Last Monday I talked about Keep It Real: Real Simple. That post expressed my feelings about how health & fitness shouldn't be such a confusing endeavour!
Today I want to chitty-chat about food!
***Warning! I'm about to go to a rant!!!*** ; ) ........no, but really.....
I saw the ingredients recently for a "healthy" protein shake.....good grief (Charlie Brown), it was the most ridiculous list of ingredients I had EVER read for a "healthy" shake! Seriously, it made my blood boil a little! I was so upset that someone, somewhere in a big company thought, "hey, well, people trust us, they think we're cutting edge in what we do, let's expand into "health foods", but instead of them being healthy, we'll actually load it with so much garbage that they aren't actually being healthy at all (insert evil, corporate heads laughter here)!!! Ok, not all corporations operate like that, and perhaps my scenario of how this particular company developed their food line is not quite accurate. Still, I can't help but wonder......how did anyone who gave a crap at that company let this protein shake go to market???
Let me share the ingredients:
This particular shake consists of a "special protein blend" of pea protein isolate, which, by the way, is NOT the same as plain old pea protein! In fact, pea protein isolate has had very little research done on it's safety and pea protein isolate is a highly purified chemical extract, dramatically increasing the protein content of the unprocessed pea from around 10-15% to upwards of 90% in the isolate (info from Todd Caldecotte, who is a medical herbalist).
Geez!!! After that ingredient is cranberry protein.....yes, you read that right. Did you know cranberries had protein...? It's because they don't! Ok, over-reaction....they have trace amounts of protein (about 0.4 grams per 100 grams of cranberries), and I've read that the seeds contain more protein than that, but that idea is very confusing to me. If they test cranberries for protein, they take the seeds out first? I don't know much at all about this cranberry protein, and it's so new it's hard (borderline impossible, actually) to find sufficient information about where it comes from, how it's extracted, and so on. So, I can't say much about it except that it seems a little gimmicky in this mis-leading shake. But hey, maybe I'm wrong and it's an amazing thing?
Next comes rice protein. Now, rice protein perhaps isn't the very, very absolute worst protein out there....but it sure is the cheapest (in price and quality of protein). It isn't even a complete protein until it's combined with another protein (like pea, or hemp). So.....why add it at all? Why not use hemp protein instead, which is in itself a near-complete plant based protein. Especially if you're selling this particular shake at $20-$30 more than other shakes......?
Besides the added-in vitamins & minerals (you have to add them in when the foods you've used don't really contain much at all) the last few ingredients are cane sugar (there is palm, coconut, beet, brown and maybe a few more types of sugar, but what they're trying to trick you into thinking is that the sugar they used is special. It's not. It's just plain on white sugar made from canes instead of the other things I just mentioned.
Next comes sunflower oil (ahhhhhhh! What!?!?! Read this article, this article, or this article to find out why exactly you should not be consuming sunflower oil. If you don't feel like reading those, let me just say to you STOP EATING SUNFLOWER OIL!!!!!!.
Natural vanilla flavour is next. Well, this seems innocent enough! But, wait.....why not just real vanilla, or pure vanilla? Oh, it's because it isn't real at all. Just the flavour of natural vanilla??? Can I tell you an alarming thing I read recently? "Natural Vanilla Flavour" can actually contain beaver anal secretions (here's the article I read from Mercola, and here's another good one from national Geographic). The spray beavers use to mark their territory smell like vanilla, and because it's technically "natural" it doesn't needed to be specifically listed in the ingredients list of "natural vanilla flavour"......just let this info sink in......
...ok, moving on with the ingredients...
Corn starch (because we all needed another reason to consume more corn products!), inulin (found naturally mostly in root vegetables, although tiny amounts are found in onions and garlic, while much larger amounts are found in starchy roots such as chicory root and Jerusalem artichokes, read more about it here. I can't figure out why it's even in here), Xanthan gum (used for thickening), flax seed (the only food in this shake worth eating!!!), stevia leaf extract (a sweetener and sugar substitute extracted from the leaves of the plant species Stevia rebaudiana). Looking at the other ingredients listed, I'm going to guess they didn't use a high quality product, but I think I'm just feeling bitter---side note, too much Stevia and you no longer taste sweetness, but have a bitter taste instead. Weir, huh? Also, we already know they added sugar, so why even add the Stevia???
The last two ingredients are gum acacia and guar gum.....both "gums", which as we already saw 2 ingredients ago is used for thickening. Add the cornstarch from earlier, which has no nutritional value so I can only assume is there as a thickener, that makes 4 thickeners in this product! They really want you to feel like you've got a thick, satisfying healthy shake in your hand!
