Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Let the Change Come! Part 2: Hydrogenated Oils

I dream of a time when I will not have to go to the grocery store. With my mind's eye I can see myself pushing a button to order the month's needed groceries, and then receive them at my door in a few days. Ahhhh! It will be wonderful :-) For I truly hate shopping.

Right now I do once-a-month shopping. I've found that this makes it easier to stay on track with what I was intending to spend. At the moment it also has unintended consequences; we are pottytraining Joshua because we ran out of diapers and I refuse to buy more. At least until the first of July, but potentially never :-) The problem is that he is not motivated to be pottytrained. He knows that I will buy him a new bike when he is trained, but that far-away reality doesn't stick with a three-year-old in the day-to-day grind. I think I need to get some stickers. Or something.

But what does pottytraining have to do with hydrogenated oils? Absolutely nothing. I am truly on a rabbit trail. Ahem. Shopping. Right. Well, when Nathan said I was not to buy anything else with hydrogenated oils it really made shopping difficult. I became a label-reader; and the kids were really bored and acted up during our three-hour shopping trips. On the up-side, we now had a hard-and-fast reason to say "no" to our seven-year-old son if he was eyeing the Twinkies....

David: "Mom, can we get these cupcakes?"
Mom: "I don't think so. Just read the label David."
David: "Does it have hydrogenated in it mom?"
Mom: "Yes"
David: "Aw Mom, why does everything have hydrogenated in it?"

He is right. Nearly everything in the store has hydrogenated oils in it. We sadly walked by the hydrogenated underwear, and for awhile I had the children convinced that all of the toys were hydrogenated :-) (I'm sure if they don't have hydrogen bubbles blown into them, they must surely have "hypnotic" bubbles blown in). I jest, but nearly every cracker and cookie in the store contains this health-risk. All donuts and all peanut butter except for a few natural brands (we buy Smuckers Natural Peanut Butter). Most of the chips contain hydrogenated oils. Even the ones which now say: "0 Grams Trans-Fat" have hydrogenated oils. The law states that they are allowed to make this statement if the product has less than a gram (per serving?). Considering the risks associated with just a small amount of trans-fat, this seems a bit sneaky to me.

What are the risks anyway? Why is it important to avoid hydrogenated oils? Consider the following:

What's Wrong with Hydrogenation?

Unlike butter or virgin coconut oil, hydrogenated oils contain high levels of trans fats. A trans fat is an otherwise normal fatty acid that has been "transmogrified", by high-heat processing of a free oil. The fatty acids can be double-linked, cross-linked, bond-shifted, twisted, or messed up in a variety of other ways.

The problem with trans fats is that while the "business end" (the chemically active part) is messed up, the "anchor end" (the part that is attached to the cell wall) is unchanged. So they take up their position in the cell wall, like a guard on the fortress wall. But like a bad guard, they don't do their job! They let foreign invaders pass unchallenged, and they stop supplies at the gates instead of letting them in.

In short, trans fats are poisons, just like arsenic or cyanide. They interfere with the metabolic processes of life by taking the place of a natural substance that performs a critical function.

We have not been able to eliminate 100% of these poisons; I'm sure some of our food when we eat out is contaminated, and we sometimes "cave" when an urge for some favorite storebought good overcomes common sense (arrrgggghhhh!). But over time, by focusing on reading labels, we have drastically changed the amount we consume. Who knows? Maybe soon the companies who are continuing to poison the American public will be forced to change too. Then everyone would benefit. :-)

Update: I started writing this in June; sorry about the reference to July 1st! Also, my son has utterly resisted my efforts to potty-train (even with M&M's and our potty song), so rather than continue washing diapers I bought "just one more" pack of Walmart diapers :-).


  1. You know, I should really check our labels on these as well. Ofcourse I do bake most of the cookies and such that we buy and I make a lot from scratch, so I guess I should be okay. But I do need to check. Thanks for the reminder :)

  2. I have recently started cutting Hydrogenated oils out of our diet too. It is so hard to shop. Especially for buns. I have started keeping a list of brands on the fridge so that I don't have to read the lables all over again the next time I go to the store.

    Keep strong with the training too. It will come! He sounds like mine then one day it just kicked in.

  3. The recent tax holiday for back-to-school purchases lead me to EPC, where I purchased a computer for my wife (which ended up going to my oldest daughter).

    While there, I noticed a great price on two Pentium III machines, which I purchased for my next two daughters. (I had long ago promised them that when they stopped wetting the bed, I would buy them computers--but I had neglected my promise and they reminded me of it just a few days before the sale.)

    While configuring the computers, my oldest son (3), who is mostly potty-trained, but still wets at night, asked me why they got computers.

    "They get them because they stopped wetting the bed," I said.

    He thought about it for a minute, I could see the wheels turning in his head. "When I am dry, do I get a computer?"

    I stopped working on the PC and looked into his eyes--a man's word should always be given with eye contact. "When you are dry for a year, you can have your own computer."

    He didn't know (and still doesn't) the concept of "a year". He deliberately woke himself the next night and ran to the bathroom. When he climbed back into bed, he mumbled, "Want my own computer..."

    The next day, he proclaimed himself dry and eligible for a computer! I tried, again, to explain the "year" concept. He didn't get it. So, we compromised. "I will build you a computer," I said in my "Imperial Daddy" voice, "and every day that you are dry, you may use it."

    He looked at the computer I was configuring with glowing eyes and said, "Huh." (His way of saying, "Yes, it is certain, it is a fact."

    There was a slight pause and then he looked at me with a big smile and said, "I want my computer to be blue."