energy and to be healthy. Any diet that tells you to eliminate them completely is unhealthy.

A food label will break down carbohydrates into two categories – fiber and sugars. You need both. However, many people don’t have enough fiber in their diets. You want to look for foods that are high in this nutrient.

Fiber helps you to lower your cholesterol and helps your digestive system to be more regular. You’ll find more fiber in foods that contain whole grains such as wheat and oats. This is the healthier type of carbohydrate.

The other category of sugars is what you need to watch if you’re concerned about diabetes. Depending on your situation with blood sugar, you’ll want to limit how many grams of sugar you get in your diet.

When it comes to calories, every gram of carbohydrates contains 4 calories. So if you want to know how many calories in the food come from carbohydrates you can multiply your carbohydrate grams by four. Then you can look at the total calories in the serving to determine the percentage of calories that come from them.

The Purpose of Protein

Your body must have protein to build structures. Most of the structures inside you consist of protein and in order to have the building blocks to repair cells and develop muscles, you’ll need to eat food that has this important molecule.

A food label will tell you the number of grams of protein in your food. You’ll want to look for foods that are high in protein. Foods that have a lot of protein include nuts, meats, whole grain foods, and dairy products.

The Facts About Fats

Food labels will also give you information about fats. In the past, health practitioners told patients to avoid fat altogether. But it turns out that modern science doesn’t support that type of diet. You actually need fats just like you need other molecules in your food.

The two major categories of fats are unsaturated and saturated. Unsaturated fats come from plant sources. At room temperature unsaturated fats stay liquid. These are considered healthy fats. You need them to help keep your skin and other organs healthy.

Unsaturated fats also help lower “bad” cholesterol and raise “good” cholesterol in your blood. This helps to protect your heart and prevent problems such as heart disease and stroke. They also help your digestive system to run smoothly.

Saturated fats come from animal fats. These are solid at room temperature and are considered unhealthy fats. They contribute to high cholesterol, clogged arteries and can ultimately lead to heart disease, stroke, and other disorders.

Speaking of cholesterol, you can also find the amount of cholesterol in a serving of food on the label. Cholesterol amounts become important when you’re trying to eat a heart healthy diet. If you’re trying to lower cholesterol, you’ll want to pay attention to this part of the label.

Trans fats are a category of fats that come from altering the chemical structure of an unsaturated fat. They are also called hydrogenated fats because the process of taking a liquid unsaturated fat to a solid trans fat involves adding hydrogen atoms to the molecules.

For many years it was thought that trans fats were as healthy as unsaturated fats, but that has been disproved. In fact, trans fats are actually more harmful than saturated fats. Because of the bad press trans fats many food manufacturers are removing it from their products.

The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) now requires that trans fats are listed on food labels. It’s a good idea to avoid any food that has trans fats in it. These fats have no nutritional value and are in fact harmful for you.

Sodium Safety

Another nutrient that food labels provide information about is sodium. Sodium is the fancy, scientific term for salt. If you have normal blood pressure you probably don’t pay too much attention to salt. But if you’re suffering from high blood pressure, you can’t ignore it.

Sodium causes your body to hold onto water and in turn raises your blood pressure. High blood pressure is a leading risk factor for heart disease and stroke. So if you have this issue, you need to check the labels. Speak with your doctor about what healthy amount of sodium is for you.

Then you’ll want to look for labels that have low amounts of sodium or are even free from it. Some foods are labeled as “low sodium” but you still need to look at the label and see where it fits in with your needs.

Eating Vitamins and Minerals

While most people could use a multivitamin each day, the best way to get your vitamins and minerals is through the food you eat. In food, you find these vitamins and minerals in a natural state that’s easy for your body to absorb.

Food labels will give you an idea of what nutrients can be found in a specific food. Look for foods that are high in vitamins and minerals such as calcium, vitamin C, vitamin A, potassium, and beta-carotene.

Making Time for Reading Food Labels

When you’re new at reading food labels, it can see overwhelming. But the more you do it, the easier it becomes. You’ll also have your “go-to” foods that you can just pick up without revisiting the label every time.

Plan to spend some extra time at the grocery store when you’re paying more attention to food labels. Pay attention to what nutrients you’re looking to limit and what you need to add to your diet. Before you shop, make a list of what you need to get.

Then, as you’re shopping make a list of additional foods that you’d like to incorporate into your diet. You may also want to make a list of foods you’d like to avoid. Perhaps something you’ve always loved has way more cholesterol than you can afford. Spend some time looking for a substitute that’s on the healthier side.

Understanding Ingredients

The other list you’ll find on a nutrition label – or near it – is a list of ingredients. Ingredients on products are listed in order from greatest amount to least amount in the food. This list of ingredients can be very helpful for determining if a food is something you want to eat or not.

Some ingredients you might want to avoid include:

*· Corn syrup (highly processed sugar)

*· Hydrogenated oils

*· Monosodium glutamate (MSG)

*· Artificial coloring

*· Artificial sweeteners (sucralose, aspartame, saccharin)

Ingredients that are not natural and come from chemical processing are generally not good for your body. A rule of thumb to follow is that if you can’t pronounce the ingredient, you probably shouldn’t eat it.

Once you start reading food labels, you’ll be surprised to find out how many additives are in processed foods. While some foods with labels are healthy for you, there are a lot of foods that come in cans, boxes, and bags contain harmful ingredients.

Foods Without Labels

When it comes to nutrition, the best thing you can do is look for foods that don’t require labels. These are foods such as fruits, vegetables, and meats. The less processed your food is, the healthier it will be.

Other foods have labels, but are also close to their natural state. This includes food such as:

*· Milk

*· Yogurt

*· Whole grain bread

*· Whole grain cereals

*· Natural peanut butter

*· Natural cheese

Food Craving and Emotional Eating

Why Do We Have Food Cravings?

One important factor which may influence appetite control is the notion of food cravings. This overwhelming urge to consume a particular food appears strong in overweight dieters, and many theories has posited why this is so. The nutritional and homeostatic role of food cravings is described by physiological theories and explains why cravings might be more present in people who are deprived of food. The psychoactive abilities of certain foods to trigger cravings are likened to a self-medication behaviour and thought to relieve a central serotonin deficits. Psychological theories stress the role of negatives emotions (e.g. anger) as triggers for cravings and learning theories claim that cravings are a positive learnt response to cues (sensory, situational) and giving into a craving results in a pleasurable consequence. What is evident here is that food cravings are a multi-dimensional and complex occurrence, one which possibly involves aspects of all of the proposed theories.

Whatever the reason, it is suggested that food cravings frequently lead to consumption of the craved food and elevated Body Mass Index is associated with food intake and preference for high fat foods. Even in non-clinical samples, food craving has been found to be related to body weight, suggesting the significant role of craving in food consumption. Early identification of elevated body mass indexes (BMI), medical risks, and unhealthy eating and physical activity habits may be essential to the future prevention of obesity. One crucial question is the role food cravings may play in maintaining excessive eating patterns observed in other problems with eating behaviours: binge eating, bulimia, and obesity.

Food Cravings and Weight Gain: The Missing Link

There is thorough and outstanding evidence regarding the increase in worldwide rates of obesity and the projected outcomes if this is not addressed. Children in particular are noted as being especially at risk of future long term health problems. While dietary restraint, more nutritious eating habits and physical exercise have always been purported to be the answer to the obesity crisis in adults, adolescents and children, long term meta analysis and follow-up studies indicate that weight loss is not maintained (and indeed the more time that elapses between the end of a diet and the follow-up, the more weight is regained). Unfortunately, several other studies indicate that dieting is actually a consistent predictor of future weight gain.

A recent study conducted by Patricia Goodspeed Grant (2008) involved investigating the psychological, cultural and social contributions to overeating in obese people. She found that eating for comfort for the morbidly obese is rooted in using food to manage experiences of emotional pain and difficult family and social relationships. Her participants reported that what had been missing from all treatment programs they had tried was the “opportunity to work on the psychological issues concurrently with weight loss”.

It appears that a missing link in the treatment of overweight and obesity is this concept and issue of addressing the psychological contributors or emotional drivers that are leading people to overeat. Relying on willpower and education is clearly not enough.

Motivation Issues

Humans are only motivated by feelings (i.e. sensations). There are basically three types of feelings; pleasant, neutral and unpleasant. The motivation we get from the unpleasant feeling is to move towards a feeling we do not have, but do want. We move away from the unpleasant feeling by replacing it with a different pleasant (or neutral) feeling.

Hunger, is an unpleasant sensation (for most people) and is relieved by the pleasant sensation (for most people) of eating and the taste of food. Like other basic functions, this is so that we can survive, individually and as a species. Most of us prefer pleasant sensations over unpleasant sensations. But pleasant sensations are not always matched with the outcome that they were designed for. Many people eat, not because they need nutrition, but because they feel an unpleasant emotion, like rejection, loneliness, distress, depression, fear, betrayal, worthlessness, defeat, helplessness or hopelessness. This emotional over-consumption of food often leads to fat-gain and other health problems. This can then create a vicious cycle of more emotional eating to manage the emotional consequences of becoming overweight and unhealthy.

For children, excessive eating and binging are often a consequence of boredom and habit behaviours. Food or drinks are used to relieve the monotony. They can also be used as a coping strategy to deal with problems arising from anxiety, depression, stress and conflicts. Although they may feel comforted after consuming an amount of food, the person has not dealt with the underlying cause of these problems. This sets up a reward cycle of using food to get a better feeling. Consequently, there is no reason why they will not reoccur in the future. This can become a vicious cycle.

