Recently I interviewed Mira Dessy, and we talked about ingredients that can trigger thyroid autoimmunity. If you would prefer to listen to the interview you can access it by Clicking Here.
Dr. Eric Osansky:
I am super excited to chat with today’s guest, Mira Dessy. We are going to be talking all about ingredients, which isn’t a surprise because Mira is known as the Ingredient Guru. She is the author of The Pantry Principle: How to Read the Label and Understand What’s Really in Your Food. Mira believes it’s not just what you eat, but what’s in what you eat. She teaches clients how to navigate the grocery store’s mammoth packaged food stock to decipher confusing food labels and find real food solutions for chronic health issues. Thank you so much for joining us, Mira.
Thanks so much for having me here. I’m really excited to chat with you.
Same here. Excited to talk about all the different ingredients. Why don’t we start off with your background? How did you become known as the Ingredient Guru?
That’s a really good question. It’s actually a very long journey, but I’ll tell you the short version. I used to be in a completely different field. I was a database administrator for an international research firm. Over a period of time, I got sicker and sicker, and I wound up having a lot of health challenges going on. Ultimately, I was diagnosed with five different autoimmune disorders. During that time, I amassed a collection of doctors and prescriptions. It’s funny now but wasn’t funny then. My joke is if there was an “ist,” I had it: endocrinologist, gastroenterologist, cardiologist, I had them all.
As I was trying to work with these doctors to figure out what was going on, I realized nobody was talking about food. There were a few minor suggestions, but really nothing intensive. A friend of mine gave me a book about artificial colors that rocked my world. I was like, “Holy cow, I had no idea this could make that much of a difference.”
I will share that at the time, I thought we were eating very healthy. I cook. I make all of our food. We still had processed things in the house. We belonged to a CSA. We did all the things. But there was still a lot of junk. As I began to go through my pantry, just looking at artificial colors, I was blown away by how much there was. Then I began to do more research and discover more problems with things.
I wound up going back to school, became certified as a nutrition educator, and from there, began to work on not only improving my own health, but as people saw me getting better where I lived, they asked for my help, too. That began the process of my practice, which led to the book. I kept saying the same thing to people all the time. From there, everybody kept saying, “You know so much about the label.” One day, one friend said to me, “You really are the ingredient guru.” I said, “Ooh, I like that.” That’s how I got to where I am. It was not an overnight thing. It was a very long journey.
That definitely is a very catchy name. It sounds like ingredients have played a big role in helping you with your five autoimmune conditions that you were diagnosed with.
Absolutely. My primary was ulcerative colitis. For anybody who has or knows someone with ulcerative colitis, it is a very challenging disorder. It impacts your body’s ability to absorb nutrients, so you can be nutritionally very deficient. You have to know where a bathroom is at all times, regardless of where you are. Your gut is overwhelmed. You’re exhausted, worn out. Your body is so depleted because the gut is the core of our health and wellbeing.
I am happy to say that all these years later, I get regular colonoscopies because it’s prudent to do so. My last colonoscopy, I was told that I have no signs of ulcerative colitis in my system at this point. I like to share that because I want people to know it’s never too late to change your diet and your lifestyle. I was in my 40s when I was diagnosed with autoimmune health issues. I made changes, and here we are. Things are definitely much better.
The other thing that I really want to encourage people to know is there is also not one path to that. You have to find what’s the right fit for your bio-individual body. I just happen to believe that ingredients are a foundation for anyone regardless of what your health condition is or what your body requirements are.
When it comes to the harmful or controversial ingredients—some of them are proven to be harmful, and some of them are controversial—how does the United States compared to other countries? I know some countries are more strict when it comes to their standards regarding ingredients.
There is one way that we are better than a lot of other countries, and that is that we do clearly identify it on the label. Many other countries use something called an E number. It’s an E followed by three digits. You have to know which ones are the good ones and which ones are the bad ones. That’s hard. Ours flat-out say Blue #2, or polysorbate 80. Ours are very clearly identified. It does make it easier to read the label once we develop the habit of doing that.
