What is it about summertime and ice cream? They seem to go together like bread and butter. Even though I am aware of the calories, the fat, the lack of nutrition ~ I still am drawn to it.
We all know that sugar is well hidden in packaged foods, even our pasta sauces. Eating on the run, consuming sweets when we are stressed or sad, driving to the store late at night to satisfy a craving. Sound familiar? Unfortunately, chronic sugar indulgence can lead to serious health complications as we all know.
Watching the video below, CNN: Is Sugar Toxic?, really made me think about my own relationship with sugar. It definitely made me want to break the sugar habit.
One fact which has greatly influenced my decision to eat less sugar is the fact that to burn off the average number of sugar-related calories consumed in a month, I would have to walk 52 miles! Hmmmm ~ just realizing that is NOT a possibility for me is spurring me on to stop the madness! A past post I wrote about the health problems (including AGING!!) created by too much sugar also reinforced this.
I have found that by beginning my day with a shake that has at least 24 grams of protein and 6 grams of fiber is a great way for me to keep me from getting those “sugar blues” and “blahs”! In the afternoon when I am feeling less energetic, I drink an energy tea made from white, red and Matcha green tea sweetened with pomegrante. It really satisfies my sweet tooth as well, without added sugar. I have also found fruit to be extremely more satisfying when I have not consumed sugary foods. Instead of the added sugars overwhelming my taste buds, the naturally sweet flavor of the fruit comes alive.
I do hope you take the time to watch the video. It really does make one sit up and think more about the dangers and pitfalls of too much sugar in our lives today.
Michael Pollan, author of The Omnivore’s Dilemma, claims that what’s at stake in our eating choices is not only our own and our children’s health, but the health of the environment that sustains life on earth. He calls the things disguised as food in our supermarkets and fast-food restaurants as “edible food-like substances (EFLS for short) and warns us:
not to eat anything our great-grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food
not to eat anything with more than five ingredients or better yet, with ingredients you don’t recognize or can’t pronounce, and
not to eat anything containing high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS ).
Following those 3 rules will certainly keep me away from sugar and maybe even that ice cream!
Watching the news this morning I learned that Hostess Brand, a 87 year old company and maker of the infamous Twinkies is going bankrupt again.
This made me very happy considering the fact that the Twinkie, (150 calories and 4.5 gr of fat) is not really a food but a mixture of chemicals and trans fat, filled with an unidentifiable sugary cream filling that never goes bad. Of course when my children were growing up, if they found a Hostess Brand Ding Dong (368 calories, 19.4 gr of fat) or Twinkie in their lunchbox, I was truly “Mom of the Day!” Here are the exact ingredients of that Twinkie:
Apparently, because there has been more demand for healthier options such as yogurt and energy bars, purchase of this gooey snack has diminished. Under its most recent bankruptcy filing, it is looking to restructure into a “strong, competitive” company. I found the following video very enlightening about this subject:
Another sugary issue is our love for sweet drinks. Every year Americans drink 13.8 billion gallons of soda, fruit punch, sweet tea, sports drinks, and other sweetened beverages. According to Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo, MD, PhD, an associate professor of medicine and of epidemiology and biostatistics at UCSF (University of California, SF), after analyzing the effect of a nationwide tax on these sugary drinks, estimates of 240,000 cases of diabetes per year, 100,000 cases of heart disease, 8,000 strokes, and 26,000 deaths over the next decade could be realized simply by slapping this penny-per-ounce tax on sweetened beverages.
Even more impressive would be the savings to the public of $17 billion over the next decade in health care related expenses due to the decline of obesity-related diseases (as well as the $13 billion per year in direct tax revenue). The fact that surprised me was that the scientists who generated this first study to generate concrete estimates of the health benefits and cost savings of such a tax are only estimating a reduction of 10 to 15% over a decade!
