the culture of sugar

The Culture of Sugar

cul·ture

/ˈkəlCHər/

  1. Culture is a word for the ‘way of life’ of groups of people, meaning the way they do things…

Sugar has become a “way of life” in modern America!

Why is it so difficult to cut back on, avoid, or cut out sugar in America?

The simple answer: It’s everywhere and in everything.

But the answer is so much more complicated. Sugar is a part and parcel to our way of life.

  • It’s on every menu in every restaurant where we eat.
  • It’s an acceptable gift for birthdays, anniversaries, and holidays.
  • It is a major focus for weddings, wedding showers, baby showers, Halloween, Easter, and Christmas.
  • Sugar is at almost every checkout counter at every store.
  • It’s in children’s snacks (I’ll talk more about this).
  • It’s added to almost all processed foods in the grocery store.
  • Sugar is added to almost every fruit juice.
  • You cannot eat a sauce at a restaurant that doesn’t have added sugar.
  • Almost every salad dressing, condiment, yogurt, cereals, bread, soups, and on and on and on have added sugar.
  • Employers and supervisors reward employees with sugar.
  • Girl Scouts peddle sugar every year.
  • Schools turn into “sugar pushers” by getting you to buy chocolate bars for the band.

The Culture of Sugar and Kids

It’s difficult to take a child anywhere and not be confronted with sugar.

The “kids deal” at the movie theater includes a soft drink with sugar.

The kid’s meal at Dairy Queen includes ice cream.

Take your kids to the zoo and you will find “sugar shacks” sprinkled throughout the animals.

There are candy dispensers at the entrance of most stores, malls and restaurants.

Banks give your kids suckers at the drive-through.

Grocery stores give kids free cookies at the bakery.

The Sugar Culture and Advertising

Kids are on the internet and watch lots of TV. Advertisers take advantage of this.

The American Psychological Association warns, “Food ads on TV make up to 50 percent of ad time on children.” These ads, they go on to report, “are almost completely dominated by unhealthy food products (34% for candy and snacks, 28% for sweetened cereal, 10 for fast food, 1% for juice, and 0% for fruit and vegetables).”

Kids 8-12 are exposed to nearly 8,000 food ads per year.

The lines between ads and games on the internet have become very blurred, making it very difficult for children to know the difference. Only half of all eight-year-olds were able to recognize the advertisements they were watching on the internet.

As it turns out, high sugar cereal is one of the most frequently advertised food products to children.

The APA also warned parents that advertising is creeping into American Schools. Ads are showing up everywhere.

How much money is the food industry spending to get children to eat more sugar? In the early 2000’s the amount was staggering:

$792 million                Breakfast Cereal

$765 million                Candy

$549 million                Soft Drinks

$330 million                Snacks

This is the Culture of Sugar in America!!!!

This is a modern problem that did not exist 100-150 years ago.

Early Humans did not have this problem. Frontier humans did not have this culture. Even Pre-TV Americans did not have this culture.

It’s a modern social problem and it’s getting worse, not better.

OK! Enough!

I’m driving myself crazy. The point I’m making is that sugar is so pervasive in our country and so ingrained into our traditions, gathering places, and our social engagements that its very, very, very difficult to avoid and cut out.

I’ve been off “added sugar” for 2 months. Not 100%. That’s nearly impossible, but I’ve avoided sweets and anything that has added sugar.

I feel like I’ve been swimming upstream, against the dominant Culture of Sugar.

And I’m healthier, thinner, and feeling better. I’m loving it!

NUTRITIONAL AND MEDICAL DISCLAIMER FOR TRUE NORTH COUNSELING, LLC

In viewing this website (and blog), it is assumed that you understand and acknowledge that the services and information, provided by True North Counseling, LLC may involve recommendation to improve your general health, fitness and well-being, including nutrition/diet advice and suggestions for physical activity.  In accepting this information, understand that it is under your best discretion to be respectful to your body when engaging in physical activity and/or changing dietary habits. It is recommended to consult with your primary physician before starting any new/recent exercise or eating routine and to get annual check-ups to assess current health and fitness status. Do not overlook the importance of having a team-approach when health is involved. Regular visits with both your physician and registered dietitian will allow you to create the best possible, balanced approach in meeting health and performance/fitness goals.

 

the sweetening of america

The Sweetening of America

I DO NOT think that there is a sugar “conspiracy” in America.

I DO think, however, the food industry and sugar producers have realized that they can make lots and lots of money by adding sugar to the foods we eat.

