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Posts Tagged ‘Sugar’

Eating 'Healthy' Can Make You Fat — One Supplement Almost Killed Its Maker

In behavior, food on April 28, 2010 at 11:18 pm
American cultural icons, apple pie, baseball, ...

Club that pie! Image via Wikipedia

Try these on for size — “healthy” fish dishes offered by popular mass-market restaurants. Their calorie counts, and fat content, make them a bad joke. Eating what appear to be healthy foods is like tap-dancing through a minefield, especially in a restaurant where you have no idea what’s really in your meal.

And here’s a guy whose own nutritional supplement almost killed him because the dosage of Vitamin D was 10 times the safe limit.

Null said he was later told that if he hadn’t visited his doctor when he did, “he could have died within a short period of time.”

When Null discovered what the problem was, he “sequestered himself and fasted, only consuming massive amounts of water, as he was told that there was no medical treatment to lower the amount of Vitamin D in his system,” the suit says.

“It took three months to get his blood seemingly back to where he was able to function. Even now, Null’s condition is questionable, as he continues to occasionally urinate blood,” the suit says.

Null markets fitness DVDs, as well as hair-care, anti-aging, anti-stress, air-purification, weight-loss and pet-care goods on his Web site.

Look into your fridge and cupboards and see what’s really healthy. Every single food, except fresh meat and produce, is likely to be drenched in some sort of fat, salt or sugar — the worst hidden culprit, high fructose corn syrup.  From Wikipedia:

In May 2006, the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) threatened to file a lawsuit against Cadbury Schweppes for labeling 7 Up as “All Natural” or “100% Natural”,[61] despite the presence of high-fructose corn syrup. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has no general definition of “natural”; however, FDA regulations define “natural flavoring” to include products of vegetables.[62] In April 2008, an FDA employee was quoted in an article suggesting that the agency had changed its opinion on HFCS.[63] However, this was not the official position of the agency. The FDA subsequently issued a clarification stating that the agency does not object to labeling HFCS as “natural.”[64] The CSPI also claim that HFCS is not a “natural” ingredient due to the high level of processing and the use of at least one genetically modified (GMO) enzyme required to produce it. On January 12, 2007, Cadbury Schweppes agreed to stop calling 7 Up “All Natural”.[65] They now label it “100% Natural Flavors”.[66]

[edit] HFCS advertisements

In September 2008, the Corn Refiners Association[67] launched a series of United States television advertisements that claim that HFCS “is made from corn”, “is natural” (changed from previously-stated “doesn’t have artificial ingredients“), “has the same calories as sugar or honey“, “is nutritionally the same as sugar”, and “is fine in moderation“, in an attempt to keep consumers from boycotting HFCS. The ads feature actors portraying roles in upbeat domestic situations with sugary foods, with one actor disparaging a food’s HFCS content but being unable to explain why, and another actor rebuking the comments with these claims. Finally, the ads each plug the Corn Refiners Association website.[68]

I recently received a coupon for a product manufactured by multinational conglomerate DelMonte.  A mom wields one of these things, called a Fruit Chiller, which comes (yes) in a “freeze and eat tube” as if it were a light saber, banishing a monster made of doughnuts, cookies, ice cream, potato chips and candy corn. The headline: “Freeze Bad Snacks in Their Tracks. Each package is made from one pound of fruit.”

What’s with this addiction to fake food?

How about…an apple? A banana? An apple contains 74 calories — not the 170 of a serving of FC plus its 26 grams of sugar.

At least if I reach for a martini or a doughnut, I know they’re not in the food pyramid.

My Diet, Week Two: Dreaming Of Martinis

In behavior, food, Health on April 18, 2010 at 9:33 am
DSC_5327

1.500 calories. Yum! Image by sam sha-put-ski via Flickr

Sitting here drinking my coffee (skim milk, which it always was, no sugar, as usual.) Trying to work up an interest in eating — for the second week — a breakfast of two to three eggs, bacon, a vegetable and a piece of cheese. Eggs have never been a favorite food and after this week ends, I may not eat one for a long, long time.

Friday begins Phase II, with the (re) addition of a tiny amount of carbohydrates and, for the first time in two weeks, fruit. It will be four very long weeks before I am allowed to consume refined sugar in any form — maple syrup, sugar, honey. Thanks to the steroids I’m on for my arthritis, no alcohol has entered my body for weeks. I pass our decanters of Balvenie and Tanqueray with only a brief, pining glance.

Now I really know what food means to me and what its deprivation makes me feel.

Lousy. Angry. Miserable. Controlled. Infantilized.

Shut off from the simplest pleasures of eating out, making a great meal for my sweetie, throwing a dinner party, biting into a creamy piece of Brie or fresh hunk of sourdough. Food is not fuel, to me. By removing its pleasure, and turning it into the enemy, I have had to look food straight in the face and see what it looks like.

We don’t have kids or pets or, really, hobbies. We’re both workaholics, lucky to eat dinner together by 7:30 or 8:00 p.m. most nights. Weekends, as they are for many of us, have been a cherished break with some beloved rituals, whether the blueberry pancakes my sweetie makes for me before I go play softball or the cold Stella or Guinness (one) I drink after the game with all my friends or roast chicken (yes, with skin) I plan and make for us.

