BPA – To Ban or Not to Ban? – Part 2

In my last post, I gave a quick summary of the BPA issue, including the FDA’s decision to not ban it, and some of the risks associated with it.

So, in case you’re worried about the effects of BPA on your family, here are 5 helpful tips to reduce your exposure:

  • Be a mindful shopper.  Look at the containers before you buy, especially for acidic foods.  Avoid cans; go for Tetra Paks instead.  For plastics, the recycling number 7 usually means it contains BPA.
  • Be wary of what you put in the microwave/dishwasher.  Although the packaging might say the container is microwave/dishwasher safe, plastics easily leach BPA when heated.
  • Switch to glass or BPA-free plastics.  It’s a win-win for the environment and for your health.  And while you’re at it…
  • Bring your own refillable BPA-free water bottle.  Or at least make sure not to leave your disposable plastic ones in a hot or freezing car.
  • Educate yourself.  The more you know about BPA, the better – that way you can easily make your own decisions, regardless of what the FDA or hardcore environmentalists push at you.

As for me, I try to avoid BPA.  I don’t eat much canned food (it’s probably healthier that way anyway), I have several refillable BPA-free beverage containers that I use throughout the day, and I try to stay educated in the world of nutritional news, including the BPA issue.

How about you?  Are you doing anything to avoid BPA?

Do you think it should be banned?  Why or why not?

Frappucci-NO WAY! Starbucks Serves Squashed Bugs

Did you hear the one about the bugs in the frappuccino?

Unfortunately, this isn’t the beginning of a joke.  I’m actually referring to the latest news about the food additives in Starbucks beverages.

According to this article, the international coffee giant has been dying their Strawberries & Crème Frappuccinos with cochineal extract, a “natural” coloring additive made of crushed cochineal bugs.  And it doesn’t look like they’re planning on stopping.

Well, I guess I can see how the company is trying to keep a natural/green image, and I give them props for not using some of the toxic artificial colorings out there.  At the same time, though, there are plenty of other natural, non-insect/animal sources of vibrant color – in fact, some are so easy that you could make them at home!

And bugs?   Really?  Is anyone else grossed out by this?  Of course!  Especially the vegan community, who have already started a petition against the company’s use of the ingredient, which you can sign here if you’d like.

All in all, whenever this kind of story makes the news, it makes you wonder what else the FDA allows in your food.  Then again, maybe you really don’t want to know.  But how can we eat healthier if we don’t know what exactly we’re eating now?  This is why we need to be conscious consumers!

Personally, I can’t remember the last time I frequented Starbucks, so this really doesn’t affect me.  What about you?  Do you think it’s okay for companies to use natural ingredients like this, even though they are non-vegetarian/vegan?  And would you drink one of these strawberry frapps, now that you know what gives them their color?

I’d love to hear any/all of your thoughts.  Please feel free to leave a comment below!

The Hunger Games, Movie Theaters, and Mindless Eating – Part 2

As promised in my last post, here are four ways you can plan ahead to combat mindless eating at the movies.  Not only will you eat less junk, but you’ll save some money, too!

1.  Take a pass.

This is what my brother and I did when we went to see The Hunger Games yesterday, which, by the way, was FANTASTIC.  We were able to last the whole 2 hours and 22 minutes (+1 hour wait/commercial time) without any food – it really wasn’t that difficult!

2.  Order small.

Trust me.  You don’t need the biggest size available – you’ll be so into the show that you’re not going to notice that much of a difference!  And if you finish eating before the credits roll, that’s great!  It will give you more time and energy to focus on the movie.  (Or if you’re seeing Hunger Games, you could spend the time trying not to cry, comparing book vs. movie, Peeta vs. Gale, etc… ;))

3.  Share.

Movies are better with a buddy, and so are the snacks – in fact, the more, the merrier!  Not only will you probably eat less, but you’ll also have to be polite about it, too – being sure not to take more than your share, not scarfing/shoveling it by the handful…  It’s a win-win!

4.  Bring your own.

I’m not sure what all theater policies are, but some don’t allow you to bring in your own snacks.  But that’s not to say that they won’t search your purse/pockets if you stuff them with Trader Joe’s goodies or other snacks from home…  Not that I’ve ever done that before!  It’s probably the best way to get the most health-conscious, cost-effective theater snack, though.  Just sayin’! 😉

So next time you go to the movies (or when you see Hunger Games for the third time), ask yourself what you’re going for – the film?  Or the drinks, candy, and popcorn?   Hopefully these four alternatives will help you avoid mindless eating while still enjoying your movie.

“May the odds be ever in your favor!”*

 *Disclaimer:  I’ve only seen the Hunger Games movie; I have not yet read any of the books.  Don’t worry – I am planning on reading them!

The Hunger Games, Movie Theaters, and Mindless Eating – Part 1

Have you seen The Hunger Games, yet?!?

I haven’t, and it’s all I can think about!  (I’m planning on going this week, so no spoilers, please!)

If you have seen it, lucky you!  If not, try to recall the last movie you saw in a theater.  Did you have any theater food while you were there?  What did you eat?  How was it?  Don’t you remember?

Think about it.  At movie theaters we spend so many dollars and calories on food, but do we actually pay attention to what we eat during the film?

This concept ties in with my “quest for conscious eating” theme.  What’s the point of sound nutrition advice, good food choices, calorie-counting, et cetera, if you’re not going to pay attention to what you’re eating in the end anyway?

Now, don’t get me wrong; I’m not trying to completely bash eating at the movies.  In fact, popcorn itself can make a healthy snack – when it’s not drenched in artificial butter, of course!

My point here is not what you eat, but how you eat it.

The thing is, here in America, we’ve grown accustomed to using external cues to determine how much to eat (e.g. an empty plate), rather than the natural, internal cues (e.g. no longer feeling hungry).  For example, when you’re at a restaurant with friends, do you honestly assess your level of fullness to determine when to stop eating (listening to your body = internal cue)?  Or do you just continue grazing until your visit is over and/or plate is empty (listening to outside forces = external cue)?

When you eat without purpose or without consciously thinking about it, this is called mindless eating.  We all do it at times.  But the good news is, if you do some thinking ahead of time, you can actually use mindless eating to your own advantage: since you’re not really paying attention to your food anyway, you can easily make healthier choices in advance and you won’t even notice the difference!

In my next post, I’ll give you four simple ways you can do this.

To be continued…

(Click here to read part 2.)