Tag Archives: sugar

Big Brother Is Watching You…Drink

According to the Associated Press, New York City plans to ban the sale of large sodas and other sugary drinks in an effort to combat obesity.  “The proposed first-in-the-nation ban would impose a 16-ounce limit on the size of sweetened drinks sold at restaurants, movie theaters, sports venues and street carts. It would apply to bottled drinks as well as fountain sodas.”  Basically, this move would outlaw Super Big Gulps and so forth, as a method to control the intake of high fructose corn syrup and its associated obesity risk.

This sounds logical on the face of it, but let’s look a little closer.

What are the risk behaviors that contribute to obesity?  Primarily, they are inactivity and consumption of high calorie, low nutrient foods.  It is not the sale of super sized soft drinks that make people fat.  It is the consumption of these nutritionally barren drinks that is the problem!

Sure, New York City can outlaw the oversized drinks.  That won’t stop anyone from buying two smaller drinks to compensate.  Such a law certainly won’t stop anyone from drinking soda.  All this proposal will do is add another intrusion of government into people’s daily lives.  I have written this before and will do so again:  a company can not be faulted for selling products or services which the public clearly wants to buy.  That’s free enterprise, folks.

The key to combating the American obesity epidemic is twofold: education and encouragement.  An open and frank public discussion of the American obesity epidemic and its ramifications is desperately needed!  A corollary to this is increase outreach and education on both the dangers of obesity and the alternative behaviors which can mitigate them.  That is where we need to focus our attention and our energy.

Three sizes of soda with representative sugar amounts in front of them.

Would you sit down and eat this much raw sugar?

There Are No Good Excuses

You know, I get so tired of hearing people assigning blame and avoiding responsibility for the obesity epidemic that’s crushing this country.  I’ve heard people say that it’s the fault of the fast food industry pushing junk food on us.  I’ve read that it’s the fault of the big agriculture companies, promoting high fructose corn syrup.  I’ve even seen people defending obesity by claiming that it’s genetic and therefore unavoidable.  Give me a break!

“It’s the fault of the fast food industry.”  This is complete and utter nonsense!  Nobody is forced to consume the high fat, high salt, low nutrient crap that passes for food at most fast food joints!  Further, you can’t blame any company for selling what the public clearly wants.  Some say that fast food is cheaper than eating good, wholesome food.  They are wrong!  If one shops wisely and factors in all the medications that won’t be needed to treat obesity related illnesses like heart disease and diabetes, good food costs the same as or less than junk food.

“It’s big agro pushing HFCS on us.”  Well, here’s a radical idea: put down the soda pop, and any other processed food (another subject for a different day) that contains excess sugar including pasta sauces, low fat yogurt, and commercially made breads.  If you start to read the labels before you buy, you will be surprised at just how pervasive this stuff is.  It is true that it’s the go to ingredient for many food producers because it’s comparatively cheap.  But-and this is important-it’s not the fault of anyone except the person eating this stuff that it ends up in their mouth!

“It’s genetic.”  While it is true that genetics may predispose someone to obesity, it does not guarantee that obesity is inevitable.  Being predisposed to something simply means that unless steps are taken, a certain result will occur.  (For example, I’m of Norwegian heritage so I’m predisposed to sunburns unless I use sun block.)  Factors like lack of exercise and poor nutrition play a bigger role than genetics in obesity rates.  People who blame obesity on genetics might as well say they are fluffy or “big boned”-which is patently false as our skeletal structure has nothing to do with adipose (fat tissue) accumulation.  This is nothing more or less than plain old excuse-making so that personal responsibility can be avoided.

And that is the real issue that gets under my skin: people who won’t accept responsibility for their own actions!  If someone is overweight or obese and asks for my help, I’m there for them.  I’ve been fat and unhealthy and I know both what that was like and how to do something about it.  I now eat sensibly and exercise six days a week for at least an hour, usually with P90X or another Beachbody product.  It’s not easy, but it’s not impossible by any stretch of the imagination.  Conversely, if someone makes excuses to me, and they won’t put down the damn fried chicken, Twinkies, and Coca Cola, I have zero sympathy for them.

A man using a tape measure on his fat belly.

Who is at fault for obesity in America?

Day One of My Shakeology Cleanse

I’m technically 10.5 hours into my 3 day Shakeology Cleanse as I write this, and so far, so good!  A Shakeology Cleanse consists of 3 servings of Shakeology made with water instead of milk or juice, a couple pieces of fruit for snacks, and one large meal comprised a leafy green salad with fish or chicken and minimal dressing.  Beverages are all the water you want, and decaffeinated green tea. As it turns out, the morning portion isn’t a lot different than what I do every day anyway.

