Saturday, February 21, 2009

Quick Update

I am sorry it's been so quite around here lately. We've been in the middle of a flu-type bug that has hit our family Ick! As soon as one gets better the next starts running fever. This next week we are heading to the Texas Hill Country for a change of scenery, some wonderful nature walks and hopefully the chance to get away for germ-ville and get completely healthy. I'll be back to blogging soon!


Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Nutrition 101 - Part Five: Preservatives and Other "Goodies" to Avoid

Disclaimer: I am not a certified nutritionist. I do not have a degree in anything health related. I am not an expert by any stretch. I am just a mom with a kiddo on the autism spectrum who has tried to help her son by feeding him (and her entire family) the best she can on a limited budget. I am self-taught and do not make any claims that I am 100% right on any of this stuff. I hope these posts encourage other moms to jump in and start making changes, big or small, in an attempt to lead a healthier lifestyle. Now back to our regulary scheduled program... :)

Taking a break from all my homeschool posts of late, I thought I would add a new post to the nutrition series I have been working on for the past few months. Although I cannot resist just one quote from Charlotte Mason. The first part of Volume 1 includes some of her thoughts about health and nutrition. Much of the information is seriously outdated and/or just plain wrong since it is based on data that is now close to 150 years old. Yet it is amazing how much is still right!
These (all she has previously mentioned) may seem like the least interesting details of education, but the foundation of good nutrition and health is the ground on which everything else rests. Every part of our being -- our thinking, our mood, even our spiritual life-- is affected by our physical condition, by how healthy and alert we are.
Charlotte Mason, Volume 1, Modern Translation, p. 37 (emphasis mine)

I already did one post about nitrates/nitrites which are used in the preservation of meats. There are so many other preservatives out there to be aware of when you are trying to feed your family more healthfully.

First in our family we avoid BHT, BHA and TBHQ. Like with most of the things I've mentioned, the FDA claims these preservatives are safe in our food. Yet if you Google any of these you will see there is much controversy out there, including, but not limited to, raising cancer risks; we avoid them to be safe. These preservatives have even been banned in some other countries. Look here (a little bit down the page) at the Feingold site to see what they have to say. Often you will see a package say "BHT added to the packaging" as if the packaging doesn't touch your food. Sigh.

We also avoid Sodium Benzoate, MSG, EDTA, and most of the other things you will see mentioned here on this "10 Preservatives to Avoid " list or this article "Why You Should Avoid Artificial Preservatives" (Be sure to read all four pages of the article. What first comes up is just a tiny bit of the whole. It is very readable and written in layman's terms.)

What I get asked most often is, "Okay, but how?" and my answer is always the same...just start reading labels. I stopped buying the cheaper store brand cheerios because they had BHT in the packaging but the national brand uses only tocopherols (Vitamin E also used as a preserative). Just wait for them to go on sale and pair that sale with a coupon - cheaper even than that off-brand. ;) I stopped buying Wheat Thins which also add BHT to the packaging but Triscuits do not. Watch carefully though, at one time the low-fat Triscuits still had BHT (don't think they do anymore) but the original did not. Interesting. I buy lots organic cereal and crackers to avoid these preservatives although Pepperidge Farm has a new yummy line of crackers that are preservative free as well. The only soda I allow my children to have on occasion is Sprite but it unfortunately has Sodium Benzoate in it. That's why we often make our own homemade version; you can find the recipe in this post on dyes.

Do you have any tips or ideas you can share? If so leave a comment, or better yet write a post on your blog and tell us where to read in the comments. :)