Good Calories, Bad Calories

Gary Taubes, in his book, “Good Calories, Bad Calories: Fats, Carbs, and the Controversial Science of Diet and Health,” shines the light on what happened in food-industry board rooms across the country and how they have influenced the way we eat.

The first half of his book is more like a short history of sugar.

Sugar cane is not native to North America. It was introduced by early explorers. Soon after, the food producers realized that Americans had an insatiable taste for it and sugar mills sprang up everywhere. They began making sugar from beets and corn. It became less and less expensive, making it more available to all Americans.

Taubes’ book is also a short history of the food-industries tactics that were used to make food more palatable. In short, they did this by adding more sugar (also fat and salt). The term “bliss point” was coined as a term that referred to the amount of salt, sugar, and fat that optimized the deliciousness. I’ll share more about bliss point in a later blog.

The Food Industry Has Created a Sugar Culture in America

I started out by saying that I don’t believe in a sugar conspiracy. But honestly, it feels like a conspiracy. It feels like sugar growers, food-industry CEOs, and yes, nutritionists have conspired to make us fatter, sicker, and addicted to sugar.

It feels that way, but the truth is that we have no one to blame but ourselves. Maybe not our kids, but adults are to blame. We love sugar. We crave it, and bear much of the responsibility for our over consumption of sugar.

The main point of Taubes’ book is to answer the question: Which macronutrient is most responsible for the current health crisis in the country? Carbs (sugar) or Fat? Nutritionist have debated this for decades but they seem to be coming to a consensus that refined carbohydrates play a primary role.

The old weight-loss adage, “Calories in, calories out” suggested that we simply need to burn more calories than we take in. All calories are equal. A calorie is a calorie. This model is losing favor. Nutritionists are seeing the effects that refined carbohydrates have on our metabolic system and are concluding that, “all calories are not the same.”  Weight gain and weight loss have one thing in common: sugar.

Sugar is the culprit.

The takeaway from Taube’s work is to be aware of what we’re eating. If you’re carrying extra weight and are overweight, it’s the sugar that’s causing it not the fat. His book makes us aware that for years, food industry leaders have steered us toward sugar with lots of added sugar in our foods and consequently we’ve gotten fatter. They have marketed sugar to kids and to adults and we’ve gotten fatter. The sweetening of America has led to the fattening of America.

Sometimes, those of us decrying the consumption of sugar feel like a voice crying in the wilderness. We wonder if anyone is listening. I hope that you can take a step back and look at the history of sugar. Consider picking up Taubes’ book and read about the way the food industry discovered the “bliss point” for food so you will buy their brand. I hope you’ll learn how advertising influences our choice of foods for your kids. If you read his book, you begin to see the manipulation that’s gone on for decades by the food producers and sugar growers.  That said, nobody’s forcing you to buy and over consume sugar. There’s a lot of blame to go around for the fattening of America.

To be forewarned is to be forearmed. Arm yourself with the truth about sugar. It’s killing us one teaspoon at a time.

NUTRITIONAL AND MEDICAL DISCLAIMER FOR TRUE NORTH COUNSELING, LLC

In viewing this website (and blog), it is assumed that you understand and acknowledge that the services and information, provided by True North Counseling, LLC may involve recommendation to improve your general health, fitness and well-being, including nutrition/diet advice and suggestions for physical activity.  In accepting this information, understand that it is under your best discretion to be respectful to your body when engaging in physical activity and/or changing dietary habits. It is recommended to consult with your primary physician before starting any new/recent exercise or eating routine and to get annual check-ups to assess current health and fitness status. Do not overlook the importance of having a team-approach when health is involved. Regular visits with both your physician and registered dietitian will allow you to create the best possible, balanced approach in meeting health and performance/fitness goals.

are we addicted to sugar

We Love Our Sugar! But Are We Addicted To It?

A good friend shared a saying that goes like this: “Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels!”

I’ve discovered through the years that for many, many people, sugar tastes better than skinny feels. It’s like an addiction.

Cassie Bjork, RD. LD, founder of Healthy Simple Life writes that, “Sugar activates the opiate receptors in our brain and affects the reward center, which leads to compulsive behavior, despite the negative consequences like weight gain, headaches, hormone imbalance and more.”

Bjork continues that “studies suggest that every time we eat sugar we reinforce those neuropathways, causing the brain to become increasingly hardwired to crave sugar, building up a tolerance like other drugs.”

