Monday, February 08, 2010

My Healthy Obsession & CHECK THE INGREDIENTS!

I can hardly believe that I am now mother to an almost 2 year old and am 22 weeks pregnant with a little girl. My wonderful toddler Erin, never ceases to amaze, test & teach me. She has been walking properly since 13 months, has most of her milk teeth, has begun potty training and is talking quite a bit, sometimes even stringing words together. She is strong, healthy, happy and extremely loving and willful! We feel very blessed to have her and try hard not to be possessive and controlling over her, but to let her become her own little person with her own thoughts and ideas. I like how Kahlil Gibran puts it here

One of the main reasons I've decided to blog again is because I feel there are things I'd like to share. I'm fearful of coming across preachy, and would just like you to know in advance that I do not feel I am better or superior in any way. I am just so grateful to people who have taught me things I didn't know, and want to pass that on.

Another reason I'm not preaching is because I've been there and done it all. I've spent many a night (way in the past now) snorting cocaine. I've taken more ecstasy than I can work out (probably between 2 & 10 per weekend for about 2 years-also many years ago now!). I've had LSD on several occasions and brief encounters with mandrax & heroine. I've drunk excessively - leading to horrible things happening to me. I smoked cigarettes for many years. I've eaten food without giving a thought to where it is from, how it is made, what is in it, or whether it is harmful. It has all shaped me into the person I am, and therefore I do not regret any of it, and am indeed much the richer and more open-minded for it. So I'm not asking you not to experience life to the fullest (whatever that means to you ), I just hope that what I am sharing with you today will make you want to explore and experience life in different ways.

Before I sound like a prude...I do actually enjoy the odd tipple, and do have the odd splurge of things that are yummy but bad for me. I do still crave cigarettes sometimes. I long for a party with drugs sometimes. I long to lose myself in all kinds of things sometimes.(oh, the escape mechanisms of my youth! lol) But for this moment and this period of my life, I long to find myself, be present, take care of myself and live a long and healthy life. More than that, I want my children to have the best possible chance at a long and healthy life! I do not want to see them suffer unnecessarily. I do not want to feel that in some way I haven't given them the best possible chance at surviving this toxic world, within my ability and very limited knowledge. I would also like to see my children grow up and meet my grandchildren some day!

I seem to have been touched numerous times by friends and family with diseases, cancers and problems. In the past month 2 friends have been diagnosed with cancer. I have nursed loved ones and watched people die before their time. Call this fate/God/nature if you like. I may be wrong, but I personally believe that there are things we could be doing that could reduce the problems we face in this toxic world we live in. Why do certain healthy diets sometimes completely reverse diseases, allergies & even cancers?

I have lain awake at nights, wondering if there's any way I can help people to reduce the toxins in their lives and diets - for purely selfish reasons: - I do not want to see any of my friends, family & loved ones suffering anymore! I do not want anyone else to die before it's their time. I do not want to lose you! I do not want to see anyone unintentionally harming their children by feeding them foods/drinks that you perhaps do not know are toxic, and I feel it is my duty to share what I have learnt in my obsession for optimum health.

Am I just a woman obsessed? Would it really be unfair not to share what I've researched? I leave it to you to decide. Sometimes it's easier not to know things, but it doesn't necessarily help you to live more happily and healthily. I used to believe that ignorance is bliss, but I now believe that knowledge is power. I keep learning more all the time, because I keep exploring. I explore because I have watched loved ones die before their time. I do not know that all the conclusions I've drawn are right. I do not know how scientifically proven they all are. What I do know is that they are all based on reliable sources and that they make sense to me.

Obviously you can take it, leave it, come to your own conclusions, do whatever with it. You probably know most of this already, but if one of you learns something that can maybe help reduce health issues then I'm a happy woman. I know it all sounds cheesy, but just bare with me! We're often told to watch what we eat, but without the information about what is harmful to us, we don't really know what we're supposed to be watching for. At least I didn't.

In the past I always presumed that because the supermarket stocked it, it was fine to consume. Not until recent years have I stopped to look around and made a link (with the help of common sense as well as reading what scientists, nutritional specialists, doctors, etc have to say) between what we eat/drink/consume and the obesity, the depression, the amount of eczema, asthma & allergies, the cancers, the mental health problems, the heart problems, the bowel and immunity problems (to name just a few problems affecting close family & friends).

