How did I let this happen?

The food court at Woodbury Commons doesn’t offer many options for a gluten-free, vegan like me. I did have a Pure Bar to eat as a backup, but thought I was safe with a plate of black beans and vegetables (what I ate a year ago while taking a break from shopping). As I approached the Desert Moon counter to order, I was focused on making sure the black beans were vegetarian. They were last year, but I know that ingredients and preparation often change (note to remember: you can’t control what other people prepare for you to eat).

I was assured the black beans were vegetarian so I decided to go with the tried and true: black beans and vegetables. After we placed the order, I noticed a brochure with allergen information and took a copy to peruse. The headline read: The Fresh, Healthful Alternative to Fast Food and I was curious to read more about the food being prepared behind the counter. And I thought that it was very cool that the chain was concerned about its customers to have the information readily available on site.

Black Bean IngredientsAs I ate, I reviewed the brochure and the “coolness” factor wore off very quickly – check out how long the list of ingredients is for black beans. Argh!!! I was so worried about the vegetarian factor I didn’t even consider the beans would be made with high-fructose corn syrup, modified corn starch and more sugars. Seriously? A “fresh, healthful alternative to fast food” – No way!

I sneered and snickered when I read the testimonials in the brochure: “I still can’t believe that something so delicious can actually be good for you, too!” and “Everything is always so fresh…I feel great when my kids eat here, and we love it as well.” Interestingly, the quotes weren’t attributed to anyone so they might have been written by a clever copywriter in the marketing department.

My portion wasn’t very big (thank goodness). I realized I was practically finished eating when I felt that pit in my stomach. If I could be tricked into eating food loaded with sugar and preservatives, many others are getting duped as well, and that just isn’t fair to the consumers. They are being lured to Desert Moon under a false pretense – that it is healthier than “fast food” (think: McDonald’s, Burger King, Subway, etc.)

Of course, Desert Moon is not the only establishment marketing food full of sugars and preservatives as healthy alternatives. McDonald’s has been advertising its “real fruit” smoothies. Here are the ingredients in the McCafé Mango Pineapple Real Fruit Smoothie:

Mango Pineapple Fruit Base
Water, clarified demineralized pineapple juice concentrate, mango puree concentrate, pineapple juice concentrate, orange juice concentrate, pineapple puree, passion fruit juice, apple juice concentrate, natural (botanical source) and artificial flavors, contains less than 1% of the following: peach puree, cellulose powder, peach juice concentrate, pear juice concentrate, xanthan gum, pectin, citric acid, colored with fruit and vegetable juice and turmeric extract, ascorbic acid (preservative).


Low Fat Yogurt
Cultured Grade A reduced fat milk, sugar, whey protein concentrate, fructose, corn starch, gelatin. Contains active yogurt cultures.


Do you know how healthy the food you eat really is? At speaking engagements, I often use this analogy and it gets a powerful response. I believe it is appropriate here:

Think about when you walk into a house of worship (synagogue, church, mosque, a place of honor for your religious and/or spiritual beliefs). Would you walk in and throw your garbage on the floor? I’m guessing the answer is no. Now think about your body. It is a place of honor, isn’t it? Treat your body as you would a place of honor and eat whole, natural, healthy food. Ignore the marketing lingo and make educated decisions about the food you eat. Aren’t you worth it?

I’ve learned a lot about making well-informed choices this week. The next time we go to Woodbury Commons, I’m bringing my cooler with homemade food.

Next Steps:

  1. Fruits and Veggies BasketTake a look in your refrigerator and pantry and read some of the food labels.
  2. Send me an email with any questionable ingredients (like the ones you can’t pronounce) and I will provide you with information.
  3. DECIDE that you are worth eating healthy, natural, whole foods.
  4. Begin to substitute your favorite brands with healthier options, one by one or two by two. It doesn’t have to be all at once and overwhelming.

These steps will help you to determine if you are eating healthy, whole foods to truly nourish your body, mind and spirit. If you are concerned about your eating habits and want to discuss options for change, contact me at or call 413-282-7286. At Bravo! Wellness, I work with my clients to create manageable lifestyle changes so they are able to achieve their greatest potential in life, health and business.

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