Making Better Food Choices: An “Honest” Food Checklist

Gogurt's ingredient list.  Cornstarch.  Potassium sorbate.  Carrageenan.  Sorry.  This doesn't make the cut.

Simply Gogurt’s ingredient list. Cornstarch. Potassium sorbate. Carrageenan. Sorry. This doesn’t make the cut.

Question of the day:  “Can you suggest some first steps to eating better?”

Since we ditched the word HEALTHY (a foul, ambiguous word which leaves food confusion in its wake) a couple of posts ago, we are looking for new words to fill in our vocabulary gap.

My good friend from Romania, in America via a delayed stay in Italy, calls it “honest” food.  Ingredients that are real.  She asks me,  the representative American that I am, questions like “Where did hot dogs come from?” and “How can you call green bean casserole homemade?”

“I don’t know,” I shrug, a little embarrassed at my American lack of palate.  “It tastes good?”  Her eyes cross, and I see she feels very sorry for me.

A great beginning step towards health is to seek “honest” food.  Fresh vegetables, fruits, nuts, and meats are about some of the most honest foods you can find, particularly if you know where or who they came from.  Dairy and whole grains get a little trickier, with more additives, processing, and ingredients.  How does your food check out?


Chobani Plain Greek yogurt made with just milk and cultures.  Makes the cut.  Add some of your own fruit and honey to "juice" it up!

Chobani Greek yogurt made with just milk and cultures. Makes the cut. Let kids add some fresh fruit and honey to “jazz” it up to suit!

1.  Can I pronounce all of the ingredients on the label?  No.  Put it back.  If my fourth grader can’t read it, we skip it.

2.  Do I know what all of the ingredients are?  No.  Put it back and look it up when you go home.  Or leave me a comment, and I’ll research it for all of us and make a post out of it.  Or get in the kitchen more.

3.  Are there added dyes?  Yes.  Put it back.  Studies are suggesting, not proving, just suggesting, that some food dyes lead to ADHD type symptoms.

4.  Are there artificial preservatives?  Yes.  Put it back.  Or take it home with you and leave it on the counter for a week.  If it’s still good, don’t eat it.

5.  Are there highly processed oils in it?  Yes.  Caution.  Limit intake of soybean, vegetable, corn, and canola oils.  Jury is leaning toward these oils being detrimental in the high quantities we Americans consume.  I don’t know about you Australians or New Zealanders.  Minimally processed oils like olive oil, unrefined coconut oil, butter, unrefined palm oil, tallow, and lard–oh my, yes, we’re beginning to do retakes on saturated fats–are better choices than those oils that are high in omega-6s.

6.  Did it have to be fortified with vitamins and minerals?  Yes.  Put it back.  We don’t like Botoxed food when we can choose real fruits, vegetables, and meats for our vitamins and minerals.

7.  Is there high fructose corn syrup in it?  Yes.  Put it back.  Sugar is not great, but it’s the least a food company ought to give us!

"United States maps demonstrating, by state, the percentage of adults who were the years 1991 and 2010...

“United States maps demonstrating, by state, the percentage of adults who were obese…in the years 1991 and 2010…

8.  Is there an artificial sweetener in there?  Yes.  Put it back.  It’s clearly not helping any of us.  See maps at left.


That ought to get you started on “honest” food!

Be forewarned, the Hounds of Hell will be on you when you don’t bring home a box of manufactured square crackers or round cereal loops. Count on it. And they won’t let up until they’re 18.  Except that biggest one.   He can’t go anywhere.  Poor thing.

I prefer to focus on real food, not calories and weight, but I want to leave you with these graphs that were printed in American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons Now newsletter, March 2013.  Something is CLEARLY wrong.  Choose real food, not processed products.  It can be whole grain and claim to be healthy–but make sure it’s honest!

With honest regards,  Terri

1 thought on “Making Better Food Choices: An “Honest” Food Checklist

  1. Pingback: I Fell Off of the Wagon | the homeschooling doctor

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