Sunday, January 11, 2009

Junk Food Healthier Alternatives

I noticed I got a huge reaction to the 'Taco Bell Wedding' post from the news yesterday. My whole reason for posting it was, (and Sippitysup Aka: Greg got my whole point), our culture has become tolerant to fast 'unhealthy' foods, and I am concerned that we continue to teach our children it is okay to eat this stuff in a quick pinch.

I realize many of you are on and keep up with food blogs, because like me you like to cook at home, but how often to you really eat out? My hubby and I eat out once a month, and never fast food! I am glad to say I live in an area of NJ that has minimal areas for the temptation. I plan ahead and eat before I leave the house or come straight home. I have even pledged with my friend Gen, we eat at each others home when we visit, and take turns cooking to help with our weight issues.

Growing up my children did not know what some of the more popular places were unless they went to a birthday party, and to this day my son cannot stand the food. He learned to cook on his own and takes the time to make healthier choices today. I do not pretend to be on a high horse, I just want to help make people more aware.

Sure occasionally eating out will not devastate your total eating habits, but it has become an overwhelming habit for many Americans, and obesity is gone way beyond calculations for the past five years. Portion control is one of the biggest issues in keeping the diet in control, but most restaurants serve way over the allotted amounts recommended by nutritionists. A post by Mistress of Cakes with her Home made junk food journeys blog- shows us that making homemade comfort food for our children and family such as, chicken nuggets teaches children to be more conscious of quick meal choices. I will discourage her to use MSG though, but the fact that she organizes, prepares in advance, and freezes it for quick meal moments like after school activities is the right choice. Sure I love french fries, but I prefer my homemade thick crinkle cut sweet potato fries...I would rather not waste calories at local hamburger joints when they use much more oil than I would baking mine.

Companies add things like MSG to get us hooked on their food, not to mention the low ninety-nine cent meals the offer...luring low income households, and busy families in for the convenient drive thru's...

Why do food companies add MSG to foods?

There are several reasons:

MSG tricks your tongue into making you think a certain food is high in protein and thus nutritious. It is not a "meat tenderizer". It is not a "preservative". The food industry is trying to confuse the issue by focusing on the "fifth" taste sense they call umami. Free glutamic acid is detected by the taste buds as a simple way to signal the presence of protein in a food, just as there are fat receptors to detect fats and receptors that sense carbohydrate or sweet flavors. The purpose is to help us discern real food from inedible matter. It changes your perception of not simply taste but the nutritious qualities of what you put into your mouth. However, and here is the main problem with free glutamic acid - It is the very same neurotransmitter that your brain and many organs including your ears, eyes, nervous system and pancreas in your body use to initiate certain processes in your body.

MSG stimulates the pancreas to produce insulin. So many diets these days are concerned about the Glycemic Index of foods and yet none of them address the fact that MSG and free glutamic acid stimulate the pancreas to release insulin when there doesn't even have to be carbohydrates in the food for that insulin to act on. The food industry has found their own "anti-appetite suppressant". It's a convenient way to keep consumers coming back for more. The blood sugar drops because of the insulin flood. And you are hungry an hour later. Sound familiar?

The body changes excess glutamate to GABA. GABA may be addictive. It is calming and affects the same receptors in the brain as valium.

Cost: The illusion created by adding MSG to a food product enables the food processor to add LESS real food. The illusion of more protein in a food allows the food producer to put LESS protein in it. The consumer perceives the product - say chicken soup - to have more chicken in it than is actually there. Example: A well-known brand of dehydrated chicken noodle soup. Is that chicken in there, or a piece of confetti?

With the economy we want to spend less, but in the long run shopping in the grocery store is better for our health, and the more we support this the better off we will be. The bigger chains like Taco Bell will always be around, no matter how the economy changes, they will never truly suffer, but our society is.

Let's fall in back 'In Love' with eating healthy! That $200 the couple spent on their wedding could have made quite a healthy spread at someones house...

Check this out- I do not condone this, but one study shows us how kids are hooked!