It's that back-to-school, back-to-work time of year when we buy new notebooks and pencils and want a fresh start. For me, that means putting away the hamburgers, hot dogs and black raspberry ice cream I allowed myself to eat all summer, and getting back to the business of eating right.
It was hard to deprive myself during my treatment over the last eight months for Stage I breast cancer. During chemotherapy, when everything tasted like wet cement, I turned to eating sugary cereals and licorice candy when they were the only things that tasted good. OK, watermelon also remained delicious, but when you are holding the "C" card, it can be a great excuse for a lot of things. Now, it's a great reason to stop the insanity of putting things into my body that are just unhealthy. With all the amazingly healthy foods available to create a delicious, satisfying diet, there really isn't any excuse for eating what I'll call "The Dirty Dozen":
1. Processed Meat. That's hot dogs, bacon, sausage, salami. Unless you actually ARE an Oscar Meyer Weiner, your diet should stop being a lot of bologna. Read what the Institute for Natural Healing has to say.
2. Red Meat - I love a great NY Strip and I'll probably treat myself a few times a year. If you must, go organic, and sorry, but grilling meat is like cooking cancer. The Medical Daily has some more info here.
3. Non-organic chicken and non-organic milk. When it comes to milk, eggs and chicken, hormones and antibiotics are just bad news. Even if it takes a tough man to make a tender chicken, chicken skin should not be bright yellow. Organic chicken has white skin and although in the grocery case it looks pale and sickly, it is much better for us. Here what CBS News reported about eating organic.
4. GMOs - We've heard these letters so many times, they sound kind of fun. Like "Old McDonald had a farm, G.M., G.M.O.!!" - Just keep saying to yourself, "Genetically modified organisms" "Genetically modified organisms". Picture bacteria, viruses and mad scientists in laboratories freakishly and greedily throwing cash into the air. GMO should stand for Get Monsanto Out (of your diet.) Want some more facts on the debate about GMOs?
5. White Food - It's no Wonder, that's for sure. White bread and white rice are bleached. Next time you're in the laundry room, take a good whiff of bleach and think, "Mmmm, should I drink this?" The Mayo Clinic takes a bite out of white here.
6. Farm Raised Fish - For some reason, I thought it was good thing that fish were being farmed instead of depopulating fish in their natural habitats. Wrong. Here's a good reason to go wild - wild caught fish. And forget swordfish and albacore tuna, unless you like mercury - and not the Freddy kind. The New York Times posted some good facts about fish here.
7. Soda - Regular or diet. It's chemicals in a can, people. And especially stay away from anything lemon, lime or grapefruit-flavored which contains BVO's - a chemical flame retardant. Damn! I loved an ice cold "citrus-flavored" glass of chemicals to wash down my GMO's! Prevention.com takes a closer look at the bubbly stuff here
8. Fried Food - I know you really want to stop reading this now. Don't take away my clam roll, french fries, KFC. And donuts have the pleasure of being fat, sugar AND fried. ABC News talks about fried and fast foods here.
9. High Fructose Corn Syrup. HFCS are actually three C's - chemicals, contaminants and chlorine. If you're eating products with HFCS, you're probably eating like a child. Pink and white licorice-flavored candy and I must say goodbye. It's back to good and plenty of healthy food. Here's more scoop on HFCS from Eating Well.
10. Kid's Cereal - It's sugar in a bowl - floating in bovine growth hormone. I admit I liked my sugary-frosted flakes in a Jethro Bodine-size bowl. If you really have to eat it, have one serving. That's about two tablespoons. Get the scoop on the Loops of Fruit here.
11. Microwave Popcorn - Who knew this was popping poison? I guess the movie stuff is probably not that great either. And I did like a little movie with my popcorn. Some facts and stats about the popcorn bags.
12. Shelf-stable Condiments - What? Those cute little packets of ketchup, mustard, relish and mayo are bad for us??? They are basically preservatives, additives, artificial flavors, artificialc olors, salt and trans fats wrapped in plastic with no expiration date. We will all expire before they will. Learn some facts about the packs from Fox News.
Unfortunately, this list could go on for some time with additions like BHA/BHT's, plastic bottles and stuff in cans. There's an amazing website and mobile app called EWG Food Scores that can help figure out how to make better choices.
What's in your new back-to-school lunch box?