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Paleo diet but it's natural nature food products label labelling

But it’s natural!

If you’ve strayed from the perimeter of your local grocery store, you can’t have missed the endless products screaming at you that they are “natural”. The labels often heavily feature the colour green, which we associate with nature, and may even show images of endless fields in perfect sunsets. Often the packaging will be brown and have a recycled feel – it’s natural after all. Buy it! Buy it!

But what does natural actually mean? If something is natural, it has to be good for you, right? My view of “natural” is something that hasn’t been altered at all and is entirely in its natural state, like an organic banana. A survey last year by the Consumer Reports National Research Centre found that 60% of respondents actively looked out for “natural” labels, with 66% of those people believing it meant the product contained no artificial ingredients, no pesticides and no genetically modified organisms. Surely that’s a pretty reasonable understanding of a “natural” food?
Paleo diet but it's natural nature food products label labelling
Alarmingly there are no official definitions about what “natural” means on food labels, nor are there any Australian food standards governing how and when the term may be used.

Looking in my local Coles supermarket, I found a Jalna Fat Free Natural Yoghurt, in which the first two ingredients are “Pasteurised Skim Milk and Non-fat milk solids”. I also found a Natural Muesli by The Muesli Company, which contains Preservative 220, rolled oats and dried fruits (processes which surely take the raw ingredients away from their original, natural state?).

Another favourite, is Water Thins Natural Mini Crispbread. The ingredients… Wheat Flour, Cheese Powder [Milk Solids, Cheese Solids (Milk, Salt, Starter Culture, Enzymes), Mineral Salts (339, 331), Salt, Food Acid (330)], Salt, Vegetable Oil, Raising Agents (500), Rye Flavour. Salt? Perhaps the salt is natural? And how about Natural Glace Cherries? Guess what they contain? Cherries (60%), Sugar, Glucose Syrup, Food Acid (330), Natural Flavour, Natural Colour (163), Preservatives [202, 211, 220 (contains sulphites)]. So, I suppose they’re 60% natural…

None of the products I’d found mentioned being organic (which is what I’d consider natural) – and as for processed ingredients, additives, flavourings and preservatives, “natural” seems to be a total farce.

So what’s the answer? Well – as I’ve spoken about before – if it has a label, it’s far less likely to be natural and healthy than something with no label. And if the label makes health claims, you should probably not buy it.

What would you expect a “natural” food label to mean? Do you think there should be more rules about the labels food manufacturers are allowed to put on their products?

picky eater paleo diet fussy 2-min

How to get a picky eater to go paleo

We’ve all heard about those people who come with a huge list of foods they cannot possibly eat. Or worse still, those who can only eat from a restrictive list of very specific foods – and the acceptable foods always seem to be things like pizza or chicken nuggets, rather than green vegetables.

So when you know a paleo approach will benefit the picky-eater’s health, how can you help them break through their fussiness, to give paleo a fair go?

picky eater paleo diet fussy 2-min

Firstly, start off with a list of what your picky eater will and won’t eat (at the moment).

Why are they a picky eater?

Firstly, you need to understand why they’re a picky eater. Are they just a creature of habits, deeply stuck in their ways? Have they been eating the same restricted foods since childhood? If this is the case, could these familiar foods be somehow comforting to the picky eater? Or perhaps the reality is your picky eater is addicted to processed foods?

If they do lean heavily towards these foods, it’s best to ease them into paleo slowly. They like pizza – so make them a paleo pizza. Pasta addict – give them some pasta alternatives. Cake fan – wean them off slowly with some paleo baked treats.

What if they genuinely don’t like lots of foods?

If they absolutely hate the taste of lots of paleo-friendly foods, have they actually tried them recently? Is a memory of nasty Brussel Sprouts from school-days putting them off all green vegetables? Try re-exposing them to these foods again, if they’re willing to try them several times, they may find their tastes change. If this doesn’t work, how about hiding the veggies in a sauce, smoothie, or other dish and starting from there? Spinach is a great vegetable to add to dishes, as it vastly reduces in volume once it’s cooked, so could be barely noticeable in a curry.

Another possibility is that your picky eater has sensory issues – that is they are bothered by the texture and flavour of the foods they eat. Find out what is acceptable to them, and see if it can be replicated. If they like a crunchy texture, perhaps a dehydrator will be key.

Have you helped a formerly picky eater expand their food horizons? How did you do it, do share, in the comments below.

Where Canola's Grow Rapeseed oil vegetable oil healthy paleo diet-min

Ever Wondered Where Canola’s Grow?

Canola oil, otherwise known as rapeseed oil, is an oil growing in popularity in the Western world due to its supposed ‘healthiness’ as well as the fact that it is cheap to produce, and therefore, consume. Many people who follow conventional wisdom are switching to canola oil as their oil of choice for frying, roasting and baking – but the more you learn about it, the more you realise it really isn’t a good choice…

It may seem strange, but the name ‘canola’ actually has no relevance to the plant it is made from whatsoever. In fact, ‘canola’ was a name chosen by the board of the Rapeseed Association of Canada – the ‘Can’ part standing for Canada, and the ‘Ola’ referring to oil. These marketing companies really aren’t geniuses, are they!?

