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I’m a big advocate of reading labels. I wish I had been taught the importance of ingredient labels and nutritional value labels much earlier in life. It wasn’t until my youngest daughter and I were attending weight watchers together, years ago, that we both learned to read them. Once you understand a nutritional label, and the importance of knowing the actual ‘serving’ size, you will begin to realize how much you actually consume in a day’s time.

Reading ingredient labels will definitely be a challenge at first. If you currently have a no boundaries type of diet, then you have quite a shock waiting for you. There will be ingredients that you can barely pronounce, let alone know what they are. So, what are they? What is it that you are so willingly, yet unknowingly, putting into your body? Is it good? Is it bad? Are there side effects? Or do you even care at all?

I suggest that you start looking up these ingredients and reading up on them. Learn what they are and the effects they have on your health. This may be what finally facilitates you making that move – you know, the one you’ve wanted to do for so long, but keep putting it off. The move towards better health!

As you educate yourself on ingredients and reading labels, never get too comfortable that you believe what you read. What? Now that doesn’t make sense does it? I’m telling you to read labels, but not to believe what you read. Well, the truth is, labels can be short of the truth. The FDA allows it. They have their guidelines, and if ingredients are in small enough amounts, then the FDA does not require that the ingredient be listed. My body detects small amounts! My guess is that yours will too! Gas is a big symptom! I can tell immediately if there was dairy or gluten in a product (or any other harmful, unwanted ingredient). So whether it’s listed or not, if my body has a negative reaction, I don’t go back for seconds.

What’s even scarier is that some products can say ‘VEGAN’ and/or ‘GLUTEN FREE’ on the packaging, and therefore you believe your work is done. Why read labels if what you’re looking for is right there on the package cover, right? Wrong. Read labels! Here’s an example of why I’m telling you to do this. I found this pesto (I’ll buy it sometimes if I don’t have any homemade on hand), it’s called “Spicy Vegan Pesto Sauce & Spread,” by Bear Pond Farm. It’s good, but man, it destroys my stomach and I get really gassy. Recently I was doing a double take on the ingredients thinking that perhaps I missed something when I noticed cultured dextrose.” I had no idea what it is. But hell, the packaging says VEGAN, and I know it’s not gluten, so I had never given it a second thought. I decided to look it up and found there’s much controversy as to whether or not it’s vegan, and whether or not it’s a preservative or chemical. Can you believe this? I mean, it’s literally a mystery…how weird is that? Do your own research and see if you can get a straight answer and if so, then let me know! One article I read responded to the question “What is cultured dextrose” as follows: 

This is a tough one, as a biologist I can say that the name “cultured dextrose” doesn’t really specify what is within. Alcohol could be cultured dextrose, as could penicillin. This is one of those industry vernacular phrases, virtually designed to mask the actual nature of the ingredients.

To read more on cultured dextrose, you may want to check out the following sites:

http://www.yourdailyvegan.com/tag/cultured-dextrose/
http://www.livestrong.com/article/549933-what-is-cultured-dextrose/

Some say “yay,” some say “nay.” My body says “FART” and “DISCOMFORT!” I’m not buying this product anymore. I can’t say it’s the dextrose for ‘sure,’ (although my guess is it is) but I do have a negative reaction from the product – that’s enough for me. I don’t like ingesting things that I have no clue what they are. Why risk it? I’m trying to stay healthy…not get disease! From now on I’m sticking to my own, DE-LISH, homemade version of ME-gan pesto!

I truly do my best to only eat fresh, organic, whole food. A plant-based, ME-gan diet is the best and the safest. Of course, that’s MY opinion, I am not a doctor. It’s BEST for me and has proven so. Yet, with this said, there are times I need to buy packaged products. It’s inevitable. I do not live on a farm and I certainly do not have the knowledge to raise herbs, spices, vegetables, so on (yet). But when I do buy packaged products, I do my best to make sure they have very little ingredients and are, what I consider to be, ‘healthy.’ Meaning, no preservatives, dyes, additives, etc. ME-gan eating is not difficult. It’s delicious and nutritious. Just be on top of your game, know your stuff!

My daughter, Amanda,  found a very helpful book she uses for her family, called “The Kid-Friendly ADHD & Autism Cookbook, Updated and Revised: The Ultimate Guide to the Gluten-Free, Casein-Free Diet” by Pamela J. Compart, M.D. & Dana Laake, R.D.H., M.S., L.D.N. Amanda has learned so much and is actually teaching me about hidden gluten, and its many guises! So, never think you know it all… because just when you do, something grabs you from behind!

Never ending research love to you!

Mary

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