What To Avoid
What To Avoid When It Comes To Feeding Your Family
As a parent myself, I know that we all want to do the best that we can for our children. I also know that the information that we need in order to do this is not always brought into our awareness. Although the information is available, it remains hidden behind the perspectives we are often taught to believe. This is what I faced when I went through the journey of helping my son to heal and to thrive.
The more that I learned, the more I found myself faced with the need to do two things. First, to make the necessary changes in our lives to benefit him based upon my newfound knowledge. Second, to work through my feelings of betrayal and confusion that I felt toward those who had failed to provide the information in a clear way to be before. I learned that the quickest and most efficient way to move through the later, and thus allow for the first was to embrace the concept of forgiveness and to let go of any of these negative feelings.
Therefore, please do not hold onto blame, either toward yourself or anyone else as you read about the following concepts. Stay in the present moment so that you can clearly discern for yourself what you believe will serve your child to their highest benefit.
Toxic substances found in foods negatively impact our children’s health on all levels. Their reaction to a toxic substance can literally show up as a behavioral issue at school or home. There are many of these toxins in our food supply today, so awareness is the key to making sure that we keep them away from our children to the best of our abilities.
Reading ingredient labels is our only way of knowing what is in the foods we are eating. Even when we read them, it is important to keep in mind that all elements are not included. These include pesticides, herbicides, Genetically Engineered or Genetically Modified Foods (GMOs), MSG, antibiotics, hormones, and many other additives. Therefore, when we treat our kids to an ice cream cone after school, without taking into consideration the actual ingredients that are in the product, we are unwittingly exposing them to numerous toxic substances.
There are numerous catch phrases that companies place on their products to lead us to believe that they are somehow more healthy and nutritious than they really are. Therefore, it becomes imperative that we educate ourselves as much as possible in order to avoid certain toxic, unhealthy ingredients in whatever foods we are choosing to purchase for our families.
The most important thing that we can do is to be aware that businesses use marketing in order to sell their products, and this does not necessarily mean that what they are saying is the truth. For instance, “natural flavors” on a label does not mean that the flavors are coming from natural sources at all. The word “natural” on food labels is a non-regulated marketing tactic. Genetically Engineered foods in the U.S. can still be labeled as “natural” though they contain insecticides within the actual seeds of the plants, are highly treated with pesticides, and are altered from their original, natural form. The words “gluten free” on a label have nothing to do with the quality of nutrition inside of the package, only that there are no gluten-containing ingredients. In fact, some companies selling gluten free foods are providing nothing more than GMO-laden, starchy, non-nutritional foods. “Fat free” is another misleading marketing tactic. This label has nothing to do with nutritional content, and just because there is no measurable fat, does not mean that your body will not turn the product into fat once consumed.
Knowing what to avoid makes making choices so much easier. There are certain foods, such as gluten and sugar, which are known to cause inflammation, the source of many of the health conditions people of all ages experience. These foods can be avoided, thus resulting in less inflammation and reactive symptoms. We also want to avoid foods containing toxic ingredients, such as additives and preservatives, as described in the list below. We would hope that we could trust the food system to keep toxic elements away from us and not to market them to children, but unfortunately, we cannot. Being aware that many food corporations are working to make money, and not necessarily to provide nutrition, allows us to break free from their marketing and to make our own conscious decisions about what we feed to our children.
Synergistic toxicity refers to the effect of two chemicals on an organism that is greater than the effect of each chemical individually, or even the sum of the individual effects. In other words, the presence of one chemical enhances the effects of the second. Many processed foods, sodas, gum, and fast foods contain more than one toxic element. When taken into consideration that the chemicals (additives, preservatives, pesticides, GMOs, antibiotics and other medications) have a stronger reaction in the body when they are combined, it becomes easier see why children are struggling so much with their health and well-being.
The harder their bodies have to work to process the foods that they eat, the harder they have to work to concentrate and to perform to their best abilities at school. Having to work so hard to discern the toxins from the nutrients they actually need puts added stress upon their systems.
ALLERGIES AND SENSITIVITIES
If your child has an allergy or sensitivity to any foods, make sure to keep these foods away from them until these allergies and sensitivities can be healed and resolved. Until then, consuming these foods causes great imbalance for them as their immune systems are working overtime. Food reactions can take many different forms and are different between different children. They can be immediate or delayed, by a few minutes or a even a few days. If you are unsure if your child has a food allergy or sensitivity, it is worth having them tested. However, often the allergy tests do not prove effective for identifying sensitivities at all, so sometimes you will have to do elimination protocols and watch for reactions yourself. In fact, my son and I are so sensitive that we have had to learn to fully engage and work with our intuition in order to know what is in our highest interest to eat at any given time.
