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Instead of counting calories or keeping my carb/protein/fat ratios I decided to simply keep track of what I ate today from an ingredients perspective. More than just the basic food, but what made up the food, all the way down to the tiny stuff most of us don’t even realize we’re eating. It was a fascinating exercise that helped me realize a couple things. I’ll start big picture and give the basic day in numbers but the meal breakdowns with all my ingredients is what I was interested in. Let’s see if you come to the same conclusions I did about My Day In Ingredients…

Monday Nov 3, 2014

2019 Calories

46% Carbohydrates
39% Fat
15% Protein

Breakfast
Coffee w/ cream and sugar, Vanilla Rooibos Tea
Snacks
Kombucha, bananas & Greek yogurt
Lunch
Mixed green salad & asparagus w/carrot soup
Dinner
Beef and black bean chili, peas, tacquitos
Dessert
Dark Chocolate Covered Almonds

The actual ingredients…
Coffee
Sugar
Cream
– Heavy Cream
– Milk
– Monoglycerides
– Diglycerides
– Polysorbate 80
– Carrageenan
Vanilla Rooibos Tea
– organic rooibos
– organic apple
– organic cinnamon
– organic licorice root
– organic chamomile
– organic vanilla
Banana
Grapefruit Kombucha
– water
– kombucha culture
– probiotic culture
– evaporated cane juice
– raspberry
– lemon whole plant extract
– ginger whole plant extract
– stevia leaf extract
Banana
Vanilla Greek Yogurt
– non fat milk
– Vanilla base (sugar, water, natural vanilla flavor, locust bean gum, pectin, citric acid, calcium citrate)
– live yogurt cultures
Organic Lettuce Blend
– Baby Spinach
– Red and Green Romaine
– Red and Green Oak Leaf
– Lollo Rosa
– Tango
– Red and Green Chard
– Mizuna
– Arugula
– Frisée
– Radicchio
Olive oil
Balsamic vinegar
Bragg seasoning blend
– kelp, rosemary, onion, garlic, thyme, red bell pepper, carrot, tomato, black pepper, basil
– Bragg Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil, parsley, tarragon, lemon peel, orange peel
– Bragg Organic Apple Cider Vinegar, celery seed, dill seed, oregano, savory, sage, ginger, coriander, bay leaf, turmeric
Asparagus & Carrot Soup
– olive oil
– golden onion
– shallot
– asparagus
– carrot
– sea salt
– black pepper
– chicken stock (water, chicken meat & juices, salt, sugar, corn syrup solids, chicken fat, hydrolyzed soy protein, dried whey, flavoring, disodium insinuate and gauntlet, turmeric)
Chili
– olive oil
– onion
– ground beef
– salt
– pepper
– tomatoes (tomatoes, salt)
– black beans
Chicken Taquitos
– wheat flour (enriched with niacin, reduced iron, thiamin mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid)
– water
– charbroiled chicken breast (chicken breast meat, water, seasoning (maltodextrin, garlic powder, dextrose, hydrolyzed soy protein, natural flavors, spice, parsley, oil of garlic)
– salt
– sodium phosphate
– lime juice powder (corn syrup solids, natural flavors (lime juice solids, natural flavors))
– grill flavor (maltodextrin, natural flavor (contains natural smoke flavor), modified food starch, corn syrup solids, defatted wheat germ, refinery syrup powder, brown sugar, tricalcium phosphate, molasses powder, caramel color))
– vegetable oil (soybean, sunflower, canola and/or corn oil)
– monterey jack cheese (cultured pasteurized milk, salt, calcium chloride, enzymes)
– tomato sauce (tomato puree, (water, tomato paste), salt, citric acid, onion powder, garlic powder, red bell pepper powder, spices)
– modified corn starch
– tomato paste (tomatoes)
– flour blend (salt, rice flour, yeast, cellulose gum, guar gum, wheat, sodium bicarbonate, wheat starch, food starch, dough conditioners (sodium metabisulfite, sodium stearoyl lactylate, l-cysteine, mono and diglycerides, dicalcium phosphate), microcrystalline cellulose, silicon dioxide)
– seasoning (tomato powder, dehydrated bell pepper, spices, salt, jalapeno pepper, dehydrated onion, dehydrated garlic, autolyzed yeast extract, maltodextrin, canola oil, soybean oil, chicken fat, natural flavor)
– salt
– brown sugar
– cilantro
Peas
Butter
– cream
– salt
Dark Chocolate Covered Almonds
– Milk chocolate (sugar, cocoa butter, whole milk powder, unsweetened chocolate, soy lecithin, vanilla extract)
– semi sweet chocolate (sugar, unsweetened chocolate, cocoa butter, milkfat, soy lecithin, vanilla extract)
– dry roasted almonds
– dextrin (corn)
– food glaze.

Total ingredients eaten: 200

The first thing that stands out is the sheer number. 200 ingredients in one day. Without checking it thoroughly, it seems like salt and sugar popped up quite a few times, as did a few other things like maltodextrin, corn syrup, corn starch and other preservatives. All in all, removing repeat ingredients, that’s still probably almost 150 different ingredients I ate today. And that’s from a pretty simple day of eating, including both homemade soup and chili.

