The food industry does a hell of a job making food as convenient as possible but our health suffers tremendously as a result. Society has become accustomed to expecting immediate results – the expectation that our friend texts us back with an immediate response, a co-worker should respond within minutes to our email and our food needs to be made easily and quickly in order to keep up with our busy lifestyle. The food industry has taken advantage of this need for immediate results by offering us convenient foods loaded with sugar, salt and chemicals. Until we take the time to read the labels and realize what we are putting into our bodies, only then can we make efforts to become healthier. Unfortunately, reading food labels can be extremely overwhelming and disheartening as you start to realize that pretty much every pre-packaged food contains some sort of unknown and questionable ingredient or chemical. Artificial flavours, artificial sweeteners, high fructose corn syrup are common ingredients that have snuck their way into our everyday diets. It is my belief that we need to take a step back from the hustle and bustle of our everyday lives and choose to be more conscious about our food choices. We cannot rely on others to do this for us – we need to make a conscious effort to be aware of what we are eating and what our children are eating. In my experience, small changes can be less onerous and easily adapted into our diets. Foods that don’t require labels like fruits and vegetables need to take up a bigger piece of real estate on our dinner plates.
Living with celiac disease has taught me the importance of reading food labels but don’t be fooled with the hype surrounding a gluten free diet. There are plenty of gluten free pre-packaged foods with same types of chemicals and ingredients that you probably don’t want to be ingesting. I recently became very excited about the prospect of Quaker’s gluten free instant oatmeal. It was cheaper than the Glutenfreeda brand that I normally purchased and it tasted more like its gluten-full version, which is always a bonus. However, after reading the labels of these convenient items, I realized that the ‘instant’ advantage of this product was coming at a cost – lots of added sugar and salt. My more conscious self has decided to make the change to wheat free rolled oats. Yes, it takes me an extra 15 minutes to make in the morning but it’s worth it. Adding some fruit, seeds, nuts along with a sprinkle of flax seed (loaded with antioxidants, fiber, omega-3 fatty acids) creates a filling and nutritious gluten free breakfast.
I hope you can take some time out of your busy schedule to think about your health and food choices. Small changes will make a big impact over time and I wish you all a healthy and happy year ahead!