The issue that is currently being debated and studied is:

Are we addicted to sugar? If so, is that necessarily a bad thing? Sugar is food.

Most would agree that caffeine is addictive. Using it can cause some negative consequences. I was waking up with a headache until my doctor advised me to cut back on coffee. I did and the headaches went away.

In their article, “Sugar Addiction: Is it Real?” DiNocolantionio and associates describe how sugar behaves like addictive drugs of abuse. They explain that, “consuming sugar produces effects similar to that of cocaine, altering mood, possibly through its ability to induce reward and pleasure, leading to the seeking out of sugar.”

I’m not 100% convinced of the addictive nature of sugar. Ahmed in “Sugar Addiction: pushing the drug-sugar analogy to the limit,” expresses a different view. They conclude that, “The solid evidence for the food-drug analogy is scant and most of it is based on poorly validated inter-subjective comparisons and evaluations by people with drug addiction who are clearly not representative of the general population currently exposed to foods high in sugar.”

What’s a person to think? Is sugar addictive?

Maybe the answer is: It resembles an addiction.

  • We crave sugar.
  • Despite the problems that we experience such as Type 2 diabetes, obesity and heart disease, we continue to over consume sugar.
  • We binge on sugar and rarely satiate on it.
  • At the expense of nutritious food, we spend money on sugar.
  • We would absolutely be aghast if someone required us to stop eating it for 30 days.

Let’s be clear: Sugar is not a drug!!!

My biggest concern is this:

Much like cigarettes and nicotine addiction, the negative consequences are delayed, sometimes for several years, even decades. Rarely does a person smoke or consume sugar and immediately experience punishment or negative consequences. We smoke and/or consume sugar and we feel better.

It’s not until years and years of overconsumption that we experience the negative side effects like obesity, and the other related diseases.

I overheard another friend warning some young teens about eating too many sweets with the saying, “A moment on the lips, forever on the hips!” Thankfully, that’s not true, but it feels true. It can take a long time to get unwanted weight off.

It’s not easy to cut back or cut out “added sugar” from our diets. I get it. We love our sugar.

I don’t think we’ve become “addicted” to sugar. But I do think that sugar is, because of its availability and appetizing flavor, difficult to resist.  And it can become a destructive master, wreaking havoc on our bodies for many years to come.

NUTRITIONAL AND MEDICAL DISCLAIMER FOR TRUE NORTH COUNSELING, LLC

In viewing this website (and blog), it is assumed that you understand and acknowledge that the services and information, provided by True North Counseling, LLC may involve recommendation to improve your general health, fitness and well-being, including nutrition/diet advice and suggestions for physical activity.  In accepting this information, understand that it is under your best discretion to be respectful to your body when engaging in physical activity and/or changing dietary habits. It is recommended to consult with your primary physician before starting any new/recent exercise or eating routine and to get annual check-ups to assess current health and fitness status. Do not overlook the importance of having a team-approach when health is involved. Regular visits with both your physician and registered dietitian will allow you to create the best possible, balanced approach in meeting health and performance/fitness goals.

little sugar addicts

Little Sugar Addicts

I think most people believe that our children are eating too much sugars (Just maybe not the people in the food or sugar industry.) 

I suspect even these “sugar pushers” believe their children are eating too much sugar. They are not monsters.

In her book “Little Sugar Addicts,” Kathleen DesMaisons believes (as the title implies) that our children are addicted to sugar. She might have a point. I’m writing a blog that I’ll share later about “sugar addiction,” but for now it might be helpful to keep an open mind.

To the doubters, think about being asked to get off sugar for 30 days. Just the thought of eliminating sugar can be unsettling. We love our sugar.

DesMaisons believes that many of the behavioral issues that children and teens have are caused by the over consumption of sugar. They have something called “sugar sensitivity.” She walks us through the symptoms of childhood mental health disorders, like ADHD, Oppositional Defiant Disorder, and mood disorders.

“A diet high in sugar and carbohydrates,” she writes, “and low in quality protein, creates behavioral havoc and sets up huge emotional and physical problems in the future.”

Along with this, children and teens are experiencing increasing rates of obesity. All of this is likely due to the over consumption of sugar. As a result, DesMaisons suggests seven steps to avoid the negative consequences of over consuming sugar:

1. Eat breakfast with protein.

I would add, eat fruit and unrefined carbohydrates.