When it comes to what’s in what we eat, we are not great. One of the things that is most frustrating to me is how there is a global food net because big food is really ten major companies, maybe seven at this point because there have been some mergers. They make food for us, and they make food for other countries. What they make here, they make differently overseas because they know the legislative requirements are different. They are either going to have to put a warning on it because it’s harmful, or they’re not allowed to use it at all, so they don’t. It frustrates me to no end that they’re willing to do it where they have to, but not because it’s the right thing to do.
When it comes to food labels, I wanted to talk about that because that’s what you do. You help people understand food labels. How reliable are food labels? Do they intentionally try to be sneaky? They’re hiding the ingredients. Do they have to reveal everything that is actually on the food label?
That is such a great question. The answer is it depends in terms of can you believe the food label. I will say there are some things they’re allowed to do, where they’re not necessarily lying about it, but they’re given a pass. For example, if something has less than .5% of trans fats or sugars, they’re allowed to say there is zero. That is less than .5 grams per serving, the serving being determined by the manufacturer. It makes sense that sometimes, they might go, “Oh, a serving is two cookies.” I’m going to go out on a limb and say not many people look at the package and go, “Oh, I should only have two cookies.”
The other thing that happens is they are masters at using something called front of package labeling. This is where they put all the buzz words and things they know are attractive to the consumer on the front of the package. They want to try to convince you not to flip that package around and look at the label. They may say, “Made with organic blue corn,” but then you look at the other ingredients, and they’re not that great. “A full day’s Vitamin C,” and the other ingredients are not great. They want to put whatever they think will be most attractive to you. These days, a lot of it is finding ways to get the word “organic” in there, even if they just have one organic ingredient. You will notice they won’t say “organic corn chips;” it will say, “made with organic blue corn.” They don’t have enough of an organic process to say the whole thing is organic.
The other thing that is really challenging about the label is that it’s broken down into two parts. The top part is the nutrition panel. The bottom part is the ingredient panel. In the nutrition panel, it’s based on 2,000 calories a day. Not everybody needs 2,000 calories. I know very few people who do math. If you perhaps only need 1,800 calories a day, you won’t sit there and recalculate everything. If you eat more than a serving size, you won’t recalculate everything. It gets very confusing and overwhelming to know exactly how much you’re getting.
There are a couple of ways around disclosing certain negative ingredients. For example, they can say less than 2% of, and they don’t have to tell you how much is in there. They hide under terms like “natural” or “flavor.”
Also, I am seeing more and more instances of certain foods where BPA can be part of the packaging. It’s in the can liners and everything else. If you have canned goods, if the lining is BPA, they don’t have to tell you that there is BPA in there. It’s part of the can.
In cereal, they have BHT and BHA. Sometimes, they’ll put those embedded into the plastic package. Those boxes usually are plastic, so that is a form of bisphenol, whether it’s BPA, etc. They may say “BPA-free,” and everybody gets excited about that. But there are all kinds of bisphenols. There is BPS, BPF, and more. If it’s plastic, chances are it is a bisphenol. Those are hormone disruptors, endocrine disruptors, not good for us. If they’re touching the food, they can get into the food.
Good points. Going back to what you said about organic, where a food can have a single ingredient that is organic, and then they will say “Includes organic corn,” another word is “natural.” A lot of labels say “natural,” which doesn’t necessarily mean it’s good. Natural is not equivalent to organic. Do you want to talk more about “natural” flavors?
Natural means almost absolutely nothing. When it comes to animal products, natural does have a small legislative oversight that says they are not allowed to use added hormones, antibiotics, that kind of thing. However, my joke is if they thought it would sell more, they’d put “natural” on shoe polish. It means nothing. They can take a conventional product, put the word “natural” on it, and they often do. Consumers think, “Oh, it’s less than organic, but better than conventional, so I will buy that.” Really, they’re buying the same thing at a slightly higher price.
I love that you brought up natural flavor. That brings up one of my favorite least favorite ingredients, which is natural flavor can be anything. There is one in particular called castoreum, which you will never see on a label unless you’re apparently buying some weird liquor over in Scandinavia somewhere. They proudly announce it’s castoreum liqueur. It is made of the anal gland secretions of beavers.