If a parent deals with their own emotional issues by eating and or over eating it is highly probable that the child will also do so. This pattern for coping is being modelled. Parents often find it difficult to tolerate their child’s disappointment or pain and are motivated to take this away. If food is used regularly as a means of doing this, for example, “Never mind not getting invited let’s go get a chocolate sundae,” a parent can be setting up a cycle of soothing uncomfortable feelings with the pleasure of food. This again can set up a pattern of eating to manage feelings. This is particularly a problem when there is no real discussion of the child’s pain or disappointment and instead food is just offered.

Have a think right now: why is it that you want to stop emotionally eating? You might immediately know, or you might have to think for some time. Finish this sentence out loud:

When I stop eating in response to my emotions, I will…

Your answer/s will give you some insight into how you are motivated.

If you are motivated towards pleasurable outcomes, you might have said things like:
• When I stop eating in response to my emotions I will be able to buy clothes ‘off the rack’ in the shops
• When I stop eating in response to my emotions I will be happy

If you are motivated away from negative outcomes your answers may reflect:
• When I stop eating in response to my emotions I will not be uncomfortable in my clothes anymore
• When I stop eating in response to my emotions I will be able to throw away my ‘fat’ clothes

You have probably noticed the patterns here. Moving towards pleasurable outcomes or away from a negative one, affects how we think, feel and behave. You might find that you have a combination of moving towards some outcomes and away from others. This is fine too. More often than not, we are primarily subconsciously motivated in one direction.

Motivation has also been shown to exist either as an internal characteristic or as an external factor in people in general. Internal motivation is linked to neurological circuitry in the left prefrontal lobe; the feelings of accomplishment, passion for work, excitement in our day all link to the left prefrontal cortex. It is this area of the brain, which governs motivating behaviour. It discourages pessimistic feelings and encourages action. The reality is that some people naturally possess a high level of this internal motivation; those who focus on the internal feelings of satisfaction they will attain despite any difficulties they face along the way. However others require more than this.

External motivation is any external influence or stimuli to generate positive behaviour. These might include monetary rewards such as bonuses, tangible recognition or honour, prizes, or other incentives. The reality is, despite such rewards motivating behaviour in the short term, it has been shown that no amount of bonuses or acknowledgment will inspire people to use their fullest potential to keep moving towards their goals. So what does it take?

You might have already noticed with exercise that no matter how many personal trainers you hire, how many motivational exercise tapes you purchase or classes you attend, eventually you lose interest and go back to your old behaviour. This is because all of those things are forms of external motivation. There is nothing wrong with them – some people thrive on external motivation and do very well with it. However, sometimes your behaviour does drop off when you cease getting the drive from an external source. Let’s face it, if you had a personal trainer at your door every single day for the rest of your life and a personal chef in the kitchen preparing nutritious balanced meals forever, then yes, you would be motivated to lose weight and become fitter. Such full time assistance is not a reality for most of us.

Sometimes people FIND the internal source of motivation they need to lose weight from an external source and this can help them get started. Here’s Mercedes’ story.

Mercedes had tried to lose weight for years. She was a clerk in the local library and thoroughly enjoyed her work and her food. She noticed over years of living a fairly sedentary lifestyle, with little exercise and a whole lot of reading in her spare time that the pounds had crept on. She was an accomplished cook and took pleasure in preparing meals for herself out of gourmet magazines from the library. She wasn’t really worried about her weight but it was always in the back of her mind that she should do something about it. It wasn’t until she noticed a regular visitor to the library every evening that she paid attention.

Jon was studying for his final exams in accountancy and because he still lived at home with his rowdy younger brothers and sisters, he began taking to the library every evening for the peace and quiet. He found Mercedes to be very knowledgeable and helpful with finding him necessary reference programs and they struck up a friendly rapport. Mercedes noticed that she started to look forward to her time every evening chatting to Jon and after the first compliment he made about her hair, she proceeded to take more time with her appearance. Jon was really the first man who had ever noticed her as a woman. Unbeknown to him, Mercedes began watching her meals and even started parking her car further from work to get some exercise each day, in the hope of slimming down.

Mercedes and Jon remained good friends and while nothing particularly romantic ever happened between them, Mercedes felt inspired to continue her grooming routine and eventually met her future husband while power walking on the weekend. He had lived two doors from her for years and they had never noticed each other!

Are you motivated toward a reward? Or away from a painful outcome?

Your subconscious mind is actually equipped to lead you towards something you want, rather than away from something you don’t want.

The same happens when we need to achieve a goal such as weight loss – we need to look where we are going. When focusing on losing weight most people are focused on wanting to move away from what they don’t want, or the negative situation. Rather than focus on wanting to loose weight to move away from your current position, focus on the positives of becoming slim, healthy or fitter. This is moving towards the positive rather than moving away from the negative.

Here is a simple exercise which will prove to you your subconscious is on the alert 24 hours a day: on the way home today, choose a make, model and colour of vehicle- anything will do. Start to think about it consciously. And then start to look around and see how many you can count on the way home. Really look hard – you will find them everywhere! How was it that on the way to work you didn’t notice any? You were not tuned in, that’s all.

What’s Driving Your Eating?

Many people suffer from food cravings at times when they are having a strong feeling. Others report a history of feeling criticized and judged by important others for their choices or the way they look, eat or feel. Feelings of shame and guilt about eating behaviours, looks or perceived lack of control are also common for people. Others report anger and annoyance that to be the shape they want, they have to eat differently to others and feel deprived (victimized/ not normal). Many are afraid to change their shape because this has helped them hide or protected them from hurt or intimacy. Many have tried changing their body shape so many times they do not believe they can succeed, or feel undeserving of success because they have a deeper sense of unworthiness.

Emotional Eating

Emotional eating is the practice of consuming quantities of food — usually “comfort” or junk foods — in response to feelings instead of hunger. Experts estimate that 75% of overeating is caused by emotions. Many of us learn that food can bring comfort, at least in the short-term. As a result, we often turn to food to heal emotional problems or take away discomfort. Eating to self soothe becomes a habit preventing us from learning skills that can effectively resolve our emotional distress.

Depression, boredom, loneliness, chronic anger, anxiety, frustration, stress, problems with interpersonal relationships and poor self-esteem can result in overeating and unwanted weight gain. There are 2 types of emotional eating in which people engage:

1. Deprivation-sensitive binge eating: appears to be the result of weight loss diets or periods of restrictive eating (yoyo dieters)
2. Addictive or dissociative binge eating: process of self-medicating or self-soothing with food unrelated to prior restricting (have you ever eaten a whole packet of something, before you realised it was gone?)

By identifying what triggers our emotional eating, we can substitute more appropriate techniques to manage our emotional problems and take food and weight gain out of the equation. Situations and emotions that trigger us to eat fall into five main categories:

1. Social. Eating when around other people. For example, excessive eating can result from being encouraged by others to eat; eating to fit in; arguing; or feelings of inadequacy around other people.
2. Emotional. Eating in response to boredom, stress, fatigue, tension, depression, anger, anxiety, loneliness as a way to “fill the void” or in response to feelings arising from memories of past negative experiences.
3. Situational. Eating because the opportunity is there. For example, at a restaurant, seeing an advertisement for a particular food, passing by a bakery. Eating may also be associated with certain activities such as watching TV, going to the movies or a sporting event.
4. Thoughts. Eating as a result of negative self-worth or making excuses for eating. For example, scolding oneself for looks or a lack of will power.
5. Physiological. Eating in response to physical cues. For example, increased hunger due to skipping meals or eating to cure headaches or other pain.

Some useful questions to ask yourself that might help you find some of your beliefs or issues include:
• Do you remember any times you were ashamed about your body or had others say things about you that you felt ashamed of yourself?
• When was the last time you were at your goal weight/shape? What was happening at that time?
• What are your attitudes about overweight people? What were the attitudes of important others about overweight people?
• What patterns exist in your family about food? Was it used to show love or as a punishment?
• What statements do you say to yourself that are self defeating, hurtful and holding you back from getting what you want. Some examples include:
– It’s in my genes,
– I’ve never been slim so I can’t be
– I’ll always be fat
– I’m the fat funny one
– If I let anyone get close to me they will hurt me
– My friends/family won’t like me anymore

It is useful to ask yourself:
1. What are the benefits of staying overweight?
2. What do you have to give up to achieve your goal?
3. Do you use food as your main reward either for yourself or your children?

Read these questions out loud then sit quietly and listen to what you say to yourself. Write down your answers. Remember, the more honest you are with your thoughts and feelings, the more profound change you are able to achieve.

Recent Research Tackling Food Cravings!

A recent randomised clinical trial tested whether The Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) could reduce food cravings in participants under laboratory-controlled conditions. Ninety-six overweight or obese adults who were allocated to the EFT treatment or 4-week waitlist condition. The waitlist condition received treatment after completion of the test period. Degree of food craving, perceived power of food, restraint capabilities and psychological symptoms were assessed pre- and post- a four week EFT treatment program, at 6- and 12-month follow-up. EFT was associated with a significantly greater improvement in food cravings, the subjective power of food and craving restraint than waitlist from pre- to immediately post-test. At 6-months, an improvement in food cravings and the subjective power of food after treatment was maintained and a delayed effect was seen for restraint. At 12-months an improvement in food cravings and the subjective power of food after treatment was maintained, and a significant reduction in Body Mass Index (BMI) occurred from pre- to 12-months.