2. Make connections between food and mood.

I recently asked a client why they binged on sugar to the point of becoming ill. She said she liked the way it made her feel. We have these strange, but not so strange sentimental attachments to sugar. DesMaisons suggests that one of the inner demons we fight is the idea that “Sugar is Love.” I remember making cinnamon crisps with my grandmother, it was the way she loved us.

3. Change snack and drinks.

I’ll be sharing a blog on “fruit juice and sugar,” that I’ve written in weeks to come. Recently, a client was drinking a soft drink during a session. I noticed that it contained 40g of sugar. He told me that he drank 4 or 5 a day. Most fruit drinks are no better.

4. Eat protein lunches.

I would include fruit and vegetables.

5. Shift to whole grains.

She calls this “Browning your Family.”

6. Taking out the sugar.

I believe that the blind spot that DesMaisons has in her book is “added sugar.” New nutritional labeling make nutrition more transparent and allows us to determine how much sugar food producers have added to their products. Even if we restrict candy and sweets, kids are still getting too much sugar.

7. Manage holidays.

This is a tough one. I believe this process can be overwhelming to follow. I would simplify this process with two doable steps in the right direction:

  1. Quit buying foods that have “added sugar.” It takes work but it can be done. I do it. It’s the easy way to eliminate sugar.
  2. Treat sweets (sugar) as a luxury item. Have a sweet for special occasions and holidays. Don’t be afraid to splurge now and then. Have a sweet once or twice a a month, but not weekly.
  3. Ok, there’s three steps. Look at cutting down on refined carbohydrates.

I tried my best as a father. We did not have soft drinks or sugar snacks to around the house. We did buy foods with “added sugar” because the labels did not report the amount of added sugar.

If you have a kiddo with behavioral issues, consider going sugar-free. I know we all want the best for our children.

It’s time to step up and help them by eliminating the thing that provides almost no nutritional value and will make their lives difficult for years to come.

NUTRITIONAL AND MEDICAL DISCLAIMER FOR TRUE NORTH COUNSELING, LLC

In viewing this website (and blog), it is assumed that you understand and acknowledge that the services and information, provided by True North Counseling, LLC may involve recommendation to improve your general health, fitness and well-being, including nutrition/diet advice and suggestions for physical activity.  In accepting this information, understand that it is under your best discretion to be respectful to your body when engaging in physical activity and/or changing dietary habits. It is recommended to consult with your primary physician before starting any new/recent exercise or eating routine and to get annual check-ups to assess current health and fitness status. Do not overlook the importance of having a team-approach when health is involved. Regular visits with both your physician and registered dietitian will allow you to create the best possible, balanced approach in meeting health and performance/fitness goals.

insulin sensitivity

How to Increase Your Insulin Sensitivity

Until recently, I had not heard of Insulin Sensitivity. I had heard of Insulin Resistance. Insulin Resistance means your body can’t respond properly to the insulin it makes. Insulin can’t enter the cells and over time this increases blood sugar levels; eventually leading to type 2 Diabetes.

Insulin Sensitivity is the degree to which the body’s cells respond to insulin, allowing the cells to use blood glucose more effectively, reducing blood sugar and therefore, reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes.

We WANT to improve our insulin sensitivity!

How does one improve their insulin sensitivity? In his blog, “14 Natural Ways to Improve Your Insulin Sensitivity,” Ryan Raman, MS, RD (Healthline) provides some very simple but promising methods for decreasing our risk of type 2 diabetes. Here is his list (with my thoughts):

1. Get More Sleep.

I keep seeing this more and more. Poor sleep is connected to many ailments. Do some things to improve your sleep hygiene. I wrote a blog in January 2019 about sleep.

2. Exercise More.

You are preaching to the choir, Ryan. A friend of mine called me up and wants to join me on a hike tomorrow morning. He gets it. Exercise improves your cardio endurance, muscle strength, muscle endurance, body composition, flexibility, AND it improves your insulin sensitivity.

3. Reduce Stress.

I wrote a blog on stress in August 2018, “Chronic Stress is Bad.” I use Mindfulness Practices with most of my clients. Stress increases cortisol production which increases blood sugars. You get the picture.

4. Lose a Few Pounds.

I am a Certified Health Coach and through the process of getting certified learned a lot of things. I learned that body fat produces hormones that promote insulin resistance. Lose some weight and you can increase your insulin sensitivity.

5. Eat More Soluble Fiber.

Two words: Fruits and Vegetables.

6. Eat More Colorful Fruit and Vegetables.

A study in 2016 demonstrated that eating apples could increase insulin sensitivity.

