This morning, over breakfast, tea, stretches and rough-housing with the dog, I watched the movie Fed Up. I had not seen it before, and if you haven’t, I strongly recommend that you make time to do so. There is a lot of focus on childhood obesity, how we happened across this problem, and how we (as a society) are not really doing a whole helluva lot to change it.
One of the very famous, recognizable image from that move is the one seen on the right (borrowed from www.cbsnews.com). In this segment, they use scientific data to show the highly addictive properties of sugar on the brain. And in fact, in studies, cocaine-addicted mice chose sugar water over cocaine for a two week straight period. WTH?!
It also really focuses on the affect that processed and pre-packaged foods have played as a part of this:
- Remove the fat (fat-free, reduced-fat) and you are only getting the flavour from added sugar
- All of the excess fat that they removed, they piled into cheese (they made a stunning point that, when you look at the cheese section in your grocery store, it is practically a full isle worth… all pre-packaged for easy consumption… so we can add it to EVERYTHING!)
- In order to preserve the pre-packaged and processed foods, they are adding all types of chemicals to keep them from dying (ever wonder why that pre-packaged appy tray of meat and cheese from your grocer has a self-life of 18 months?!)
Here are some more comparisons made by the movie:
(images from www.thewholetruth.com)
This is proof in the proverbial chocolate pudding that making things from scratch are just better for you. You have more control over what goes into it, and you can start affecting change in your home right away! Like, today! It’s a no-brainer!
Does It Look Like It Came From Nature?
That was a question that they asked towards the end of the movie. The science guy posed the question, and then simply added that if you begin eating less processed foods, less refined sugars (for example, the sugars found in fruit also have fiber to off-set the processing of the sugar, whereas fruit juice has all of the fiber practically removed, and therefore even the no-sugar-added stuff is not getting processed properly), you will feel better, be healthier on the inside, and you will begin to see weight changes to your body fat percentages (not all body fat issues result in obesity, and the movie shows an amazing example of a 19 year old who looks perfectly fit, and yet had a higher body fat scan than his brother who appeared fuller in the tummy area).
This is the very reason I strongly recommend that we think for ourselves when it comes to our foods. Look for things that we can make ourselves. If you are trolling pinterest as much as I do for healthy food ideas, really think about the ingredients. Just because it SAYS that it’s healthy, does not mean that it is really doing all the good for you that it could! If it indicated to include a frozen or processed type of food, take the time to look for an alternative that you can easily make yourself. A great example of that is breakfast sausage – why add the processed junk when a few extra minutes will give you the same (if not better!) food from scratch, with none of the excess preservatives, refined or added sugars.
Even “Healthy” Foods Can Be High In Sugar
Take a look at the yoghurt you’re eating. If you are having a flavoured yoghurt, then you have added sugar. Now, if you are like me, I can’t stand the taste of plain Greek yoghurt by itself, unless it’s being cooked or baked into something. However there are so many health benefits to eating yoghurt (especially for women and our unique set of inner womanly bits), that a trade-off needed to be made. I needed to consume more yoghurt, so in order to make it palatable for me, I opted for a vanilla flavoured one. The vanilla does have added sugar however much less than its fruit counterpart. So, on days when I have yoghurt as my snack, I try to offset that with a whole (as in natural) fruit that has a lot of fiber in it to help my body digest the small amount of sugar in there.
Not all sugar consumption is bad, and there is a recommended daily amount, but only 10% of our daily calories should come from sugar (according to a buried document by the W.H.O. outlined in the movie), so choose your sugars wisely.
61 Names of for the Sugar in Processed Foods
This should be interesting….
Agave nectar, Barbados sugar, Barley malt, Barley malt syrup, Beet sugar, Brown sugar, Buttered syrup, Cane juice, Cane juice crystals, Cane sugar, Caramel, Carob syrup, Castor sugar, Coconut palm sugar, Coconut sugar, Confectioner’s sugar, Corn sweetener, Corn syrup, Corn syrup solids, Date sugar, Dehydrated cane juice, Demerara sugar, Dextrin, Dextrose, Evaporated cane juice, Free-flowing brown sugars, Fructose, Fruit juice, Fruit juice concentrate, Glucose, Glucose solids, Golden sugar, Golden syrup, Grape sugar, HFCS (High-Fructose Corn Syrup), Honey, Icing sugar, Invert sugar, Malt syrup, Maltodextrin, Maltol, Maltose, Mannose, Maple syrup, Molasses, Muscovado, Palm sugar, Panocha, Powdered sugar, Raw sugar, Refiner’s syrup, Rice syrup, Saccharose, Sorghum Syrup, Sucrose, Sugar (granulated), Sweet Sorghum, Syrup, Treacle, Turbinado sugar, Yellow sugar
Now, let’s see how our choices add up. I have two syrups in my house right now (I’m focused on syrup ’cause we’re having pancakes for lunch!) – one in the fridge (the pure organic) and the one buried in the back of the cupboard (still not sure how or why it’s still there):
1. Kirkland brand pure maple syrup – Ingredients: Maple syrup
2. Aunt Jemima Syrup – Ingredients: Glucose, liquid sugar, water, natural and artificial flavour, caramel colour (sulphites), sodium benzoate, sorbic acid, maltol
Now, obviously, the first one is going to bet better for you, while the second one lists THREE types of sugar (the underlined ones)!
But what about the other ingredients?
Caramel colour… According to wikipedia: caramel color is produced from commercially available nutritive sweeteners consisting offructose, dextrose (glucose), invert sugar, sucrose, malt syrup, molasses, starch hydrolysates and fractions thereof. So go ahead and cross that one off as sugar too! That’s 6 more sugars from the list all labeled under that neat and tiny little ‘caramel’ warm and fuzzy word!!!!!!! 1 product = 9 different types of sugars!
And, just for fun, although not a sugar, let’s look at sodium benzoate – again from www.naturalnews.com:
Sodium benzoate chokes out your body’s nutrients at the DNA cellular level by depriving mitochondria cells of oxygen, sometimes completely shutting them down. Just as humans need oxygen to breathe, cells need oxygen to function properly and to fight off infection, including cancer.
So… this little bottle of Aunt Jemima is headed for the trash. Geez… how’d I let that just SIT there?!
So, How Do We Sweeten Our Food?
The best ways, according to many sources online:
- Raw honey. Careful though – not all honey is pure. Look for organic, un-preserved and un-refined. I like this one.
- Maple Syrup. This is the brand I use from Costco, but Walmart and Von’s/Safeway also carry pure products.
- Apples or apple sauce – but again, check the labels on apple sauce for added sugars and preservatives. You want one that is just apple puree only – nothing else (including fruit juice).
Personally, I try to stay away from artificial sweeteners. They are widely known to be carcinogenic. If I absolutely have to put a sprinkle of sugar in a recipe, then I go for organic cane – the closest thing to the plant as possible.
But all is not lost…
Your favourite muffin? Try it with pure maple syrup. You can even try a super ripe (like, blackeningly ripe) banana, as it adds a great sweetness to things. How about cookies? You could try honey as your sweetener.
And if you DO need to splurge on sugar once in a while (for cheesecake or some other to-die-for dessert), look for an organic sugar, straight from the cane. At least it’s pure without the added preservatives, or without having gone through the refining process. The colour may be different than you’re used to, but it’ll still be awesome!
And you’ll feel like a real rebel, munching away on that sugary goodness.
Maybe just pair it with a generous helping of broccoli with dinner so that you’ve got lotsa fiber to help it work through your system! :o)