Healthy Words

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What is in a name? A rose is still a rose… However, there really is something in a name. Our brains have well-worn patterns available to us to use for things we run into over and over, so that we don’t spend any extra moments processing things that we already understand. It is how you can walk down your own stairs in the dark, but can’t do so easily in a new place. It is how you can read a word like organic on a label and it will send your mind down a different path when you are choosing a new kind of food than the same box would if it’s label did not contain the word ‘organic’. You might be tempted to say ‘so what’, but read this article first.

“Words like organic, antioxidant, natural and gluten-free imply some sort of healthy benefit,” Northup said. “When people stop to think about it, there’s nothing healthy about Antioxidant Cherry 7-Up — it’s mostly filled with high fructose syrup or sugar. But its name is giving you this clue that there is some sort of health benefit to something that is not healthy at all.”

You can help yourself, of course, by ‘stopping to think about it.’ That is what I am trying to get across, that doing that actually requires the shopper to be mindful about every thing they pick up. Why are you picking this one over that one? If there were nothing different at all between the six inch lollipop and the six inch lollipop that is labeled ‘fat free’, would you pick the fat free one? They both are fat free, but you know there is nothing healthful about a lollipop, it is still candy.

There is another option for you of course. You can break the habit of buying anything in a box, bag or bottle. If you create a new habit of only going down the middle aisles of your grocery store when you need a specific item, then it is pretty easy to not be tempted by the clever marketing labels you are going to find in the grocery aisles. It is actually easier for me, personally, to avoid seeing them than it is to ignore them if they are in my sight. Marketing only works if you are paying attention to it. Finding a way to avoid TV commercials works pretty well, also, but not as effectively as just staying at the outside walls of your store.

Yesterday we ate real food. Whole pork loin is a lot of meat, but if you cut one into four pieces and roast them one at a time, it makes the best roast you can eat. I brine pork before I cook it which keeps it very moist, makes it almost impossible to overcook. Yesterday I rubbed it with a ‘pumpkin pie’ spice, which makes it really tasty. I am definitely doing that again. Cooking a pork roast takes about two hours, and brining takes about two hours. This meal, like many real meals takes some forethought. There is no substitute for preparation, and habitually being prepared is, well, a habit. I am now in the habit of thinking about tomorrow’s dinner today. If you constantly find yourself wondering what is for dinner at dinner time, then you will be eating boxed or frozen meals. That is your habit, and getting control of the chemicals you are accepting in your foods is just one small change away for you. Just stay on the outside of the store and soon you will run out of boxed or frozen meals. You will be forcing yourself to ‘stop and consider’ what you will be eating when your choice of habitual meals is no longer easily available to you. There will be discomfort and the occasional run to fast foods, but you won’t do this long before you build a new habit of thinking about meals just a little bit in advance.

The label on my pork loin doesn’t have a single health claim, even though it is gluten-free, and sugar-free. The salad we had with it was all natural, I couldn’t tell you how many calories it was, or what the nutrition breakdown was, but the nice thing is that I can tell you with confidence that it was health food and that there was not a single bad or artificial ingredient in it. We didn’t buy organic veggies, we didn’t buy GMO free veggies, but we bought veggies, and I know for certain that what I ate was good for me, much better than anything out of a bag, box or bottle.

About dcarmack

I am an instrument technician at the electric utility servicing the Kansas City Missouri metropolitan area. I am in the IBEW, Local 412. I was trained to be a nuclear power plant operator in the USN and served on submarines. I am a Democrat, even more so than those serving in Congress or the White House.
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