By Steve Sharpton, Parsons Training Center, Tucson, Arizona
July 31, 2016
I got to tell you friends, some days it does not pay to read the labels on food products. One of the toughest things to do with your life when you are vegan is having to actually look at the labels of certain products. The horrifying reality of what constitutes the make-up of our food can be unsettling to say the least. I mean, it’s pretty weird what is vegan and what is not vegan. Plain and pretzel Goldfish crackers are not vegan, but Barbecue Chicken flavor for Pringles is. And why does the Salt and Vinegar Pringles have dairy in it? Most brands of cookies are chalked full of dairy products, so what the heck is an Oreo made up of? Starburst’s regular sized candy has gelatin in them, but the tiny pieces that get hard instantly and turn into one giant lump don’t? It is a bizarre world we live in, and some days I shake my head and want to get off. Just the other day, I discovered something else that I was capable of eating…Sour Straws!! My history with sour based candies is legendary, for I would sometimes drop a good 20 dollars on the stuff when I worked at a movie theater early in the last decade. You see, we had candy by the pound and much of the time, I was the guy that had to refill the bins and also keep stock of them…which I did gladly. This meant a unique opportunity for me in those days. I knew when the candy was freshest and when to splurge. When my co-workers saw me walking around with a bag and then ask me for a taste, I would demand money due to the expense. I also did the same thing with the display cakes we would put out to sell (you guessed it, in charge of those as well!). Knowing when something was freshly displayed is a godsend when you are working in the disposable food industry. I ate far too many hot dogs during my days at the movie theater and my days at a convenient store, which contributed to the expansion of my waistline. But I didn’t care all that much, mainly because I was so happy and content with the sugar and fat rush I got as a result of my gluttony. Anyway, let this be a lesson to you, if you haven’t tried something in a very long time, it might not be a good idea to give it a whirl.
Since I started having teeth problems about six or seven years a go, I pretty much gave up sour candies because they really aggravated my sweet spots. But I was so desperate and happy to try Sour Straws, that I took some precautions just so I could have them (as in, brush my teeth the instant I was done and garble whatever might have been left behind). I mean, I just casually checked the label and my eyes were like quarters. I didn’t suffer any consequences with my teeth, which was a great feeling…but my body was obviously pissed off. My stomach was pretty angry at me for a better part of two days, and while it may have been a little sickness coming on, my body waste was a bizarre color (yup, TMI!) I figured it had to be the sour straws, mainly because that was the only odd thing I decided to eat this past week, and it upset my body so much that I had to do some juice cleansing to kind of normalize my blood sugar levels thanks to the processed spike I inadvertently gave myself. Almost the instant I started drinking some berry-based juices, the fog in my head kind of cleared and my gut started feeling better. This was a harsh lesson for me, mainly because I kind of knew this might happen, but I took the risk anyway. So yes, I acted like a typical idiot male that embarrasses himself on YouTube to get likes and views. Anyway, consider it a lesson learned…not all vegan friendly products should be consumed. Either way, I kind of learned a lesson from that….just because it will satisfy the dormant olfactory senses you used to rely so heavily on, doesn’t mean it should be pleasured for the sake of “old times.”
Naturally, there are days like Thursday that tell me to continue the path of life I have accepted. Some might consider my method of dietary standards is akin to some religion, I just say I am looking out for myself in the best way possible. I made a joke earlier this week that kind of tricked a many unsuspecting Facebook friends when I stated I was getting married…to Beyond Chicken. Seriously, I have come to love that stuff, even though I didn’t really care much for it at first. It might be the fact my taste buds are continuing their long journey back to life, for the results of having a tongue that can taste actual spices is a good thing. Heck, I have started to chronicle the weird cohesion between cheap Quik Trip coffee with hot peppers. Yup, I drink coffee at all hours of the day, so there has been the unusual habit of mine of eating hot, spicy food for lunch and having some coffee with it (in 100+ degree mind you!). Some days it tastes like sugared walnuts, while other days it has a very distinct “chocolate” flavor. Either way, this mode of living has convinced me that I will never go back to the high acid diet I used to have with soda and candy and whatever else is designated within the Standard American Diet. I find the idea of even drinking a soda repulsive, and Gatorades are incredibly sweet to me. Heck, I tried some hard apple cider and I about fell into a diabetic coma from drinking three of them (one per sitting…that is the new rule now!).
