New nutrition labels, same healthy eating advice
March 14, 2014
We all know that as a nation, we are getting bigger and heavier. Worse still, our future - our children- are becoming obese and unhealthy at increasingly younger ages. For decades, the scourge of obesity was blamed on a high calorie, high fat diet. Turns out, we have probably been doing it wrong all these years and our bulging waistline attests to this colossal failure. Research and the medical community now have increasing evidence that the real villain of the story is a very sweet little molecule called fructose. Fructose is what gives us the sweetness in table sugar (sucrose), also in brown sugar, honey, agave, and of course, high fructose corn syrup. Call it by any name, but sugars are dangerous to our health. Fructose is addictive, much in the same way as alcohol and illicit drugs are. In fact, sugar (fructose) metabolism closely replicates alcohol metabolism except for the acute effects on brain. Sugar has been likened to alcohol without the buzz!
You may already have heard about First Lady Michelle Obama’s work with the FDA which has led to newly proposed changes to nutrition labels on packaged foods. The amount of sugars, specifically, "added sugars" will be part of that new label. I am not implying that a zero added sugar diet will be the panacea for the pandemic of obesity and ill health. We still need to eat healthy and exercise right. There is no magic pill, no startling new advice. Remember what our grandmothers used to say:
Eat real food. Simply put, anything with a wrapper (and a label) counts as processed food.
Shop smart. At the grocery store, walk around the outer perimeter and skip the inside aisles (in large measure, takes care of #1)
No soda or juice. Period. They provide empty calories. Even 100% juice is not exempt. Juicing destroys the physical structure of fiber, rendering it useless.
Eat fruit instead. The only way nature intended us to eat sugar is in fruit and vegetables. The fiber in fruit (or any food) does more than just its job for next morning. Even though it is not absorbed, fiber does everything right for our metabolism.
Remember the days when dessert was reserved for special occasions and family get-togethers? No more cakes, candy and ice cream for mid-day or late night snacks!
Eating right is only half the job. We still need to get out and get some fresh air into our lungs with exercise!
The science and biochemistry of sugar is beyond the scope of this blog. But for those interested in knowing more, I direct you to an excellent resource that has changed the way I look at food: Fat Chance, by Robert Lustig. This is an absolute page turner where Dr. Lustig shares his evidence and advice in simple, easy to understand language. It just might be one of the best books you will ever read for the sake of your family’s health. For an appetizer, look up his video on YouTube.