THERE's what in there???! what's really in the foods you're eating......
Gluten free, sugar free, dairy free, fat free -food products are REALLY good at marketing what you want to hear! It's very palatable when these 'fad' words are plastered across our favorite brands, bedazzling us into thinking they are the sh%*. But does this clever marketing ploy really extrapolate into nutritious gains...??? I think not..........
Let me tell you about how I began to take note of these idiosyncrasies...... A couple of years ago I went to a friends thermomix party and said to my husband "I'll be back soon, don't worry I wont buy anything" pfffft what a waste of money! Return home some time later, "hi honey, I bought a thermomix.........." Now I'm not spontaneous, I'm generally quite measured, happily living by the ethos of 'failing to plan is planning to fail.' So what changed my mind in such a short period of time? (by the way, I'm not trying to sell a thermomix, I have no vested interest nor am I cool enough to get sponsored to do so.... :). What I did discover was that when I was shown how to make products from scratch, I actually took note of what ingredients went into the product. Things like jam (errrrrrm its literally 50% fruit, 50% sugar), tomato sauce (wowsers there's a whole catastrophe of sugar, salt and other 'surprises' in there) and then the humble vegetable stock - helllllooooo salt!!! You get the picture........ Appearances aren't what they seem.....
Now this is the part where it gets interesting...... In our household, we have lots of stir fries - I try to use 'natural products' rather than pre-packaged sauces such as 'chicken tonight.' But what I thought was reasonably healthy turned out to be far from the case. I present to you the humble oyster sauce and its fascinating ingredients list:
- oyster extract
- rice flour
- oyster flavour
- food acid
- yeast extract
- vegetable gum
Anyone else notice caramel in there??? Yep - no wonder my kids like my stir-fries, I may as well put a scoop of ice cream in there for good measure! (joking........). But on a serious note, the ingredients list was far longer and more defamatory than I initially thought. Now I'm not a nutritionist or dietition but I have done some research into the area out of my own personal interest as well as some basic studies in my exercise science degree. Did you know that ingredients are listed in order of abundance? That means whatever is listed first has a higher quantity than the ensuing ingredients listed. SO looking at my oyster sauce, sugar and salt are second and third - well that's going to get a giant tick from the heart foundation!
I also observationally notice that we all get caught up on reading (or in my case attempting to understand ratios and quantities) of the 'nutrition information' - the table that lists energy, protein, fat, sugar etc and how many servings per pack. But really, does anyone actually understand this properly? I don't! So why do we attempt to use this as a reference point when the ingredients are beautifully listed in a simple to follow list from highest to lowest quantity? In my thinking, I'm then reasonably confident that if the list is HUGE, the product is probably not the best thing for you.......Put it back on the shelf Kelly!
So your mission, should you choose to accept it: go and find a product in your cupboard or fridge and check out the ingredients list. Are there any surprises in there??? Are sugar and/or salt high up on the list? Are there lots of names you don't even know? Is the product as healthy as you thought? We would love to hear your feedback so feel free to let us know!