Less is More
by Missy Chase Lapine
At some point early in their lives I made the connection between how healthy and happy my kids were and what they ate. This propelled me into becoming a food label sleuth. Any ingredient list that I had to concentrate on to pronounce was immediately suspect.
Short of carrying a food ingredients dictionary every time I shopped, I came up with a basic rule of thumb to start with: less is more. If a bread had more than five ingredients in it, I’d pass. Same for just about anything else. And it worked. Especially for kids’ foods.
As Publisher of Eating Well magazine, I had the opportunity to learn fist hand that the food giants are slipping cheap “laboratory foods” into kids’ snacks and then making it irresistible to them with a fun color or name. Almost without exception, the best selling kids’ packaged foods are filled with partially hydrogenated oils (trans fats), monosodium glutamate (“msg” in its many forms), and high fructose corn syrup.
Google became my best tool for sleuthing out food labels in a flash, and it quickly became obvious that poor quality foods are being doctored up with cheap laboratory-made ingredients to make them look and taste better than they really are–just the opposite of what a trustworthy sneaky chef should be doing. So, another rule of thumb I’ve discovered is that what we save in price, we usually pay for in quality, taste and in the health of our bodies.
Study after study shows that what we eat not only impacts the health of our physical bodies, but our moods, appearance and mental acuity as well. The effect can be even more pronounced in kids.
As parents in today’s world, we have to take control over the kind of nutrition that goes into our kids like never before. The earlier we start, the better. With so many choices and so much kid-targeted advertising promoting unhealthy foods, our kids are now over-fed and undernourished. We owe it to them to provide quality over quantity, and to even create quality when we have to. That’s the job of a real sneaky chef.
Missy Chase Lapine is the former publisher of Eating Well magazine. A mother of two young daughters, she knows how picky kids can be—and she’s got the kitchen experiments to prove it! She is on the Culinary Arts facility of The New School, in New York City, and also gives cooking classes and coaching to busy families hoping to learn how to eat healthier. Her book, The Sneaky Chef, is published by Running Press. Her next book The Sneaky Chef: How to Cheat on Your Man (In the Kitchen) will be out in April 2008. You can learn more about Missy at her website, www.thesneakychef.com