I hate to be a party pooper but I never understood our Western cultural craze for Halloween. Now, I am fully sucked into the commercial, psychological, and every other aspect of the holiday. Maybe the craze for sugar has something to do with our obsession? As we approach this weekend, I wanted to share one of my blog posts from several years ago that was based on a NPR piece on sugar (link above to the NPR segment). Today, there are so many articles about everything that we ingest and how it is slowly killing us but at the end of the day, most of the things that are really bad for us comes down to common sense, in my opinion.
When it sounds too good to be true, it usually is… right? I love that our country (and I do think this is a Western cultural issue vs a global issue) can’t figure out that certain things are bad for us, without someone telling us or monitoring us. For example, when the anti-fat fad hit roughly 10 years or so ago, all of a sudden everyone felt ‘good’ about eating sweets and desserts because it was NON FAT. Somehow we thought the fat that used to be in food just disappeared and we were ‘all good’. Now, years later we are hearing about how the fat in food had been replaced with artificial sugar. So, the recent interview on NPR perhaps isn’t new news to many of you because much of what they discuss is obvious and I am sure general knowledge for those who stopped to think about it. At least that’s what I thought when I first heard this story. I thought, great, another story about childhood obesity (not to dismiss this topic). The facts and findings I learned about during this interview were much more significant. First a few level-setting points about this article – it is talking about added sugar only, not natural sugar in fruits. Also, the recommendation from the doctor’s is to regulate sugar the same way alcohol is regulated; their position is based on the health impacts of sugar, which are, from their research similar to that of alcohol. By the way, let’s remember that alcohol metabolizes into sugar. A few highlights are provided below and the full story can be heard on the link provided:
- About 80% of the ~600,000 food choices have added sugar.
- Processed food adds sugar and removes fiber; fiber is important because it delays the absorption of sugar so that your liver has a chance to catch up.
- Sugar has the same impact on your liver as alcohol (alcohol is made from fermentation of sugar).
- People think sugar is about obesity; it’s not because 40% of normal-weight people have the same metabolic defects as the obese do.
- Added sugar is the #1 cause of non-communicative diseases such as: type 2 diabetes, obesity, hypertension, lipid problems, heart disease, fatty liver disease, polycystic ovarian disease and likely early data suggests cancer and dementia, as well.
- Our current food supply is so glutted with fructose, that is added sugar, sugar that was put there very specifically for the food industry’s purposes, both for palatability and for shelf life, that it has now created a toxic – basically a toxic side effect in our livers, driving all of these chronic metabolic diseases.
It is very challenging to find new, healthy food options for kids. And as you know, we have been working on my son Conor’s weight. Well, from personal experience, I can attest to the fact that all of the unnecessary calories add up and they add up fast! By simply cutting out juices and sticking to fresh fruit for all snacks, he lost over 7 pounds in a matter of weeks and kept it off. I don’t know that I can completely eliminate all added sugars from our diets because that would mean no pre-packaged food. However, it is pretty easy to cut out a large percentage of it from your daily routines by just taking a closer look, which is what we did.
So, bottom line is that to keep my children healthy, after they come home from trick-or-treating on Halloween, I go through all of their candy they spent hours collecting and cherry-pick my favorite chocolates just to SAVE them from the deadly effects of sugar. So, I sacrifice my personal health for their long-term well-being… that’s just the kind of mom I am! On a serious note, I do fundamentally believe that the key to a healthy life (in all aspects of your life) is balance – and in terms of food, to me, that means everything in moderation. So, HAPPY HALLOWEEN everyone!