7. Add Herbs and Spices to Your Cooking.

Raman mentions that ginger has a component that makes sugar receptors on muscle cells more available, increasing sugar uptake.

8. Add a Pinch of Cinnamon.

I like cinnamon and it helps by making muscle cells become more available and efficient at transporting sugar into cells.

9. Drink More Green Tea.

I hear a lot about Green Tea. What’s not to like? I’m always looking forward to a replacement for coffee.

10. Apple Cider Vinegar.

I read a lot about ACV. I keep a bottle of ACV in my kitchen. My cabinet is also full of probiotics and has its own Scoby. You know what I mean if you make your own Kombucha.

11. Cut Down on Refined Carbohydrates.

He’s not taking about sugar. He mentions it later. He’s talking about foods that are high on the Glycemic Index and Glycemic Load index. This would include refined flour, and most packaged foods. They trigger an insulin response and increase insulin resistance.

12. Avoid Trans Fats.

Raman points out that they provide no health benefit and increase the risk of many diseases.

13. Stop Eating Added Sugar.

I have written a recent blog about added sugar. It doesn’t take a lot to add up over the course of a few years. I jokingly talk about the “2-3 Pounder a Year Club.” That’s when you slowly, imperceptibly gain 2 or 3 pounds a year. In ten years, you’ve gained 20 or 30 pounds without noticing until it’s too late. That’s what added sugar is doing to us!

14. Try a Supplement.

 

Nutritional and Medical Disclaimer for True North Counseling, LLC

In viewing this website (and blog), it is assumed that you understand and acknowledge that the services and information, provided by True North Counseling, LLC may involve recommendation to improve your general health, fitness and well-being, including nutrition/diet advice and suggestions for physical activity.  In accepting this information, understand that it is under your best discretion to be respectful to your body when engaging in physical activity and/or changing dietary habits. It is recommended to consult with your primary physician before starting any new/recent exercise or eating routine and to get annual check-ups to assess current health and fitness status. Do not overlook the importance of having a team-approach when health is involved. Regular visits with both your physician and registered dietitian will allow you to create the best possible, balanced approach in meeting health and performance/fitness goals.

diet confusion

Diet Confusion and Why We’re Getting Fatter

A few years back I was working on a certification as a Holistic Nutrition Consultant. I read dozens and dozens of books (probably closer to 100) about nutrition. I read a book or two on every diet out there and even practiced being a Vegan for 6 months. After reading more books, I tried Keto. I read books about Paleo, The Zone, the South-Beach Diet, the Aztec Diet, the Whole Food Diet and many more. Currently, I’m reading the Whole30 Diet.

Here is what they all share in common:

1. Stop eating sugar.

This means, stop eating sweets and it means stop eating processed foods that have sugar added to them. We eat way, way, way too much sugar. It’s killing us.

2. Stop eating refined carbohydrates.

Really, all processed food. Of course, this includes sugar, but it also includes the things that we eat that act like sugar, high glycemic and high glycemic load foods. Many starches and grains fit into this category, like breads and pastas. This also includes packaged foods that have a lot of hidden sugars in them.

3. Eat lots of fruits and vegetables.

Most of us do not eat enough fruits and vegetables, and most of our micronutrients come from them. With the exception of Paleo, not one diet said, “Stay away from Fruits and Vegetables.” Paleo says to restrict the amount of fruit that you eat.

4. Eat animal and plant protein.

With the exception of Vegan and Vegetarian diets, all other diets allow animal protein, and most allow dairy and eggs. Even the Whole Food Plant-Based diet, supported by the founder of Whole Foods, John Mackey, allows for animal protein (10% of your diet). There are numerous new books that advocate not eating animal protein, but none have the evidence to support that restriction.

5. Every book I read supported and encouraged exercise, both aerobic and resistance training.

Some supported a type of fasting. It’s interesting that there is evidence for the idea that exercise and fasting lead to insulin sensitivity (the opposite of insulin resistance -Type II diabetes). So, eating right and exercise protect from chronic disease.

6. All of the diets advocate for a dietary-lifestyle-change and insisted that weight loss was not the goal of their plan.

They argued rather, that their diets were intended as a way of life. After all, we develop patterns and habits that perpetuate our health problems.

7. None of the books provided a plan for sustaining the lifestyle that they were promoting.

“The Beck Diet Solution, by Judith Beck” was the only book that provided a 30-day plan for maintaining your lifestyle changes. Beck utilized Cognitive Behaviors Therapy in her book to address our sabotaging thoughts.

