Mini-Pledge Week 13: Nothing Artificial

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This is one of the last “real foodmini-pledges before we reach our goal of 100 days! I did save some of the more difficult pledges for last, but I thought I would be nice and squeeze in an easy one near the end as well. At least I hope this one is easy for those of you who are reading a blog about eating real food!

So here is next week’s mini-pledge, which starts on Monday:

Mini-Pledge Week 13: June 6 – June 12 – Avoid all artificial ingredients including, but not limited to: sweeteners, flavors and colors.

One quote from Michael Pollan’s In Defense of Food pretty much says it all:

One of the problems with the products of food science is that, as Joan Gussow has pointed out, they lie to your body; their artificial colors and flavors and synthetic sweeteners and novel fats confound the senses we rely on to assess new foods and prepare our bodies to deal with them. Foods that lie leave us with little choice but to eat by the number, consulting labels rather than our senses.

Another issue with artificial foods is that, just like other highly processed foods, they’re relatively new and therefore we don’t know exactly how their consumption affects the body long term.  Remember how margarine was touted as a healthy alternative to butter when decades later we learned the dangers of  hydrogenated oils?

This mini-pledge reminds me that I’ve been wanting to share the difference between “natural” and “organic” food products. Packaging and labels can be so darn confusing these days! When a product says it is “natural” it just means that the ingredients come from something naturally created like a plant or an animal. If a product weren’t “natural” it could contain artificial ingredients like Red Dye #40 that’s chemically created or “invented” by food scientists in a lab somewhere. Sound appetizing yet? “Organic” food is a whole different story and refers to products that have not been treated with synthetic fertilizers or chemical pesticides, which is of course a very good thing.

Just for the record, whether you are buying food that is “all natural” or “organic” it does not mean those products are whole grain, low in sodium, or lacking loads of sweeteners like sugar. To put things in perspective, high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is actually a “natural” ingredient since it is made from corn. Now if given the choice I would much rather consume HFCS over an artificially created sweetener like Splenda, but it is obviously still less than ideal. With that being said, natural products are a far better choice than artificial ones although we would by no means automatically deem them as being “real food.”

So I am hoping this pledge won’t be too difficult because we aren’t asking you to go full force with “real food,” but instead to just avoid the items that are basically fake. And hopefully this week-long experience will be eye opening for you as far as how many products contain these fake, artificial additives. Even most cough syrups, children’s Tylenol products, and throat lozenges contain artificial ingredients! So be on the lookout next week and avoid all additives that were “invented” within the last century and instead stick to those trustworthy ingredients that our ancestors have survived on for thousands of years!

To take the pledge: Please leave a comment below with the number of adults and children in your household that will participate, and also share if you will do it for one meal, one day, or for the entire week. Put it in writing and make it official!

Good luck!

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65 comments to Mini-Pledge Week 13: Nothing Artificial

  • Jayna

    We are trying our best. I can only do it for myself and do my best with the kids. Other people feed them, too. We still eat sugar, but we don’t eat artificial sugars and I personally never supply HFCS in our foods. 2 adults, 2 kids.

  • I am a mom of 3 boys and have followed the Feingold diet for over 2 years. It has made a drastic difference in the life of my oldest son and my husband. Both have symptoms of ADD & my son SPD. The Feingold diet is a great place to start if you want to really avoid artificial additives. They research & compile a 100+ page grocery list of foods without artificial ingredients, making it easier for the busy family to avoid the bad stuff. It is so worth it and becomes second nature after a short period of time. The results seen in my son and husband are the overriding motivation and we will never go back to artificials in our food.

  • Count us in. 2A 3K
    We are a Feingold 1 family. We started diet therapy almost 3 years ago and fave seen significant changes. We avoid added dyes like red 40, yellow 5 and 6, blue 1, artificial flavoring like vanillin, hfcs, and preservatives like BHT. We also avoid high salicylate foods. I look forward to reading more on your blog. Great pledge idea!!

  • crackers

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  • Leslie

    How do you do the “real food” pledge 100 percent when you both work full time? Many nights, I do not have time to cook and we’re forced to go with reheatables or convenience foods. The weekends are just as busy this time of year too.

  • Carol

    My family and I will do the pledge for longer than a week, that’s two adults and two children. I do not understand why we cannot have stricter standards like the U.K. when it comes to our food especially since Mrs.Obama is very health conscious and working so hard to make the U.S. a healthier place you would think that something would have been implemented to be as safe as the U.K’s food standards. Especially because one of the Obama campaigns have been to eat healthier and to help fight obesity banning these items would help.

  • Meloney

    2 adults and 3 children accepting this one-for life.

  • Melanie

    Started a few days ago…1a. 1k. Heres to a healthier us!!

  • Jen

    This may be a silly question, but is there a list somewhere of ingredients that are “artificial”? Looking forward to begining our healthier life as a family, but just trying to kind of learn everything right now. I am afraid I would miss something that I didn’t realize was “artifical”. TIA

  • Anna

    2 adults and 1 child (3) will be taking the challenge! Excited to begin!

  • Elaine

    Have you found a natural food coloring of any kind? My daughter always gets excited when she can have pink food.

  • Assistant to 100 Days (Amy)

    Hi Elaine. This post contains a link to a natural dye product as well as Lisa’s own creative solution:
    http://www.100daysofrealfood.com/2011/12/21/natural-food-dyes-for-holiday-cookies/. Enjoy. ~Amy

  • Audra

    By the way, “natural” flavoring isn’t exactly natural. I learned about this horrible lie from Eric Schlosser’s Fast Food Nation: http://www.pbs.org/pov/foodinc/fastfoodnation_03.php

    Be careful of “natural flavors”!

  • [...] Week 13: Nothing artificial – Avoid all artificial ingredients including, but not limited to: sweeteners, flavors and colors. [...]

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