You Are What You Eat - Natures Bin

You are what you eat! Isn’t that the scariest thing your mother ever told you? I used to think I would wake up one day in the shape of an Oreo cookie, my favorite childhood snack. I didn’t realize the truth in her statement until years later. What you eat directly affects how you feel, how you look, and how long you may live.


Because my quest is to live long and live to the fullest, I cannot ignore one of the most basic elements to living - food. My Secret Shopper pick this week, The Nature’s Bin, at 18120 Sloane Ave. (216-521-4600) is no secret to many. As for me, it had been months since I shopped there. Recently I returned and couldn’t believe it took me so long between visits. It is no surprise that the atmosphere in an organic store is light. It is not my imagination; the people who are drawn to a healthier lifestyle are genuinely happier and friendlier. It makes sense; you are what you eat. If you are loaded down with processed carbohydrates and hydrogenated oil, you really don’t feel much like smiling. I know, I have been there.


This week’s feature on Nature’s Bin is not intended to wake up the “health nuts”. They are already wide awake, living life to the fullest. It is intended for those who are curious. Those who tip toe back and forth between health and habit; who have not yet committed fully to a healthy lifestyle, but are trying with baby steps to make the cross-over. People like me. People who really want to give their children the best start they can in life, but just need a push now and then.


Nature’s Bin is just the push we need. Often we justify not buying healthier or organic foods because they “cost more”. Well, they may in a traditional grocery store, but they actually don’t if you visit The Bin. Apples were .69 a pound in the winter! Fresh whole grain bread was comparable in price to processed packaged bread. The selections were diverse, and all were good enough to put into your body and your child’s body, with no worries.


How many of you caffeine hounds switched at one point to decaf only to discover the chemicals used to make decaf were worse than caffeine? At Nature’s Bin you can get freshly ground naturally decaf and still maintain your health. My favorite part of the store is the prepared food counter where you can pick up a variety of items; including fresh soups, vegetarian dishes, and other tasty entrees without the hydrogenated oil that is linked to various health problems. You won’t find a counter with cold cuts because they are filled with nitrates which have been linked to cancer. You will find margarine made with cold pressed healthy oils versus solid trans fat. I could go on with all the fresh purchases you can get for affordable prices, but I invite you to check it out yourself.


It took years for the FDA to update the food requirements for children and adults, to tell America what so many already knew; that bread should be whole grain and rice should be brown, that oil should come naturally, not from processes that cause health risks and block arteries. The mayor of New York impressed me more than any politician ever has when he announced that no kitchen in that city would be allowed to serve food with hydrogenated oil. I am sure that not all shared in my celebration, but let’s face it, there is a certain irony in the fact that many support legislation to ban smoking in public places, but turn around and feed their children processed food with an oil linked to cancer and other health ailments.


This is not a judgment, as I have been there, and will have days when I am there again. Now I no longer have to spend long minutes reading food labels. At Nature’s Bin I don’t have to read any labels - their food is not filled with high fructose, hydrogenated oil, or poisons. You may be surprised to discover, as I was, that items such as granola bars and whole grain cereal bars contain high fructose syrup and hydrogenated oil. At Nature's Bin they won't. You can even get healthier pop tarts and chips that are almost good for you. Many are not aware the FDA allows packaged foods to claim “no trans fat” if they contain .5 or less per serving. But, how many of us eat only one serving of chips or other snacks? If hydrogenated oil is listed in the ingredients, it is unhealthy.


After closely scrutinizing data from scientific studies and reviews, many European countries have either banned hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated oils altogether or have instituted future dates for elimination of their use in foods. These government actions concerning the trans fatty acids (hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated oils) is directly related to studies that link trans fatty acid (hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated oil) consumption from processed foods to the development of diabetes, cancer and cardiovascular disease.


Hydrogenation of oils, with removal of essential fatty acids, is used in the food industry for the sole purpose of prolonging the shelf life of processed foods (to maximize profits). Production of partially hydrogenated fats began early in the 20th century and increased steadily until about the 1960s, as processed vegetable fats displaced animal fats in the diets of most people in industrialized countries. The initial motivation was lower cost, but health benefits were later purported.


I do recognize that larger chain grocery stores are beginning to offer a small organic section as they realize the need, but my hope is that one day that all food sold is organic. My hope is that the government will go a step further and limit food stamps to 90% fresh foods and 10% junk. Why? Because the children deserve that and it could change their lives. If you think organic food costs more; think about the medical bills for high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, heart ailments, clogged arteries, and cancer. We have become a country that is quicker to disperse medication for children with hyperactivity disorders than to attempt changing dietary habits, or combining the two. What chance does a hyperactive child have, starting his day with high fructose syrup as the first ingredient listed in his breakfast? When the blood sugar escalates and then rapidly plummets, how can any of us look sane and calm?


I encourage you, if you are teetering, to try Nature’s Bin for your next shopping trip. Change starts slowly, and balance is necessary. But the balance between mind, body and soul is necessary for living life to the fullest. Isn’t that our main purpose here, to live life to the fullest? There are no guarantees in life; we all know of people who lead a healthy life and are struck with illnesses. Still, we have choices. "We cannot choose how or when we will die, but we can choose, every single day, how we will live." (Stephen Biko-S. African activist). Live healthy and long, and give that to your children!

Read More on Secret Shopper
Volume 3, Issue 6, Posted 11:26 PM, 03.06.2007