Here’s the thing. At a conference, I was once sharing about this. Someone raised their hand and asked, “Is it bad for you?” It apparently turns out that it’s not harmful for you, and there are homeopathic remedies that do use castoreum, which is fine.
My objection is that they are trying to hide it, so they hide it under “natural flavor” or “natural vanilla flavor.” There is not a vast amount of castoreum in the food supply at this point because we no longer harvest beavers for the fur trade. Or I don’t think we harvest as many as we used to. I believe they no longer put it in cigarettes although you should still stop smoking. I object to the fact that they’re trying to hide it. They’re not telling you what’s in there.
When they are using colors, they may say “natural color,” and they may not tell you that it’s coming from bugs, for example. Cochineal comes from bugs. They try to use those words to disguise what they’re doing because they know that consumers would be upset about it.
As far as ingredients derived from bugs, does confectioner’s sugar also-?
Not confectioner’s sugar, but shellac, confectioner’s glaze. For example, the shiny coating on candies, jellybeans is often made from shellac. That comes from the lac bug.
At one point, Starbucks had a drink, a strawberry frappuccino that came in a bottle. They used to make it with plant-based colors. They switched to carmine or cochineal, which comes from the bugs. This being the age of the internet, somebody found out and twigged. The world was up in arms, 1) because vegans don’t eat bugs. There are some people who for religious reasons don’t eat bugs, so they were really upset that they didn’t know it was a bug ingredient. There was such an outcry that Starbucks gave up and went back to plants.
I’m not saying that bugs are bad for you. I’m just saying I want to know what’s in my food. If you choose to eat bugs, and many cultures do, that’s a huge thing, that’s totally fine. I just want to know what’s in my food. That is why you have to read the label.
I agree. Now, there are protein powders made of crickets. As long as the person knows that that’s what they’re adding to their smoothie, or however they’re consuming it. It’s another thing when the person doesn’t know that they’re eating bugs. I definitely agree.
Let’s talk more about some of the more common ingredients to be concerned about. I know I asked you if you could tie at least some of them into autoimmunity since a large part of the listener base has either Graves’ or Hashimoto’s. If you have one autoimmune condition, you are more likely to have more than one, like your history. I’m sure others will have other autoimmune conditions in addition to an autoimmune thyroid condition.
For the ones that are highly tied to autoimmunity, we’ll come back to that in a minute. I will say in general, I think most people are aware at this point that anything artificial should be avoided: artificial flavors, colors, sweeteners. Those are all really harmful to the body, whether you have an autoimmune disorder or not. They’re just straight up not good for us.
One of the other things a lot of people are not aware of is plant gums and carrageenan, which is often included in that category. The reason I encourage people to be mindful of those is because of the impact they can have on the gut. Carrageenan is not a good choice. It comes from seaweed. It can be very disruptive and overwhelming to gut function and has been linked to causing ulcerative colitis-like symptoms. We don’t want carrageenan. Unfortunately, it appears in almost every aisle of the grocery store. You have to read the label to watch out for that.
Plant gums are not necessarily harmful. They’re often used as thickeners or emulsifiers. I appreciate that food producers are trying to find plant-based alternatives for that. The challenge comes in when you look at how much you are getting. There is no number that says, “It’s this many parts per million or this much of these plant gums,” but if you’re buying alternative dairy and other products that are thickened with plant gums, maybe a soup, all of a sudden, you start to get a lot of it. Frozen confections have it as well. It’s just a matter of being aware of what’s on the label.
If you are someone who is struggling with some gut health issues, or maybe you notice every now and then, out of the blue, you start having tummy troubles, you may want to look at what you’re eating and read those packages to see if there is a common thread. My practice tends to focus primarily on gut health. For most of my clients, we find there is a lot of correlation between the food gums.
For those who need a little bit more clarification, you’re talking about xanthan gum, guar gum.
Yes, xanthan gum, guar gum, locust bean gum.
Some might not know what plant gums mean.