We have recently started eating a mostly vegan diet. This is not what I want to write about, although I will include our reasons at the end, just to clarify why we have chosen this path! My main message is: CHECK THE INGREDIENTS!! If there is a list of ingredients as long as your arm that go into your favourite foods and you don't know what any of them are - then more than likely they are not good for you!

It makes me really sad when children have concentration or behavioral problems, but their doctor and parents see fit to stick them on Ritalin or other drugs, without taking into consideration that they live on foods packed with harmful additives.

It also makes me feel terrible to see children and babies suffering from allergies, asthma, etc, which is simply put down to hereditary or once again treated with drugs, and no changes to diet are even attempted. I'm often too scared to stick up for them in person for fear of challenging other people's dietary or lifestyle choices, but I feel that I have a responsibility to those children to try to make it clear that diet can make a difference too, and is surely worth a try, at least. More on this here

What worries me most is the un-researched long term effect of these foods on our bodies. Why is there so much cancer & disease today? Why are people so stressed, overweight, sick and unhappy? While the effects of some of these additives effects may not seem to apply to you, it would appear that they do indeed affect the body.

Top 20 foods to avoid: (Taken from


E #


Facts you need to know


Red AC


Food coloring in snacks, sauces, preserves, soups, wine, cider, etc.

Avoid if you suffer from asthma, rhinitis (including hayfever), or urticaria (hives).



Food coloring in wine, spirits, fish roe.

Banned in the U.S. Avoid if you suffer from asthma, rhinitis, urticaria or other allergies.



Sweetener in snacks, sweets, alcohol, desserts, ~diet" foods

May affect people with PKU (phenylketonuria). Recent reports show possibility of headaches, blindness, and seizures with long-term high doses of aspartame.

Benzoic acid


Preservative in many foods, including drinks, low sugar products, cereals, meat products.

Can temporarily inhibit the function of digestive enzymes. May deplete glycine levels. Avoid ifyou suffer from asthma, rhinitis, urticaria or other allergies.


Black BN


In drinks, sauces, snacks, wines, cheese, etc.

Avoid if you suffer from asthma, rhinitis, urticaria, or other allergies.

Butylated Hydroxy-anisole


Preservative, particularly in fat-containing foods, confectionery, meats.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer says BHA is possibly carcinogenic to humans. BHA also interacts with nitrites to form chemicals known to cause changes in the DNA of cells.

Calcium benzoate


Preservative in many foods, including drinks, low-sugar products, cereals, meat products.

Can temporarily inhibit function of digestive enzymes and may deplete levels ofthe amino acid glycine. Should be avoided by those with hay fever, hives, and asthma.

Calcium sulphite


Preservative in a vast array of foods-from burgers to biscuits, from frozen mushrooms to horseradish. Used to make old produce look fresh.

In the U.S., sulphites are banned from many foods, including meat. They can cause bronchial problems, flushing, low blood pressure, tingling, and anaphylactic shock. The International Labour Organization says avoid them ifyou suffer from bronchial asthma, cardiovascular or respiratory problems and emphysema.

Monosodium glutamate (MSG)


Flavor enhancer.

Has been known to cause pressure on the head, seizures, chest pains, headache, nausea, burning sensations, and tightness of face. Many baby food producers have stopped adding MSG to their products.

Ponceau 4R, Conchineal

Red A


Food coloring.

People who suffer from asthma, rhinitis or urticaria may find their symptoms become worse following consumption of foods containing this coloring.

Potassium benozoate


See calcium benzoate.

See calcium benzoate.

Potassium nitrate


Preservative in cured meats and canned meat products.

It can lower the oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood; it may combine with other substances to form nitrosamines, which are carcinogenic; and it may have an atrophying effect on the adrenal gland.

Propyl p-hydroxybenozoate, propylparaben, and paraben


Preservative in cereals, snacks, pate, meat products, confectionery.

Parabens have been identified as the cause of chronic dermatitis in numerous instances.

Saccharin & its

Na, K and Ca salts


Sweetener in diet, and no-sugar products.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer has concluded that saccharin is possibly carcinogenic to humans.

Sodium metabisulphite

Preservative and antioxidant.

May provoke life-threatening asthma.

Sodium sulphite


Preservative used in wine-making and other processed foods.

Sulphites have been associated with triggering asthma attacks. Most asthmatics are sensitive to sulphites in food.

