Limiting sugar makes ME the bad guy
When I sat down to think about what a good topic would be for my first blog, SUGAR was the first thing that came to mind. Why sugar? One good answer: It is poison. OK, I know that sounds a bit dramatic, but I believe there is some truth in that statement. The over-consumption of sugar is slowly poisoning us. Refined sugar is empty; empty of anything remotely nutritious. Our bodies have to go into over-drive to digest, detox and eliminate sugar, and that process leeches our bodies of precious vitamins and minerals, such as sodium, potassium and magnesium. Not only that, but it robs our bodies of calcium, and where do we store the most calcium? In our bones and teeth. So what happens? Our teeth rot and our bones begin to weaken.
It doesn’t end there. Excess sugar eventually affects every organ in the body. Every ORGAN. Now, if you aren’t taking me seriously at this point, you are in serious denial. Or you are one of those people who believes that “ignorance is bliss.” Believe me, ignorance when it comes to your health, will kill you. Literally.
How does sugar affect our organs? (Reader beware because I am about to talk science. I’ll try to keep it in layman’s terms). First, it is stored in the liver in the form of glucose. Since the liver’s capacity is limited, a daily intake of refined sugar soon makes the liver expand like a balloon. When it’s filled to its maximum, excess sugar is returned to the blood in the form of fatty acids (fatty… fat-ty… FAT). These are then taken to every part of the body and stored in the most inactive areas: the belly, the buttocks, the breasts and the thighs. Hmm… do these sound like common “problem areas?”
When these areas are completely filled, where do you think the excess fat goes? It is distributed to our active organs, such as the heart and kidneys. These begin to slow down and their tissues degenerate and turn to fat. The whole body is affected by their reduced ability and abnormal blood pressure is created. Our parasympathetic nervous system is affected (this is our control center for all involuntary activities such as digestion, circulation, etc) and organs affected by it such as the brain, become inactive or paralyzed. The circulatory and lymphatic systems are invaded, an overabundance of white blood cells occurs and tissue production slows down. Our immune system decreases, “good” bacteria dies and our stock of vitamin B gets low. We get sleepy and our ability to calculate and remember is lost.
If this doesn’t sound like poisoning, I don’t know what does.
In a world where sugar is added to everything, what is one to do? For one, start reading labels. Know how to calculate sugar grams into teaspoons. This will help give you a visual on how much you are consuming. Take the sugar grams in a serving and divide that number by 4 to give you the approximate number of TEASPOONS in that serving. For instance, most sodas have 40 grams of sugar. That is 10 teaspoons! Most yogurts, which most people assume are healthy, have 5 teaspoons of sugar in them! How do we know if that sugar is added? If sugar, in any form or fashion (sucrose, high fructose corn syrup, evaporated cane juice, molasses, caramel, barley malt, dextrose, fructose…the list goes on), is one of the first three ingredients listed on the packaging, you can assume most of it is added and not from a natural source.
For those of you who don’t know me, I have three young kids and I admit, I used to buy them any cereal they wanted. I thought that eating something was better than nothing…until I realized how much sugar was in so many breakfast cereals. Most have about 10 grams of added sugar per serving! That’s when I decided that I didn’t want to start my kids off on the wrong foot and if I was going to start to limit their sugar intake, then I needed to start with the most important meal of the day: Breakfast! I switched out all of their breakfast cereals to brands that have less than 6 grams of sugar per serving and believe me, there aren’t a lot out there. Grape Nuts, Shredded Wheat (not Frosted), Cheerios (not Honey Nut) and Kix are a few that I found that my kids will eat. At first my kids complained and complained that I never bought any good cereals anymore, but I stuck to my guns, the whining subsided and low and behold, we’ve had many a peaceful morning. I found if I gave them a choice between a few, they were more apt to eat them because it was their decision.
Another hot topic in the house has been soda. I do not buy it. In fact, I now REFUSE to buy it. Unfortunately, my husband does not.
It’s diet! My husband says.
Great, I say. Chemically- laden bubbly. How refreshing. But it is his decision – he is an adult after all – and I respect that, however it does send mixed messages to our kids.
My son got into a heated argument with me over a diet soda the other day and how it wasn’t fair that I wouldn’t let him have it.
Dad drinks it, Mom! It doesn’t have caffeine in it, he said.
I tried to explain to him that soda is full of sugar and diet soda is full of chemicals that can potentially harm him and that caffeine was the least of my worries when it came to soda. This really just went “swoooosh” right over my nine-year-old’s head but I didn’t cave into his pleads for the “pop” and when all was said and done, he went without the soda and I was the bad guy. Go figure.
I agree that there are times when you need to pick your battles with your kids. I understand that they are going to have sugar and most likely I will “treat” them to a candy bar or ice cream here and there. But the key when it comes to sugar, is moderation and if I can control their intake to some degree then it sure as heck allows me to sleep better at night and little do they know, it helps them sleep better too.
Background on sugar derived from: Dufty, William. Sugar Blues. Padnor, PA: Chilton Book Company, 1993.