I will admit, I sometimes fall into the trap of trying foods merely because it is vegan friendly. That doesn’t mean it is good for me, though. Either way, it was rather encouraging to see a lot of people yesterday morning, standing in line to get some good squash, cucumbers and grapes for pennies on the dollar. The only thing that made me sad was the fact a great many of the grapes were getting tossed, mainly due to the fact a lot of them were rotting. Either way, this particular food giveaway was meant to take advantage of produce that couldn’t possibly be sold, and for a good 10 bucks, you could get up to 60 pounds if you had the stuff to move it in (and trust me, a lot of people did). But the thing that really struck me was the amount of poorer and unhealthy people in line. Needless to say, talking head gasbags like to trash the poor and sick as people who are relatively noncommittal to produce, but the line of people pretty proved them wrong. There was a man who could barely walk due to some leg problem, happy as a clam to get 20 pounds of grapes (which are always ridiculously expensive). I always think, if you give someone the chance to get produce, regardless of the so-called condition or shape, people will eat the stuff like candy. People tend to forget, if you are hungry due to your condition or lack of money, you will eat any calorie dense food to stave off the hunger. Sadly, the calorie dense food stuffs that are inexpensive are typically chemically laden food stuffs. So needless to say, it was great to see so many people from so many walks of life taking advantage of this deal. Me, I only took what I could, for I grabbed a few squashes, a whole bunch of cucumbers, about 12 pounds of grapes and took off. Apparently there were some tomatoes later on, which sort of bugged me consider I could have made some good salsa with that stuff!
Anyway, seeing people clamor for real food kind of made me think about this article I saw recently. http://nypost.com/2016/07/10/the-truth-behind-how-were-scammed-into-eating-phony-food/ Author Larry Olmsted released a new book recently called “Real Food, Fake Food” that sought out to expose some of the half truths we get when it comes to the “elegant” foods we see in the restaurants we drop so much of our hard earned money into. One example was the reality of the Kobe beef you might be eating. I remember a friend of mine dropping well over 20 bucks on a Kobe burger at some random restaurant we ate at. Turns out he got cheated, for there are only a few certified restaurants in America that are allowed to carry actual Kobe beef (much less turn the stuff into a burger). As it would turn out, the stuff was a cheaper replacement meat being labeled as such, but still being sold for top dollar as the real thing. This apparently happens quite a bit in the food industry, especially in the sushi world according to Olmsted’s book. While someone might think they are eating a high end fish, they might be eating the fancy named equivalent to catfish (which is in no way considered a high end cut of fish). Nonetheless, it sounds like an interesting read, even though none of the info was anything groundbreaking to me. I already knew about the secret world of false olive oils, which is why I look for the better, certified stuff when I go out shopping for oils (I do get a hunkering for the stuff every now and then). Anyway, I could care less about the world of meat eating and such anymore, for if you are willing to drop that kind of money on food you could probably make for yourself, then possibly you deserve to be ripped off. Okay, I shouldn't say that, but you should at least be a little more discerning with your selection. One thing that kind of ticked me off was the implication of fake foods…that people are being deprived of pleasure. Really? Yikes…go back to the drawing board with that one buddy. I just think people want to eat what they pay for.
Before I started doing this blog, I never would have learned the truth behind concepts like “pink slime” (a.k.a. pureed meat scraps treated with ammonia), meat glue or even the truth of amino acid treated “aged” cheese. I never would have learned that much of the cheap chocolate ice cream probably has near expired ice cream mixed with it, for the chocolate can cover up the gross taste much better. Or how about some of the new products that are being pushed that would provide a weird cover on produce, which in turn makes them last longer in the aisle? This is the one that kind of worries me, because who knows what the heck they are making it out of. I think I would rather deal wit the occasional bad raspberry in the pack, kind of like what I dealt with for the fruit blend I made yesterday (two bad raspberries in a pack…is it worth throwing the whole thing away and taking it back…I don’t think so). I never would have learned the truth about a lot of things in our food, which is probably why these paleo people are getting so much traction. I have to agree with one thing (aside from the meat nonsense) about their methodology…a lot of times less is more. That’s why I tend to burn up my grocery budget with spices, mainly because I have a ridiculous love for Cajun seasoning, cayenne, paprika, turmeric and hatch chili flakes. Don’t get me started in regards to how much garlic and coarse ground pepper I use! It might make you shudder.
Trust me on this one folks, staying “real” with your food is not something you should take lightly. I will always be reminded of the great King of the Hill episode (I haven’t done a reference in ages!!) where Hank and his family are surprised by the taste of actual food that was grown organically. Truth be told, this experience should not have to be a rare or unusual event in your life. At least that is how I believe when it comes to these sort of things. Yeah, it can be a little more expensive on some days, but the expense thing is always an excuse. Just because you can get five 12-packs of soda for 10 bucks one day doesn’t mean should take advantage of that special (on the other hand, up to 60 pounds of food…that sounds so weird!!). Sure, it may be okay to diverge from time to time (I will never eat Sour Straws again!!!!!), just try not to make a habit of it.
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Steve, a Parsons Training Client, went from 400 pounds to Running half-marathons, from lifting pizzas to lifting hundreds of pounds through training with us.
When you read this blog you are reading through the eyes of someone who is winning the battle of real weight loss. Steve is not a fitness professional, but he is someone we can all learn from.
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Any views or opinions presented in this blog are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the company. The author of this blog is an independent writer and is not an associate of Parsons Training, LLC. Any information or images displayed are done so solely at the authors discretion. Any dietary or fitness commentary is exclusively that of the author and in no way dictated by the company.