"I saw few die of hunger; of eating, a hundred thousand." -Ben Franklin

Friday, July 1, 2011

Processed Foods and Words of Wisdom from 'Primal Body, Primal Mind'

My summer job is as a camp counselor; I work with first- and second-grade girls outdoors all day, doing things like swimming, playing sports, looking at nature, and just hanging out in the sun. I'd say it's one of the most Paleo-friendly jobs out there: playing, soaking up Vitamin D, socializing, staying active.

It saddens me so much, however, when it comes time for lunch and these girls' parents send them with complete and total crap. Their lunches are all loaded with white bread, sugar, high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), processed snack foods, bagels, juice boxes, Lunchables, soda... The list goes on. I just finished reading Primal Body, Primal Mind by Nora T. Gedgaudas*, and there's an entire chapter devoted to HFCS alone: it has been linked to "diabetes, heart disease, cancer, obesity, gout, weakened immune system, cirrhosis of the liver, osteoporosis, elevated cholesterol levels, anemia, mineral deficiency." It's no wonder that little kids are sick all the time--ingesting chemicals like this one (which is in pretty much every processed food) will make you sick. As Gedgaudas recommends, "Avoid high fructose corn syrup like the plague that it is, and beware of cheap processed, foods" because "it is among the most dangerous and damaging food additives ever created."
Further, "the consumption of high-glycemic foods, which cause a rapid rise in blood sugar, can trigger many behavioral, learning, and mood problems," with gluten being one of the biggest culprits. My girls are generally pretty good, but I notice that some kids in other groups act up a lot, and I can't help but wonder if their behaviors would change if their parents stopped sending them to camp with PB&J on white bread, a CapriSun, and a bag of chips** (plus money to buy candy or slushies at the camp's snack bar... UGH).
(So funny story: I take fish oil pills at lunch, and the girls ask me every day what they are. Yesterday, one of my campers asked, "Are those jelly beans?" and I just laughed. They're pretty much the farthest things from jelly beans out there!)
*Note: Buy this book. It was absolutely fascinating and provided so much interesting (and sometimes scary) information that everyone should know about-- it'll be one of the best $11.46 you've ever spent.
**Note 2: A study recently said that potato chips are the worst culprit for weight gain. Don't eat them... and don't let your kids eat them either!

Speaking of HFCS and disgusting processed foods, check out Slate's Ingredients Quiz, in which you match the ingredient list given with the processed food. I only got TWO out of eleven correct-- the lists were so long and contained so many things/chemicals I'd never heard of that it was nearly impossible to guess correctly! I was actually horrified after taking this quiz, and I can't believe that I used to eat some of these foods-- disgusting! Don't put that harmful stuff in your body!
Here's another (frightening) tidbit from Gedgaudas's book on this subject: "The researchers who developed sucralose, also known as Splenda, originally started out in an attempt to create an insecticide." Moral of the story: read all of your labels carefully, be wary of artificial sweeteners and ALL chemicals (especially HFCS), and "Remember: If it comes out of a test tube, it's not food." And in the words of health/fitness guru Jack LaLanne, "If man made it, hate it."

In more disgusting food news, the fast food chains Sonic and Burger King will now be offering beer and wine. Just great: so now customers can wash down crap with high-calorie beers (made from gluten-containing grains) and wine. How wonderful.

It's July 4th weekend, which means barbecues and parties for most people, so please try and make good food decisions-- eat your hamburger without the bun (nothing wrong with grabbing the lettuce and making yourself a nice hamburger salad!), avoid the chips and desserts, and drink lots of water! While temptation will most likely be lurking around every corner, don't put crap into your body! Your body deserves real food; your health relies on it!

Paleo at Penn now has a Facebook page! A big thank you to all of you who have "liked" it already-- you guys grok!

Happy Canada Day to my Canadian readers, happy 4th of July to all of you here in the U.S., and happy any other holiday/have a good weekend to everyone else! Grok on!

I love cavemen comics:

Quote of the Day:
"Taking control of your health is the single most foundational means of taking control of your own future. Without our health and clarity of mind, we have nothing." -Nora T. Gedgaudas, Primal Body, Primal Mind

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