Most mornings, I have a cup of black half-caff coffee and a serving of Shakeology made with skim milk or orange juice (chocolate and Greenberry, respectively.)  Some time around the middle of the morning I have a piece of fruit or an Odwalla bar or some almonds for a snack.  The morning portion of the cleanse is pretty much the same as what I already do.  After that, it will get interesting.  I did stick to the one cup of black coffee I pick up on my way to work each day.

So why am I doing this?  There are several reasons:

  • I’ve been stuck on a weight loss plateau for a couple months, trying to lose the weight I put back on last November when I was ill.
  • The cleanse will give my digestive system a bit of a break and allow it a minor reset.
  • The cleanse allows your body to purge sugars, toxins and accumulated contaminants like preservatives.  Although I minimize my intake of highly processed food, it’s tough to avoid it altogether.

Stay tuned!

Shakeology Tropical Strawberry, Chocolate, and Greenberry.

Shakeology is the healthiest meal of the day!

10 Easy Ways to Reduce Calories

Many people equate reduced calories with reduced portion sizes and reduced enjoyment. Reducing the amount of food you eat is certainly one way to approach the issue of calorie reduction. But I have to tell you, I don’t suffer well, and I sure don’t suffer in silence. Here are some tips to help you reduce your calorie intake while not making yourself feel deprived. These work for me and I am sure they will work for you! (The calorie counts I list below came from caloriecount.com, a really handy resource.)

  1. Drink skim milk instead of whole milk, for 95 calories versus 175 calories per half-pint. (Reduced fat milk still comes in at 125 calories per half-pint.)
  1. Use unsugared all fruit spread on your toast (whole grain, of course!) instead of regular jam or jelly, for 40 calories* versus typically 74 calories per tablespoon.
  1. Put mustard, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, and pickles on your burgers instead of cheese, mayonnaise, and ketchup. This can shave off as much as 180 calories (based upon 1 tablespoon each of ketchup and mayonnaise and 1 slice of American cheese).
  1. Season steamed vegetables with pepper or salt-free blends instead of butter or butter substitutes, to save 100 calories per tablespoon.
  1. You know deep frying adds calories, right? Substitute a baked skinless chicken breast for one that’s deep fried with the skin on, for 110 calories versus 225 calories.
  1. Exercise portion control and have half a slice of pie or cake, or share your dessert with your significant other, either of which easily reduces the calories by 50 percent. One method is obviously more fun than the other!
  1. Avoid super-sizing when eating out for significant savings-in calorie intake!
  1. Ask for a dry baked potato at restaurants, not a plain one for 161 calories versus 375 calories for a medium sized spud. A “plain” baked potato usually comes loaded with butter or margarine. If you must have a topping, ask for it on the side and be stingy with it.
  1. Indulge a chocolate craving with a couple of dark chocolate minis, at 42 calories** each, rather than an entire bar at 510 calories.**
  1. Ditch soda and other sweetened drinks in favor of flavored sparkling water for 0 calories versus as much as 110 calories per ounce. (I like Poland Springs’  flavored water.) Watch out for flavored water loaded up with additives and artificial sweeteners.

*Cascadian Farmsbrand

**Dove brand

Sugar by Any Other Name

The makers of high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) would understandably like to change the image of their product, which has gained a reputation as the trans fat of the sugar world. In fact, as sales sink, they’d prefer a name change altogether to corn sugar, and have asked the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for permission to use it on food labels.

The liquid sweetener is a natural food, a Corn Refiners Association advertising campaign claims, and nutritionally the same as any other sugar. The makers of table sugar-the granulated or powdered substance made from beets and sugar cane-will be in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles in an effort to stifle that campaign, but they’re making too much of minor differences. Yes, HFCS is natural, to the extent that it isn’t made in a chemical laboratory, but it is also a highly refined product. In fact, the Center for Science in the Public Interest successfully objected to the use of the word “natural” in ads by the Corn Refiners Association.

True, high-fructose corn syrup requires more processing than the familiar table sugar, using enzymes to derive the sugar from corn starch, but both undergo some processing. More importantly when it comes to how the human body metabolizes glucose, fructose, sucrose and the like, dietitians say the corn refiners have it mostly right: sugar is sugar. That does not mean that HFCS is any better for you in large doses than any other sugar, however. It’s still a source of empty calories; one isn’t more healthful than another. Yes, it’s nutritionally equal to any other sugar, which is to say empty calories and deleterious to good health in high quantities. The take away here is to read the labels on your food purchases carefully, and minimize all excess sugar in your diet.