Where did the big numbers come from?
Tacquitos = 82, or 41% of the total. That’s the big one.

Kelp seasoning blend = 25, 12.5% (although those are basically all herbs and spices).
Asparagus soup = 19, 9.5% (although 12 of those were from the chicken stock).
Dark Chocolate Almonds = 15, 7.5% (although 5 were repeats).

The only other food over 10 was the salad, but that’s due to all the different types of lettuce.

The other thing I noticed was how many ingredients came from the 3 things I drank that weren’t water. The coffee, due to the cream, had 8 ingredients. The tea had 6 and the kombucha had 8. That’s 22 right there. I usually try to use plain cream with no additives, which would have knocked out 5 ingredients. I also don’t usually drink tea and normally drink a kombucha with 3-4 ingredients so a normal drink day would only have 6-7 ingredients.

Let’s summarize it by repeats and food groups…

Monday’s synopsis…
(The symbol * indicates a duplicate entry/entries)

Water *****

Dairy (6 different foods)
heavy cream *
milk
non fat milk
cultured pasteurized milk
whole milk powder
milkfat

Fruit (1)
Banana *

Vegetables (16)
Baby Spinach
Red and Green Romaine
Red and Green Oak Leaf
Lollo Rosa
Tango
Red and Green Chard
Mizuna
Arugula
Frisée
Radicchio
golden onion
shallot
asparagus
carrot
tomato *
Peas

Animals (4)
chicken meat *
chicken juices
chicken fat *
ground beef

Grains, Legumes, Nuts & Seeds (8)
Black beans
wheat flour *
rice flour
cocoa butter *
unsweetened chocolate *
dry roasted almonds
Coffee

Extras (9)
Olive oil ***
Balsamic vinegar
Apple Cider Vinegar
oil of garlic
vegetable oil **
kombucha culture
probiotic culture
live yogurt cultures
enzymes

Spices (37)
rooibos
apple
cinnamon
licorice root
chamomile
vanilla **
raspberry
lemon extract
ginger *
kelp
rosemary
onion ***
garlic ***
thyme
red bell pepper **
carrot
tomato **
black pepper **
basil
parsley *
tarragon
lemon peel
orange peel
celery seed
dill seed
oregano
savory
sage
coriander
bay leaf
turmeric
sea salt
salt *********
turmeric
jalapeno pepper
cilantro

Additives/Preservatives (52)
sugar *****
corn syrup solids **
maltodextrin **
modified food/corn starch **
brown sugar *
wheat starch
refinery syrup powder
dextrose
dextrin
food glaze
molasses powder
stevia leaf extract
soy lecithin *
monoglycerides *
diglycerides *
polysorbate 80
carrageenan
locust bean gum
cellulose gum
guar gum
pectin
citric acid *
calcium citrate
calcium chloride
niacin
reduced iron
thiamin mononitrate
riboflavin
folic acid
dicalcium phosphate
tricalcium phosphate
disodium insinuate
disodium gauntlet
sodium phosphate
sodium bicarbonate
sodium metabisulfite
sodium stearoyl lactylate
hydrolyzed soy protein *
dried whey
natural flavors **
natural smoke flavor
flavoring
natural vanilla flavor
spice **
lime juice solids
defatted wheat germ
yeast
autolyzed yeast extract
caramel color
l-cysteine
microcrystalline cellulose
silicon dioxide

134 different ingredients. 52 from the additive category. Yikes. Add the 37 from the spice category and you get 89 from the two add on categories.
At least the next biggest category was vegetables at 16. 🙂

P.S. I don’t even want to know what this list would have looked like had I eaten out or kept indulging in all the Halloween candy at my house… 🙂

A Different Day

After putting all this together and analyzing it, along with realizing this day was a bit more ingredients than normal, I decided to keep track again on Thursday.

Thur 11-6-14

2078 Calories

63% Carbohydrates
24% Fat
13% Protein

Breakfast
Coffee w/ cream & sugar, liverwurst, Greek yogurt
Lunch
Banana, Beef Jerky, Kombucha, sprouted Veggie chips
Dinner
Green Beans, Peas, Asparagus & Carrot Soup, Rice Crackers
Dessert
Junior Mints