8. If you’re over 40, eat more protein.

I recently listened to a series of lectures on “Improving Body Composition.” The takeaway from these lectures was that as we age, we need to eat plenty of protein, possibly twice the amount previously told. This makes sense! We begin losing muscle around age forty and therefore need to eat plenty of protein to maintain our muscle mass.

9. If you’re eating right, you probably don’t need a supplement.

On a recent podcast by Dr. Rhonda Patrick, she recommended taking one as insurance. I think it’s a good idea.

10. The best books strongly encouraged people to enjoy the food they ate.

I think it’s a tragedy that food has become such a villain. I don’t think they meant that people should enjoy eating junk food and enjoy overeating. We stress out about food all the time. It’s nice to slow down and, in a mindful way, consider the wonder and beauty of food. Relax. Eat. Relax.

Nutritional and Medical Disclaimer for True North Counseling, LLC

In viewing this website (and blog), it is assumed that you understand and acknowledge that the services and information, provided by True North Counseling, LLC may involve recommendation to improve your general health, fitness and well-being, including nutrition/diet advice and suggestions for physical activity.  In accepting this information, understand that it is under your best discretion to be respectful to your body when engaging in physical activity and/or changing dietary habits. It is recommended to consult with your primary physician before starting any new/recent exercise or eating routine and to get annual check-ups to assess current health and fitness status. Do not overlook the importance of having a team-approach when health is involved. Regular visits with both your physician and registered dietitian will allow you to create the best possible, balanced approach in meeting health and performance/fitness goals.

 

frontier diet

The Frontier Diet

Aka The Mark Neese Diet.

I didn’t coin this phase and it’s really not a diet. Rather, it’s a mindset. I seriously doubt that people on the Frontier ate all that well. I’m guessing that they had periods of starvation during times of famine. They ate whatever they grew or killed, depending on its availability. So life was probably very hard, living on the frontier.

It helps to contrast that with the way most modern Americans eat and probably many modern humans. We have plentiful amounts of food today. Rarely, is there a seasonal shortage.

Why would I use the notion of “The Frontier Diet” to describe a diet that I would never promote? I guess it’s because despite the lack of availability, people on the Frontier probably ate better than modern humans. They ate food from their gardens and took game from the fields, not from grocery stores and fast food restaurants. The Frontier Diet is a way of eating that chooses simple and whole foods rather than processed food.  When I speak of The Frontier Diet, I really mean trying to eat the way people ate on the frontier prior to industrial and processed foods, boxed foods, TV dinners, all the food that’s in the center aisles of the grocery store, and probably in the frozen section as well.

The Frontier Diet means eating “simple” foods. Food that is less milled, less processed, with less ingredients, with no salt added, no sugar added, no preservatives added, no colors added, and no growth hormones and antibiotics.

I’ve gotten into the habit of looking at what other people are putting in their grocery carts. I notice lots of processed food. Lots! I understand that people are tired and want to come home and quickly prepare a meal for their families. The price for that convenience is that 66% of Americans are overweight or obese. Nearly 20% of children and adolescents between 2-19 are obese. We have got to do things differently.

I started The Whole30 Diet this month.

My wife started it too. I’m half-way through the 30 days. Basically, I avoid anything with added sugar. I did not realize I was getting as much sugar as I was. It’s been added to everything. I avoid grains, especially refined flour. I do miss bread. Eating white bread is almost like eating sugar. I avoid legumes and dairy. I can give up beans and I had given up cheese 3 months ago. Plus, I never drink milk, so no biggie!

We have a vegetable steamer and we use it almost every day. We use ghee to sauté our meats and vegetables and we have fruit with every meal, including breakfast. When we shop at the grocery store, we look closely at the food labels. They must read: “includes 0g added sugar” and NOT have ‘sugar’ in the list of ingredients.

How has the Whole30 diet been going? Well, it’s still early but my average Systolic BP has dropped 10 points as has my Diastolic BP. I’ve lost weight. I’m getting blood work done soon and I’ll share the results when I get them. That said, you are what you eat. Maybe the Frontier Diet isn’t for you but getting away from all of the processed food can’t hurt.

