Labels…they’re not ALL bad

I’m in the middle of a huge training weekend, so I’m just going to leave you with a quick post today.

I cheated. I ate a doughnut. Two actually. It IS National Doughnut Day…and I am running 40mi this weekend. Those are not excuses. I refuse to feel guilty. The extra sugar did make my stomach feel terrible, and I could use a nap!
Lesson learned.

Back to today’s point…labels.

Everything has a label.

Produce has labels…do you know the difference? Here’s a quick cheat sheet:
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Definitely avoid that last one…but these are not the labels I’m worried about.
Have you ever read the labels on prepared foods? That’s what I want you to start doing. If you don’t know what an ingredient is, look it up. Better yet, don’t buy it! I want you to decide which ingredients are unhealthy. But I’m going to give you two to start with.

Artificial sweeteners: Yup. Fake sugar. Do we eat fake food? Not any more. I’m not going to debate whether these products cause cancer or other health problems. I’m eliminating them because they are artificial by definition. Here’s where you’ll find them, but read food labels. All of these must be listed on the label per the FDA.

NutraSweet® and Equal® are brand names for aspartame.
Other artificial sweeteners on the market include sucralose (Splenda®), acesulfame K (Sweet One®, Sunett®), and saccharin (Sweet’N Low®, SugarTwin®).

Monosodium Glutamate: Good old MSG. It’s a “flavor enhancer.” More flavor can’t be bad! Here’s a thought…if your food tasted good to start with, why would you need to “enhance” it? You’ll likely find this in food items that should be avoided anyway…and almost anything with “cheese flavoring.” If you want the flavor of cheese, just eat cheese. Don’t eat cheese-flavored chips! Maybe if our taste buds weren’t overloaded by the amount of sugar we eat, we could taste the natural flavors without enhancing them.

Don’t get me started on sugar. Another day…

So that’s it. Just start reading labels. I find the food that tastes the best has the least amount of ingredients anyway. I just want you to know what you’re putting into your mouth.

On Tuesday, I’ll have a special post for runners…How to fuel on Real Food. Don’t miss it!

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A note on drinking

I’m sure you’ve seen plenty of diet plans and products that promote quick weight loss. And, by now, you know how they accomplish that.

Water.

Most of us are carrying around excess water that can easily mean 2-5 extra pounds (maybe more) that we can drop at a moment’s notice and poof…the diet works! Right?

Wrong! Resume normal eating and drinking habits and the pounds are right back. But do they have to be? Is it possible we are over-consuming water and other beverages, and carrying that weight for no reason?

I used to drink soda…specifically Coke…every day. Two cans. The year I stopped, I lost about 10lbs easily. This was mostly because of the sugar I now wasn’t consuming, but I quickly put back a few of those pounds drinking my eight, 8oz. glasses of water each day.

Diet soda is an even worse offender. But it has the word “diet” or “zero” in the name! It can’t be bad for you! Think again. It’s a beverage with ingredients that have zero calories? It takes some magic to conjure that…usually in the form of FAKE sugar. And since this is the Eat REAL Food Challenge, we’re not going to touch that stuff. Sure…Stevia comes from a plant…and if you need to add sugar to your coffee, I’d much prefer you add that over white, processed sugar. More on that later…this is about drinks.

Most days I stick to two liquids: water and coffee. Sure…I’ll enjoy a beer or two after a good run, and I won’t turn down a glass of wine with friends. But no commercial juice and no soda. There are a few exceptions…if you’re a distance runner please drink what your body needs…but don’t miss the following article.

Tim Noakes, MD wrote this great book last year entitled Waterlogged. If you haven’t read it, you should. I’ve included a link to an extensive review on the iRunFar.com blog which discusses the main points. Warning, it’s long and somewhat scientific, but it addresses the main myths about hydration, specifically for runners.

So drink up! Just keep it REAL!