Sure. The other one that I think people need to read the label for to be mindful of is sugar, only because it appears in so many things. Food producers have realized that people are starting to read the label a little bit more, which is great. I’m really happy to see that. People have also learned that on the ingredient panel, products are listed in order of volume. The more of something there is, the higher up on the list it is.
In order to make sure that sugar is not the #1 ingredient, they start putting lots of different kinds of sugar in there. They may have rice brand syrup, maltodextrin, sugar, agave nectar, all kinds of things. You want to read the label.
Try to keep your sugar intake as low as you can because too much sugar does overwhelm the gut. Of course, sugar, salt, unhealthy fats, gluten are all highly correlated with autoimmune health challenges.
If we can talk about some of the less common things that people need to watch out for, I would like to point out that anybody listening at this point probably has a page full of notes. This is really overwhelming. This is not a one and done process. My goal today is to share with you about some ingredients that are not a great choice for health, much less autoimmune health, and to help people recognize those, so that one at a time, you can begin to knock those out of your diet.
When you look at the list at the end of this call, and you see some of these things, and you start reading labels, “I can look at lowering how much guar gum I have in my diet. I can look at knocking out food colors. I can look at reducing sugars. I can look at some of these other ingredients.” One at a time. Just approach one thing at a time. Everything you’re doing now is one thing more than you were doing yesterday. Over time, it will all add up to be a really big impact.
Before you go over those ingredients, getting back to sugar, can I ask you about your thoughts on some of the more natural alternatives like stevia or monkfruit? There is also allulose.
Sugar is actually a huge category. We could talk for a whole hour about that. In a nutshell, I will say the sugars that I definitely want people not to include in their diet—hopefully at this point everyone knows high fructose corn syrup is really bad for you. The other one is agave nectar. Not a great choice. It is a diet/diabetes-friendly sweetener because it is low glycemic. The challenge is high fructose corn syrup is only 55% fructose by volume, and it’s bad for your liver and our system. Agave nectar, the way it’s processed in our culture, is 70% fructose by volume. It’s even more fructose, which is more challenging for your liver.
The non-caloric sweeteners like monkfruit or stevia, I know a lot of people like them because we just love sugar. We are programmed to seek it out. We want to have our cake and not have the calories. There are studies that show that they can be a better option than artificial sweeteners. However, some people are very sensitive to them. Excessive consumption can impact the gut microbiome. If you are going to enjoy stevia or monkfruit, you still want to have those in moderation.
When it comes to allulose, I will share that I am not a fan. Part of the challenge with allulose is it is naturally occurring. It shows up in things like dates, raisins, and wheats, but in very minute amounts. We have now gotten to a point where we have learned how to process it, so that we can get a lot of it. Many of my gut health clients find that allulose does not agree with their system. They wind up having bloating or diarrhea or other health issues. I’m not a fan.
If you could move on to those other ingredients because I know you’re ready to dive into more.
Often, if you read the ingredient label—which I really hope people do, and if you don’t, I would love to encourage you to start—there are things on there that we don’t know, and our human habit is to skip over them. We go to the things we do know and ignore the things we don’t know.
When it comes to autoimmune health, there are a couple of ingredients that are really challenging. We definitely want to make sure we are avoiding those. They are nanoparticles, which means they are very small. Studies have shown they can have a major impact on the body as a whole, but they also can very heavily impact our immune system. We want to make sure we are avoiding them.
They are titanium dioxide. It’s a whitening agent. It appears in a lot of gums and baked goods. It also appears in toothpaste. It’s kind of weird how they use titanium dioxide as a whitener because we somehow have been conditioned to believe that things need to be bright white. Titanium dioxide does that for us. It’s not a good choice for us, so we shouldn’t be eating it.
Another one is silicone dioxide. That’s an anti-caking agent. They use that, so things don’t get clumpy and stick together. It’s for the manufacturing process. We want to read the label and avoid that.
The third non-traditional ingredient that I really encourage people to avoid is- The name is so long that they abbreviate it on the label. The name is tert-Butylhydroquinone. On the label, you will see it as TBHQ, all capital letters. It’s a preservative. There are studies showing that it has a really huge impact on our immune health. It appears in so many products.