The ingredients…
Coffee
Sugar
Cream
– Heavy Cream
– Milk
– Monoglycerides
– Diglycerides
– Polysorbate 80
– Carrageenan
Liverwurst
– beef
– beef liver
– beef kidneys
– beef heart
– water
– sea salt
– onion powder
– white pepper
– coriander
– marjoram
– allspice
Key Lime Greek Yogurt
– Reduced Fat Milk
– Key Lime Base (Sugar, Water, Lime Juice Concentrate, Pulp Cells, Lime Oil, Lime Pulp Cells, Locust Bean Gum, Pectin, Natural Flavor, Citric Acid, Calcium Chloride, Fruit Juice Concentrate and Turmeric)
– Live and Active Yogurt Cultures
Beef Jerky
– beef
– sea salt
– black pepper
– red pepper
– garlic
– coriander
Kombucha
– water
– kombucha culture
– probiotic culture
– evaporated cane juice
– grapefruit juice
– grapefruit flavor
– ginger whole plant extract
– stevia leaf extract
– purple carrot color
Sprouted Tortilla Chips
– Stone Ground Corn
– High Oleic Sunflower Oil
– Organic Sprouted Flax Seed
– Organic Sprouted Quinoa
– Organic Sprouted Daikon Radish Seed
– Organic Sprouted Chia Seed
– Sprouted Broccoli Seed
– Seasoning (Raw Cane Sugar, Vinegar, Sea Salt, Native Potato Starch, Onion, Garlic, Cayenne Pepper)
Green beans
Peas
Salt
Butter
– Cream
– salt
Asparagus & Carrot Soup
– olive oil
– golden onion
– shallot
– asparagus
– carrot
– sea salt
– black pepper
– chicken stock (water, chicken meat & juices, salt, sugar, corn syrup solids, chicken fat, hydrolyzed soy protein, dried whey, flavoring, disodium insinuate and gauntlet, turmeric)
Rice Crackers
– White rice flour
– high oleic safflower oil
– salt
Junior Mints
– sugar
– semi-sweet chocolate (sugar, chocolate processed with alkali, cocoa butter, soy lecithin, vanillin)
– corn syrup
– confectioners glaze
– modified food starch
– peppermint oil
– invertase

Total ingredients: 102

Same amount of calories as Monday. A little more carbs and less fat but protein stayed roughly the same. In total, almost half the ingredients of Monday. The big numbers on this day?

Asparagus soup: 19, (again 12 of those were from the chicken stock).
Key Lime Yogurt: 15 (13 from the key lime concentrate blend)
Tortilla Chips: 14 (but 12 from vegetables, seeds or spices)
Liverwurst: 11 (but just different beef and spices)
Junior Mints: 11 (almost all additives)

These 5 foods equalled 70 of the 102. Add in 16 from the Kombucha and coffee and you got 86 of the 102. Once again sugar and salt creep in everywhere and the yogurt and chicken stock contributed a bunch of ingredients in the form of additives.

Let’s do another synopsis…
(Once again * indicates repeat ingredients)

Water ***

Dairy (3 foods)
Heavy Cream *
Milk
Reduced Fat Milk

Fruit (1)
grapefruit juice

Vegetable (7)
Stone Ground Corn
Green beans
Peas
golden onion
shallot
asparagus
carrot

Animals (7)
beef *
beef liver
beef kidneys
beef heart
chicken meat
chicken juices
chicken fat

Grains, Beans, Nuts & Seeds (7)
Coffee
Sprouted Flax Seed
Sprouted Quinoa
Sprouted Daikon Radish Seed
Sprouted Chia Seed
Sprouted Broccoli Seed
White rice flour

Extras (8)
High Oleic Sunflower Oil *
Olive oil
Vinegar
chocolate processed with alkali
cocoa butter
Live Yogurt Cultures
kombucha culture
probiotic culture

Spices (14)
sea salt ***
salt ***
onion powder
white pepper
coriander *
marjoram
allspice
black pepper *
Turmeric *
red pepper
garlic *
ginger extract
onion
cayenne pepper

Additives (32)
Sugar ******
corn syrup
confectioners glaze
modified food starch
corn syrup solids
Fruit Juice Concentrate
Lime Juice Concentrate
stevia leaf extract
Monoglycerides
Diglycerides
Polysorbate 80
Carrageenan
Locust Bean Gum
Pectin
soy lecithin
Pulp Cells
Lime Pulp Cells
Lime Oil
peppermint oil
Natural Flavor
flavoring
Citric Acid
Calcium Chloride
purple carrot color
grapefruit flavor
Native Potato Starch
hydrolyzed soy protein
dried whey
disodium insinuate
disodium gauntlet
vanillin
invertase

80 different ingredients. 32 additives + 14 spices = 46 add ons. Everything else was balanced pretty well.

All in all, this was a very interesting exercise for me. It shows me how easy it is to consume a lot of different ingredients in one day, even when you don’t eat at a restaurant. Without a doubt, and as to be expected, the more processed and prepared the food was the more ingredients it had. My next day of ingredients will be as minimal as I can do, while still keeping a normal day of food intake for myself. Although it would be easy to fast all day or just eat sardines and bananas, I’d like to see how few ingredients I can eat while not doing anything extreme. I’ll update this as soon as I get that day done.

The other big thing that stands out is how little information you get from just looking at calories or even the carb/fat/protein ratio. These numbers tell you next to nothing about what you’re putting into your body, particularly when you’re talking quality of the food. Additionally, just a basic food description only tells you so much, because just stating someone ate a sandwich doesn’t tell you what’s actually in all the things that make up the bread, meat, dressings and toppings. Obviously we can’t go around recording and analyzing all the ingredients we eat each and every day but hopefully things like this can get us to trend more toward eating in a way that would include much simpler foods.

Thanks for reading, have a great day!

P.S. A couple years ago this was my take on things, Simplify Your Meals.

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