I used to wonder why people would pay 40 DKK (approx. 6-7 dollars) for a carton of ice cream when you could get twice as much for half the price. Now, I am the woman in the grocery store picking up the ice cream reading the entire list of ingredients and ending up picking the 40 DKK organic one with no additives.
I don’t know which one you would pick if you went there right now. But I think that you would do as I do if you knew what I know. I didn’t know what I know now back then. I was always looking for the cheapest item and not for just one second did it occur to me WHY these products were so much cheaper.
Yes, I was young. I was a student and didn’t have a lot of money. And then I was IGNORANT. Completely ignorant to everything that had to do with the food industry. I trusted the producers with my life. I trusted that they wouldn’t sell me something to eat that wasn’t nutritious or good for my body. I trusted that they would consider my health and everyone else’s health when making the food.
I was naïve.
A few years ago I stumbled across a book called ‘The secret chef’. I tried to borrow it at the library, but a stunning 9 people were in line to borrow it before me. This had to be a DAMN good book since so many people wanted to read it! So I waited and when I finally got it, I had finished it in just a few days and my entire understanding of ethics and morale had been shaken tremendously. I had transformed from a price hunter to an ingredient reader over night. I went through my kitchen and threw away everything with E-numbers and strange ingredients that I couldn’t tell what was.
But what did I read in that book, you might wonder….
That book was the end of processed food for me. The sentence, “that which takes a factory to make, takes a factory to digest” (Louise Hay) suddenly made sense to me.
In short, the book reveals how the food industry is transforming water and starch into almost anything by adding aroma, sugar, little bits of …..(well, I don’t wanna know what) to give the sense of biting something, and different additives to regulate the sour taste from un-ripe tomatoes or to make the mass stay together (such as emulsifier – emulgator in Danish – and other unnatural chemistry).
On top of this, they use poor quality food ingredients with very low nutritional value and no natural taste and add sugar and aroma in order to make it eatable. There is much more to this than I can list out here and would highly recommend that you read this book (or watch his TED talk). There are already a few Danish food producers that have stopped using additives altogether because consumers are asking for REAL FOOD. The goal should be that all food is real food. That no additives are legal and that there are limits on the amounts of sugar that can be added to each product, if at all any – if it is not a cake or a sweet of course.
My rules as I browse the shelfs
When I go shopping, I go for natural food. So, usually, I only shop vegetables, eggs, nuts and that type of things. However, you will be surprised to find additives regulating the sour taste in canned tomatoes, for instance. Or anything other than coconut and water in a can of coconut milk. It is actually almost impossible to find a coconut milk that is organic and without some sort of stabiliser – which is ridiculous, because everyone knows that coconut milk naturally separates inside the can and you have to cut through it to get the water out.
Why does it matter so much if the stabiliser or emulsifier is there?
Well, it has to do with your gut. You gut is natural. It can process natural foods and different enzymes digest different foods. Therefore, you can eat and digest almost anything if your gut is healthy – as long as it is natural. The emulsifiers and stabilisers are there to stop the natural process of oil and water separating or other ingredients separating (like coconut and water) and keep the consistency of the product (unnaturally). When you eat it, the unnatural ingredients keep doing their work. This means that the natural processes in your gut get disrupted because the emulsifiers and stabilisers are trying to do the same to your gut.
This usually results in stomach ache, gas (and lots of it), indigestion, constipation or diarrhea.
I used to think I was just made to produce more gas than other people. I don’t think a single day passed by while I was growing up without the mentioning of the word ‘fart’ or ‘gas’. And it was not just me…… It was a family thing (sorry to reveal our secret….). And I honestly believed that it was totally normal to have this much gas. I often had stomach aches because I felt embarrassed and held the farts in all day.
It was not until I started getting acupuncture that I found out what my gas was actually telling me. My acupuncturist is this outstanding, wise and highly skilled Chinese woman. She has studied medicine in China and worked with people for many years. She asks me anything and we talked about gas very early on. She said that excessive gas is not supposed to form in the gut. If too much gas is forming, there is something in the gut that is not being digested properly. This can happen if we eat too much of one thing – like a cauliflower soup or something like that. Or of we eat too many things that are raw, particularly raw vegetables and grains. Or if we eat something that the gut cannot digest for some reason.
If too much gas forms, you need to figure out why and change that part of your diet. No discussion. Gas doesn’t form by itself and it is not a good sign to produce more than a few natural non-smelly farts during the day. Smell is bad too!
Take care of your body and eat wisely
It might seem a little bit cumbersome to have to read the labels every time you go shopping, but you will very quickly know which products that are safe and which labels to read. You can eat anything you like, really, you just have to sometimes cook it yourself and buy all the ingredients to keep in your kitchen. Once you get a hang of it, it becomes as easy as before. You just buy different things.
If you’ve had issues with your gut, try this first. You might just be intolerant to too much sugar, additives and poor quality flour.
Let me know how it goes!