I have been on a quest to dial in my personal nutrition lately. After going "clean" a couple of years ago, getting really fit with boot camp, and then falling apart with it all after losing my job, I'm back on the wagon and with a new vigor. So, along with being back to clean eating (not that I had strayed too far), I have been thinking a lot about sugar, even in its raw forms (pure maple syrup, agave, turbinado, etc). Sugar is sugar is sugar... so says Michael Pollan. See this great post by Lisa Leake on her 100 days of real food blog (GREAT site btw). http://www.100daysofrealfood.com/2010/06/14/sweeteners-101/
Anyway, after this aired last night on 60 minutes, I'm convinced more than ever that we have an obligation as parents to deal with this issue and stop feeding our children foods that are causing them more harm than good...
What do you all think? Does this scare you? It did me - to the point that I have cut my sugar intake immediately. I used to do 2 tsp of turbinado per cup of coffee (and 2 cups ea. morning) - last week, I started using 1/cup and I'm working toward 0. My oatmeal is being sweetened only with frozen berries, bananas or other fruit now. Yes, it doesn't taste as good, but I know I will eventually adjust. I used to use a pink fake sweetener in my coffee, and just the other day was at a restaurant with no other options, and so I resorted back to it... I couldn't drink my coffee. It was so sweet. So, I know I'm going to kick it. But man, this was sobering and motivating.
See the replay here: http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-18560_162-57407294/is-sugar-toxic/?tag=contentMain%3BcontentBody
I got on this "holly crap look @ all the chemicals in our food" kick last Jan and have cleaned up our eating habits, food shopping etc since. There are still a few things for me that I'm just not able (or willing) to kick - e.g. flavored coffee creamer. I use WAY less than I used to and I used to put sugar in with it and stopped doing that too. I've lost 2 sizes along with some exercise. But yeah totally I can't do fake, diet etc anymore. It just tastes bad to me now.
I'm also very picky about what I give the kids. We have also switched over to a farm in MD that delivers fresh off the farm eggs, milk, and meat that aren't corn feed. I just found a CSA for veggies in my area that I think we are going to join too. My kids already love fresh fruit and veggies - they ask for that instead of chocolate any day :)
I missed 60 mins last night (working outside) but I LOVE 100daysofrealfood. That blog is amazing!
Ally - funny you should post this. Just last week, I read an e-book The diet solution, and there was some information in there that I had never heard before.
background - I've struggled with my weight for years. My Mother has as well. Diet coke flows freely in my parent's home and it's my daily vice.
After reading this book and understanding that the liver is too busy processing chemicals in our food and drinks to actually process the calories, and so insulin in released resulting in fat storage, I was shocked. No wonder I'm not loosing weight, my liver is too busy processing the diet coke I drink all day long!
It's a process, but I'm filtering out as much processed food as I can and trying to fill it with real food. I wrote more about it on my other blog here : www.mindsbodiessouls.blogspot.com
I did buy some agave syrup but have only used it mildly, I'm more of a salty snack person than sweet.
Thank you for sharing that link Ally!
I have also been on a kick to get rid of chemicals, preservatives and other ingredients that I do not recognize from our diets. It is a little scary how so many things that people (including our family) are eating are not really 'food'. I have been recently diagnosed with an autoimmune disease and through some of the research I have been doing I am convinced that committing to a much cleaner diet will help with the symptoms and possibly put it into remission.
I have cut out sugar as well and at first it was difficult but it is amazing how quickly you get used to natural sweetness in things like fruit.
Love the 100daysofrealfoodblog as well! I just wish that I didn't live in the middle of nowhere in Northern Canada. Getting local grown produce is almost impossible here! Mike and I have been working with a good friend who runs the local wild life rehab centre (where there is a tiny community garden) to see what is needed to get a greenhouse built. It would be wonderful if we could make it happen in the next year!