Nutritional and Medical Disclaimer for True North Counseling, LLC

In viewing this website (and blog), it is assumed that you understand and acknowledge that the services and information, provided by True North Counseling, LLC may involve recommendation to improve your general health, fitness and well-being, including nutrition/diet advice and suggestions for physical activity.  In accepting this information, understand that it is under your best discretion to be respectful to your body when engaging in physical activity and/or changing dietary habits. It is recommended to consult with your primary physician before starting any new/recent exercise or eating routine and to get annual check-ups to assess current health and fitness status. Do not overlook the importance of having a team-approach when health is involved. Regular visits with both your physician and registered dietitian will allow you to create the best possible, balanced approach in meeting health and performance/fitness goals.

added sugar

Added Sugar – It’s in Everything!

If you want to read a life-changing book, read “Pure, White, and Deadly: How Sugar is Killing Us and What We Can Do to Stop It,” by John Yudkin. Actually, the book will change the way that you look at sugar. And what happened to Yudkin during the 1970s, will change the way that you look at the politics of food. Yudkin asserted that sugar was the culprit and cause of Coronary Heart Disease. However, others believed that saturated fats were the leading cause. Yudkin lost the debate, and as H. Lustig, M.D. wrote in the introduction of Yudkin’s new edition,

“The Pharisees of this nutritional holy war declared Keys (proponent of the saturated fats theory) the victor, Yudkin a heretic and a zealot, threw the now discredited Yudkin under the proverbial bus, and relegated his pivotal work to the dustbin of history, as this book went out of print and virtually disappeared from the scene. The propaganda of “low-fat” as the treatment for heart disease was perpetuated for the next thirty years.

I reread this book. I was moved again.

Thankfully, the scientific community has had an epiphany: Sugar is killing us.

Nutritionists and researchers have taken a closer look at sugar. Let’s look at their current findings:

  1. The higher the intake of added sugar, the higher the risk for heart disease. If you’re getting 20% of calories from added sugar, you have almost a 40% higher risk of dying from cardiovascular disease.
  2. The higher the intake of added sugar, increases the likelihood of developing a fatty liver. This of course contributes to diabetes.
  3. Consuming too much added sugar can raise blood pressure.
  4. Consuming too much added sugar increases chronic inflammation. Drinking one can of soft drink daily can increase inflammatory markers, insulin resistance, and LDL cholesterol.
  5. Eating too much sugar can cause weight gain, which increases your risk of Type 2 Diabetes.

We can stop there. I think you see the point. Consuming too much added sugar is not good. Read Yudkin’s book. Think about your consumption of sugar. If you include the sugar that is added to your food with your consumption of table sugar, you are most likely eating over 100 lbs. of sugar a year. That’s 20 times what our recent ancestors ate.

No wonder we’re such a mess.

Nutritional and Medical Disclaimer for True North Counseling, LLC

In viewing this website (and blog), it is assumed that you understand and acknowledge that the services and information, provided by True North Counseling, LLC may involve recommendation to improve your general health, fitness and well-being, including nutrition/diet advice and suggestions for physical activity.  In accepting this information, understand that it is under your best discretion to be respectful to your body when engaging in physical activity and/or changing dietary habits. It is recommended to consult with your primary physician before starting any new/recent exercise or eating routine and to get annual check-ups to assess current health and fitness status. Do not overlook the importance of having a team-approach when health is involved. Regular visits with both your physician and registered dietitian will allow you to create the best possible, balanced approach in meeting health and performance/fitness goals.

 

craving

Feed the Craving

That just about sums up the way most of us live. I noticed the sign at the entrance near my office today. It reminded me that I was craving sugar, or really bread.

We are “Craving” or spoiling ourselves to death!

Today was the third day of my attempt to follow the Whole30 Diet. After 3 days, I have a headache.

I’ll finish the 30 days because I want to be healthy, and also because there is something about NOT feeding the crave. There is something about NOT giving into all of our appetites, all of our desires, or all of our passions.

I read a book many years ago when I was taking a religious elective in college. It was, “The Freedom of Simplicity: Finding Harmony in a Complex World,” by Richard Foster. It challenged me to take a look at my life and think about ways to simplify it. Foster encouraged his readers to consider ways to divest themselves of things, events, friends, and ideas that eventually rob them of serenity. We believe that attaining wealth, friends, status, or attending the next concert will bring us happiness. We feed the cravings, but the cravings never go away. They are never satisfied.

So, I’m “Starvin’ the Cravin’” for 30 days. I’m not going to eat any table sugar or anything that has added sugar. I’m not going to eat bread (ouch) and I’m not going to eat any grains, dairy, and cheese. For the next 30 days, I’m going to go without any alcohol (boring!). I’ll do this and maybe, just maybe I’ll drop a few pounds and I’ll lower my risk of heart disease. Hopefully, I’ll get through these next 27 days and I’ll grow stronger, not just physically, but mentally.