This is a really great point to share that the FDA does require immunotoxicity testing. When things come to market, they test them to show if they have an immunological response. So many of the ingredients that we look at today—and I include titanium dioxide, silicone dioxide, and TBHQ in this category—they were approved decades ago. Nobody goes back and redoes that FDA approval process. It’s very rare. It was a major win when the FDA decided that trans fats were no longer generally recognized as safe. Normally, once something is approved, it just rides forever. As a consumer, you really need to be proactive about the choices that you’re making.
That’s really scary when you think about the ingredients that many of these foods have. I appreciate you sharing some of them. Titanium dioxide is also not just in foods, but a number of supplement companies will include it. We have to look into other ingredients. As you mentioned, toothpaste.
A lot of people are familiar with gluten as being harmful when it comes to the gut. A number of reasons why not just people with autoimmunity but people with non-autoimmune conditions should also avoid gluten.
One question someone asked me recently: Hidden sources of gluten. I know there are hidden sources of corn, like maltodextrin and ascorbic acid and others. Are there any hidden sources of gluten? Or is it pretty obvious? If it has wheat, we know it has gluten. If it has barley, rye, it has gluten. Oats are commonly cross contaminated with gluten. Are there any hidden ingredients, where it might indicate that there is gluten in a certain food, but the person might not know it unless they are really familiar with the label?
The biggest way that gluten can be hidden in food, especially if it’s from a non-wheat source. Wheat is one of the top nine allergens. If there is any wheat in a product, they have to disclose it. If it’s run on equipment that also runs wheat, they have to disclose that.
For the other top gluten-containing grains, if they use the word “starch,” that means it can come from anything. Often, it does tend to come from gluten, unless they’re saying a specific source. If they say “tapioca starch,” that’s different. They could say “modified food starch” for example. That can come from just about anything. That really is the key word that you want to watch out for.
I will share that at first, you have all this information and are trying to watch out for all of these ingredients. Like I said, one at a time please. Nobody wants you to spend 10 hours at the grocery store trying to shop.
Let’s say there is a food your family likes, and it has modified food starch in it. Usually, they tend to have things grouped together by type. I encourage you to take the time and look through some of the others and see if you can find something that doesn’t have that ingredient in it, so you can begin to make that transition one product at a time to those things that are going to represent a better choice for you and your family.
When it comes to organic produce, I assume you’re safe if you’re buying organic whole foods. For example, let’s say you’re buying gluten-free, organic cookies. Is it safe to say there are still potentially less desirable ingredients? Maybe not the artificial colorings or flavors. What are your thoughts on packaged foods that give the perception of being healthier, whether it’s cookies or cereals?
Going back to what you said earlier, it might not be 100% organic. But even if it is certified organic, is it safe? It’s probably safer than other foods, like getting Chips Ahoy or Nabisco. There are still ingredients that people should be concerned about, right?
Great question. Certified organic means that it is typically, depending on what it is, they can be 90% organic and made with organic ingredients, or it can be 100% organic, and they have the full certification with the stamp.
I will lead with I love cookies. This is not a bash against cookies. A 100% organic, gluten-free cookie is a treat, and I love them. I think one of the challenges is we have to remember that it’s still a treat. It doesn’t matter if it’s gluten-free or organic. It’s still going to be sugar and processed food. Be mindful of that.
The example I like to use is years ago, this was during the whole South Beach phase, where they came up with these Snackwell cookies. They were fat-free cookies. People were like, “Ooh, fat-free cookies, I can eat all the cookies I want,” and they eat a whole sleeve. It’s still a whole sleeve of cookies. It doesn’t matter what it says on the label.
If you happen to find a 100% organic, clean ingredient, gluten-free, delicious cookie that you love, I invite you to enjoy it, savor it, and remember it’s still a treat.
I agree. I’m a cookie person, too, not that I eat cookies all the time, but I love a good organic, gluten-free cookie.
