Since eating a cleaner diet, I've read a lot about the importance of ingredient lists and how to avoid processed chemicals that our bodies were never meant to eat. These chemicals started appearing in food around the time women went into the work force. Because they were no longer staying at home full time with one job being "cook," the food companies took it upon themselves to "help out" and create food that was fast, easy, and tasted good. What resulted was over processed frozen (and fresh!) food that can last in a fridge or pantry for months/years. Now it's the consumer's job to decipher what is in "food" and what is not. This is where places like Whole Foods have been able to capitalize (and rightly so). Although not everything they sell is a whole food or necessarily clean, the store does a pretty good job of helping the consumer weed out the processed food that yet convenient, has destroyed the American diet and the health of most people. Here are some examples of how to shop smart, in order to eliminate some of the crap in conventional food.
In the picture above, the left peanut butter is Aldi natural creamy and the right jar is JIF low fat peanut butter. Note that the left peanut butter is not paleo approved but is very much a more cleaner version of the peanut butter that most people will buy. This is a good "real food" replacement and decent way to start eating cleaner, perhaps even on your way to the Paleo diet. Americans assume that because a product is "low fat" that it is automatically better for you (and won't cause as much weight gain) as the full fat version. But not many people ask themselves: should peanut butter have 12+ ingredients? Are our bodies meant to digest these additives? Eating something fake or chemically engineered in a lab is very deceiving to our bodies and does not always mean the weight gain will not happen. Take a look at artificial sweeteners: these can trick our bodies into actually holding on to (or gaining) weight because biologically, our anatomy has no way of knowing how to process this through digestion. ALWAYS choose the product with less than five ingredients and ALWAYS know what the ingredients are -- if you don't or can't even begin to pronounce the ingredient, put it back on the shelf. Ingredients to especially avoid: high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup solids, and hydrogenated oils.
In this picture, the butter on the left is grass-fed butter and the stick on the right is not grass-fed. Grass-fed butter comes from cows who are pastured in a natural environment eating what cows are meant to eat: grass. Grain fed cows produced the milk/cream for the butter on the right. Much of my reading revolves around another food chain theory: when the cows eat what they are biologically supposed to eat, we are healthier when we eat their dairy because no one is being fed "filler" grains like corn. Grass-fed milk, cheese, and butter can be hard to find and a tad more expensive but not impossible. Kerrygold is a great brand and both Costco and Aldi carry their products (beware Aldi does not have their butter…. yet?). From the picture, isn't it evident that the butter on the right is richer and closer to nature? And to go one step further, I'm continuing to research the theory that cholesterol in human diets isn't always due to the fat content, it may be due to the fillers that we feed our livestock (like grains, corn, etc). Grass-fed products, I've read, can actually enhance the good cholesterol instead of adding to our bad cholesterol.
Just a couple tips for those starting to clean out pantries and refrigerators in search of a cleaner, truer diet!