Where Canola's Grow Rapeseed oil vegetable oil healthy paleo diet-min

Like any seed oil, rapeseed requires industrial scale processing to be turned into an oil. It is made my heating and then crushing the seed, before refining with hexane, bleaching with clay, and then deodorizing using steam distillation. You wouldn’t eat an animal or vegetable that had been refined, bleached, and deodorized, so why should your oil be any different? We are all wise enough to know by now that ‘refined’ is a word that is most definitely doesn’t fit the Paleo blueprint.

Canola oil is marketed as a ‘healthy’ product because it is low in saturated fat. We know by now that saturated fat isn’t a bad thing – nope, quite the opposite. Saturated fat provides us with a pure, easy to metabolise form of energy – and that’s why I cook in coconut oil whenever I can. Canola oil also doesn’t stand up well to heat, and goes rancid at fairly low temperatures – especially in comparison to stable fats like coconut oil, palm oil and ghee. Canola oil is high in erucic acid, a well known toxin that causes myocardial lipidosis (fatty degeneration of the heart). The majority of Canola oil is also genetically modified to be herbicide resistant.

Canola oil is also marketed as ‘healthy’ because it has a good Omega 3:6 ratio – approximately 2 parts omega 6 to 1 part omega 3. We know that the ideal ratio is 1:1; but, it’s worth holding our hands up and admitting that a 2:1 ratio is pretty good. However, we also know that omega 3s do not stand up well to heat. As Canola oil is processed using high temperatures, the omega 3 turns rancid quickly and is rendered useless – or even worse – toxic. What you are left with is a nasty, omega 6 rich liquid. Oh, and it doesn’t even taste good!

The more you learn about Canola oil, the more you realise you are better off without it. It’s not a healthy choice at all, it’s just another product devised by intelligent marketing companies trying to sell a product at the expense of your health.

What are your opinions on Canola oil? Do you use it, or do you prefer olive oil, coconut oil, lard and ghee?

Is this paleo friendly ingredients-min

Is It Paleo?

I’m sure, like me, you’ve seen lots of question on Paleo forums, asking if a particular processed food is Paleo.  Perhaps friends, inspired by your positive changes, are making similar nutritional moves themselves –asking for your guidance on what is and isn’t “Paleo” along the way.

Is this paleo friendly ingredients-min

A Return to SAD Foods?

The food raising the question generally seems to be some kind of snack or sauce, perhaps a nod towards the person’s previous SAD diet.  Often the first ingredient is arguably “Paleo”, perhaps some kind of meat, vegetable – or as it often the case in processed foods – water.  But the further down the list you go, the ingredients become less and less agreeable.  There is often some form of sugar or sweeteners, preservatives, stabilisers, my favourite “natural flavours” – which really could mean just about anything  – and perhaps the catch all “spices”.  So maybe there isn’t a lot of wheat; but not a lot is still some wheat!  Things like gluten seem to linger in the body for a long time, so complete abstinence makes a lot of sense – there’s no such thing as low-gluten.

The other issue is that nutritional information panels don’t display the quality of the ingredients.  If they don’t specify that the beef is organic and grass-fed – I think we can assume it almost certainly is not.  Would you have bought the ingredients yourself – and if not, why are they suddenly acceptable just because they’re in a packet or bottle?

Unless you’ve made something, from ingredients you’ve sourced and understand; can you ever really know what you’re eating?

No Time?

Processed foods are, no doubt, easier, quicker and cheaper.  That’s surely part of the reason we’re in this nutritional mess in the first place.  As with lots of things in life, the best things generally aren’t the easiest things!  Yes, you can buy mayonnaise for a few dollars and use it instantly – or you can invest time and make your own Paleo Mayonnaise knowing exactly what you’re eating – and what you’re not.  I know which I’d rather.

I often wonder whether the person asking the question is hoping to gain approval to revert, at least in part, to their old pre-Paleo ways.  Whilst some processed foods are clearly a lot more Paleo-friendly than others, I do wonder where to draw the line.  If you “allow” a mass-produced tomato sauce with a few dubious ingredients – perhaps that canned chicken soup doesn’t look so bad?

So, is it Paleo?

Almost everything I buy doesn’t have a nutritional label.  Meat from the butcher, eggs and vegetables generally don’t come in packets with nutritional information – and if they do, they are the only ingredient – or I don’t buy it.  The only exceptions in my supermarket trolley that I can think of are coconut milk (if I could grow my own, I would!) and nut butters, which I very rarely use.

As a general rule, I think it’s fair to say; if you have to ask, it isn’t Paleo!

