Before weight loss surgery, I enjoyed a good "Italian Sub" now and again. (You might call it a hoagie or a grinder?)
A giant sandwich, filled with three meats (I'd pick genoa salami, mortadella and ham) and provolone cheese. Don't forget the herbs and oil! Oftentimes, as a pre-op, we pick foods to eat just BECAUSE they taste good. Sometimes (even still, we're not perfect) we choose foods that are obviously bad for us. (I'm thinking along the lines of fettucine alfredo nowadays.) I'm not a fan of the Italian Sub so much anymore - but there are more reasons than the obvious fact that it fills me up too quickly, and may make me feel like crap.
Eating processed deli-meats is a bad choice, aside from the fact that they are loaded with sodium, calories and fat. Many are filled with nitrates, which can mess you up. According to Organic Consumers:
"avoid consuming sodium nitrite due to the greatly heightened risk of brain tumors in infants. Parents are also warned to avoid feeding their children products that contain sodium nitrite, including all popular hot dogs, bacon, jerkies, breakfast sausages and pizzas made with pepperoni or other processed meats. "Sodiumnitrite is especially dangerous to fetuses, infants and children," says Adams.
Sadly, nearly all school lunch programs currently serve schoolchildren meat products containing sodium nitrite. Hospital cafeterias also serve this cancer-causing ingredient to patients. Sodium nitrite is found in literally thousands of different menu items at fast food restaurants and dining establishments. "The use of this ingredient is widespread," says Adams, and it's part of the reason we're seeing skyrocketing rates of cancer in every society that consumes large quantities of processed meats."
Some companies are now offering nitrite-free and nitrate-free meat products, which are far healthier alternatives, but those products are difficult to find and are typically available only at health food stores or natural grocers. Consumers can look for "Nitrite-free" or "Nitrate-free" labels when shopping for meat products. They can also purchase fresh meats, which are almost never prepared with sodium nitrite.
The new research on processed meats points to a chemical toxin as the cause of the increased cancer risk. A heightened cancer risk of 67% is "gigantic," warns Adams. "This is clearly not due to macronutrient differences. This is the kind of risk increase you only see with ingredient toxicity. Something in these processed meats is poisoning people, and the evidence points straight to sodium nitrite."
I will not buy processed deli meats. I haven't - in years. My kids won't even look at a piece of bologna. "What the heck is THAT? A giant sliced hot-dog?" They know, of course, that these things exist, but they do not ask. In fact, I've had a hard time convincing them to eat ANY sort of sliced meat in a sandwich. I have turned them into sandwich snobs.
They will only eat fresh sliced turkey or chicken, either straight from a fresh-cooked bird, or something like sliced Boars' Head Ovengold Turkey Breast. (Do you know how expensive this is?!) It's my fault, because I won't allow ANYTHING in my home that says "O-S-C-A-R M-E-Y-E-R." None of it. None of this fatty, nitrate-laden, pork-heart product goodness.
What's in your salami?
Mechanically separated chicken
Beef hearts (you gotta love 'em!)
Contains less than 2% of:
Sodium erythorbate (made from sugar)
Are those things you want to put in your stomach, now that you can only eat a few bites at a time? Hell to the no! What about your children? Are you still thinking that a bologna sandwich is an acceptable choice for kids lunch box?
Do yourself a favor - just avoid that entire section of the store.
Sure, run over and pick up your natural cheeses, but... step away from the mechanically separated anything. Who needs it? If you must buy pre-prepared deli meats, try some of the more "natural" varieties, Applegate Farms tops my list - with nitrate free meat selections.
Of course, you could just eat the O-S-C-A-R M-E-Y-E-R and have a side of pancreatic cancer! (I know, damned if you do, damned if you don't... says the girl with the wacky pancreas.)