I love rhyming. Just yesterday, I was watching the old Schoolhouse Rock animated short films with my children. Remember those from the 70’s and 80’s? They used fun songs to educate and boy does it work! I still remember many of them over 30 years later.
So, I’m becoming fan of creating rhyming phrases to help me remember important things. Hence the title of this post: Single ingredients over expedience. I hope it helps you remember this healthy tip the next time you’re eating out, shopping, and preparing a meal.
Expedience is defined as “a means to an end, especially one that is convenient but possibly improper“.
You can see how that applies so well to how most of us in the U.S. approach food and meals. We’re a busy nation; always rushing off to work, stuck in traffic, rushing to take the kids to soccer practice, and dead tired as we’re coming back home. So, it is so tempting to cut corners and get an expedient meal at a fast food drive-thru or pick up pre-made mixes to make a quick meal at home. But, when you do that, you’re putting your health in the hands of the companies that put together that meal/food. There have been some changes lately. But, by and large, most food corporations and fast food companies are thinking about speed, costs, and how to make things tasty and addictive so you eat more and keep coming back. If you care about your health and your weight and your fitness, you have to take ownership back of what goes in your body.
Taking control is the first step and good for you if you have decided to do that. But, the next step is making smart selections about what you eat and the ingredients you buy for meals. I know. That is sooooo hard! Luckily, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has been requiring more transparency with respect to food ingredients on packaging and even in restaurants lately. This helps, but is still challenging to read a label (with such small print) and understand what a serving really is and how many of each nutrient is in a serving, etc. But, there are good sources that teach you how to read these nutrition facts labels. With practice, you do get better at quickly understanding if something is going to be a healthy purchase or not.
But, there is an even faster way to take ownership, fully understand what you are eating, and have more control over what goes in your body: Single Ingredients. Reduce things down to fewer and fewer ingredients until you know what you are getting. If you don’t know what a food additive is, should you be putting it in your mouth? If you can’t pronounce an ingredient, should you be eating it? Go ahead, pronounce “BUTYLATED HYDROXYANISOLE” for me. Do you know what that is? It’s commonly called BHA and is often added to cereals, chewing gum, potato chips, and vegetable oil. By the way, it’s a food additive that you should definitely avoid. Check out the food ingredients label below. It’s complex and it scares me. Guess what it is? Baby formula. Wow! Now, if you have a lot of time on your hands, you could learn all about every food additive, what it does, and if you should avoid it. But, I personally don’t and I bet you don’t either.
Instead, simplify, simplify, simplify. Buy whole fruits and vegetables. Buy whole grains (I love the ingredients in the rolled oats label on the right). Buy whole meats and fish. Buy single ingredients and mix things together yourself when you prepare food and cook. That way you know exactly what you are getting. When you eat out, give your business to restaurants known for quality ingredients and healthy preparation or select the simple ingredients yourself so that you control what you eat. A salad bar is a great example of this (if you avoid prepared dressings and croutons). Mongolian BBQ restaurants are great for this as well. You get to pick the vegetables and low-fat meats you want, so there are no mystery ingredients prepared behind hidden doors, except for the sauces. Be wise in your sauce selection! I like the garlic water, ginger water, and red pepper flakes.
When you control what you eat through ingredients you know, you won’t have mystery foods sneaking unwanted fats, sugars, and chemicals into your body. You will own what goes in, calories and all. Single ingredients over expedience is a simple, but extremely powerful tool that you can and should use to lose weight, feel better, and sustain a healthy eating lifestyle. And, you know what? It tastes better too. Bonus!