EFT as a therapy belongs to a group of therapies termed ‘energy psychology’ (EP) and similar treatments would include Thought Field Therapy (TFT), EMDR, and Tapas Acupressure Technique (TAT). EFT was originally designed as a simplified version of TFT. Based on acupuncture principles, Callahan (2000) suggested that a brief tapping procedure may be successfully used to treat almost any emotional disorder. Specific problems have a tailored procedure and after diagnosis, the process involves tapping on specific meridian points on one’s body while focusing the mind on the source of the distressing situation. The tapping is suggested to create energy.

It seems EFT can have an immediate effect on reducing food cravings, result in maintaining reduced cravings over time and impact upon BMI in overweight and obese individuals. This addition to weight loss/dietary programs may result in assisting people to achieve and maintain reduced food cravings and lose weight.

How To Make Healthy Food Can Taste Better Than You Think

I believe that virtually everyone wants to eat healthier, but there are a number of things that seem always get in the way. One of the biggest problems for people, especially those who generally eat unhealthy foods, is that healthier foods typically don’t taste as good as the foods they are used to eating. I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard people try healthy foods and say things like, “This tastes like sawdust” or “I might as well be eating cardboard.” Obviously, this is problematic, because if you can’t stand the taste of healthy foods, you will probably continue eating unhealthy foods.

First, I want to say that while healthy foods have a stereotype of being bland or tasting bad, they have come a long way over the years from a taste standpoint. Also, many herbs and spices can be added to healthy foods to add more flavor without making them unhealthier, so there are definitely options. On the other hand, some people still do not like the taste of these foods or do not have the time or want to spend the effort to mix in herbs/spices or cook meals themselves in order to make the food taste better. If this is the case for you, don’t worry, because there is an easy way to make healthy foods taste better, especially if you currently eat a lot of foods high in fat and sugar.

Before moving on, I should make sure that you don’t get your expectations too high. If you love chocolate, it isn’t realistic to think that natural healthy foods will taste as good as chocolate, but they will probably taste significantly better than they do right now. They may even end up tasting better than you ever thought they could. If you are serious about improving your nutrition and want healthy foods to taste better, the thing you should do is simply eat more healthy foods and cut back on fat and sugar, especially refined sugars such as sucrose (basic white/table sugar).

I know that probably wasn’t the advice you wanted to hear, but bear with me. When healthy foods “taste bad” or “have no flavor,” the issue is often not the food itself, but rather your taste buds. When you eat a lot of sugary and fatty foods, your taste buds become accustomed to the high level of sweetness/richness, which actually changes the way you taste less flavorful or unsweetened foods. As a result, healthy and natural foods generally end up tasting worse than they should.

My guess is you already have some experience transitioning from a richer flavor food to a “less flavorful” version of the same food. Over the years, many people have switched from whole milk to 2% or fat-free milk, regular soda to diet soda, fried chicken to baked chicken, etc. There are many different situations where people stop eating an unhealthy food and replace it with something that is at least somewhat healthier.

At the beginning of this type of change, the new food (with less fat and/or sugar) will probably taste worse to you than the old food. For instance, when people first switch from high-fat milk to low-fat milk, they typically say the lower fat milk has less taste or tastes like water. However, after drinking the lower fat milk for a while, your taste buds will change and it will start tasting like the higher fat milk did before. At this point, if you try the higher fat milk again, you may think it will taste rich or fatty and you may even prefer the taste of the lower fat milk.

This type of change in the way foods taste not only happens with foods that are high in fat or sugar, like whole milk and soda, but it also happens with foods high in complex carbohydrates, such as rice, pasta, bread, and cereal. Many people eat more refined carbohydrate products, such as white rice, white pasta, or non whole-grain cereals (usually with added sugar), but it would be healthier to eat brown rice, whole grain bread/pasta, and whole grain cereals with minimal sugars.

As with milk, the healthier products may not taste good at first, especially if you have always eaten the products made with refined carbohydrates, but that will change with time. In some cases it can be a different texture, smell, or perceived lack of flavor that turns people off from these healthier alternatives, but once your taste buds adapt to the new foods, you will notice more flavor and eventually they won’t seem much different from the foods you used to eat.

So far I have only discussed the way tastes change when you stop eating one food and replace it with a similar healthier food, but these changes take place on a more general level as well. Basically, the more you eat foods that are high in processed fats and carbs, the worse natural healthy foods will taste to you. If you are able to decrease you overall intake of unhealthy fats and sugars, you will find that many other healthy foods that you thought were bland actually do have a decent amount of flavor.

On the other hand, if you keep eating higher amounts of sugary and fatty foods and only change one specific food, such as white bread to whole grain bread, you will not get the added benefit having other healthy foods taste better. This is especially true with sugar consumption, because when you eat a lot of sugar, things without sugar just do not taste as good. Your taste buds essentially become addicted to the taste of sugar, similar to the way your body can get addicted to caffeine. In these situations, the only way to get your taste buds back to normal is by drastically cutting back on your sugar intake.

If you have been having trouble eating healthier foods, because they don’t taste good to you, I hope this information helps motivate you to keep trying. Sometimes it does take a few weeks or even months, depending on how much unhealthy food you eat, but eventually healthy foods will start tasting better. Admittedly, switching from unhealthier foods to healthy ones is not a fun process, but once you get through it, you never have to do it again (assuming you continue eating healthy).

After this process, many healthy foods you once considered tasteless or unpleasant may actually become things you like to eat. More importantly, your body will certainly feel better, you will be healthier, have more energy, and have an easier time losing fat than when you were eating unhealthier foods. There are so many upsides to eating healthier that it is certainly worth going through a few weeks of eating foods that don’t taste very good. In any case, you will have to go through it at some point, so it is better just to get it over with so you can start enjoying the real taste of healthier foods.

Between Natural Food and Package Food

There are substantial differences between the two. In order to analyse this, we need to consider the MAIN difference if we look at the words, “Real Natural” and also – “Packaged.”

Real Natural Foods – Untouched or modified, and straight off the vine or tree.

Packaged Foods – Processed and packaged, modified and “enhanced or tampered with.”

Now I know these two descriptions are the extreme, and you must realise that if it’s modified or processed, then it is (by definition) not natural – in its natural state.

Your body will consume anything you put in it, and deal with it as best as it can. This includes all the processed and modified foods. Some are not bad, and others, not good at all.

Now, the real health concerns over what foods to consume is not going to be a big debate today, except to say that everything that we put in our mouth will either do us good, or not good. As you could imagine then, you have to be careful about the processed foods we put into our bodies, and understand that everything has consequences. Whether it is in short term, long term or secondary effect, it will affect your body in some way.

Now let’s have a look at the packaged foods.

What do we do about research understanding things that are in foods? Do we read the packet to see what adverse elements are actually in them? Do you know how your body reacts to certain processed foods? More importantly – do you know what you are actually feeding your children?

We also have to understand that although packaged foods (processed foods) affects us all differently, there are some fundamental ways in which we will react, and it’s usually the degree of the reaction that varies among each of us.

Now this is what I want you to do. I want you to consider what is in your pantry and fridge. What is in your food cupboard? Now this is where we have to be honest with ourselves to get the most out of this information.

The reason this is important is because we can often “fool ourselves” into thinking that “it’s only a little bit,” or “it’s just a treat.” Here is the real question… Is it a treat? What constitutes the timing of treats? Well, a treat every night is not a treat. It’s really part of your staple diet. Are you consuming too much of the “nasties” that react adversely to your body?

Here is a typical list of what is found in most ‘western society pantries’ and fridges:

– Potato crisps (chips in a packet) / corn chips

– cookies (biscuits and crackers)

– rice crackers / rice and corn shapes

– cup cakes

– donuts

– muslie bars / rice bars / nut bars

– confectionary – chocolate bars

– candy / lollies / sweets on sticks / wrapped sweets / toffee / chew bars

– mints / breath mints / candy suckers / lollie suckers / lozengers

– premade pasta meals, instant noodles

– soda drinks / soft drinks / soda pops / premix carbonated drinks

– juices / fruit drinks / pre-squeezed fruit and vegetable juices

– beers / wines

Now I ask the question – where is the real food in it? Where are the fruit and veggies? Is this your staple diet?

Watch how you or your kids react when they eat packaged foods, and watch how they act after they eat natural foods. There is a big difference. As a parent, I have seen this first hand. There is food related bad behaviour, as well as good behaviour.

I know what I prefer. What about you?

There is another element that affects how fast we digest our foods through our bodies, called Glycemic Index (GI for short). The higher the Glycemic index, the faster our body digests and processes food in our body. If you have heard the term “Low GI food,” it is food that is slowly processed and gives a slow release of energy. On the other hand, a “High GI food” gives you an almost instant pick up of energy, processes fast, and then you “fall flat” and you are out of energy. Even some natural foods have a high Glycemic index. BUT, the majority of packaged foods have high GI.

If you eat a packet of potato crisps, you may feel satisfied for a short while, and then you are probably empty and “unsatisfied” a short while later. That is because they usually lace the chips or snack with salts and flavours that make you ‘want more’.

Here is a challenge for you.

Instead of snacking on packaged foods, choose a natural alternative. This could include nuts, dried fruit, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, sweet peas or beans, tomatoes, grapes, fruit, and yoghurt.

The idea is to have it prepared beforehand. It is very difficult to “grab a snack” that is healthy when you are in a hurry, unless you have something pre-prepared. With seeds and nuts, have them separated into small bags or containers, so that when you “run out the door” you can simply grab that pre-organised snack. You will be satisfied, and you will feel better for it. You won’t feel gluggy, or flat, and you are doing your body good, not filling it with junk foods. It is a matter of being prepared and it is not hard to do. If you are serious about having slight changes in your lifestyle, then this is an easy step.

