Cape Cod Mommies was given this opportunity from NaturallySavvy.com to review the Free e-book: Label Lessons: Unjunk Your Kid's Lunch Box. We received no compensation for this review and the thoughts and opinions belong to the author.
“As parents, we’re not immune to temptation… It’s easy to be drawn in by conveniently packaged foods promising to save time, especially in the morning rush.”
I would say that quote from Andrea Donsky and Lisa Tsakos’ eBook, “Label Lessons: Unjunk Your Kid’s
Lunch Box” sums up my personal relationship with packaged foods nicely. I want to provide nutritious and
healthy meals for my son. I make efforts to minimize packaging, keep sugar low, and offer a variety of veggies and fruits with his meals. I am also lucky as my son, while picky at times, is a pretty adventurous eater and broccoli is one of his favorite foods. That being said, it can still feel overwhelming to keep up on all of the things one should or should not be feeding their child. Growing up in the 80’s when Velveeta cheese was a staple ingredient in at least one of my weekly dinners and my lunch box included a can of Coke and a bag of Double Stuffed Oreos, it is easy to rationalize that, “I turned out fine” and avoid thinking too much about ingredients.
But a lot has changed since I was a child. As consumers we are able to more easily arm ourselves with knowledge (thanks to the almighty Internet) and manufacturing processes continue to incorporate more and more artificial ingredients into foods (to make more money) while packaging and marketing them towards our
What I like most about this eBook is that well first, it is FREE, and second it condenses a whole bunch of information into an accessible and easy-to-read format. You are not lectured or made to feel guilty.
The authors are not out to build themselves up as the Ultimate Moms leaving you feeling like an inadequate parent as you read along. The eBook is designed to empower you with information and teach you some
quick ways to be a better label reader. For all the parents out there with smartphones, you can reference the
eBook right in the aisle of the grocery store.
The eBook includes their list of the “scary seven” ingredients to be mindful of in packaged goods. I totally agree with every item they list and appreciate how they have itemized things to explain why they are worth avoiding for parents who may be less familiar with the negative nutritional impact of a specific ingredient.
You are then provided a side-by-side comparison of similar products, such as two brands of whole wheat bread, to show you how to read product labels and make better choices. I already considered myself pretty knowledgeable regarding their “scary seven” list of ingredients, but when I got to the first product comparison I discovered an ingredient I had not paid much attention to before. DATEM. From the way they describe it this nasty, man-made fat somehow manages to avoid being included in the calorie or fat count on the product
I hopped onto the internet to do a quick search for DATEM, since it was not something I was familiar with.
Several websites come up that describe the chemical structure but none of them discussed any of the claims about hidden fats that the eBook contends. When doing my own research on claims like this I strive to find not-for-profit sites (addresses ending with .org, or educational sites ending with .edu). There were not a lot of those options to choose from. I then noticed that the eBook provides a citation associated with each of
their claims about DATEM. I was able to follow the link about hidden fats to the Weston A. Price Foundation. As a side note, if you are not familiar with the Weston A. Price Foundation nonprofit charity, I highly recommend you read their mission statement.
So my personal conclusion on DATEM is that I would avoid it based on the rationale provided in the eBook, but want to point out that the source they cite is from a 2004 magazine article. While I believe the Weston A. Price Foundation (publisher of article) to be a reputable source of information, it is far different from a peer-reviewed scientific article that follows strict testing standards. Going back to the citation for a minute
though, one of the key points of the article was:
Currently the levels of trans contributed by MGs and DGs are relatively low [NOTE: “trans” is referring to trans fat and “MGs” and “DGs” are other names for DATEM], even when they appear several times in the ingredient list. However, as the public becomes more aware of the dangers of trans fats, the industry may be tempted to add more MGs and DGs containing trans fats in order to obtain the qualities they want in a food without having to list trans fats on the label.
This article was written nine years ago. Trans fats were only added to food labels four years ago in 2009. So I would be highly suspect of any food containing DATEM today simply because the public is FAR more aware of trans fats now than when the article was written. I just pulled out the whole wheat bread I used to make my son’s sandwich this morning and guess what, it contain DATEM. Gross.
So where is this tangent going and why should you care? This DATEM tangent illustrates how much time it takes to investigate and research ONE ingredient that appears on a food label. I did it to make sure that
the conclusions outlined in the eBook follow my own line of thinking when it comes to avoiding ingredients. The point of Label Lessons: Unjunk Your Kid’s Lunch Box is to save you time and condense a lot of research and information that can be difficult to find into an easy-to-read format. They do not shy away from providing sources for each claim, so should you want to do your own additional investigating into a specific ingredient they flag, you can. I appreciate this kind of transparency as it makes me feel confident that
the authors of the eBook are truly out to help parents without any hidden agendas or off-the-wall claims that have no merit.
The eBook is only 27 pages long, so it is pretty easy to read through it, especially since much of the information is organized in bullet points or brief paragraphs. I expect it to be a resource I will refer to a lot as I go about finding products that do not contain any of the ingredients I want to avoid. First up for me is to find a new whole wheat bread.
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