Monday, March 28, 2011

How I became a label reader

 Food is very important to me. Three and a half years ago I first discovered information about food additives that I had never known about. I reported my findings on my blog. As of today, the Time magazine article I cited is still up and running! Since that time, I have been nothing short of confused. I go between being convinced of my findings to wondering if I'm making things up.

Today I ran across another article, which confirmed the things that I first thought. Let me lay out what I've discovered and hopefully bring some points for you to ponder.

1. I would know nothing if I didn't have my son, Seth. We love him dearly. He is a very active child who cares about people. But some days he can try the gentlest person's patience. When I first read the Time article mentioned above, I took him off sodium benzoate. I saw an immediate difference. He no longer had "anger issues." I should also note that at this time and all future happenings, I made a change to the family's diet, not just Seth's.

2. After a couple of years he seemed to be on the verge of ADHD. Some days he would act normal, like every other kid, but most days he would be full of energy and seem unable to focus. I decided to meet with a nutritionist last May and get further advice. Her advice was to take him off of ALL preservatives, food colorings and other additives. She also suggested going gluten free, drastically increasing fruits and veggies, maybe even cutting out dairy. This was all so new to me, but we "tried to try" it for 3 weeks. It was hard and there were many "slip ups." In the end, Seth did seem more attentive and mellow though.

3. Keeping up with all of the nutritionists advice was way too much for us. However, I started keeping preservatives, colorings and other additives (MSG, high fructose corn syrup) out of our diet. There is a catch though... we don't live in a cave. It seems candy shows up at every corner when we're not at home. In the end I feel that Seth (and the rest of us) still get too much in us.

4. Where do the doubts come in? From people of course! You see, I put all my faith in Christ Jesus and Him alone. If someone said to me that they think Jesus was just a good man and nothing more, that wouldn't waver my faith at all. I KNOW that my Redeemer lives and that He shall stand upon the latter day upon the earth. But with food... when I tell people that Seth reacts to food and they say, "well, couldn't that just be his personality to be hyper?" I don't trust in my research and observation. I think, maybe they're right and I forget all the good I've seen come out of Seth's diet changes. I have a hard time standing up for my choices. Its much easier not to rock the boat!

5. I have learned to read labels on just about everything I buy. This past week on my grocery trip two things worth noting happened. First, I bought lemon and lime juice and didn't read the labels assuming they had nothing but lemon and lime juice in them. Lo and behold, when I got home I realized they have sodium benzoate. :( I guess I'll use the lemon juice for cleaning purposes and I'm not sure what to do with the lime juice. Second story: we haven't had chocolate syrup in a while. I thought it would be nice to have some in the house. Since I haven't made any in a while, I figured it would just be easier to buy some. The only ones this particular store carried had red#40 and probably a preservative or two. Maybe I will have to get in the kitchen then! That brings me to number 6:

6. Some days it is just easier to make my own food then try and find "safe" foods... it's also cheaper most of the time. This experience has allowed me to spend many joyful hours in the kitchen. Even if I'm having a bad day, I usually cheer up when I start baking/cooking.

These are just some things that are on my mind. I'll probably write more later. If you've made it this far, I congratulate you! (Sorry for being so long winded!)


Rebecca said...

Yes, SB is bad...nitrites, nitrates and soy....argh. they are in everything. We grind our wheat, bake our bread, make our butter/yogurt, granola, etc...and yet, we are in the 'burbs of the ATL/

Glad I saw you on twitter today! Love your blog!

Michelle said...

I think I'm slowly on my way there! Nitrites, nitrates are also avoided here. Of your list, we only make yogurt. I've tried bread a few times and granola, but never tried to make butter. :) I'm always curious how other people come to these decisions.

I'd like to post more related posts throughout the week. Thanks for commenting. :)

Brooke said...

We've been working towards a more "whole foods" diet, but you're right... it is hard. It requires a lot of self-discipline because we really LIKE all these snacky foods that have so much junk in them. :)

I have been worried about Sophie (our 3 year old) because she is acting just like you described Seth. She has a very structured environment, discipline, attention, etc. But she is SO hyper and cannot focus on anything (even a fun toy) for more than 30 seconds. It's crazy! It hadn't even occurred to me that diet could have anything to do with that... I may have to do some more research on this. Thanks for the informative post!

April Nienhuis said...

We're label readers too but came about it in a different way. My son, Finn, had many different food allergies that forced me into a position of having to make every single meal. Even if we were going to be away from the house, I had to prepare food for us to take with us. It was so hard but so worth it as he's since outgrown all but his peanut allergy. During our allergy challenges I realized/learned about all the unnecessary junk they put in food. While we still buy some junk, I really try to make our own food so we don't get all the junk. I've really learned to love cooking.

sharizat said...

It's so good to know I'm not alone! :)
My philosophy is simple 5 ingredients or less on the list or good old diy.

Michelle said...

Thanks for sharing ladies! It does get mind boggling when you start reading looong ingredient lists.

Laura said...

I think my problem is I get so overwhelmed that I just don't bother. I wonder if that is what's wrong with my oldest though...