Relative Something

*this* John W. Hays' take on things and experiences

Posts Tagged ‘sugar

Springing Forth

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The multitude of flora on our property is springing forth at a variety of rates this year. To our surprise, some of our trillium are flowering earlier than we’ve seen before. That’s particularly thrilling for us because most of the bloomers are transplants we brought from Cyndie’s family vacation home up north.

We’ve had a good run of consecutive dry days, followed by a perfect evening rainstorm Monday night and it is making growing things very happy.

Getting the water right is key to a lot of things. I went for a scouting bike ride on Sunday to investigate a route that didn’t involve gravel roads. I was successful in that, but in so doing, I out-rode my water supply. The last spot I was planning to get a refill hadn’t yet opened for the season.

I decided to push for the finish on limited rations.

It’s not that hard. I limped home safe and sound, but I was unsurprisingly under-hydrated. What intrigues me is how long the evidence has lingered. Two days later, despite consciously increasing my usual daily intake in hopes of catching up, my primary barometer (urine color) revealed I was still behind.

Working on a long game toward optimal health involves an unending series of small daily efforts. It involves making corrections along the way for intermittent deviations.

As I prepared my breakfast and lunch last night for today’s shift in the mine, measuring the amount of cereal to meet my goals for grams of sugar, it hit me again how different my diet is from just a couple of years ago. I don’t expect I’ve yet reached a point of undoing what decades of a high sugar intake produced in me.

It was probably in the late 1980s that I attended a lecture that touted a mantra of eating like a king for breakfast, a queen for lunch, and a pauper for dinner. I embraced that part about breakfast with gusto, figuring my high activity sports habit was more than enough justification to eat whatever I wanted.

Portion sizes swelled, guilt-free. Meanwhile, my body tended to swell, too –despite the constant exercise of soccer and cycling. I miss eating too much cereal for breakfast whenever I felt like it, but I don’t miss how it made me look and feel.

Pondering the difference helps to reinvigorate my inspiration for staying on course for the long haul.

I’m feeling renewed energy to spring forth into another year of living well. Maybe it will bring me into full bloom sooner than I expect.

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Unsurprising Revelation

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It does not surprise me one bit that recently discovered documents reveal the influence the sugar industry applied to deflect attention away from sugar and toward saturated fats as the culprit in a link with heart disease back in the 1960s.

nytsugarindustryarticleThis successfully contributed to a national campaign to reduce fat in our diets. How ironic that the net result some 50+ years later is an epidemic of obesity.

I bet that’s not hard on people’s hearts.

A trade group called the Sugar Research Foundation, known today as the Sugar Association, paid three Harvard scientists to publish a report and made it clear that they wanted the results to favor sugar. The rest is history. Bravo. They have profited handsomely and altered the health of a nation for the worse.

The food industry responded by reducing fat in their products, and adding sugar.

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Please, read the labels of processed foods you eat and pay attention to both the serving size and the grams of sugar. You won’t be able to see what percentage of the daily recommended amount of sugar the food contains, because industry lobbyists have successfully influenced politicians to keep that incriminating fact out of sight.

We have to do the math ourselves. Be informed. Eat smart. Be healthy.

Good luck. You will be up against an industry that is banking on people not stopping themselves.

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Written by johnwhays

September 13, 2016 at 6:00 am

Not There

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It has been 15 months since I began paying attention to how much sugar I was consuming on a daily basis and trying to achieve a level closer to the World Health Organization’s recommendation of limiting sugar to only 5-10% of my daily calories. Prior to that time, I was consuming the daily total and more by the completion of my breakfasts. By the end of the days, I was likely hitting somewhere around quadruple the recommended amount.

dscn5149eFor more than a year I have been measuring the amount of cereal and yogurt I serve myself to keep the serving size small enough to provide no more than 10 grams of sugar per meal. Based on a 2000 calorie per day diet, I was aiming to stay below around 200 of those calories to come from sugar.

One gram of sugar contains 3.87 calories.