Packaged foods are mixed. Some are “healthy” some are not. You have to be careful even if they are labelled healthy. Are they really healthy? Do they have chemical flavour enhancers such as MSG, preservatives, or pH balancers? Do they have swags of laboratory numbers on the ingredients list? Or really, really long words that only your doctor or chemist would understand? If so, then you should do some research, find out what they really stand for, and avoid foods that contain them. This can be a little difficult – especially if you have kids. It’s that “No” word. Just make healthy alternative choices instead.

Making the right decision for your whole family will mean changes. And no one likes change. Just do a little research to avoid some bigger problems later on. However, a good mix of natural foods will be the best solution. Take an apple. – If your kids can’t eat a whole apple, cut it up into smaller sizes, they are more likely to eat it. Make eating these things fun. You get excited about eating healthy, and your kids will follow. Don’t make a big fuss over it though, it will just happen. A good variety is the key.

As you can see, there are major differences between packaged foods and natural foods. As a rule, if it comes in a packet, so it has to be preserved. How have they done so? Natural foods have a shelf life, and go off. That is the natural order of life. If a packaged food can sit on the shelf and not go off, decay and decompose, then it is not food, and is probably doing you more harm than good.

We have to be careful of what we put in our mouth. Ask yourself this question, am I eating food, or eating a chemically unstable snack? There is a big difference. We just need to be careful, and be diligent about what we feed our bodies, and our kids’ bodies as well.

 

All About Fast Food

McDonald’s commissioned an independent television production company to produce a one-hour special where six random Australians were given the task of investigating the entire food-making process. Whilst McDonald’s funded the project, and their food-making processes were the ones scrutinised, it’s clear very little was hidden from these independent ‘food critics’. This program showed that McDonald’s food, and probably most major fast-food chain offerings, is actually relatively healthy – and more hygienic and fresher than we think.

Fast food companies have always gone to great lengths to convince the eating public of the wholesomeness of their food. It’s an incredibly profitable business. But, one of the business risks, in a health-conscious age, is having a reputation tainted by thought that your food is unhealthy or, worse, disgusting.

So, typical fast food – in the main – is safe for consumption and may be moderately healthy. But why do we feel unhealthy having eaten it? Compared to a serving of grandma’s pot roast where we felt sated and fulfilled, fast food tends to leave us feeling unfulfilled, spiritually.

I have a thesis about food: the only prepared food profitable to us is the food cooked with love. That is, food cooked for a known individual to eat. Food cooked with them in mind. It’s food that has soul.

FOOD SHOULD BE PREPARED WITH PRIDE

In the healthiest sense, proud is the cook that makes their food to please the eater. They have a vested interest in everything they do. They want to create it tasty, hygienic, and aesthetic on the plate. They care. They cook their food with love. And they want their food eaten with love and respect for the process.

Fast food, on the other hand, is an unloved child whose parent neither loves the food, their work, nor the receiver of the food. It’s made with no soul or spirit. It may fill our bellies and nourish our bodies, but the experience of eating fast food does nothing to nourish our souls.

We ought to become keen observers of how food makes us feel, and although food of itself doesn’t make us evil, our practices can sometimes make us feel that way. Feeling bloated or dry in the mouth or queasy are all psychosomatic signs that the experience of eating certain food hasn’t been positive. The food hasn’t served its nourishing purpose.

THE SERVICE THAT COMES WITH THE FOOD

Whenever we go to takeaway restaurants, not only is the food not cooked with love, it’s often not served with love. Patrons are commonly treated as second-class citizens; mainly because the person serving them has no propriety. They’ve not been trained to care.

Wherever we go in life it pays, as much as possible, to place ourselves in situations and circumstances of good experience. Enriching experience is good for the soul. Placing ourselves in non-enriching experiences, though, leads to a deadening of the soul. The service that comes with the food is just as important as the eating experience is. The service, too, must come with love.

***

The trouble with fast food is it’s generally not cooked nor served with love. Often it’s prepared and cooked by people with no stake in its consumption. Eating food is a spiritual activity. If we care enough for ourselves and those we love we limit our reliance on fast food. We’ll still eat it, perhaps, but less so.

Our dietary habits are key inputs to our spirituality. When we eat food made with love we profit. Food made without love cannot profit us spiritually.

 

Tips To Stay Away From Food Posioning

Millions of food poisoning cases occur each year, and millions more go unrecognised because they are mis-diagonisd – or unreported. The symptoms include: vomiting, diarrhoea and pain in the abdomen.

Most of us can handle a little food poisoning without major upset, but there are a number of high-risk groups for whom it can be very dangerous, even fatal. These groups include the elderly, infants, pregnant women and the chronically ill, especially those with weakend immune systems. There are also certain types of food poisoning like (botulism) that can be deadly for just about anyone.

WHAT CAUSES FOOD POISONING?

Most food poisoning occurs because food was handled improperly at home, often during routine procedures that we all take for granted.(Other stages at which germs and toxins might enter food are during cultivation and storage).

There are four main culprits:

Bacteria: These are responsible for more than two-thirds of food poisoning episodes. The important germs in this category are Salmonella, Staphylococci Clostrdia and Bacillus Cereus. The food we eat, no matter how hygienically prepared, almost always contains a few bacteria. However, a small number does not cause illness: at a rough estimate, about one million bacteria must be present before a healthy adult will come to harm. However, in case of children under one year, or in case of old or sick persons, only one lakh bacteria bring on illness.

Viruses: These are the simplest living organisms containing only genetic material. Viruses require living tissues for their growth and multiplication, therefore will not multiply in food. However, food can serve as a transport vehicle for viruses. Since viruses are destroyed by temperatures achieved in normal cooking, food poisoning by viruses occurs largely in food which has not been cooked or has been handled after cooking by a person who is a carrier of viruses.

Chemicals: Common chemicals which produce food poisoning are pesticides, detergents, paraffin, food additives, sterilizing agents and packing materials. Food poisoning from chemicals is mostly caused by carelessness in the home or in an industrial establishment.

Try to avoid buying attractive and highly-coloured foods as these contain several addictives which way harmful. Carefully read the manufacturer’s information/instructions regarding contents, use and storage.

Aoid the use of packaged wheat-flour. Instead, buy whole-wheat from the market, clean it with plenty of water, dry it and have it ground at a floor mill.

Vegetables: Certain naturally poisonous plants, when accidentally mixed in with vegetables, cause food posioning. Among these are toadstool (confused with mushroom), hemlock, black nightshade, rhubarb leaves and undercooked red kidney beans. The toxins of most plants are unaffected by cooking.

HOW GERMS GAIN ACCESS TO THE KITCHEN

The main entry points are:

Food Handlers: Usually these are carriers (persons carrying the germs in their body but not suffering from the disease itself). They may be convalescents, i.e. people who have recently suffered food poisoning and who, though recovered, continue to pass a small number of these germs in the faeces; these may gain access to food due to improper washing of hands and poor general hygiene.

Carriers may also be healthy people who have not suffered the symptoms of food poisoning but nevertheless carry harmful germs in their intestines. Again, the medium of instruction is faeces.

Animals, birds and Insects: Flies, rats, birds, other insects and animals (incluing pets) usually carry bacteria in their intestines and on their feet and fur. These animals are infected through eating contaminated feeds, grazing on contaminated pasture land or through contact with other (infected) animals.

Food and food products: When animals are slaughtered and dressed, germs from the surroundings and from the hands of the handlers may contaminate the surface of the meat where they grow and multiply.

Dust: Vegetables are usually contaminated with dust which may contain bacterial spores. Spores are the unique feature of some (not all) bacteria. When growth and multiplication of bacteria is not possible due to an unfavourable environment, the bacterial cells form spores (small, reproductive cells) and the remaining part of the germs disintegrates. These spores are resistant to even boiling and freezing, can survive for years without food or water and, in faourable circumstances, are capable of reverting to the original, infective form – to grow again and multiple.

Raw vegetables should be first rinsed in plenty of water and then dipped in a very weak solution of potassium permanganate (about of grams in 1 litre of water), for 5 minutes, and then washed again thoroughly with clean water. Potassium permanganate removes the surface dirt, spores and germs.

Cross-contamination: This is the transmission of germs from a contaminated source to uncontaminated food (usually freshly cooked food). If this food is suitable for bacterial growth and is left for some time in a warm room, the transferred organisms multiply rapidly. Some examples of this process in a kitchen are:

  • Using a chopping board, a work surface or kitchen equipment in the preparation of two different foods without washing it in between, eg using a mincer for raw meet and then for cooked corned beef. The same principle holds true for the hands of the cook.
  • Sneezing, coughing, smoking, scratching around the genitals or the anus while in the kitchen and not washing hand thereafter.
  • Wearing highly engraved jewellery while preparing food. The crevices offer a foothold for germs which may then be transferred to the food.
  • By combining hair in the kitchen or from loose strands of hair.
  • From skin infections, especially of the hands (boils, furuncles, wounds etc.) in the cook.
  • From the crevices of craked/chipped plates and damaged utensils.
  • Through unhygienic food tasting, eg, dipping a finger in prepared food without washing, then licking it and again dipping it in another prepared for unprepared food, without washing in between.
  • By touching dirty linen, wash-cloths, dusters, etc. while preparing/handling food.
  • By incorrect placement of food in the refrigerator. For example, keeping uncooked meat on the top shelf, and uncovered, roasted chicken on the shelf below: Blood from the uncooked meat may drip on to the chicken and contaminate it. In the low temperature inside the fridge, these germs remain dormant, but once the food is warmed for serving or even thawed out at room temperature, the germs multiply rapidly.