I wanted to talk to you about Trader Joe’s, as well as some other grocery stores like Whole Foods. There is no perfect place. One thing that’s irked me with Trader Joe’s, and I don’t do all my shopping at Trader Joe’s, but with the GMOs, they claim on their website that they don’t use genetically modified organisms in their products. Yet they won’t label their products as non-GMO. We’re taking their word for it. What are your thoughts on something like this? It shouldn’t annoy me because I won’t buy what I’m not sure is not modified, but it would still be nice.
I shop at Trader Joe’s. However, there is a limited amount of things that I buy. I try to be as careful as I can about it.
Trader Joe’s’ big thing is almost everything in that store is Trader Joe’s brand, which means they are private labeling other companies’ products. They’re not manufacturing them themselves. They’re taking somebody else, going, “We like this product and want you to package it for us.” That’s common. Grocery stores do it all the time. WalMart has Great Value. At Whole Foods, it’s 365. Whatever the private label is, the grocery store is not manufacturing that. They are just private labeling it, so they can sell it for less money because it’s their in-house brand.
Many of the products Trader Joe’s sells may have that GMO Project Verified label on it. My understanding is when Trader Joe’s private labels, they’re not allowed to use that non-GMO label. They would have to pay for their own labeling. I don’t think they want to do that because that costs money, and those costs would get passed onto the consumer. They would rather sell for less.
I know they say they verify their own products, and they do all of the due diligence to make sure that there are no genetically modified ingredients. However, I have seen more than once where people have asked for the documentation. These are investigative journalists or other places, who have asked Trader Joe’s to share their documentation, and they say, “Nope, that’s proprietary, private information we don’t share.” I really don’t know what to think about that. I would think that if they were doing their due diligence, and they could verify that everything was non-GMO in there, they would be happy to share that. That’s what consumers are looking for these days. It’s a little bit misleading on their part to say, “We have done our due diligence, and we’re satisfied with the level of what’s in there. We’re not going to tell you though.”
You have to be careful about what you purchase there. Make the right choices for you. I don’t remember off the top of my head, but there are certain products where I am pretty sure I know who the original manufacturer is, and I know they’re non-GMO. I am comfortable buying it. If I don’t know, I don’t buy it.
The goal wasn’t to pick on Trader Joe’s. Like you, I do some of my shopping at Trader Joe’s. They say one thing on their website, yet, as you said, they’re not willing to disclose anything. I guess that’s a good reason, as far as the documentation piece, but if they are private labeling and are not allowed to put on the products that it’s GMO-free, I can understand that.
I love that you pointed out no grocery store is perfect. I shop at a number of grocery stores because like everybody else, I have to buy groceries. No one grocery store is going to have everything you need. For a long time, Whole Foods had this halo of perfect ingredients. Not everything in there is perfect either. They may have more than average, but they still are going to have some things that are not a great choice.
This is where learning how to read the label and how to make choices that represent what you want to consume for yourself and your family, you vote with your wallet. That gives you the ultimate control.
I agree. I do a good amount of my shopping at Whole Foods, but you’re right. There are plenty of products that have unhealthy oils or are not gluten-free. Wherever you go, you need to be an expert in reading ingredients, which is where you come into play, and your book and website. I’m so happy we’re having this conversation. Is there anything that you wanted to talk about?
One thing which leads us to your website and your book: How can people become better educated when it comes to reading labels? What action can they take other than listening to this conversation? What resources do you have other than your book?
Obviously, I love my book, and I really encourage people to have it. It’s a great resource because it teaches you how to read the label. It has seven simple rules for healthy grocery shopping. Then we break down different sections of the grocery store to help you learn. This is not meant to be an all at once process. I didn’t get here overnight. I don’t expect anybody listening to this to do that either. If you make a few changes as you go along, six months down the road, you will look back and go, “Whoa, look at how far we’ve come.”
If you’re already making changes, then this can help you take it to the next level and go even deeper into that.
The book is great because it’s available on Amazon. It’s easy to get.
I also have a newsletter called Food News You Can Use. Every Tuesday, my newsletter comes out and shares more stupid stuff that they do to our food. I shouldn’t say that. It’s mostly letting you know what is coming, what food producers are doing, or what to watch out for, but when somebody has a good move, they’ve made a change that I approve of, I do share good news as well. It’s basically helping people understand the state of food.