One trick with my plan is keeping the total calories at the daily target of 2000. The average American diet all too easily exceeds that amount. So, by wanting to reduce my sugar intake, I found myself also bringing my total calories down. That is not something I ever bothered measuring before this effort.

I simply knew that I should aim for a balance of obvious healthy choices. At the same time, an addict will respond to urges that exceed what they know to be healthy. I was addicted to sugar.

Not only were the lab results for my blood work revealing I was pre-diabetic, I was uncomfortably pudging out. The love-handles and belly bulge, the flabby arms, and my usual full face were ever present and slowly expanding.

My main goal was to appease the pressure from my doctor to get my numbers down for glycosylated hemoglobin, or HbA1c. After a year of working on it, I was looking forward to this year’s physical to learn the results of my efforts.

Much to my surprise, I’m not there yet.

Two years ago, my HbA1c reading came in at 5.8. My clinic seeks a level of <5.7, so I was just barely outside their “normal” range. Thus, the diagnosis of “pre-diabetic.”

My results this time, after a year of attention to my sugar intake, came in at 5.9.

Humpf.

Doc says there may be some genetics involved, as well as the fact that as we age our pancreas function deteriorates. I figure it’s because I had eaten so many of Cyndie’s sweet caramel rolls over the years, it will take me longer than a year to purge the glucose from my system.

So, my HbA1c may not have come down where the doctor wants to see it, but in the past year I have pleasantly reduced most of that flab that I never liked and I’ve dropped 8 pounds since my last visit to the clinic.

I’ll claim that small victory and keep measuring my sugar grams in search of a lower number for the level of my hemoglobin-bound-to-glucose next year. I want to keep my diet below the daily amount of recommended sugar to help my body as much as possible.

My poor pancreas isn’t gettin’ any younger.

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Periodic Assessment

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Yesterday was the day of our annual furnace inspection by the company that installed it a few years ago. So far, so good. Honestly, I would have been shocked if he had found something amiss. We are past the initial break-in period where manufacturing or installation issues could appear, and it is still new enough that no parts should be wearing out. Plus, it has been performing flawlessly from the start.

Still, I pay good money for the peace of mind to know all is well.

Our experience last fall of discovering the cracked tiles in the flue of our chimney bolstered my confidence in the value of regular check-ups.

Upon recommendation from someone at work, I watched “That Sugar Film” last night. I invite you to check out the trailer for a sampling. It might make you crave seeing the whole movie. It served as a periodic assessment of my sugar reduction/control efforts, not that I wasn’t aware of some slippage in the wrong direction.

I struggle with a physical addiction to sweetness. Well, mental and physical, frankly. Every time I cheat a little on my attempt to stay below the recommended healthy daily amount of calories from sugar, I feed the mental monster. My mind then works with my body to coerce me into feeding the urge.

It is weird to watch the movie and get a sense of how similar my sugar craving is to drug addictions that are publicly looked upon as all around bad things, while the food industry flashes spectacular and colorfully happy ad campaigns in broad daylight for products laden with the chemical that will capture our minds and make our bodies sick.

Think, tobacco industry. How many years did they get away with it? Cigarettes were safe. Heck, they were even good for you! NOT!

That scene is happening today with soft drink companies, cereal, yogurt, pasta sauces, …pretty much all processed foods. They are all safe! Enjoy!

We can trust them, because they pay scientists to collect data that shows everything is okay. It’s fine. Don’t worry. Have some more. You know, a calorie is a calorie, whether from sugar or otherwise. NOT!

Don’t fall for the ruse that you should be able to exercise enough to justify that next sugar laden meal. That is a war that can’t be won.

If you have children, save them from this. Please, understand the effects of sugar on our brains and bodies.

Addiction is addiction. Pick a poison. Street drugs, prescription drugs, tobacco, gambling, sex, shopping, food, sugar.

When choosing to profit off the human brain’s cravings, a company should have a plan to hide the facts about making their customers sick. Maybe no one is noticing the obesity trend and subsequent increase in associated diseases, like diabetes and heart disease. Go ahead, keep on eating the convenient foods filling the grocery store shelves.

