Just Say, “Know” (to Ingredients)

Know What You’re Putting In Your Mouth

The hands of fate are at the end of your wrists. I know, “Old habits die hard.” Great saying.

Even though I don’t need to, I still habitually walk down every aisle at the grocery, whether or not I know that I “need” anything the aisle proffers. This habit causes a mock argument with my wife every time it happens. My justification for this is that, in most cases, it affords me the satisfaction of saying no (or, to the point of my post, “know”) to every last item absurdly screaming at me to buy it because it’s “heart smart,” or the “healthy choice.”

Speaking of screaming absurdities: Has anyone else noticed a dedicated aisle to candy? It’s unbelievable how this gradual change happened. And, while I can assure you that it wasn’t always the case, I actually enjoy regularly walking down, through, and past the “Candy Aisle” – without placing so much as a mint in my cart. That’s not because “I’m great.” It’s because I’ve managed to shift my thinking, something with which I’d like to help you, if you’re serious about managing your weight. Shifting your thinking about food will make all the difference to you as you begin to lose – and work to maintain – your weight.

Shift Your Weight: “Know” Thinking Required

At some point, and with much practice, my thinking shifted from, “Oh, My! Two-For-The-Price-of-One! Hooray!” to telling myself, “None of this, at ANY price, will help me reach or maintain my goal of staying fit. Sure, I could get away with this or that. The truth is: I don’t need it.”

I once heard, “To know and not to do is not to know.” And this still holds true.

Right now, as surely as you’re reading this, you have within you EVERYTHING you need to gain control vs. gain weight.

I know this is because 1) you can read and 2) you have a brain. Ready for another bit of pith? Repeat this mantra as necessary:

“If I Can’t Read It, Then I Don’t Eat It.” (READ LABELS)

Three Simple Rules For Gaining Control Over Your Weight

Here’s the deal I’ll make with you: You can put anything you want in your shopping cart as long as you follow these three rules:

1. Read the label completely. Your only goal here is to know what substance, chemical process, or ingredient is being declared.

2. If you understand what that ingredient/process is and know that it has a positive nutritional value, you can buy it. (Notice, I said you can BUY it. Whether or not you decide to eat it is up to you).

3. Only when you truly know what a term or ingredient is are you allowed to consume it.

Go ahead, pick up the Oreos or Ho-Hos, etc. and read the labels diligently.

I promise you that, when you start to see ingredients like:

  • high fructose corn syrup
  • partially-hydrogenated palm oil
  • enriched flour
  • soy lecithin
  • cornstarch
  • sorbitan monostearate
  • polysorbate 60, etc.

you’ll begin questioning just what the hell business you have consuming those things – tasty or not. Take the time to do this for everything you intend to consume. As a quick aside, you’ll note that fresh fruit and vegetables take no time at all, because REAL FOOD DOESN’T REQUIRE A LABEL.

For a handy reference to food ingredients, Google the item directly: “what is partially-hydrogenated oil?” or “what’s in my food?” and/or visit:

“Awareness” is not “Knowledge”

Newsflash: Nabisco is not going out of business next week.

If you truly want triple-cheesey curls, I assure you they’ll be in stock by the next time you go shopping. So for now, take the time to write down any/all ingredients with which you’re unfamiliar. There’s no shame in this. We’ve been lulled into passive acceptance of questionable ingredients in our food. E.g., “soy lecithin” is ubiquitous in many foods. But that doesn’t mean we should be consuming it. Do you know what “soy lecithin” or “partially-hydrogenated [X] is? If not, you need to know.

When you go beyond “awareness of” the presence of a food ingredient and arrive at “knowledge of” what “partially-hydrogenated” means, you can consume any product that declares it. The same goes for “soy protein isolate.” You need to know the answer to this question: “What is ‘soy protein isolate’?” (If you guessed a “protein” related to “soy” then you don’t know what it is!)

Just Say, “Know”

My point here is to know — to really know — what you’re eating. If you choose to eat foods loaded with HFCS and hydrogenated ANYthing, then you have no business fooling yourself into thinking you’re serious about your health, much less about losing weight.

Maybe you think I’m being mean. Perhaps you think I’m being harsh. There’s another name for it, of course: “Tough Love.” I’m not going to pump you up with hope while you’re pumping yourself up with disgusting, anti-nutritional crap. And when you KNOW that the majority of ingredients in processed foods is crap, you’ll thank me. Or simply go ahead and hate me for pulling the “Big Food” wool from in front your eyes. The last thing I want is to fill you with false promises or flowery language that justifies not fueling your body properly.

Successfully Losing Weight Requires Knowing What You Want

I’m not going to tell you you can eat anything you like (unless it’s real food). So, yes. You can eat anything you want — just make sure of what you really want. This will take some practice and due diligence on your part to uncover the truth about what you feed yourself and/or your family.

Like me, you may need to keep practicing over and over again. You may have to fail 10 or hundreds of times before you make it down and through your “Aisle of Temptation.” Whether you fly or flop, as long as you’re willing to risk failure, you’ll get stronger and eventually stride confidently past the cream puffs. You must arm yourself with knowledge of what every food you consume contains.

The Hands Of Fate Are At The Ends of Your Wrists

You see, it really doesn’t matter what others tell you about your ability to successfully lose weight. They’re never going to be there reining you in when you feel like indulging. That task is placed squarely in your hands. You’re not destined to be overweight by the cruel Hands of Fate. Both hands of fate can be found at the ends of your wrists. You are in control.

I firmly believe that when you “just say, ‘know'” to whatever you consume, you’ll come to KNOW how much you and your family deserve good food and good health.

Because, to slightly turn the phrase to my (and your) advantage, “To know is to do.”

About DanielM

Daniel Millen is a freelance writer, multimedia designer, and senior moderator for a 27,000-member weight loss support website. His passion for helping others shed weight is balanced by his zeal for kung fu, tennis, and playing the piano. He and his wife, Susan Coon, a Speech-Language Pathologist, have three sons and live in Southfield, Michigan.
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