‘Our country is on a diet, yet people are sicker than ever’

Muslim Matters

‘Our country is on a diet, yet people are sicker than ever’

Photo credit: photodune.

Photo credit: photodune.

By Noor H. Salem

That’s right, our country is on a diet, yet we are in a health crisis. We see low-fat and sugar-free products lining the shelves of our supermarkets. People are turning to low carbohydrate labeled bread, and consuming 45 calorie toast bread. We see margarine and manmade spreads replacing natural butter. We see fat free cheese in a spray can as if it’s natural, and shakes and processed protein bars to replace real food meals. This is unnatural, unhealthy and only leading our country towards more sickness.

I have many clients who come to me and later on recognize that the majority of the food like items sitting in their kitchen pantries is not as healthy as they’ve come to believe. When we do pantry clean outs, we go through every item in the pantry and discuss whether it’s a good choice or not. Many items I commonly find are fat free crackers, chips, and cookies. The issue here is that to make these items fat free, a ton of chemicals and sugar are added to replace the bland taste. A bag of fat free chips for example, comes along with a chemical called Olestra, proven to cause digestive issues for many. Purchasing cookies with a label claiming only a 100 calories as if is healthy can be deceiving. Those cookies may have 100 calories, but they come along with hydrogenated oils, a ton of different fructose syrups, and additives. Instead of being obsessed with counting calories, I always advise that you start counting chemicals instead.

Don’t worry about your bag of bread not stating 45 calories or low carbohydrate on the label. Look at the ingredient list, and if your 45 calorie toast comes along with bleached flour, high fructose corn syrup, molasses to color the flour, and bread conditioners, put it back on the shelf. There is in no way, shape, or form, a possibility of this being a health food. If your bag of bread has a lot more calories than 45, but is made with whole ingredients like whole grain flour, water, salt, etc. then you should be assured. So again, instead of focusing on the label claims and calories, focus on the chemicals in the ingredient list.

Many of these fat free and sugar free products come along with very long ingredient lists. They are full of chemicals and preservatives that we can’t pronounce. If you can’t pronounce it nor find that ingredient in your kitchen pantry or refrigerator, keep that item out of your cart and home.

When it comes to margarine, butter sprays, and butter replacement spreads, I advise you avoid these at all cost. Believe it or not, many holistic doctors have proven research journals of the benefits of organic or grass-fed butter. It comes along with the ability to digest fat soluble vitamins, vitamin E, and minerals including but not limited to manganese, zinc, copper, iodine, and selenium. Also, grass fed butter is high in CLA, Conjugated Linoleic Acid, which aids your body in storing muscle. Grass-fed butter wins the taste buds of many, and comes along with immune building benefit too. So next time you’re at the super market and find over a dozen butter replacement spreads and sticks, walk right passed them. Go for organic and grass-fed butter instead, or choose a different option. Aside butter, I would recommend organic virgin coconut oil for cooking. It has a high smoke point, which means that using it for high heat cooking won’t destroy the health promoting benefits. While I love using Extra Virgin Olive Oil in entrees I prepare, I don’t recommend you use it for cooking past medium heat. Whereas Extra Virgin Olive Oil is one of the healthiest oils on the planet, don’t cook with it if you can avoid doing so. The benefits are all destroyed. Instead, cook your food and drizzle your olive oil on top afterwards.

So what’s the best way to go about shopping smart? Stick to whole food ingredients when possible. More importantly, stop counting calories, count chemicals instead.

Editor’s Note: Noor Salem is a Certified Integrative Nutrition Health Coach, and is CEO of her own wellness practice, Holistic Noortrition, LLC. Noor specialized in women’s health, weight loss, and food intolerance versus allergies. She offers individual and group health coaching programs, and is a speaker on the topic of holistic health at workshops and seminars. The views expressed here are her own.

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