Brenna, what an exciting community action activity! I hope it goes well for you! I am lucky that I have a fantastic, weekly farmer's market very close to home on Saturdays and I also participate in a CSA (community supported agriculture). So, the food on my table almost 100% homemade, fresh. The only bread I eat is Ezekial bread, and I've significantly reduced the amount of wheat (even 100% whole grain wheat) in my diet. If I eat grains, they are often high protein grains such as quinoa or faro.
Like I said, the "clean" lifestyle wasn't so hard to do for me. My kids (grown as they are) are all about good food, so they appreciate the fresh goodness of whole foods. My son actually worked on an organic farm long before I changed my diet over. Even my daughter noticed the difference in flavor between the organic apples I bought and the non-organic ones I resorted to one day (which also gave us both stomachaches).
But this sugar issue is frightening... I mean, McDonalds adds it to their MEAT. Seriously, why do we need sugar in meat? Because it's addictive. Fast food chains are just like the tobacco companies...
Anyway - I'm seriously attempting to stick to that 100 calorie/day limit of sugar - which btw, is VERY hard. I use agave syrup in my coffee (which is STILL considered part of the "added sugar" world) and with just TWO teaspoons of agave syrup, you reach that 100 cal max (4 calories/gram of sugar... for anyone who wants to do the math). That means no other sugar at all (unless it is in my fruit). No brown sugar in my oatmeal, or my fresh strawberry-lemonade. No sugar in my baked goods, etc.
this is such a difficult topic to address given the culture that we live in. when i was the only person providing food for my son, his diet was rock solid. now, everywhere we go, people offer him candy and sweets. it sickens me but i also understand that unless this becomes an issue much like alcohol, illicit drugs and tobacco (like the one doc in the 60 minutes video mentioned) it is going to be very difficult to control. at least i know that what he eats at home is very nutritious. i just wish others people in his life cared as much as i do.
my husband and i do try to lead by example, too. we are very careful about what we eat but it is a process. i think i maybe should go and clean out my cupboards now.
Kelly, that's so true. The other scary part is that it's so hidden in foods that we'd never think of normally as "not healthy." Peanut butter for example... I couldn't believe it when I started reading the labels, ingredients listings ranged from one ingredient - peanuts, to several including - salt, oil, and sugar. Who needs sugar in peanut butter? It's amazing.
When I went to clean eating, I did it cold turkey. I went to my pantry and fridge and literally either donated or tossed every food that was considered processed or preserved.
Ally, did you feel well at first or do you remember feeling the effects of a total change?
I actually have this dvr'd to watch. We have been working on cutting down the sugar. I just got myself down to one cube of sugar in my coffee, which was huge for me. No sodas. Baby steps, but I am getting there, as is the hubby. We have also stopped fast food. We were never huge fast food eaters, but when I think about all of the scary stuff in it- UGH! My kids, so far, have taken the news well that we will never eat at McD's again.
@Kelly- ITA! I am amazed at how many sugar treats are offered at my son's school as "rewards." Thankfully, my son is not a huge sweets eater, but I have actually talked to his teacher about this.
I am finally getting around to looking at clean eating- was checking out the website last night. Will have to take a look at 100daysofrealfood. Thanks for the info!
I try to avoid getting caught up in bastardizing categories of food. Obviously, sugar needs to be consumed in moderation. In general, I approach eating from a positive perspective. Rather than saying "I need to cut down" or "I need to remove this from my diet," I focus on adding things to my diet like fruits and veggies. I've found that by doing so, "bad" foods naturally get consumed less.
That being said, there are several foods I refuse to give up, and that's okay. It's what makes life worth living. I will probably drink diet coke until the day I die. I will eat Indian food occasionally. And French fries. My typical diet is about 70% fruits and vegetables, so I'm not going to beat myself over a piece of cheese.
Honestly, I just think the perspective in the show sets most people up for failure. Sure, the goal should be eating minimal sugar, but considering the typical american's diet, trying to cut out most sugar is just not going to work. I think people should focus on doable changes that will lead to success.