Some interesting facts about these sugary drinks:
17 teaspoons of sugar in a typical 22-oz soda
45 gallons consumed annually per person of sweet beverages
70,000 calories is average number person consumes per year in sweet drinks
cost per decade of excess coronary artery disease attributable to elevated consumption of sweetened drinks may be as high as $500 billion!
We all know deep down that sugar is toxic. If it takes a tax to stop even 10 to 15% of us to stop consuming so much of it, then it is a worthwhile tax. Just happy to see that Americans are choosing yogurt over twinkies some of the time!
When I went trick or treating as a child I remember my favorite house to go to was not giving chocolates away ~ actually they were giving pomegranates! And that was one of my very favorite things to eat. I did not think of it as a “healthy” choice ~ just a tasty one! As a parent I always wished I had that pomegranate tree in the backyard to share with the trick or treaters at Halloween.
Today with the average amount of sugar per child per day at about 60-100 grams, it is no wonder we are dealing with an increase in childhood diabetes as well as childhood obesity. And Halloween happens to be one of those days when candy is king. Of course no one wants to spoil Halloween for any child. The fun of dressing up and knocking on neighbor’s doors was always one of my very favorite things to do, as well as my own children and my grandchildren. Picking out that favorite costume begins almost before summer comes to an end.
So what’s a parent to do? Perhaps choosing to hand out fun stickers, temporary tattoos, cute plastic jewelry, dried fruit (such as little boxes of raisins), little boxes of crayons and little packages of pretzels could be an alternative for some of the candy. One idea my daughter has used each year is to let each of the children pick out 10 of their very favorite pieces of candy from their “loot” and then leave the rest on the porch for the “Halloween Candy Witch” to take it and leave them a very special surprise. That actually has been quite successful.
I just learned of a site where you can donate your Halloween candy and it actually goes to our troops serving overseas. That was pretty impressive! They even ask the children to send pictures and notes along with the candy they send. Donations can also be given for toothbrushes and toothpaste. Dentists participate as well:
How Does The Program Work?
Participating dentists “buy” back kids’ Halloween candy at a scheduled event
“Buy” with cash, coupons, toothbrushes, creative exchanges – They can partner with local businesses to give away coupons for food, services, goods, etc. They can give away the Hygiene Kits, they can set up an Opportunity Prize–each kid gets a ticket per pound of candy for an opportunity drawing to win special prizes, etc.
Dentists send the candy to Operation Gratitude (Get Involved Volunteer)or other Military support groups
Operation Gratitude sends the candy to U.S. Military deployed in harm’s way
Sweetie’s Candy Shop, a new candy store in downtown Wake Forest, is also accepting extra Halloween candy through Nov. 15 and is shipping it to deployed troops in Afghanistan. The store’s owner, Darlene Stroud, has a military connection; her son-in-law recently returned home from serving in the army. The surplus candy will be sent to Staff Sgt. Stephen Reavis, who is currently serving in Afghanistan, and whose wife, Mikki, is a Wake Forest hair stylist. Reavis is the platoon sergeant for the 82nd Airborne Division, and he’ll share the candy with his brigade, according to a press release.
Another suggestion is to make sure your little ones have a nutritious meal before going out that evening to collect their treats. Hungry children will definitely consume more candy than those who have filled up on dinner. If you cannot interest them in the usual dinner fare, offer them a simple shake that is nutritious as well as filling. Our grandchildren enjoy either the French Vanillaor Bavarian Cocoa Meal Shake and it actually provides 19 essential vitamins and minerals, is low fat, low-glycemic, good protein source and is a “healthy fast food!”
What about you? How do you handle all of that “loot” that comes in on Halloween night? Would love to hear your ideas as well.
Sugar…we are surrounded by it, in our holidays (so glad Halloween has passed us by), our beloved pastries, candy bars, sugar-laden soft drinks, fancy desserts, not to mention all the “hidden” places sugar hides. I will not go into how many names sugar has. But the reason I am even discussing it here is that I have decided to go without it for the next 3 weeks just to see how I feel.
