It takes me a long time to get my grocery shopping done. Always has. Want to know why? Because I read labels. Even before I started the MS Diet, I was a big label reader. I've been organic for years and since having Ryann have really paid close attention to what it is that she and I are putting into our bodies.
And now I've really notched things up. Because keeping focused on recovery is my absolute priority I am utterly vigilant about making sure that what I eat is a) within the guidelines of the diet and b) healthy and nutritionally balanced (this one is key as it would be very easy to eat Betty's scones and cookies all the time. Or eat just turkey and potato chips. Or just grapes and water. You get the point).
***and speaking of scones, I want the world to know that I baked a kick-ass batch of apple almond scones this weekend. By myself. I am a culinary God. ***
So anyway, here I am, a seasoned label-reader almost three months into recovery. I'm thinking that I've got this whole 'what I can and can't eat' thing down pat. I wake up every day and eat a giant bowl of gluten/sugar/dairy/soy/caffeine/alcohol/legume free cereal and start my day. Or at least I did . . .
Until last week when I read latest issue of Nutrition Action over my morning bowl of cereal. And learned that evaporated cane juice ( a common ingredient in my 'safe' foods) is actually just another name for sugar (definitely NOT a safe food).
Wasn't I surprised to learn that my cereal, and many of the foods I've been eating that fail to list 'sugar' as an ingredient are . . . well, not so much free of sugar. At all.
I was perplexed. Befuddled. Confounded. How could this be? I quickly leaped online and did a bit of research. Here's some of what I found:
I learned that many manufacturers are pandering to the health-conscious consumer and using alternative monikers for their sweetening agents. These sneaky bastards use terms like cane juice crystals, dehydrated cane juice crystals, unrefined cane juice crystals, raw cane crystals, washed cane juice crystals, Florida crystals (a trademarked name), unbleached evaporated sugar cane juice crystals, crystallized cane juice, and unbleached crystallized evaporated cane juice. There are also products with such names as organic dehydrated cane juice, unbleached sugar cane, evaporated cane juice, and evaporated cane juice sugar.
I read all of this and was shocked. Stunned. Pissed off.
You mean to tell me that a manufacturer can deliberately mislead me, a guy who ingests sugar at the peril of losing his ability to be mobile, just because they want to make their product more attractive to the 'health conscious consumer'?!?!?!?
How about us consumers who aren't merely 'conscious' of our health because we want to lose five pounds or because we are following the latest trend or fad diet or because we just want to be cool and hip?
How about us consumers who *cannot eat sugar* because it will cause an extreme and detrimental physical reaction?
Manufacturers are jerks. Well, maybe not all of them. I'm looking forward to identifying and promoting those manufacturers that have integrity, honesty and quality.
And until I find them, I want to make sure everyone is aware that for those of us with MS, simply reading labels isn't enough. We've got to make sure that we understand each ingredient and what it is. We've got to take matters into our own hands - take our recovery into our own hands - and educate ourselves.
I sure learned my lesson . . . anyone want half a box of gluten free/dairy free/soy free/caffeine free/alcohol free/legume free *sugar added* cereal?
"This is what you get, when you mess with us."