It is important for parents to know about food reactions because mental, physical and neurological health conditions are often misdiagnosed because food allergies and sensitivities have not been addressed first. Some of the allergies and sensitivities that many children have are reactions to chemicals in foods as well. Read the lists below to be aware of chemicals to avoid. Some preservatives and additives have been directly linked to ADHD symptoms.
Some examples of food reactions include:
Hives, swelling, hyperactivity, difficulty focusing and concentrating, lethargy, weight gain, insomnia, mood swings, crying, pain anywhere in the body, constipation, diarrhea, clumsiness, runny nose, sneezing, coughing, reflux, dark or red circles under the eyes and of course, anaphylaxis.
READING LABELS TO KNOW WHAT TO AVOID
The key when reading labels is to avoid toxins and anything to which your child is allergic or sensitive. Here is a general list of toxic ingredients to avoid.
Wheat – Gluten containing, highly chemically processed, and highly inflammatory. Also, known to be addictive and cause an opiate reaction in certain individuals, especially those with ADHD and autistic symptoms. If your child has any problems with ADHD, ADD, autism, Tourette’s, obesity, digestive problems, allergies, or asthma it is to their benefit to avoid eating glutinous grains (wheat, rye and barley) and soy sauce (made with wheat).
Sugar – Very toxic to the body, addictive, and inflammatory. Sugar sourced from beets is further toxic in being genetically modified.
Additives – All artificial colors and flavors, MSG (see below), artificial sweeteners, “natural flavors”
Preservatives – Many of the following examples have been proven to be carcinogenic among other negative health effects: Sodium nitrates and nitrites (found in processed meats and lunch meats), BHA and BHT, Benzoates, Bromates, Mono-glycerides and Di-glycerides, Propyl gallate, Sulfites, Maleic hydrazide, Maleic hydrazide, Proplene glycol and Carboxymethylcellulose, Citric acid, Potassium Bromate. This is not a comprehensive list, but provides examples of common harmful preservatives. BHT can even be found in the plastic lining of certain cereal brands.
GMOs – Any non-organic ingredients containing soy, corn, sugar, cotton (watch for cottonseed oil), canola oil, alfalfa, papaya, and non-organic meat and eggs from animals that have been fed GMO foods. he insecticides are actually within the seeds of GMO crops, and they are often sprayed with more Roundup than other crops because they are engineered to be resistant to the weed killer. These foods are currently not labeled in the U.S., although they are labeled in Europe and banned in over 40 other countries in the world. GM foods have never been evaluated as safe for human consumption. Most processed foods in the supermarket contain some amount of GM foods. To be sure you are not buying GM foods, look for the Non-GMO verified seal on the package or buy organic. See the Resources section for more information about GMOs.
High Fructose Corn Syrup – Despite what the corn industry would have us believe through their advertising, HFCS is not natural, not processed in the body the same way as sugar, is linked to obesity, causes damage to the lining of the gut resulting in inflammation, and can be contaminated with toxic substances such as mercury. HFCS is the most widely used sweetener in processed foods, candies, and sodas in the U.S.
MSG - A neurotoxin, which hidden in many processed foods, including those marketed as “natural” or “health food." It is not always labeled as MSG. It is also found in many Asian food restaurants. Refer to this website for extensive lists and information about this toxin: http://www.truthinlabeling.org/
Potato Chips – Potatoes and many oils produce toxins when heated at high temperature. Olestra (Olean) is a toxic additive added to “fat free” products.
Soy – 91% of soy crops planted in the U.S. are genetically modified. Unfermented soy is known to be harmful to hormone levels in the body. Soy lecithin and soy protein isolate are highly processed forms of soy used in most processed foods. Read labels carefully and avoid non-organic soy.
Partially hydrogenated oils – These are synthetically man-made and convert to toxic trans fats within the body once consumed.
Artificial sweeteners – Aspartame, Saccharin, Acesulfame Potassium (Acesulfame – K), Sucralose, and Neotame, Cyclamate
Added vitamins and minerals (Enriched) - Can be found in products labeled as “enriched." These are synthetic in form, and will not be assimilated by the body the same way as the natural form. When you have the choice to purchase a product, which is enriched versus one that is not, opt for the later, which is more pure and provide the other nutrients either through the rest of the diet or through a natural supplement if needed.
Recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone (rBGH) – This is not going to be labeled in the U.S., and the only way to be sure to avoid it without the label is to consume only organic dairy products or those labeled specifically to not contain rBGH. Consuming dairy treated with this toxin is consuming the toxin yourself. In addition, cows given rBGH often develop mastitis, which means that they are treated with more antibiotics. When this happens, pus from the mastitis goes into their milk, which is transferred to whomever consumes it. This includes dairy in any form, including cheese, yogurt, milk, cheese crackers, ice cream, cheese powder, and cheese flavoring.
Mycoprotein – A meat substitute found in Quorn products made from processed mold.
BPA – This chemical is used in plastic bottles, aluminum cans (soda and canned foods and infant formula), and dental sealants. Scientific studies have shown it to be an endocrine disruptor, affecting hormones and brain functioning. You can avoid it by not buying food in cans or using plastic bottles unless otherwise labeled as BPA free.
“Lean Ground Beef” - The low quality meat that is for sale at grocery store and is used in restaurants, which often has added “pink slime.” Pink slime is the fat and trimmings that people would normally not consume, mixed with ammonia. It is cheaper and served in school lunches and in restaurants. Just because you pay a lot of money for a steak dinner does not mean that you are getting chemical free, high quality meat. You have know where the meat is sourced from in order to be able to tell if it is pure or not.
FAST FOOD IS NOT WORTH IT
Although eating out and grabbing something quick on the go is convenient, in the long run it is not worth the toll it takes upon our children’s bodies. It is not possible to read the labels of everything you are served in a restaurant. You can, however, make choices based upon where they say that their food is sourced, which they can tell you if you ask. Also, some will list this information on their websites. Doing the research before going to a restaurant is worth it.
Regarding fast food, however, you can go online and read the ingredients for yourself. Take this list from McDonald’s, for example.
When you read it, at first it sounds pretty good. It is 100% beef and vegetables, etcetera. However, scrolling down to the lower part of the document, you can read the ingredients that are actually within those 100% angus beef burgers and buns. Note the inclusion of maltodextrin and autolyzed yeast extract, both processed additives and forms of MSG, which is a neurotoxin. Also, take note of the many different preservatives and artificial flavors listed. Soybean oil is sourced from GMO soybeans, and is also a toxic oil itself. The partially hydrogenated oils in some of the products are the dangerous oils that turn into trans fats in the body when eaten. Even within the sauces there are preservatives, additives and artificial flavorings added. You have to scroll down pretty far to read the scary ingredients in the “pasturized process american cheese,” but it is worth the look.
When these different chemicals are combined upon ingestion, the result is that the toxicity within each one is amplified through synergistic toxicity. Therefore, just by consuming one meal at McDonald’s your child could be ingesting numerous chemicals, including the hormones and antibiotics in the meat. There are too many risks in this type of food. The added flavorings and MSG make the food taste appealing so that people will eat more of it. Beyond obesity, which many children are dealing with today, these foods are simply toxic.
Although protein is a very necessary part of eating healthy and maintaining health and thriving, not all forms are equal. Textured vegetable protein, soy protein isolates, and wheat gluten meat substitutes (seitan) are highly processed, inflammatory and toxic to the body. TVP and anything else made from soy that is not in its whole form is processed. Along with processing comes chemicals. In addition, remember that almost all soy in the U.S. is genetically engineered, which has never been proven safe for human consumption. Stay away from these meat substitutes and make sure that you are buying and being served the real thing.
Even the meat on your pizza may not be real. Take a look at this ingredients list from Pizza Hut: http://www.pizzahut.com/files/pdf/ph_ingredients.pdf Note the shocking ingredients in the meat products, some of the vegetables and the sauces - processed soy, tvp, preservatives, additives, chemicals. The nitrites in the pepperoni are toxic to the body and have been linked to childhood health conditions. Then, add into the mix the bleached white wheat flour (yes, it is really white due to bleach and numerous other chemicals), the non-organic cheese, which means that the cows were given growth hormones and antibiotics. Eating a pizza out can be a toxic experience from the chemical soup of processed and unwhole ingredients used to make it. Pizza can be made at home so that you can be sure that your children are eating healthy foods. Pizza crust can be made out of any number of ingredients to suit anyone’s dietary needs including: rice flour, millet flour, almond flour, coconut flour, and ground flax seeds.