So many of us have been conditioned to focus on the calories in food, working under the assumption that by reducing how many calories we consume, we can help to control our weight.
But by focusing our attention on how many calories we are putting into our bodies, we aren't paying attention to all of the other stuff in our food - the excess fat and sugar, and - one thing that could affect us even more than calories - the chemicals.
Processed and manufactured foods are often full of chemicals that most of us simply don't know are even there. Whilst many may be completely safe and ensure that our food doesn't spoil and give us health problems in other ways, some are there for other reasons:
- Colourings to help foods look more appealing
- Flavourings and sweeteners to make them taste better
- Preservatives to allow them to keep for far longer than is strictly necessary
- Numerous other chemicals added to make foods cheaper and more cost-effective to produce.
Often, we think we are being healthier by choosing a 'low-fat', or 'sugar-free' version of our favourite food, when in actual fact, these may be just as bad for us, with extra chemicals lumped in to make up for the lack of natural fats or sugars. Take sweeteners for example... Over the years there have been numerous concerns over the safety of various sweeteners, and the chemicals within them.
One early sweetener, cyclamate (that thankfully has now been banned) actually caused major concerns about carcinogenic (cancer-causing) risks!
The scariest thing is that we don't even really know what many of these chemicals could be doing to our bodies. Of course, if there were any immediately significant risks (such as poisoning) then these chemicals wouldn't be allowed in our foods, but what about the long-term effects of consuming regular, small doses of certain chemicals? The fact is that we simply don't know what effect adding these unknown chemicals to the mix could be having on us.
So what's the answer?
By avoiding processed food and canned/bottled food and drinks as much as possible., and instead, choosing food full of natural ingredients like fruits, vegetables and healthy, whole grains, then not only will we reduce the amount of chemicals we are consuming, but we'll also be helping ourselves to eat a more balanced and natural diet that is closer to its source than the processed foods that fill most supermarket aisles. Win, win.