Stannous chloride (tin)


Antioxidant and color-retention agent in canned and bottled foods, fruit juices.

Acute poisoning has been reported from ingestion of fruit juices containing concentrations of tin greater than 250 mg per liter.

Sulphur dioxide



Sulphur dioxide reacts with a wide range of substances found in food, including various essential vitamins, minerals, enzymes and essential fatty acids. Adverse reactions: bronchial problems particularly in those prone to asthma, hypotension (low blood pressure), flushing tingling sensations or anaphylactic shock. International Labour Organization says to avoid E220 if you suffer from conjunctivitis, bronchitis, emphysema, bronchial asthma, or cardiovascular disease.

Sunset Yellow

FCF, Orange

Yellow S


Food coloring.

Some animal studies have indicated growth retardation and severe weight loss. People with asthma, rhinitis, or urticaria should avoid this product.



Yellow food coloring.

May cause allergic reactions and asthmatic attacks and has been implicated in bouts of hyperactivity disorder in children. Those who suffer from asthma, rhinitis and urticaria may find symptoms worsen after consumption.


With today's chemical farming, even the old adage that "an apple a day keeps the doctor away" must be questioned. For the caterpillar, one brief journey across the average apple is enough to kill it. But what about us? According to the World Health Organization, there were three million cases of severe pesticide poisoning and 20,000 deaths globally in 1996. A survey by the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries found that 89% to 99% of all fresh fruit, cereals, and vegetables are sprayed with pesticides! That means that pesticides used in animal feed also contaminate most meat and milk.

Although few proper surveys have been carried out to find the extent of the problem, the Association for Public Analysts randomly tested 305 fruits: 31 of the samples contained pesticide residues above the safety levels, and another 72 samples showed lower pesticide residues. Some fruits-particularly strawberries, raspberries, grapes, and tomatoes had measurable levels of at least six different pesticides! More recent concernes deal with the level of chemicals in carrots and lettuce. In 1994, a survey of carrots found some to have levels 25 times higher than the safety limit. In 1995, 10% of lettuces tested had levels in excess of the safety limit.

What can you do to protect yourself?

1. Select organic fruit and vegetables whenever possible. Wash or peel non-organic produce.

2. Choose fruits and vegetables in season. This means that your exposure to the chemicals used to delay ripening, prolong shelf-life, preserve color and so on, will be limited.

3. Supplement your diet with antioxidant nutrients-vitamins A, C, and E, and the minerals zinc and selenium-since the detoxification of many pesticides involves these nutrients.

Food Additives

Chemicals are purposely added to food to change its color, preserve it, prevent rancidity, keep fats emulsified, and foods stable. Most of the chemicals are synthetic compounds, some with known negative health effects. But more importantly, we don't really know what the long-term consequences of consuming such large amounts of additives are. It is therefore best to avoid all additives, with a few notable exceptions.

Since foods without preservatives are more likely to spoil, it's important to buy fresh produce and consume it relatively quickly. However, there are some additives you don't need to avoid:




vitamin B2

carotene, vitamin A


E300-304 E306-309

vitamin C,

tocopherols like vitamin E





E375 E440




Preservatives like Sulphur Dioxide, are found on "healthy" foods like dried fruit - unless it's organic. So watch out for that. Erin has gone mad for dried apple rings lately, and I didn't realise they were preserved with Sulphur Dioxide and funnily enough she got conjunctivitis and a bit of a cough. Coincidence? Maybe.

A lot of these - Aspartame (artificial sweetener) most noticeably - is found in so called "healthy" kids foods and drinks that profess to be sugar free (such as Froot Shoots). Sugar is often blamed for hyperactivity and emotional and behavioral problems in children, but really the culprit (and much much more harmful) is preservatives, colourings and other additives which are responsible for these. Aspartame is also found in diet drinks too. Read this then decide for yourself whether you want to avoid it! I wouldn't touch it with a barge pole!

Heating or freezing plastic releases dioxins. Dioxins are carcinogenic(cancer causing) and poison the cells in our body. Think of this before microwaving fatty foods or even making up your babies bottle with boiling water!

Chemicals in washing powders, personal care products and our diets are often triggers for asthma, eczema and allergies. I have found that my sniffles, sneezes and wheeziness have decreased since using natural soaps, shampoos and environmentally friendly washing powders. I now hate the chemical smell of fabric softeners, unnatural perfumes and aerosols like hair spray...they make me sneeze & go wheezy!