Just my opinion!
I make 80% of my families food from scratch, I get 10% from markets/food swaps and 10% pre proccessed. My family only eat takeaway food once a month and thats because I need a break from all the cooking. I make my own peanut butter and once you do this you realise how much sugar and salt is added. My peanut butter tastes like crushed up peanuts, commercial peanut butter tastes like sugar. I have recently started making butter - its super easy but I was surprised by how much salt I had to add to get it to taste like the shop bought butter.
I am a massive fan of Michael Pollan - his books changed my life and my eating habits. I am always telling people that when it comes out about what is in junk food and how the government financed the High Fructose Corn Syrup diet that is killing people it will make the tobacco scandals pale into insignificance! Of course most people think I'm a nut but I stand by it!
Did you know that rats feed a diet of GM corn could not stop eating despite the fact that under normal circumstances rats never over eat? Did you know that most of the maize grown to produce HFCS is Genetically modified??
Crazy scary stuff - I can't believe more people are not aware of it!
I have to respectfully disagree Lil K - (what IS your name? =) ). There are certain issues that need radical change for change to happen. Just because the "typical" diet isn't like it should be doesn't mean we shouldn't raise awareness on the large concerns consuming our country. The issue of sugar's addictive nature needs to be raised, and the fact that our bodies are not meant to handle the sugars we consume and still stay healthy is a fact about which we all must be concerned.
I think your concept of focusing on what one SHOULD eat is actually a very good one. But I think it only works if you also know what not to eat. Too few people are really aware of the processed foods in our lives, the additives in our foods, and the chemicals we ingest. Why don't we have a cure for cancer? Why is obesity so rampant in the US? Why is heart disease still not slowing? It HAS to relate to our food. So, this "everything in moderation" motto that prevails isn't working. Because moderate really isn't moderate.
Moderate is 25 grams of sugar per day. I think if we are especially allowing more than this with kids, we are causing more problems than it is worth.
I'm certainly not saying "never." Because there is eating out and special occasions. But if I keep eating out to one meal or less per week and have only whole/real foods/no sugar at home. I think I'm doing myself HUGE favors.
I'm almost 48 years old. But when I go out with my children, I am almost always thought of as their sibling by strangers. I believe that has a lot to do with my lifestyle. Good food, regular exercise, daily moisturizing :) .
Amanda - I am right there with you!
Oh - and Kelly - the only changes I felt were incredibly good ones. I did have some extra "gas" right at first, but my body quickly adapted to that issue. Plus, and this may be TMI, but my whole elimination process has changed. I'm, shall we say, much more efficient LOL.
I get most of my meat from my BIL who raises grain fed cows and chickens/eggs from my Mom who raises them. Veggies from my family, myself, or local farmers I trust. I can and freeze alot of veggies for winter use. I have been adamant my whole life about good, clean food. My children (all 3 combined, ages this summer will be 13,14 and 15) have had a total of 2 sick visits to the dr ever. Yes, 2....that isn't 2 each...that's a total of 2. I monitor diet very closely and we have delicious food, and most people who've eaten at my house want more and then want the recipe....What we put into our bodies is terribly important on SO many levels. Oh, and I will be 40 this summer, the profile pic was taken last year when I was 38 and most people think I am way younger than I am, due to clear skin, very little wrinkles (I know 25yr olds with more, seriously) and a happy attitude. :)
This is definitely something I've thought about often... but dang it's so hard! You think you're eating something that couldn't possibly have sugar in it, then you read the label and yep there's sugar. It's criminal.
Edited to add: I was NOT aiming this at you Amy. I'm so sorry it came off that way. I admitted it was a personal problem. Let me rephrase. When in general Clean Eating is discussed, there is often an air of "us vs. them"
I just feel like so many snap judgements are made towards people who don't eat clean. To be honest it's a turn off because it's so aggressive. I am learning and trying my hardest. I am trying to know better so I can do better.