HOW GERMS GROW IN FOOD

Germs thrive best when four conditions are optimum:

Temperature: Bacteria that cause food poisoning grow and multiply fastest at the temperature of the human body (37° C). Above and below the temperature, the rate of growth decreases, but still fairly rapid at about 30° C – which would be the room temperature in a poorly-ventilated kitchen during summers.

At the temperature of boiling water, i.e. 100° C, bacteria are killed in one or two minutes (though spores are not).

At low temperatures, such as in a fridge, they become dormant, but start multiplying again once the food is removed for thawing or warming.

The Type of Food: Germs multiply rapidly in those foods which have a high protein and moisture content, such as meat, poultry, dairy products, gravies and sauces. Protein and moisture provide “nutrition” to bacteria and act as very good culture media. (In the laboratory, most bacteria are grown over a blood or egg-containing medium.)

Moisture: Dehydrated products, such as milk powders, do not allow the growth of bacteria, but the bacteria remain dormant until the powders are reconstituted. So, reconstituted powder milk,eg, must be stored in the refrigerator as soon as water is added to it.

The Time Factor: If conditions are conducive, bacteria divide into two, every twenty minutes. Therefore, the longer food is allowed to stay in conditions optimum from bacterial growth, the greater the extent to contamination.

HOW TO PREVENT FOOD POISONING?

The ground rule is to maintain regorous hygiene at all the points at which food is handled:

Personal hygiene of the food-handler

  • Germs cling to the skin surface and persist in hair follicles, in skin pores, or in crevices and lesions caused by breaks in the skin. The hands should be washed with plenty of soap and water, preferably warm. A disinfectant solution may also be used, as an added precaution.
  • Nails should be short, unchipped and, preferably, unvarnished (if varnished, the varnish should not be chipped.)
  • Wet hands contain more bacteria than dry hands. Use clean towels to dry them. If you can afford an electrically-operated hand drier, that’s even more hygienic.
  • The food handler should remove all jewellery from his/her hands.
  • If any cut,wound or boil is present on the hand, a coloured waterproof dressing should be apllied over it so that if it accidentally falls off into the food, it can be easily noticed and the food discarded.
  • It is very important to wash hands after a trip to the toilet, blowing your nose, handling raw meat, poultry or contaminated food, etc.
  • The food handler should not smoke in the kitchen and should sneeze or cough into a tissue which should then be discarded.
  • Cover hair under a cap or net.
  • Clothes should be clean and should cover exposed areas of the body as far as possible. Long sleeves should be rolled up or securely fastened at the wrists so that cuffs do not dip into the food.
  • Always waer full-length apron.
  • During illness, the nasal and throat carriage of bacteria is increased, so sick persons and those who have suffered from food poisoning, diarrhoea and vomiting in the recent past (even if they are apparently healthy now) should not be allowed into the kitchen.

Hygiene in the Preparation, Cooking and Storage of food

  • Thaw all frozen foods completely before cooking. If you do not, the ice crystals at the centre of the food prevent the temperature that reaches the centre at the time of cooking from being sufficiently high to kill the bacteria there; at the same time, this temperature level will be optimum for bacterial multiplication!
  • Food should not be repeatedly frozen, thawed and re-frozen. Each time it thaws, it reaches a temperature that’s conducive to bacterial growth.
  • Cook food thoroughly at one go. Never do it in two stages – bacteria remain alive in partially-cooked foods and on cooling they multiply and survive right through the next phase of partial cooking.
  • Never keep the food warm (as in casseroles) because these provide the optimum temperature for bacterial multiplication.
  • Never re-heat the food more than once. Again, bacteria get a chance to multiply when the food has gone from ‘hot’ to ‘warm’. If re-heating is absolutely necessary, the food should be covered and cooled very rapidly after cooking and stored in the refrigerator until it is ready to be re-heated. To speed cooling, divide up the food into several containers or cut up big chunks into smaller pieces.
  • Quick, high temperature cooking is the best. The traditional practice of slow cooking in open pots increases the risk of food poisoning.
  • As eggs, especially duck’s eggs, are a known risk for salmonella poisoning, lightly cooked uncooked dishes such as scrambled eggs, omelette and poached eggs should preferably be avoided. Safer options are hard-boiled eggs (boiled for at least ten minutes), eggs fried well on both sides or eggs used in baked products such as cakes and puddings, which require cooking temperatures high enough to destroy the germs.
  • Cook foods to the proper temperatures. Meat should be cooked at least 160° degrees. Red meat is thoroughly cooked when it is brown or gray inside. Poultry is done when the juices become clear. Fish, which cooks very quickly, flakes easily with a fork when it is done.
  • Serve food as soon as possible after cooking. Don’t let it sit out for more than two hours at room temperature. If you are serving buffet-style, keep cold food on ice, hot food over warmers. Put out only small portions at a time so that the remainder can stay hot or cold in the kitchen until needed.
  • As far as possible, avoid buying prepared foods because you have no guarantee of the hygiene maintained in the preparation of such foods. If you must buy such goods, prefer frozen foods to warm foods, since they provide less opportunity for bacterial multiplication.
  • Don’t buy food in damage containers. Avoid cans and glass jars that have dents cracks or bulging lids. A damaged container may allow bacteria to get inside and multiple.
  • Use highly acidic canned foods, such as tomato and apple products, within 12 to 18 months. Other canned goods, such as canned meat, poultry, stews, pasta products, potatoes and peas can be stored longer (from two to five years).

There are several reasons for this. First, when acidic foodstuffs are packed in metal containers, the acid dissolves the metal which is absorbed into the contents of the tin/can, affecting their flavour and texture, thus causing spoilage.

The acid itself also softens the preserved food, again damaging its texture – “spoilage”.

Finally, meats and other hardy foods like pasta and potatoes preserve better because, at the time of processing, it is possible for them to withstands the duration and kind of temperature required for virtually complete sterilization – 121° C, for 20 minutes at 15 pounds of steam pressure. However, succulent foods like apples, tomatoes and mangoes cannot withstand such processing without having their flavour and texture altered. So, they are heated at a lower temperature, under less pressure, for longer time. Because of the incomplete sterilization, the chances of spoilage in such foods are comparatively higher.

  • Preferably, all canned food should be stored in the refrigerator – especially if you intend to use it over a prolonged period. In any case, don’t use it beyond the expiry date. All opened canned food should be stored as freshly cooked-food.
  • Do not put hot foods directly into the fridge. Apart from damaging the cooling coils, this can encourage the growth of certain germs and moulds.
  • The refrigerator door should be kept shut as far as possible; the fridge should also be regularly defrosted to remove excess ice around the cooling coils which decreases is efficiency.

Hygiene in The Kitchen

A sterile kitchen would be a mere fantasy. However, proper design and maintenance can go a long way in ensuring a clean and hygienic cooking environment and significantly reducing the risks of food poisoning:

  • The kitchen should be spacious enough to allow easy and thorough cleaning. Equipment should be moveable or, in the case of fridges, for example, should be placed where it is possible to clean its back, sides and under-surface.
  • The areas of preparation, cooking and washing up should be well separated to lessen the chances of cross-contamination.
  • The kitchen should be provided with a large window and ventilator, if possible with exhaust fan.
  • The window should be covered with thin wire mesh to prevent the entry of house-flies and other pests.
  • The cutting/chopping board should be made from hard-wearing, easily cleaned material which does not absorb moisture, chip or crack and is not affected by food residues. Stainless steel is the best choice, better than even plastic laminates which, of however superior quality, are still susceptible to scratches from knife blades etc. However, even today, far too many kitchens use wooden boards, which easily develop cracks and crevices, enabling germs to thrive.
  • Every kitchen should have a round-cornered dustbin, preferably with paddle-operated lid, and it should never be allowed to overflow.
  • Kitchen floors should be made of a hard-wearing, anti-slip, easily-cleaned material which is unaffected by moisture, and resistant to salt and fruit acids. Unbroken, smooth quarry tiles are a good choice.
  • The ceiling should have a smooth finish to facilitate cleaning (an absorbent plaster with washable emulation). Walls should be smooth and light-coloured to make dirt easily traceable.
  • Pick up knives, forks and spoons by their handles, glasses by their stems and plates by their edges. Discard any chipped plate or glass and any damaged utensils because even efficient washing may not get rid of the germs harboured in crevices and cracks.
  • Rat and mice carry bacteria in their fur, feet and faeces. Since they breed in warm and dark corners, the kitchen premises should be kept in good repair with no holes, or defective pipes or drains. Store-rooms for storage areas should be cleaned regularly. All the stocks must be kept off the ground and used in rotation to ensure that rats and mice are not been sheltered at the back of the store-room. If you do have a rodent problem, get rid of the pests with a mousetrap or a mild rodenticide.
  • Flies are the commonest carrier of food-poisoning bacteria. Reduce the risks by covering windows and ventilators with fine wire mesh, using covered dustbins and, if necessary, an insecticidal spray.
  • Cockroaches typically hide behind ovens and cooking ranges, water pipes, and refrigerators. They can be killed by most available insecticides.

 

All About Microwaved Food

I recently received an email asking if I could explain about ‘microwave ovens’, eating ‘microwaved food’ etc. So here it is.

The news is not good, if you prefer ‘ignorance is bliss’, now might be a good time to ‘accidentally’ have something better to do! When we think of ‘natural’ health & well-being, it would make sense that we would want to ‘cook’ our food in a ‘natural’ way.