What this movie points out is that he doesn’t eat the obvious soda pop, candy, and ice cream which most people know should be moderated.DSCN4499e He chooses supposed “healthy” choices of cereal, yogurt, juices, and snack bars during his 60-day experiment. It’s eye-opening, even for me.

I need to renew my effort to spot what my brain is doing to feed its craving.

Last night, it was pasta for dinner. It was soooooo good.

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Written by johnwhays

March 5, 2016 at 10:40 am

Try Imagining

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Try imagining that you are daily striving to tightly control the percentage of sugar in your total caloric intake, despite the onslaught of incoming treats at work from a number of generous, well-meaning sources, and yesterday, when you arrived home from work and opened the door to your house, you were met by an overwhelming aroma of fresh-baked goodies that practically lifted you off your feet.

For some reason, as soon as I am home from work, I want to eat something. It is one of the trickier parts of my day, in terms of managing my choices in avoidance of unnecessary sugars. I’m happy to eat anything, as long as it doesn’t take any time to prepare. Crunchy, salty, and sweet tend to be cravings that most strongly nag me.

Yesterday, at my weakest moment, Cyndie was moving fresh-baked cookies off a tray, onto the cooling rack. I don’t think there is any better time to test a cookie than when it is still warm from the oven. I hadn’t even finished setting down things I had carried in the door when I sank my teeth into the irresistible goodness of a cookie that tasted like a cinnamon bun.

Cyndie mentioned that she hadn’t put the icing on yet, which helped to calm some of my angst. Knowing that I was eating less sugar than the cookies would ultimately have helped me justify my choice. See how that works?

Really, try to imagine walking in the door to this:

DSCN4211eI wish I could provide a smell-o-vision feature, to give you the full effect.

Next Sunday afternoon we are hosting a “neighborhood cookie social” for folks living around us, most of whom we’ve yet to meet in the three years we’ve been here. Cyndie printed out an invitation and then drove a loop of the immediate roads surrounding us to the west, where we know a handful of folks, including our good friend and trusty farrier, George Walker.

Multiple locations have mailboxes grouped, and she wasn’t sure about which mailbox went with which house, so she just put an invite in every box. Roughly 30, she said. We have no idea how many may show up, and we likely won’t recognize but a few.

Imagine that. It should be fun!

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Written by johnwhays

December 16, 2015 at 7:00 am

Proposed Improvement

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I just learned that the FDA is now proposing that companies declare a daily percent value for sugar! That would be a dream come true for me. As thrilling as that news was, the details I found in an NPR piece on the subject, “No More Hidden Sugar: FDA Proposes New Label Rule,” left me a little less ecstatic.

CompareNutritionLabels

Left: The current Nutrition Facts panel on foods. Right: The label changes that the FDA proposed in 2014 would list added sugars. Now the FDA wants the label to list the percent daily value, too. —image: FDA

At their site, I found a fabulous new version of the nutrition label, which they proposed in 2014. What fun! But, that was last year. Why are we still waiting for it?

Not only is the information better displayed, they want to show when sugar has been added to a food. Include the more recent proposal of finally revealing the percentage of recommended daily amount of sugar in the serving, and you have improved the label dramatically.

Unfortunately, it’s only a proposal at this point. I believe we’ve been here before. The strength of the food industry to control the legislation written by our elected representatives, has proved influential enough to get their way in the past. It is my understanding that this is the reason the percentage isn’t shown for sugar on the labels currently in use.

The NPR article indicates that the FDA will take public comment on the new proposal for 75 days, before issuing a final rule. There is no question in my mind about the likelihood that the lobbyists for the sugar industry will be doing what they do best to further their interests during this time, at the expense of common sense and the health of consumers.

Could this be the time when public benefit wins out over the almighty dollar?

How would you react to a food that has 130% of the recommended daily amount of sugar in ONE serving? It’s out there on the shelves already. You just can’t tell without doing your own calculations. If they want the percentage to look reasonable, but they don’t change their ingredients, imagine how small the food industry will need to make their serving sizes.

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Written by johnwhays

July 28, 2015 at 6:00 am