A cold, wet, sour 6 ounces of unsweetened Greek 0% fat yogurt is not going to do it for me. Sorry.

Three things sustain me in this world, without which I am not sure life is worth it: ideas, delicious sustenance and beauty. These have been consistent for decades.

I recently blogged here, and had op-eds in two major newspapers, about having been bullied for three years in high school. What I didn’t say was that, every day after school on my long walk home, lonely and battered emotionally, I passed two bakeries. I’d eat something sweet and delicious from the first one and also from the second. The long walk and a high metabolism saved me from gaining weight. Sweet, gooey food was very real, immediate, reliable comfort. (Sorry, not a piece of celery or a low-calorie, low-fat apple.)

As it is for millions.

Losing weight and re-thinking the role of food in one’s life means paying exquisite, unrelenting attention not just to the invisible and delicate chemical balances of leptin and ghrelin and cortisol (that regulate appetite and satiety) but how it tastes and how it makes you feel and how happy your kids or husband or girlfriends are when you cook and serve them something delicious. And drink, whether a creamy cappuccino (still  permissible, thank God, with skim milk) or a stiff G & T (not OK. Shriek.)

I went grocery shopping in a suburban supermarket this week, as I have for the past decade. Obstacle course! Nightmare! It felt like one of those “hellhouses” that evangelical Christians like to create to show sinners the wages of their behavior. Every single aisle was a minefield of easy, terrible choices: chips, cookies, ice cream, candy, soft drinks, fat-laden meats, sugar-added breads, “low fat” yogurts packed with sugar. You practically need a pair of blinders, like those worn by the carriage horses in Central Park that block out all those cars and buses and pedestrians from view, to maneuver through without submission to multiple temptations. Produce aisle, dairy case, lean meat — out!

Eat out, for  a break from those damn measuring cups and spoons,  and you have to keep repeating, over and over: “No rice, bread, corn, carrots, thanks!” Then they bring it to the table anyway.

We ate Indian last night, where they know me, and the waiter — bless him — asked “Gin and tonic?” , my regular. That was tough.

I am now painfully aware how minuscule a “portion” is — go try it — four ounces of wine (as if!); one cup of pasta; 12 almonds.

The only good thing is, yes,  I am already noticeably thinner. I refuse to get on a scale. I’ve had enough humiliation for one lifetime, thanks.

I know my own body and how my clothes fit. I’ve had terrific support and advice here (thanks!) and from friends who have handed me some foods that work for them (Dreamfields pasta) and other tools.

Only five more weeks to go. Then….?

The Diet: Week One, In Which I Enter A Bakery Just For A Tantalizing Sniff

In behavior, food, Health on April 14, 2010 at 9:49 pm
Silhouettes and waist circumferences represent...

Image via Wikipedia

I’ve never dieted. Never wanted to. The doctor ordered it and for two weeks I have a tightly edited list of foods I am allowed to eat.

No starches (including carrots, sweet potatoes, corn); sugar or sweetening of any sort; no fruit in any form; no rice, pasta or any type of bread. It will modify only slightly over the next six weeks.

Here’s the challenge. If you stay home, and never go out, and are OK with that hermit-like existence, it’s workable as you calibrate every single mouthful, literally, with a set of measuring spoons and measuring cup. Such a fun start to a meal!

If you actually venture into the real world of restaurants and cafes and mass-marketed meals — I just spent two days in Boston — good luck! Salad in a campus cafeteria offered “lite” dressing, filled with high fructose corn syrup (a sweetener) and no bottles of oil and vinegar to substitute. Breakfast in the train station meant grilling the poor people at Cosi whether their eggs were real or powdered; they didn’t know, which was not reassuring. I ate the contents of their wraps without the forbidden wraps.

You wander about in a haze of permanent hunger, food glimmering and glistening all around you like some mirage in a distant oasis: donuts, mountains of muffins, enormous cups of fresh orange juice, a cool, amber glass of beer enjoyed by the guy sitting beside you at the bar as you sip your….Diet Coke.

You start to count the very few people who are not overweight or even morbidly obese, and notice how rare they are, anywhere. Some of them look like the Michelin Man, a belt cruelly tightened across their midriff as if it were a torture device. You wonder if they even have a bossy/caring physician or if their doctor is unkind or unhelpful or has just given up on them.

Your day, if you love to cook and eat and drink and plan the night’s dinner, has lost its focus as food and drink as a source of pleasure are erased. I don’t want a lifetime where food becomes mere fuel, every single calorie a dreaded threat to my existence. Today’s New York Post featured a story about mid-life women, several of them boasting how they are hungry all the time thanks to their minimal food intake — but look hot.

I’ll take tepid and happy…The “reward” for losing weight, the dietitian told me, is…even less food! Tinier portions, because my body will need fewer calories.

This is motivating?

I start physical therapy tomorrow, 45 minutes of pool aerobics to loosen and strengthen my arthritic left hip, which I am assured — and logic would agree — will hasten weight loss by burning more calories.

I am counting the days until I am deemed strong enough once more to get out on my bike, work up a sweat in the sunshine and get back to my Saturday morning softball game. (Two weeks ago, I could barely walk across the room because of the hip pain, which oral steroids have mostly relieved. A hip replacement is in my future, but I am hoping to postpone it for a few years, at best.)

By then, I might gnaw on my glove. Hey, it’s protein.

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