The easiest way to get the newsletter is to go to TheIngredientGuru.com, and it’s on the front page to sign up.
Would a good starting point be to purchase your book, and then also sign up for your newsletter?
Yep, that is a great starting point. One of the other things I really want to encourage families to do, and this comes out of my own personal experience, is it is important that you not make these decisions in isolation. If you’re going to make changes for your family, in terms of what they’re eating, help them understand why we’re making these changes. Get their buy-in.
With my family, I was like, “This is what we’re doing.” There were a lot of arguments. I could have saved myself so much headache if I had simply said, “Here are three other options. Let’s try all of these and see which one we like better.” Or, “This is why we’re making this choice.” At the very beginning, I didn’t know.
Truthfully, I was fighting for my life. I was so ill, I was living my life on the sofa. I couldn’t function. It was martial law in the kitchen in my house. But that is not the way that it needs to be. I really don’t want anybody else to have to go through that. If you can get buy-in from your family, everybody will be healthier, and your kids will grow up to be healthier adults and raise a healthier next generation. They’re going to know to avoid all of these things that are non-nutritive, negative ingredients.
I’m glad you mentioned that. I want to expand on that as far as when someone is healing, I definitely recommend for them to be super strict. When someone is in your situation or my situation, in a state of wellness, is it safe to say that occasional exposure to some of these ingredients—I guess it depends on the ingredient, but let’s say canola oil as an example. On a daily basis, I’m sure you’re pretty good. Do you indulge every now and then? Do you follow an 80/20 rule or a 90/10 rule? If you go to a party or a wedding, do you ever stray, or do you bring your own food? When you go on vacation, do you always eat in and not go to a restaurant? I guess the question is: How can people deviate, especially those with autoimmune conditions, once they have restored their health? If so, what guidelines do you typically recommend? Or what do you follow?
That is such a great question. I work with my clients on this a lot. I believe the home should be as clean as possible. You are the one who is in ultimate control over that. Try really hard not to have anything that is not within your guidelines.
When we do go out to eat, we do go over to friends’ houses or family gatherings. When I am in those situations, I don’t sit there and pick apart, “Was this made with whatever?” Nobody wants that. I recognize that the food is made with love, and I am consuming it from a healthy standpoint.
There are certain things that I will not do. I still don’t eat gluten. I still look out for certain ingredients, like if I am at a party, and someone has M&Ms, I won’t eat those. If it’s clearly identified as one of the ingredients that I definitely know I don’t want, I will avoid that. I feel like that’s a pretty reasonable way to live in the everyday world.
Your home is your castle, and it is as close to complete in terms of ingredient sovereignty as you can get. Outside the home, what are your guidelines? I know for example, some people can’t do dairy. If you can’t do dairy, why are you going to do that just because you’re away from home? You can still watch out for it. Just be mindful.
Is there anything else you wanted to chat about? Anything that I didn’t ask you that I should have asked you?
I really want to encourage people to start where you are. Start here. Start with one thing, whether it’s avoiding some of the nanoparticles that we talked about, or avoiding the artificials, or watching out for how much sugar is in your food because food producers hide sugar in everything. Pick that one thing, and you’ll be on your way to making healthy choices. It is totally achievable. It’s not a mystery. It just takes focus and practice. It’s not about perfection; it’s about progress. Practice helps progress.
Couldn’t agree more. Definitely check out Mira’s book The Pantry Principle. Can you let them know about your website again?
Yes, my website is TheIngredientGuru.com.
Besides your newsletter, you have an option to sign up for other things, too?
I do. I also have a new membership, which is really wonderful. We call it The Kitchen Table. As part of The Kitchen Table, you get access to all of my programs. I have a Preparedness Pantry Masterclass, a 21-day nutrition reset. I also have a whole bunch of e-books in there. All of my library. There is more coming. We also have three live calls a month that people can connect and learn more and build a community together.
This was a wonderful conversation on the different ingredients. I learned a lot, and I’m sure the listeners did as well.
Thanks so much for having me on. It was really lovely to chat with you.