Erin gets a rash on her bum when we use pampers nappies on her...when we use the more eco-friendly ones like Nature Baby or Sainsbury's eco ones (both same price or cheaper than pampers), she doesn't get a red bum. There are horrid chemicals in nappies such as pampers that aggravate skin problems and there are thought to be other effects...I personally would not like chemicals on the sensitive skin of that area...would you?

So what to eat???
It may sound complicated if you are used to eating ready meals, but it can be really simple. A diet of vegetables, fruit, nuts, seeds, legumes, beans & grains have been known to reverse cancers and other diseases and if homemade are completely free of anything harmful (besides traces of pesticides if it's not all organic). It doesn't necessarily mean taking hours to make a can be as simple as making a wholegrain like Quinoa or brown rice(in stock if you like), and throwing some veg...add some soy sauce for more flavour if you like. Or slicing up veg and stir-frying it with some seeds and Thai curry sauce and serving in wholewheat pita breads. Or throwing veg in a pot with some stock, and whizzing it at the end and serving with bread. Be aware that things like white rice are processed and bleached and white sugar is is much healthier to go for wholegrain rice, grains like quinoa or millet, unrefined brown sugar (or honey, molasses, or agave syrup). Same as bread...white flour is processed and bleached, wholewheat is not...what sounds more healthy? More expensive maybe. But surely your health is worth it? We throw money away on so much rubbish, but don't feel like we can afford to spend that little extra on taking good care of ourselves. We don't want to regret that some day.

Why are we (mostly) vegan?
We cannot profess to be 100% vegan, because we do indeed still eat honey and wear wool jumpers and leather boots...this may change in the future. Since the New Year (and after much reading) we gave up eggs, dairy & meat. Here are just some of the reasons for this:
  • We watched this video
  • There is evidence that suggests that milk is linked to cancer, osteoporosis, eczema, asthma & much more. Click here for more info
  • Animal products are unhealthy. Meat, eggs & dairy are linked to many, many health problems. Read more here
  • Animal products are unnecessary to our bodies - there is evidence that we are better off without it
  • We save money by not buying meat
  • We are not contributing as much to the cruelty of animals
  • It's much more environmentally friendly
  • We simply don't want to consume carcinogens, additives and other harmful ingredients
So far, we are loving this new diet! We found an excellent book called "Living Vegan for Dummies" which has given us all the nutritional guidelines we need as well as simple recipes for getting started, and tasty vegan recipes for kids who are used to processed foods. We've been experimenting with lots of nutritious foods that we never knew existed or what to do with like miso, seaweeds, nutritional yeast flakes, quinoa and much more.
So far, we are feeling really good! It's only been a month but I feel more energetic (even though I'm getting more pregnant by the day). It will be interesting to see if Steven stops getting headaches (I haven't heard him complain of any recently). Since Erin hasn't had the option of chocolate and rubbishy biscuits and instead has had fruit and nuts as snacks, her appetite has increased and she is eating loads of things that she refused to eat before (like broccoli and sweet potato).

For Frequently Asked Questions check this out
And more on milk/calcium here

Food for thought: Where do elephants get their calcium after they're weaned? :-)

I hope some of this was at least a little helpful...I just find it so intriguing, interesting, and scary!

Other links you may want to check out:


At February 10, 2010 3:20 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love your blog, it is very nice to read what you write, for me is like if I was reading a history. Your life sound so cool.
Sometimes I feel alone and I just read your blog and then I feel better.


At February 10, 2010 8:28 pm, Blogger That's Life said...

I liked what you wrote, Sharon! On my blog I have the same approach as you: no imposing of views, but....I read a book about cancer and diet in 2005 and could eat right out of that book: nothing outrageous, just natural, healthy food. In our modern fast times we so easily lose sight of the natural.

We cannot say for sure that, for example, a right diet, would prevent or reverse cancer - but it is right to treat our bodies (and our family's bodies) as best as we can - starting with what we put on the table.
I need to do something drastic about not drinking diet fizzies.
You are one of the best blog-writers I know, Shazzie - glad you're back again!

At February 12, 2010 5:41 pm, Blogger The Wandering Fairy said...

Hello Anderma! Thanks for your comment, glad you enjoyed it. I can't seem to get onto your blog...would love to have a peep! Many a true word...we do lose sight of the natural too easily, don't we! lots of love xxx


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