Think about a craving that you continue to feed, but one that you’d like to starve to death.

I wrote a Blog titled The Unpopular Notion of Self-Denial in December of 2018. Here is what I wrote:

The Stoics believed that accumulating fame and fortune rarely if ever contributed to the Good Life. They believed that happiness did not come from getting the things that we desire, but rather, from learning to desire the things that we already possess. We learn to desire the things that we possess by periodically denying ourselves of them.

“We accomplish this,” writes Irvine, “by allowing ourselves to become hungry or thirsty, even though water and food are at hand, and we might sleep on a hard bed even though a soft one is available.” When we do this, Irvin asserts that we receive three benefits: 1) It will harden us against any misfortune that might befall us, 2) We will grow confident that we can handle any discomfort that might befall us, and 3) It will help us appreciate what we already have. 

In other words, Self-Denial helps us grow!! It is when we periodically deny ourselves of the things that we desire and possess, that we learn the value of our things and the value of life.

So, I’m purposely going to deprive myself from the cravings that I have with hopes that It will change me. Give it a try!

Nutritional and Medical Disclaimer for True North Counseling, LLC

In viewing this website (and blog), it is assumed that you understand and acknowledge that the services and information, provided by True North Counseling, LLC may involve recommendation to improve your general health, fitness and well-being, including nutrition/diet advice and suggestions for physical activity.  In accepting this information, understand that it is under your best discretion to be respectful to your body when engaging in physical activity and/or changing dietary habits. It is recommended to consult with your primary physician before starting any new/recent exercise or eating routine and to get annual check-ups to assess current health and fitness status. Do not overlook the importance of having a team-approach when health is involved. Regular visits with both your physician and registered dietitian will allow you to create the best possible, balanced approach in meeting health and performance/fitness goals.

sugar

Sugar. Sugar. Sugar.

If you’ve been reading my blogs, you know that I’m a Psychotherapist, and a Personal Trainer with a background in fitness and general nutrition. I am not a Registered Nutritionist (see Disclaimer below). I’ve done a lot of reading over the past 2 or 3 years and recently I have been reading about sugar.

Sugar is killing us. There I said it. I’ve written several Blogs that will be posted during the weeks leading up to Halloween and the Holidays.

Two-Thirds of Americans are overweight or obese and sugar is the primary cause. It’s addictive. Try going off sugar for 30 days. That’s what I did, and I’ll share my journey and the health benefits of getting rid of “Added Sugar.”

Here are some of the titles of the blogs this month:

Sugar – Public Enemy #1

Feed the Craving

Sugar and Acne

The Frontier Diet

Sugar and Inflammation

The Glycemic Index

No Sugar Added

How to Increase Your Insulin Sensitivity

Sugar and Your Children

Sugar and Depression

A Brief History of Sugar

Sugar and Advertising

Sugar and Slavery

Halloween -The Sugar Holiday

I also want to share some of the books I’ve been reading. These include three by Gary Taubes: Why We Get Fat, A Case Against Sugar, and Good Calories, Bad Calories.

I’ll share a book for parents about the effects of sugar on their children by Kathleen DesMaisons entitled, “Little Sugar Addicts: End the Mood Swings, Meltdowns, Tantrums, and Low Self-Esteem.

I will share a diet plan that changed the way I live and hopefully will help me live many years without hypertension, high cholesterol and without inflammation. It’s called the Whole 30 Diet. You eliminate all added sugar in your diet. I lost 20 lbs. in 5 weeks.

So, enjoy the journey. Think about the sugar you’re eating.

Nutritional and Medical Disclaimer for True North Counseling, LLC

In viewing this website (and blog), it is assumed that you understand and acknowledge that the services and information, provided by True North Counseling, LLC may involve recommendation to improve your general health, fitness and well-being, including nutrition/diet advice and suggestions for physical activity.  In accepting this information, understand that it is under your best discretion to be respectful to your body when engaging in physical activity and/or changing dietary habits. It is recommended to consult with your primary physician before starting any new/recent exercise or eating routine and to get annual check-ups to assess current health and fitness status. Do not overlook the importance of having a team-approach when health is involved. Regular visits with both your physician and registered dietitian will allow you to create the best possible, balanced approach in meeting health and performance/fitness goals.