It doesn’t take much intuition to realize that microwaving your food, is about as ‘unnatural’ a way to cook your food as you can get. Doesn’t the fact we use the terms, ‘zap’ it or ‘nuke’ it in the microwave, send a chill up your spine and suggest something is not quite right here?

A critical point is that microwaves don’t actually ‘cook’ your food at all. They basically just heat up the water content of the food and cause the food particles to resonate at very high frequencies. This ‘heats up’ your food, but this is very different from ‘cooking’ your food.

It’s like your food is heated but still ‘raw’. It doesn’t change the chemical structure of your food properly (and in many cases deforms the food molecules), thus substantially reducing your foods nutritional value. Worse however, is that microwaves can (and usually do) create harmful compounds that can lead to serious problems/disease (high cholesterol, cancer etc). * See the research further down.

Now, before you start cursing me again for making you feel bad (because you love your microwave and think life would be hell without it), remember, like all the health tips we give, you need to make them practical and still be able to function and enjoy life. However, while a little bit here and there won’t kill you (not immediately anyway!) – regular intakes are a real problem.

Basically, microwave ovens decay and change the structure of food by the process of ‘radiation’. Do you think if they were marketed as “radiation ovens”, they would be so popular? No way, but that’s exactly what they are. Simply put, you are interfering with/disturbing the ‘natural intelligence’ of the food (which is by far the most important part of any food).

Why wouldn’t we hear more about their negative effects if they were so bad? Basically, for the same reason we don’t hear about many of the things that jeopardize our health (until years after), vested interests and ‘heads in the sand’. Most people don’t want to give up something that is so ‘convenient’!!! And as modern science doesn’t value the fact that there is more to cooking food, than just heating it up, not enough proper research is being done. It’s just another case of modern society, trying to use ‘technology’ to save time… unfortunately at the expense of our health & well-being.

TIPS:

1. Avoid using microwaves/eating microwaved food whenever possible.

Yes, I know you’re busy, you don’t have time to cook and it’s so easy to just ‘zap’ it in the microwave. I know I’m being Scrooge again, and it’s all so easy to say “Don’t use microwaves”, but this really is a big one.

There’s probably not that many other things you could do to improve your long-term health more than throwing your microwave out the window… or at least using it far more sparingly.

Personally, I think you are better off to go and buy some half decent take-away (non-microwaved) than consistently eating ‘zapped’ food (seriously!)

2. THAWING FOODS is not so bad:

If you want to use your microwave for thawing frozen foods, that is not so bad. It’s still much better to let them thaw out naturally, but using a microwave for this purpose and cooking your food ‘naturally’ is not as bad as actually ‘cooking’ with your microwave.

3. ‘NEVER’ use PLASTIC:

Never heat your food in the microwave using plastic containers. When microwaving, carcinogenic toxins can be leached from your plastic and paper plates or covers and mix with your food. This especially applies to foods that contain fat. The combination of fat, high heat, and plastics releases dioxin (Dioxin chemicals cause cancer, especially breast cancer) into the food and ultimately into the cells of the body.

* This comes from Cancer News at Johns Hopkins Hospital, and a statement by Dr. Edward Fujimoto, Wellness Program Manager at Castle Hospital. Full details below.

SOLUTION:

Use glass, corning ware or ceramic containers for heating your food.

4. *** MOTHERS: DON’T Heat your baby’s milk in the microwave (especially in plastic bottles): **

Most people know the enormous benefits of breast milk for infants (as natural as you can get). However, microwaving breast milk (expressed milk) has been shown to break down the essential disease-fighting ability of breast milk (which helps protect your baby) and cause ‘hot spots’ (which can burn your infants mouth).

While this is not ideal in itself, the fact that microwaving causes ‘hot spots’ in the first place, shows it does not heat things evenly/properly. Add on the general problems of using plastic bottles as highlighted above, and it really isn’t the best idea. * The same applies for formula milk/any type of milk in plastic containers.

Better Alternatives:

i) Warm the milk by placing the container in a cup/saucepan of hot water or

ii) ideally boil the milk in a saucepan and let it cool down to warm drinking temperature.

* More hassle? Yes. More time-consuming? Yes. Better for your baby? ABSOLUTELY.

Practical Help: How to Reduce your Microwave Use?

i) Plan ahead:

where possible, decide what you are going to have in advance, so if you need to thaw something, you can take it out of the freezer beforehand (you may need to be before you go to work in some cases).

ii) Weigh up the health benefits of cooking ‘naturally’ versus microwaves.

Is it really that much extra time/hassle? Instead of putting something on a plate, covering it and putting it in the microwave, you’re essentially doing the same in an oven/saucepan. Add a bit of extra time for cooking and washing saucepans etc (if you don’t have a dishwasher), and you are not that much worse off time-wise.

Tips for Getting Take-Away:

i) If you get take-away and they go to cook it/heat it up in a microwave, ask if they can ‘oven heat’ it instead (just enough so it’s not ‘cold’) – so it doesn’t take that much longer!

* In addition to the health dangers, there is nothing worse than your crispy, crunchy pastry or whatever, being microwaved into a soft, soggy, mushy heap (Urgghhh!!!).

ii) If they can’t/won’t do that (i.e oven heat it), depending on the food/season, you might prefer to just have it ‘unheated’/cold. Cold is not ideal, but better than being ‘nuked’.

iii) If it has to be heated and microwave is the ‘only’ way, ask them to microwave it on ‘medium’ (for a little longer) rather than on ‘high’.

If you want to know more about microwaves/microwaving food – who invented them, the science behind them (why they are so unhealthy), the research done so far etc,read on.

History of the Microwave – The Nazi’s:

The Nazis invented the first microwaves. First known as ‘radiomissors’ (argghhh!!!), they were used for preparating meals on a mass scale during the invasion of Russia.

After the war, the Russians had retrieved some of these microwave ovens and conducted research on their biological effects. So alarmed by what they learned, the Russians banned microwave ovens in 1976.

Research on Microwaves:

More and more research is now suggesting people who regularly eat microwaved food over a period of time, sustain significant adverse changes to their blood chemistries and the rates of growth of certain diseases.

These can include:

* An increased rate of cancer cell formation in the blood.
* Increased rates of stomach and intestinal cancers.
* Lymphatic disorders, leading to decreased ability to prevent certain types of cancers.
* Higher rates of digestive disorders and a gradual breakdown of the systems of elimination.

1. Dr. Hans Ulrich Hertel was the first scientist to conduct quality clinical research on the effects microwaved nutrients (on the human body).

His small but well controlled study showed the degenerative force produced in microwave ovens and the food processed in them. This included,

Increased cholesterol levels
Decreased numbers of red blood cells
Production of radiolytic compounds (compounds unknown in nature)
Decreased hemoglobin levels (possible anemia problems).

His conclusion:

Microwave cooking changes the nutrients in the food, and changes take place in the participants’ blood that can cause deterioration in the human system.

1. Hertel’s scientific study was done along with Dr. Bernard H. Blanc of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology and the University Institute for Biochemistry.

2. A study published in the November 2003 issue of The Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture found that… broccoli “zapped” in the microwave with a little water lost up to 97% of the beneficial antioxidant chemicals it contains.

By comparison, steamed broccoli lost 11% or fewer of its antioxidants.

3. A recent study at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York demonstrated that microwaving food creates toxic compounds (known as AGE’s) that are associated with serious illness such as heart disease and diabetes etc.

AGE’s form when sugars, proteins and fats amalgamate in high-temperature cooking, the most harmful of which is microwaved food.

4. Microwaving baby formulas converts certain trans-amino acids into their synthetic isomers, which are toxic to the nervous system – this is from the British journal The Lancet (Dec. 9, 1989).

Microwaved Blood Kills Woman:

A 1991 lawsuit involving a woman who had hip surgery and died because the blood used in her blood transfusion was warmed in a microwave. Blood is routinely warmed before transfusions, but not by microwave. The microwave altered the blood and it killed the woman.

More on Microwaves & Dioxins:

This is from an email (around Jan 06), Re; Cancer News from John Hopkins. It was received from a nursing supervisor at Greenville Memorial Hospital. It was sent to their staff.

Cancer News from Johns Hopkins:
No plastic containers in microwave.
No plastic wrap in microwave.

Johns Hopkins has recently sent this out in its newsletters. This information is being circulated at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Dioxinchemicals cause cancer, especially breast cancer.

Dioxins are highly poisonous to the cells of our bodies.

Recently, Dr. Edward Fujimoto, Wellness Program Manager at Castle Hospital, was on a TV program to explain this health hazard. He talked about dioxins and how bad they are for us.

He said that we should not be heating our food in the microwave using plastic containers. This applies to foods that contain fat. He said that the combination of fat, high heat, and plastics releases dioxin into the food and ultimately into the cells of the body.

He recommends using glass, corning ware or ceramic containers for heating your food.

You get the same results, only without the dioxin. So such things as TV dinners and soups, etc, should be removed from the container and heated in something else (* Note from Mark – re-heating/cooking frozen food – e.g TV dinners, is not highly recommended anyway). Paper isn’t bad, but you don’t know what is in the paper. It’s just safer to use tempered glass, Corning Ware, etc.

He reminded us that a while ago some of the fast food restaurants moved away from the foam containers to paper. The dioxin problem is one of the reasons. He also pointed out that Saran wrap is just as dangerous when placed over foods to be cooked in the microwave. As the food is nuked, the high heat causes poisonous dioxins to actually melt out of the plastic wrap and drip into the food.

Alternative: Cover food with a paper towel instead.