Oh, and the real kicker?!? The last bit of goodness is the statement made below the list of crappy ingredients: "Made in a facility that processes milk, eggs, tree nuts, soy and wheat". So, if you have allergies to any of those things.....you can't have this shake. Well, lucky you, actually! Most companies who give a care about their health food actually being healthy endeavour to make their health foods as allergen friendly as possible. This company couldn't even be bothered to try.
I feel so upset over companies who are tricking & swindling people out of their hard earned cash for stuff that shouldn't be going into their bodies! I hate that a lot of the ingredients are terrible food items, and that there are things in there that are intended to mis-lead people or catch their eye and make them go, "oh, I've heard of this, it's good for you/healthy/whatever". Using words like "special" in their protein blend is to remind you that this company wants you to feel like you're receiving some exclusive, top-of-the-line product. Their protein blend is "special", I suppose, because they are maybe the only ones doing this particular blend...but it's not a blend worth duplicating, so, yeah, I suppose it is special? "Cane" sugar is meant to make people think it's healthier than it really is. Adding Stevia (I believe) is purely for the purpose of catching peoples' eye because a lot of people have heard of Stevia and how it's a "health food", so it seems flashy and cutting edge to be in this shake.
I know a lot of people need protein shakes (mainly vegetarians and vegans), and there are a few good brands on the market, like this one, but unfortunately, most people are using protein shakes as a substitute for real food.
My (unprofessional, not medically trained) advice is this: unless you're a vegetarian or vegan, or your doctor specifically said that you need to be on a protein shake for some reason, don't even bother going after a protein shake!
Don't get caught up in the lies most companies offer up regarding their "superior" product. Don't spend (far too much) money on something that is just a synthetic version of a real food.
Instead, just keep it real--with real food!
I got this image from Mike over at The Iron You. He says:
This is rule #19 in Michael Pollan’s book “Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual”. One of my favourites.
It stresses the importance of eating real food, not creations of the food-industrial complex. Real food doesn’t have a long ingredient list, isn’t advertised on national television, and doesn’t contain stuff you can’t even pronounce the name.
Part of being healthy means consciously choosing wisely what you put in your mouth. So do eat food that comes from plants not that is made in plants!
I totally agree.....except I would also add that if it ATE a plant, eat it! : ) I'm talking meat here people!
I know the image above shows a Twinkie, but it could just as easily show an image for the protein shake I tore apart!
If you're thinking, "I need to start eating right", don't think of anything that was made my man. I know a lot of people who think, "I should eat better", and then they replace all of their man-made blatant junk food for man-made secret junk food. Food made in a plant.
Instead, try real food. Go through your produce isles with new eyes. See all of the colours, all the one ingredient foods, the flavour and texture varieties, and try a few things you've never had before!
I love that "Eat Right Rule" above: If your food can go bad, it's good for you. And if your food can't go bad, it's bad for you. I mean, I eat my fair share of junk food on my treat day, but I do so knowing that what I am eating is a treat and isn't a great food at all! When I'm eating Swedish Berries (the candies), I'm not thinking, "oh boy! These are made with real fruit juice and are fat free? Hot dog! They're practically healthy!!". But, unfortunately, that's often why such facts are plastered on the packages because someone, somewhere is thinking, "wow, what a good choice for a little treat!". I personally choose them because they are so freakin' delicious, but I know they are a food void of any benefit to my body whatsoever!
Swedish Berries (the candy) shan't ever go bad, even if I left them in my pantry for 10 years! Now, if I stuck a handful of real berries in my pantry, well, they would be getting squishy and moldy at least within a week.
Please take away from this post the simple message of eating real, simple foods. I feel like I've been bouncing all over and not really making the point I want to!
Don't let eating real, whole, and healthy foods become a scary thing! It's not, it really couldn't even be more simple! If you start an eating program that starts you off by saying you need to buy their food products (bars, shakes, cereals, whatever)-they are using you to make money, while misleading you about healthy food!!!
When's the last time an orange in the grocery store was like, "hey.....pssst! Hey you! Yeah, you! You should just start eating only oranges and nothing else. And you should also only buy them from the company named on my sticker"......I"m going to guess this has never happened?
Real food (as mentioned in the one photo above) won't be advertised on national television, because no one person/company can make a fortune on real foods. For example, I don't care what apples I buy, as long as they are the least expensive, I have no loyalty to my apple brand. But, if I was buying an apple cereal bar, I would probably look for a specific brand because I've been told it's the healthiest. Do you see what's happening?
The next time you walk into your grocery store, think "did this come from a plant (or did it eat a plant?), or is it made in a plant?
Eat well, eat simple, live long and prosper : )
It's Me, Amy-Lyn!
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