Just sharing a different point of view. Sometimes I get scared off by posts like this b/c it makes me feel like I could never quite possibly do enough. :(
Wow, that's kind of harsh dont you think? I'm not beating anyone up or judging. I am stating what I am able to do and that I believe in it. Never did I say that 'everyone else should do this or they are a bad parent', I was just saying that this is something I have tried to do for a long time, ....I don't buy organic at the grocery store because I cannot afford it. I have had 3 children in 3 years 7 hours away from my closest family. I agonized over a 33cent purchase more than once over the years. I am finally able to do things more how I like, but I would weigh each and every thing I did/bought/fed my children when I could. I couldn't always do everything, but I would do what I could. I think in the long run, I actually saved money from dr visits and meds. I would prefer to think I could help people with my post, not hurt. My oldest turns 15 this summer, and I am still learning every step of the way.
Amy I rephrased. Sorry it looked like I was speaking to you personally. I just meant the CE movement in general. I was in no way made to feel bad by your specific comments. :) Should have looked it over before I hit post. That's what I get for speed typing.
Oh no Steph, I just hated to think that my post was hurtful in any way. I always just want to share, help and boost other women, not make them feel bad in any way, and I guess it struck that cord in me. I don't think you should feel bad or that you aren't doing every thing you can. Lord knows, I wake up at night more often than not counting my frailties as a wife/mother/friend/neighbor/citizen. <3
I was in no way suggesting we should not raise awareness. I think education leads people to make smart choices.
I just think that vilifying one category of food doesn't get us very far when it comes to making smart and realistic choices on a daily basis. Take the low-carb fad that was so popular. Back then, we vilified carbs. So people took out carbs in favor of steak and bacon. Not smart.
Trans fat. Preservatives. Nitrates. Sodium. Bad cholesterol. Pesticides. We're supposed to avoid all of those, and it's exhausting and to the average American, it seems daunting to say the least. Hell, it's daunting to me.
I argue that the focus (of media/social programs designed to improve health) should be on a getting a healthy amount of calories from a balanced diet with fats and sugars in moderation.
And I can see Stephanie's point about the whole "us versus them" mentality that exists among some people (no one on this board)! Here in Philly, it seems like everyone is gluten-free. I love me some gluten, but I stopped in a gluten-free bakery (down the street) to get a baguette to go with some lentil soup I made. I told the guy I wasn't gluten-free, and I might as well have told him I ate the fingers of babies! And guess what? That baguette was effing nasty! Like chalky bread made of flavorless gummy bears.
I, for one get really worked up on this issue and its not because I am against anyone who doesn't share my view but because I am so passionate about it that I want you to see what I see, KNIW? I don't judge someone who doesn't eat like me, but if I know you and like you I will do my best to educate you. I didn't give a monkey's backside about this kind of thing until my baby was diagnosed with asthma, excema and severe food allergies. I went searching for information and found an alarming body of research about food. This changed how I ate but more importantly it changed how I thought about food.
Now I am no saint - I have a McDonalds at the end of my road and my kids eat there occasionally and I am very partial to after dinner snacks of the unhealthy kind but I am trying all the time to eat better. No judgement but its not as hard as you think. Last night we had Thai Pork Larb with Rice cooked quicker than ordering a pizza - 20mins from fridge to table.
And my name is actually koala. My mama named me that because I was born with fuzzy ears and a pouch. The latter had to be surgically removed. The ears? I just have to trim the fur every day or two.
bahahaha - lilkoala, why would you eat GF bread if you don't have to? It is proper nasty and I know b/c my sister had coeliac disease and GF bread is all she eats and it is so bad the dog wont even eat it!
The poor guy in the shop was probably thinking the same thing - go and eat proper bread, he probably hasn't eaten in years and was dead jealous!
Well where the hell were you 2 weeks ago BEFORE I spent SIX DOLLARS on that tiny baguette?
And I will try everything once. I had tried gluten-free brownies and cookies and I didn't think they were bad.