The Natural (Ayurvedic) View:

For those familiar with the Ayurvedic dosha system, the understanding from Maharishi Ayurveda is that microwaves disturb vata dosha. Vata is that ‘governing principle of Intelligence’ that governs all communication and movement in your mind-body. If out of balance it can adversely affect your nervous system, and lead to problems ranging from anxiety, disturbed sleep through to constipation and early/chronic fatigue.

Understanding of Food State Nutrition

What exactly is “Food State”? A natural food, for example a vegetable growing out of the ground, will provide its nutrients to the body in a form that the body can easily recognise, assimilate and absorb. We can consider these nutrients to be in a “food state” form, and instinctively we will understand the benefit of this natural food. The vitamins and minerals within this food will be bound together within a food matrix with a variety of “co-factors” that effectively provide a delivery system for those nutrients to be delivered to receptor sites within the body. Evolution has created this relationship between us and the natural food we eat, yet if you strip away those co-factors you will end up with a nutrient in an isolated form that will never be found in nature. Yet this is the form in which virtually all nutritional supplements exist. We call this form “Free State”.

Is there a strong argument for taking supplements? If you consider the desperately depleted nutritional value of our farm soils, and if you accept the rationale that a lot of disease processes stem from a nutritional deficiency, then the answer would be a resounding “yes”. However, what most people don’t appreciate is that nearly all supplements are in a chemical, isolated form, without this delivery system inherent in live food. This is why supplements in a food state form are the preferred form for human consumption. This “Food State” form makes them more recognisable to the body (increasing their absorption and availability) and conveys a degree of protection to that vitamin or mineral, while appearing to prevent chemical interactions from occurring. For example, in the “Free State”, vitamin E and iron put into close proximity negate each other, making them unacceptable for use by the body. This does not happen when these two materials come into close contact in a “Food State”, as the active principle is satisfied in this state and is not free for chemical interchange. Complexed with Food Components The “Food State” vitamins, minerals and trace elements are complexed with food components of which yeast is one. Others are carrot concentrate for beta carotene; citrus pulp for vitamin C; vegetable oil for vitamin E etc. The final product is a food matrix containing co-factors such as: proteins, glycoproteins, lipoproteins, phosphoproteins etc. These co-factors are essential for proper delivery and they simply don’t exist in the more common isolated chemical alternatives. “Food state” materials do not need to be taken with food as all the food components are integral, thus eliminating the need for a random chance meeting of the active substance with its specific food co-factors. Minerals in the “Food State” Minerals are available in two forms: inorganic (“Free State”) and organic (“Food State”). Inorganic minerals are generally accepted to be inappropriate for human tissue, whereas in organic form, minerals are readily recognised and used by the body. Nature’s process is to convert inorganic minerals into an organic mineral form as plants grow in the soil. The plant is then eaten by humans (or animals that humans eat) and the organic mineral thus becomes available for human absorption. With this in mind, “Food State” minerals are produced by feeding living plant cells with that particular mineral, resulting in a super concentrated “Food State” mineral plant. This is then harvested, freeze dried and tableted. Food State supplements are recognised as one of the best sources of nutrients, which can be easily digested and readily absorbed by the body. They are more than just components extracted from a Natural Source. “Food State” presents a whole food as in nature, giving us not just a memory of nature but the actual experience of nature in a form that the human metabolic system is designed to recognise.

“FOOD STATE” DIETARY SUPPLEMENTS The Food State concept is a breakthrough in nutrition. The main reasons are:

1) The vitamins, minerals and trace elements we normally consume come to us as part of the food we eat. This is the best way for us to obtain our vitamins, minerals and trace element requirements.

2) In food, the vitamins, minerals and trace elements are naturally complexed to many different and complex food components.

3) With common supplement tablets, vitamins, minerals and trace elements are in an isolated chemical form, and are not found attached to the many different and complex food components.

4) Foodstate vitamins, minerals and trace elements are naturally complexed to food components, which is similar to the form the body can recognise.

5) Food technology and manufacturing processes alter or even destroy the natural and delicate balance of essential nutrients. Furthermore, modern farm soils are desperately inadequate in their nutritional value. These facts highlight the growing importance of dietary supplementation. Foodstate vitamin, mineral and trace element supplements offer a safer, more bioavailable and effective form.

6) The increased effectiveness of “Food State” products results in: a) More effective distribution within the body b) A general “non-targeting” effect, allowing the body to use nutrients where required in a similar way to food c) Less risk of gastric/gut irritation d) Nutrients are already accompanied by associated food factors that the body needs for their proper utilisation; i.e. there is no need for “Food State” supplements to be taken with food like other supplements.

7) Foodstate vitamin and mineral supplements are used and recommended by leading medical practitioners, as they believe the products outperform other products.

8) The on-going research programme is probably unrivalled for a Food Supplement supplier. A large number of independent studies into the “Food State” range, many peer-reviewed by renowned journals, cover the following topics: Bioavailability, Absorption, Retention, Utilisation, Toxicity, Comparative

9) FoodState products provide prolonged active presence in the body (better than delayed action products).

10) When their superior effectiveness is taken into consideration, Foodstate products are no more expensive per effective dose than other products. What about Yeast Allergies and “Food State”? Most allergens are complex protein-based molecules. Therefore for something to stimulate this allergy to yeast, it must contain complex long chain molecules, as true allergies are molecule specific. With “Food State” minerals, once the yeast has taken up the mineral, the outer cell wall is removed, the yeast cell is ruptured, and the long chain proteins are broken down to peptides by Proteolytic enzymes. Hence none of the potentially allergenic long chain molecules exist. These Food State nutrient products are safe to use even by yeast sensitive people; this has been proven by their use in allergy clinics where patients are whole yeast sensitive.

It must be said, however, that no product, is totally non-allergenic. In almost every biochemistry book, we find reference to “Carrier Proteins”. These carrier proteins are usually mentioned in relation to their role in transporting atoms of minerals, or molecules of naturally occurring coenzyme form vitamins, through blood plasma, cell membranes, cytoplasma, etc. The term “carrier protein” is used in connection with the metabolic system of animals, but we believe it could be applied to the vegetable kingdom as well. The working substances in an organism are the proteins which we call enzymes. In most cases, enzymes need minerals (called cofactors) and/or vitamins (called coenzymes). These nutrients must be attached to the enzymes or be a part of them. These substances are responsible for helping nutrient transportation, retention, storage and function, and have an influence on biological activity in general. They are present in all foods, and in all known living systems. In our opinion, they also help the absorption of nutrients from foods.

The protein-associated substances that are involved in the absorption of vitamins and minerals are called Carrier Food Factors (CFFs). Carrier Food Factor refers only to those constituents in food which help the absorption of vitamins and minerals while they are in the stomach, in the gut, and while passing through the intestinal wall into the blood stream. CFFs do not refer to the protein-associated substances which carry nutrients in the blood stream. The composition and structure of CFFs are unknown to us today. Very likely, there are numerous types present in our foods. The CFFs in foods of both animal and vegetable origin are in the cells of those foods, or in the interstitial fluid of those foods, and upon consumption they get into the GI system and begin to do whatever they have to do. To help understand why there must be numerous different CFFs and how each may determine the destination of a nutrient, a good mental picture is to imagine each one as an envelope with a different address, going to a different destination. The sender is the brain, the mail-order house is the liver, the postman is the plasma, the organ to be delivered to is the country, the area of the tissue is the county, the home address is the cell etc. Each destination in the living system must have its own address. The address, in our hypothesis, is somehow written in the amino acid / lipid / carbohydrate composition and in the three-dimensional folding of the CFF. The address the CFF is destined to reach is displayed on the surface of the cell in the form of the receptors, or in the cell membrane in the cytoplasma, in the nucleus, and also in the various organelles of the cell. It is doubtful whether the biological system reworks coenzyme form vitamin into USP (Unites States Phamacopeia) vitamins. If it did, then the individual USP vitamins and inorganic minerals would show the same absorption, retention, storage and biological activity as re-natured “Food State” vitamins and minerals. However, they do not. If the yeast mineral were released from the CFF, they would have the same toxicity, the same rate of absorption, and the same blood levels at any comparable time as the free-state minerals. They would appear at the same level in the organs at any given time. They would be excreted in the urine at the same concentration and in the same composition. However, they are not. Extensive testing of Food State nutrients has been carried out comparing them to standard “Free State” USP counterparts. The results, in our opinion, strongly suggest the presence of a CFF nutrient complex in the form that emulates food.

 

Can Food Be Modified

Despite the controversy surrounding genetically modified foods they are beneficial both to humans and the environment. Genetically modified plants can repel harmful insects while at the same time producing more fruit. They are better for the environment, are healthier, and are cheaper than organic foods. Nowadays, organic foods simply aren’t efficient enough so they cost more and are more difficult to produce than GM foods. While this creates a new market for people that are against genetically modified foods, for the average person it is impractical. GM foods are the foods of the future and they are here to stay.

GM foods are classified as any species of plant or animal that has had its DNA altered. The alteration usually produces desirable traits found either rarely or not at all in the original species. The DNA can either be modified by either allowing a dormant gene to be expressed or by “splicing” which is a process that allows a DNA segment with desirable traits to be cut from its strand and inserted into the DNA strand of the organism to be genetically modified. Through this process many benefits can be gained.

One benefit is that GM crops take far less time to grow and become fertile. Another is that they can also be adjusted to better withstand the never-ending onslaught of pests such as bugs, as well undesirable weather. This means an increase in production which means that people can get what they want when they want it, a very good thing in today’s fast paced world where many people are accustomed to instant gratification. Also, GM foods are arguably better tasting than some of their natural counterparts and also have a much higher chance of being an overall better product. Despite all these things there are still people with arguments against GM foods. However, it cannot be denied that genetically modified foods are a worldwide trend and carry with them many benefits.

