I watched a documentary last night called Hungry for Change on Netflix about the food industry and holy hell it scared the crap out of me. It’s a good watch so I’d definitely recommend it – but only if you want to be so freaked out that you’ll eat clean from then on.
The documentary covers no brands, but details the ingredients that manufacturer’s but into their food; chemicals such as aspartame in diet drinks, MSG (Mono sodium glutamate) which is apparently in 80% of modern processed food, and high fructose corn syrup. I’ve done a bit of my own research on these additives and found the very unsettling following:
- Aspartame is a type of artificial sweetener – many people think it’s healthy as it has zero calories, however it makes you crave carbohydrates. Aspartame is made up of aspartic acid, phenylalanine and methanol – that’s right methanol – according to Wikipedia ‘methanol is highly toxic and unfit for consumption’.
- MSG is a flavour enhancer via a fifth taste called umami – which is a savoury flavour making food tastes meaty and literally ‘delicious’. This is done through our receptors for glutamate, hence the development of MSG to add to food to give it that umami taste. MSG has been found to over excite the brain cells (which makes us want more) to the point of permanent cell damage or cell death. MSG is literally exciting your cells to death!
- High fructose corn syrup is extracted from corn stalk and refined and processed to an isolated nutrient. The documentary describes HFCS as a highly concentrated, pharmaceutical version of corn and as a ‘jet-fuel’ for your body. As it is fructose, it is compared to table sugar (sucrose) but due to its refined process it is much cheaper, allowing manufacturer’s to make their product even cheaper. This results in HFCS being put into a large number of products, such as bread and sauces, and we have been told over and over again, too much sugar can lead to Type 2 diabetes and heart disease. (I understand the irony of my blog being called ‘Sugar High’ and me preaching about how bad sugar is for you…but just stay with me here!)
These ingredients are put into our food to slowly make us become addicted to this type of food and crave it. Anything that is put into food purely to re-sell and not for it’s nutritional basis is wrong in my book! You might think that this is overkill and that it’s just to scare monger us, but one thing that really hit me was that in the 60’s/70’s, the same thing was said about cigarette warnings – research funded by the cigarette companies said everything was grand and people were just scare mongering. It’s like déjà vu!
Now then, I’ll just step off my soapbox for a minute. This post is about my desire to eat clean (as a result of this super scary documentary!) I’ve decided to try to only eat items that I have made at home for 6 weeks and see how I feel. Now obviously I’m not going to cream my own butter and make my own yoghurt from my handy cow out the back but you get the idea – homemade meals where I KNOW what ingredients have gone into them. This is going to be tough! (I’m a bit of a cheat and I’m not going to give up coffee for 2 reasons – I really enjoy my first cup of coffee in the morning and we have just got a new fancy coffee machine where you grind the beans yourself so I’m taking that as ‘homemade’! 1 cup a day should be fine…)
I’m going to try do a little series here where I probably mainly moan about missing chocolate but hopefully week by week I can post recipes and pro’s and con’s of this lifestyle change.