Jill Richardson: Tricky treats
Kids look forward to Halloween all year. They obsess over their costumes, dwell on decorations, and plot how to bag as much candy as possible when they go trick-or-treating. Even though I’m very concerned about good nutrition, I love handing out chocolates to all of the little ghosts, witches and princesses who come by.
After all, this one night of treats isn’t fueling America’s soaring obesity rate. It’s the daily consumption of sugary processed food sold by the food industry, and we shouldn’t let it trick us anymore.
Check out any loaf of bread, bottle of salad dressing, or even a package of Lean Cuisine Sesame Chicken tucked away in your freezer. You can probably find sugar listed as an ingredient, whether it’s sugar itself, or another form of it like high fructose corn syrup, honey or brown rice syrup.
The other day, I looked at a “healthy” box of organic granola bars. They looked delicious. But the second ingredient listed on the label was “evaporated cane juice” and it wasn’t even the only form of sugar. The bars also contained something called “invert cane syrup” and molasses.
The food that’s marketed to kids is even worse, from sugary cereals to fruit snacks. Nowadays, food companies might add a token amount of whole grains or “real fruit” to these items, but adding whole wheat to cookies doesn’t magically turn them into health food.
But a healthy diet isn’t mystical and doesn’t need to be elusive. The keys to wellness are easy to find. All it takes is consuming a variety of whole foods, mostly plant-based. Don’t pay top dollar for magical berries from the Amazon or the Himalayas. Just stick to grains, beans, nuts, fruits, vegetables, and some animal products if you choose. And go light on the sugar.
Jill Richardson is the founder of the blog La Vida Locavore.