Some arguments against GM foods are the potential for allergic reactions, the effect that GM foods can have on their environment, and lastly the ethics surrounding the science. Of these surely all the scientific arguments can surely be solved. One of the arguments in question is the fact that GM foods carry some risk of causing allergic reaction. The reason for this is that there is a very slim chance that the DNA segment that is cut during the splicing process contains code that produces proteins that people can be allergic to. So basically if someone who was allergic to peanuts ate a piece of bread that was made from GM wheat that that shared DNA with a peanut that person might have an allergic reaction (if he was extremely unlucky).

This problem can be solved by manufacturers listing possible allergens in their products on the can or box the product comes in. If the product in question happens to be some sort of produce or other product that does not come in a box, can, or other container that can be labeled other arrangements can surely be made. A second argument regarding GM foods is their impact on the environment. Genetically modified foods do have an impact on the environment but it is not decidedly negative. While genetically modified foods may negatively affect some parts of the ecosystem this is not known for sure. One thing that is for sure is that many forms of GM crops are poisonous to certain pests that would otherwise wreak their havoc not only in other crops but in nature too.

One of the last and most tricky arguments against GM foods is the question of morals. Is God really okay with us tampering with his creations? Well regardless of the answer to this question we have been doing exactly this for thousands of years. Originally corn when mature grew to be only about 3-4 inches in length. We have been using selective breeding to obtain desirable traits in both crops and livestock since ancient times by modifying DNA directly we are just speeding up this process. In the beginning, God said that all the plants and creatures of the earth were ours, and now we are just finally beginning to scratch the surface of what that truly means.

Though many people have expressed their dislike of GM foods it cannot be denied that all around the world these foods are making a difference. Farmers no longer need to use pesticides on their crops because they have been genetically altered to be resistant to a number of pests. Farmers also no longer need to worry about the effects of cold or freezing weather on some of their crops. Frost can destroy seedlings which can in turn ruin entire harvests. However, with the insertion of an antifreeze gene found in many species of cold water fish these plants are able to tolerate these harsh conditions.

Furthermore, since plants can also be modified to be both hardier and more fertile more crops can be produced using a significantly lower number of seeds. Another helpful modification found commonly in GM crops allows them to be resistant to Glyphosate more popularly known by its commercial name: Roundup. Glyphosate is an herbicide that kills all plant life with the exception of the GM foods that have been tailored to resist it. This resistance means that farmers only have to use one herbicide to wipe out any and all undesired plant life instead of using many that target only certain threats. But, genetically modified foods are not only helping farmers and the average person they are helping people out all around the world.

One of the most notable accomplishments of genetically modified foods has been the creation of “Golden Rice”. This rice is a variation of Oryza sativa rice and has helped to address the issue of malnutrition in third world countries by boosting levels of both Vitamin A and iron. In Oryza sativa rice the edible part of the rice contains no Vitamin A or iron. However, Golden Rice addresses this problem by biosynthesizing iron and beta-Carotene, a red-orange pigment commonly found in plants and fruit. It is a form of Vitamin A and is what gives carrots and sweet potatoes their orange hue. The impact of this rice on third world countries has been astounding and has prevented the deaths of thousands or possibly even millions of children who could have died from malnourishment. With genetically modified foods the possibilities are seemingly endless and the potential to do good is astounding as the dream of a world without hunger or disease suddenly becomes more and more a reality.

Modifying rice to produce Vitamin A and iron is just the beginning. In the near future it will be possible to administer vaccines and other medications through GM foods as well as essential nutrients. These edible vaccinations hold the potential to wipe out malaria and other deadly diseases so commonly found throughout our world. Future GM foods could also make possible the elimination of naturally occurring allergens and non-nutritional compounds. This would mean that all foods would be healthier and that none of them would cause allergic reactions. Some future applications of genetically modified crops go beyond the kitchen with

GM crops making the production of biodegradable plastics, diesel fuel, and more durable cotton and linen products a possibility. Also in the near future game fish may be genetically modified to grow faster thus helping repopulate the sea with different species of overfished fish. All these benefits and more are not so far out of our reach. GM foods have the potential to change the world for the better, to make it a healthier place to live. And once we reach this future who knows where we will be able to go from there.

Genetically modified foods are an asset to the people of the world. GM crops dramatically increase production. They also ensure that no blight, whether it be drought or frost, should be detrimental to a harvest. This technology has already begun to save lives by fighting malnutrition and has the great potential in the medical field. Soon we will be able to send vaccinations and other medicines via seeds that will grow to produce fruit with the medication in them. These foods have the potential to make us healthier and thus lengthen our lives. And while controversy will for a long time surround genetically modified foods, we have been using them since 1994. The precursor to genetic modification, selective breeding, began thousands of years before this date and is the reason for many of the common species of plants and animals today.

Genetic modification is merely another scientific advance such as many others that will, as they did, change the world. Genetically modified foods are just one aspect of this advance but they are a big part of it because of the huge impact that have on both everyday life and the lives of others. GM foods are the foods of both today and of the future. Despite some opposition to this fact it cannot be denied that these foods have benefits both in the long and short term. In short, GM foods are extremely beneficial and are here to stay.

Genetically modified foods are a good thing. They have many benefits and GM crops themselves can have other applications besides food. The potential of genetic modification is just barley being tapped. So many things are possible now that the building blocks of life are able to be shifted, changed, and replaced. What is being done now will be remembered as the start of a global phenomenon that will have forever changed the world for the better. Genetically modified foods will make a future without hunger, disease, and malnourishment a real possibility. The technology itself will go even further than this because genetically modifying plants and animals for food is only one small part of the overall picture.

The use and production of medicine, fuel, plastics, metals, and countless other things will be forever changed by this technology. The benefits of GM foods are seemingly endless. They will continue grow in popularity and in the near will be even more common than they are now. These foods will be continually improved so that from the time they are planted to the time they are eaten they are as wholesome as they can be. These are some of the reasons why genetically modified foods are so beneficial and they will go on to change the world for the better.

 

All About Food Addiction

Given the obesity rates in this country there are a lot of people who are addicted to food. Food addiction can be very similar to alcohol and drug addictions. The difference between an over eater and an addict is the over eater simply eats too much, but could stop if they wanted and tried to, yet the addict often can’t stop eating, or binging, despite the extra money it is costing, the effect its having on relationships, or what it is doing to the their health. Food addicts obsess about food. While a large portion of obese people may be food addicts, weight is not the only basis for identifying a them. People who are thin or average weight who are suffering from bulimia nervosa or similar disorders can also be food addicts.

Perhaps you are at a party or picnic and someone has brought out a tray of chocolate frosted cupcakes. It’s not on your new diet plan to eat cupcakes, but the host has made them thinking of you, remembering they are your favorite flavor. So you decide it would be okay to just have one. You enjoy one delectable cupcake, tasting how soft and moist the cake is and how creamy and chocolate-y the frosting is. But after that one cupcake you decide to have one other. At this point you realize that you can’t stop eating them. You might volunteer to take the rest home saying you will “bring them to your family”, even though you know you will eat the rest. Or so people don’t know you have a problem, perhaps you’ll leave a little early and stop by the bakery for cupcakes, and maybe somewhere else, because ice cream would sure taste good with them. Now you are thinking about cupcakes and food too much. It has probably gotten in the way of you having fun at the party.

Whether its cupcakes, ice cream, chips or pizza, if you are like this, not able to stop eating certain foods, you may be a food addict. Food addiction is real and serious. In the United States the obesity rate has been increasing for a number of years. Surprisingly, in the fight against obesity, food addiction is not mentioned. People are told to have self-control, use their willpower, and avoid overeating. They tell us to eat less sugar and fat, and to exercise. People talk to overweight people like they don’t know this. It is just difficult for people with a food addiction. Based on many separate research studies, scientists have found evidence of chemical dependency on food. Experiments have shown that the pleasure centers of the brain that are triggered when people use cocaine and heroin are also stimulated by food. People who are addicted to food overeat because some foods trigger good feeling brain chemicals such as dopamine that gives the person a sense of feeling high. While each food addict has their own particular food or foods they are addicted to, the foods that are most addictive in general tend to be foods that are high in sugar, fat and salt.

Every overweight person may not be addicted to food. Having three brownies once in a while, eating more than the recommended portion of fries, or eating large portions at dinner, do not make a person a food addict. There are many overweight people who are not food addicts. Food addicts think about food and diets a lot. They have often tried to not eat certain foods and have failed. They have nervousness and a sense of anxiety when it comes to food. They both love and hate food. They love food because it is not only delicious, but it has been there to comfort them and help them deal with, but mostly cover, negative emotions such as guilt, anger, or depression. They hate food because it makes them overweight and feel bad about themselves. Food makes them feel out of control because they can’t help eating more and more.

People who suffer from bulimia eat copious amounts food when they binge, just like many other food addicts who are overweight, but because they purge their food they tend to be thin or more often an average weight. But they are often addicted to food, not being able to handle just one portion. They eat large amounts of food, but try to control their weight by “getting rid of” the food.

There have been a lot of programs that are supposed to be helping to curb the obesity epidemic in this country. There needs to be more concentration on food addiction. Most of the obese people are not just overeating because they think it’s fun being fat. They, as well as others who not obese, are suffering from food addictions. Food addictions need to be treated as seriously as drug addiction because these addictions can lead to major illnesses and even death.