Are there some border-line foods that you consider Paleo?  What do you buy that has an ingredients list?

Avocado Fresh-min

Avocado

I just saw this packaged Avocado in the supermarket, with added Thickner (401) and Vegetable Gum (415)

Avocado Fresh-min

I must be missing something, is it really that hard to peel and slice an avocado yourself?

Trolley spying Supermarket shopping groceries coles woolworths aldi paleo diet-min

Trolley Spying

When I go food shopping, I’m always really interested the see what other people have in their trolleys.  Likewise, I get some funny looks, especially when I buy lots of red meat, eggs and coconut milk.  I can just see the people wondering what I’m going to do with it all.  Surely she can’t be going to eat all those foods we’re constantly told are bad, by herself?

People are generally quick to say how healthily they eat, but when you see their trolley, surely you are seeing what they actually eat, rather than what they’d like you to think they eat.

Trolleys full of processed junk food bother me far less; at least the people pushing those trolleys, on some level, know they have a bad diet.  What bothers me more is the trolleys I see full of “healthy” foods.  The type of “healthy foods” I wouldn’t go near.

Trolley-Spying-768x1024-min

A very sad, un-Primal grocery trolley

I see so many trolleys full of low fat, highly processed products (I can’t bring myself to call them food).  Trolleys full of whole grains, as they are good for us, right?  Diet drinks with ingredients I can’t pronounce.  Spray on “vegetable” oils, to make sure as little fat as possible contributes to dinner.  Processed low fat sauces to smother wholegrain pasta with.  “Healthy” reduced fat chips, presumably to deal with the blood sugar crash that comes after eating the pasta.  Huge bottles of orange juice.  Skim milk to pour over the healthy low fat breakfast cereal.  Margarine instead of butter, Weight Watchers low fat processed sweets to ensure there is never any need to go over three hours without eating.

Trolley-Spying-Pasta-Sauce-1024x768-min

Pasta Sauce and Processed Sauce, yum yum.

I wonder, do people really think these “healthy” low fat processed products taste nice?  I strongly suspect they are eaten for the perceived health benefits, not because they taste nice.  My Paleo diet not only tastes amazing, but it is super healthy too.

This is my recent trolley.  I generally buy all of my meat from my wonderful local organic butcher, so I usually just buy some veggies, fruit for my house-mate to take to work (I’m only eating fruit once or twice a week at the moment), coconut milk, almond butter (for use in an occasional NoOatmeal) and I sometimes buy nuts depending on which recipes are on my menu plan that week.

Trolley-Spying-Mine-768x1024

My recent paleo groceries

Are you guilty of trolley spying too?  Are you frequently shocked by what some other shoppers fill their trolleys with?  Do you get disapproving looks at your Paleo trolley too?

Trolley spying Supermarket shopping groceries coles woolworths aldi paleo diet-min

What's In Your Coconut Milk Ingrediants-min

Fancy a Serve of Polyoxethylene Sorbitan Monostearate With Your Coconut Milk?

Following on from yesterdays post on Coconut Milk & Coconut Cream, I’ve found out a few things about those added ingredients.  Seemingly innocuous names such as E435 hide chemicals I quite simply would rather not consume.  I’ll take the coconut milk with the huge layer of cream on top, thanks.

What's In Your Coconut Milk Ingrediants-min

Stabilizer E466 (or just 466):  Also known as Carboxymethyl Cellulose

This is used as a thicking agent, a filler, anti clumping agent and an emulsifier.  As well as its use in food, Carboxymethyl Cellulose is also used in ceramics, detergents & textiles.  It is derived from cellulose (as found in wood & plant structures) which is chemically modified.  It isn’t possible to find out the source directly, but it could come from genetically engineered cotton plants.

Vegetable gum (412) or Emulsifier, E412:  More commonly known as Guar gum

Guar Gum is often added as a thickener to avoid the contents of the tin separating.  Guar Gum is made from the seed of the Cyamopsis tetragonoloba shrub, which is a legume  The seeds are dehusked, milled & screened to produce an off white powder. I think I’d rather deal with the natural separation of the coconut milk.

Emulsifier E435:  Also known as Polyoxethylene sorbitan monostearate, Polysorbate 60, or Tween 60
This chemical compound is created from ethylene oxide (a synthetic compound), sorbitol and palmitic acid.  One of the main issues appears to be that the origin of these components is not easy to find out, but may be include “vegetable” oils.   I’ve not been able to find any relevant studies, but there are lots of mentions of cancer when discussing this additive.

Thickener E415, also known as Xanthin gum

This thickener is created from fermenting corn sugar with a bacterium.  It may also use wheat, dairy or soy.  As with all of these additives it is very hard to determine exactly how the chemical was derived.

Do you know more about these additives?  Are you happy to consume a small amount of these additives to get coconut milk into your diet?  Let me know in the comments below.