As I have mentioned before in this blog, I am a huge fan of The Kathleen Show, a wonderful radio show that addresses great health issues. Here is some of Kathleen’s wisdom about the subject of sugar:
We all know that America has a serious sweet tooth. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, on average, sugar consumption has risen to nearly 160 pounds per person per year (which is equivalent to about 50 teaspoons a day).
In watching Kathleen’s short video about a simple breakfast choice, my thoughts went immediately to the consumption of soft drinks in this country. According to the Weston Price Foundation, the average soda per person per year is 600 12 oz. drinks or 56.25 gallons of soda per person per year. (an 8 oz. container contains 8 to 12 teaspoons of sugar). That is a lot of sugar being consumed. Although I rarely indulge in soda drinking, I am always amazed when I shop for groceries at the amount of sodas in other people’s carts or better yet, the very popular “refillable” soda at most fast food restaurants.
We all know that we do not need refined sugar to surviveand be healthy. However, when we focus on low fat diets and see that as being a healthy decision, it is often overlooked at how much sugar hides in those choices. For example, did you know that a “low-fat” fruit-flavored yogurt contains about 8 teaspoons of sugar? And of course we have Kathleen’s example of a simple glass of orange juice can begin our day with 6 teaspoons of sugar. How often do we feel that burst of energy after eating that sugary snack or juice and then suddenly find ourselves crashing. Our blood and brain chemistry is being altered by the sugar and the body has to work harder afterward to restore balance.
Actually one of the strongest reasons to reduce (or give up) sugar I have found is that high sugar consumption, according to Frank Lipman, M.D., author of Total Renewal..7 Steps to Resilience, Vitality and Long-Term Health, is connected to premature aging. According to Lipman, “Sugar chemically alters the proteins in your body, a process called “glycosylation,” resulting in the development of advanced glycosylation end products (AGEs). As AGEs collect in the various tissues of the body, they inhibit proper functioning. In the skin, for example, they cause a loss of elasticity, which results in sagging and wrinkling. In the joints, they affect the cartilage, so you become stiffer. The buildup of AGEs affects all of the organs, which is why it is a major source of premature aging.” Wow, now I really am concerned!
I love Dr. Lipman’s “Prescription for Sugar” which include the following:
Avoid sugar, as much as possible
Avoid artificial sweeteners (most commonly used is aspartame – Equal and NutraSweet) When heated above 86 degrees Fahrenheit, the wood alcohol in aspartame converts into formaldehyde and then breaks down into formic acid. These substances are known toxins and have been linked to multiple sclerosis, lupus, fibromyalgia, seizures, and memory loss, among other disorders.
For sweetness use stevia, a natural noncaloric sweetener derived from the plant Stevia rebaudiana.
Instead of refined sugar, use small amounts of honey and 100% pure maple syrup if necessary.
Because sugar is a carbohydrate, avoid those foods in which the number of grams of sugar is more than one third of the number of grams of carbohydrates.
Aim to eat only those foods that have less than four grams of sugar per serving. (On labels look for the grams of sugar per serving. The lower the number, the better. Four grams is the equivalent of one teaspoon of sugar, and therefore, 40 grams of sugar is the equivalent of 10 teaspoons).
Avoid or decrease your intake of sodas and diet sodas
Try alternatives such as iced herbal teas, sparkling mineral water mixed with fruit juice, sparkling water over ice cubes made from unsweetened fruit juice, or sparkling water with a twist of lemon or lime.
Consume fruit and vegetables. Although they contain natural forms of sugar they are also high in fiber, enzymes, and essential vitamins and minerals, something that sweetened products are not.
I am reminding myself each day now of the quote, “Today is the first day of the rest of your life!” simply because I know that obesity, heart disease, diabetes, tooth decay and now AGING, can all be linked to those sugary desires! What about you? How are you and your family affected by sugar?