Cleaning up my actWednesday, January 25, 2012
I have never been the type to worry too much about what I eat in terms of where it comes from or what it contains. Aside from calories and fat grams, I pay very little attention to the labels on my food. I rarely look at ingredient lists or give too much thought to things like where my food originated or how it's made.
Recently, I bought some Splenda to use in baking and coffee and the like. I avoided artificial sweeteners the whole time I was pregnant with Eli since there are no definitive studies to prove they don't affect babies. Plus, I was the world's most paranoid pregnant woman. As a result, I haven't had any sweeteners other than sugar in 10 months or so even though I was pretty hardcore about them before getting knocked up.
I had never noticed how eating artificial sweeteners makes me feel, but after almost a year off the stuff, it made me feel weird. Like, headachy, thirsty, and all chemically. My mouth felt funny - cottony and gritty, and a bit like I'd been eating soap. Definitely not a good feeling, and definitely not something that happens when I eat plain old sugar.
Right around the same time, I was making a mug of hot chocolate with the mix that's in our cupboard. I checked the ingredient list to see if it contained aspartame. It didn't, but here's what it does contain: corn maltrodextrin, dipotassium phosphate, sodium aluminum silicate, sodium carboxymenthyl, acetylated tartaric acide ester of mono- and diglycerides...among other things.
WTF?! I don't know what those things are. I can't pronounce them. Granted, I know hot chocolate is hardly a health food, but do I want to be ingesting something called sodium aluminum silicate?
Over the past few days I've given this a lot of thought and have decided I want to eat a lot more cleanly. Yes, I'm still going to have my chocolate binges, eat canned soup and be lazy with frozen foods, but if I can choose a natural, unprocessed, or better yet, prepared at home alternative, I'm going to pick it. At least I know the effects of a few extra calories - I can't say the same for something I don't even know how to say.
I don't plan on going 100% earth muffin organic hippie and rubbing my armpits with a magical crystal instead of deodorant and all that noise. Instead, I want to start making little changes like picking more local produce, avoiding artificial ingredients and scary preservatives as much as possible, and making more of our own foods from scratch when it's an option. Surely it can't be too time consuming to make my own hot cocoa mix with cocoa powder, sugar, and vanilla (or whatever the ingredients are, I don't actually know) rather than eating the premade stuff with an ingredients list that reads like something you'd see on the back of a shampoo bottle. And even it does take a little extra time and effort, it's got to be worth it.
I hope to eat less sugar - but stick to real sugar - rather than artificial sweeteners. Same with margarine and butter. I'd rather eat a little bit of fatty butter than gobs of low-calorie margarine. I saw a billboard once (for butter, go figure) that said "Margarine has 17 ingredients and none of them are dairy" and it's always stuck with me. It's finally sinking in that low-fat and low-cal does not equal healthy.
Do you worry about what goes into your food and how it's made?