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The Twinkie Factor

Posted Jan 11 2010 6:59am
Ever heard the urban legend about the Twinkie discovered from the 1950's and when they opened it, it was still as fresh as the day it was made? A legend is probably all it is, but it does make you think. Now I'm not dissin' Twinkies, because I've had my share over the years (although it's probably been about 5 years since I last had one). Getting your "Twinkie Fix" once in a while isn't going to do much harm, but have you ever looked at the ingredients? Monoglycerides, diglycerides, polysorbate 60, sorbic acid, cellulose gum...and the list goes on. Sounds like a science experiment. Most of these hard-to-pronounce-ingredients are used to ensure freshness and therefore a longer shelf-life. The "natural" ingredients it does contain have been highly refined and processed.

So, where am I going with all of this? It's no big epiphany that Twinkies aren't healthy. And, it's no big revelation that Twinkies are a highly processed food and is loaded with preservatives, but what else goes into it? Take a look at a Twinkie the next time you're in the Quick Mart buying your 48oz Diet Coke tanker, umm...I mean your bottled water. Can you tell what other ingredients are in a twinkie? Maybe some flour? Milk-type products? Sugar? Fat? ? Stumped? I was. You can't tell. There is no food in nature that looks like a Twinkie.

This brings me to my point (yep, finally got there). Something I like to call the "Twinkie Factor"—if you can't recognize it, don't eat it. Think about that legendary 50-year-old Twinkie. After 50 years, it's still that same. Now think about that plate of leftover broccoli you put in the fridge a few days ago? What's going to happen to it in just a few days? Does big fuzzy, moldy, stinky blob come to mind? I think there's a lesson to be learned here. If the bacteria are smart enough to leave the Twinkie alone, then maybe we should too. Just remember to beat the bacteria to the broccoli before the "fuzz factor" kicks in.

Try this for a week. If you can't tell what a food is made of, then don't eat it. Make this your first step toward better eating in 2010. If it goes well the first week, then up the ante a little. Now, in addition to only eating what you can recognize, make sure those recognizable foods are prepared in a healthy manner. Yep, even though you know those tasty McDonald fries are potatoes, they're not so friendly to your waistline. Think fresh fruits and veggies, whole grains, lean meats, and good fats. In the spring, take a trip to your local farmer's market. Until then, hit the fresh foods section of your local grocery store.
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