Avoiding Sugar in This Overly Obsessed Sugar Culture

Small changes start when we take one thing…and twist it a bit…and make our lives better in some way.

The Journey…the site you are reading right now…gives it to you straight.  If there is a change to be made we will tell you how to do it.  In fact, we have a challenge going on right now called the Small Changes Challenge.  We are walking through 12 different changes and talking about some pretty big things during those 12 weeks.  Our focus this week is…SUGAR!

I don’t like to sugar coat things because…well, we have enough sugar in this world and the sugar coating process that is done with our words is just masking the problems.

For example:  For years I went to the doctor for my yearly check-ups.  I have never been in the “ideal” weight range on the BMI chart.  Ok…I take that back…I was born 3 weeks early so there were at least a few months of my life where I was considered in the normal range.  😉  During my pregnancies the scale was never my friend but I also thought that eating with my cravings was ok.  I was obviously hungry and I thought the baby wanted to eat too.  All you moms know what I’m talking about.  My weight would come and go before, during and after the pregnancies but at some point the visits to the doctor no longer revolved around prenatal appointments.  The more weight I added on to my body the harder it was for me to stay healthy.  I was prescribed three medicines for asthma, including steroids and I took these on a daily basis.  According to the BMI charts I was also close to 90 to 100 pounds overweight and in that severely obese category.  Did any doctor at that point say I should lose weight?  No.  The medicines helped to keep my asthma fairly under control but I felt like I was sick all the time and really needed those meds in order to function daily.

I don’t understand why the doctors didn’t just say…you need to lose weight.  Never once was that communicated to me.  I don’t think I knew at that point how bad I was but I also didn’t understand how weight/health/eating/exercise stuff went and worked together at that point either.  As I lost weight and educated myself on what I was putting in my body and how being overweight can impact you in a negative way, it was almost like putting the pieces together in a puzzle.  As the weight came off, some of my illnesses went away.  As of today I haven’t used my inhalers…any of them…in about a year.

There are people that are reading The Journey that I know aren’t overweight…in fact some are trying to gain weight or just be healthier.  I honestly don’t understand those reasons because my body isn’t and hasn’t ever been in that situation…but I get it.  We are all a work in progress…no matter what our size or body type.  This post is really for everyone no matter what your shape or BMI range.  I can write from my perspective but I know that there are those body types out there too…and we all need this info in order to be the healthiest versions of ourselves.

Sugar is the focus of the week for me and the other day I shared some stats and important info about sugar and our consumption.  If you haven’t read that post…read that one first so you understand how much sugar we are consuming now compared to years ago:  Small Changes Challenge #2.Sugar

hfcs picToday the focus is on High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS).  You all should know what this ingredient is…and you have all most likely consumed it.  It. Is. Everywhere.

I am amazed though how many people don’t realize how huge this product is and aren’t understanding what is going into their bodies.  A few months ago I took all HFCS products out of our house.  Let’s say right now…this doesn’t leave you with much that you can buy on a shelf.  My kids had to buy cereal that didn’t have it, no yogurt made with it…and no bread or crackers either.  My kids were shopping with me, looking at labels and learning right along with me that if it said “high fructose corn syrup” we weren’t buying it.  It wasn’t good for them and because of that reason it wasn’t going to be purchased.  This all worked in our little bubble of a house but we did have an issue…we went to Grandma and Grandpa’s house and it was time to eat breakfast.  My foodie child was looking for food, turning the boxes and bags of items around to look at the nutrition labels just like he learned to do in the store and said, “Grandma, I can’t eat that cereal or bread because it has high fructose corn syrup in it.”.  Turns out…all of their cereal and bread had high fructose corn syrup in the ingredients.  My middle child whose life pretty much revolves around his meals didn’t know what to do.  My mom, “grandma”, also didn’t’ know what he was talking about when he said the term “high fructose corn syrup”.

I shared with my mom the facts about this lovely product.  Honestly though…this is something my family should already have been educated about because…my dad is diabetic, he has had major heart problems and he is supposed to be eating healthy.  Somewhere, somehow…the education of what HFCS is and doing to our bodies isn’t getting out there and really is causing more damage to us while it is making things taste so good.

hfcs 1Here are the facts about High Fructose Corn Syrup that you should know…and we aren’t sugar coating any of this:

  • 1967 this sugar alternative was introduced.
  • Between 1970 and 1990, the annual intake of HFCS increased by more than 1,000%, greatly exceeding the change in intake of any other food or food group.  Source Life Extension Magazine
  • For most of human history we consumed no more than about 15 grams of fructose per day (approximately one-half ounce), mostly from fruits and vegetables. In contrast, daily consumption in 1997 was estimated to have increased to 81 grams (nearly three ounces) per day.  Source Life Extension Magazine.
  • It is a sugar alternative made from corn and has equal parts of fructose and glucose.
  • It is a much cheaper alternative to regular sugar for food companies.
  • It is argued by the producers of HFCS and the companies that use it in their products that HFCS is molecularly the same as regular sugar and safe to use.

What Does Our Body Think of HFCS?

According to Nerdfitness.com, a recent study by Princeton University proves that our bodies do not use HFCS the same as regular sugar.

Rats with access to high-fructose corn syrup gained significantly more weight than those with access to table sugar, even when their overall caloric intake was the same.

In addition to causing significant weight gain in lab animals, long-term consumption of high-fructose corn syrup also led to abnormal increases in body fat, especially in the abdomen, and a rise in circulating blood fats called triglycerides.

Two groups of rats were fed the exact same number of calories. One group was fed HFCS, while the other was fed regular table sugar.  The rats fed HFCS gained significantly more weight.

Sounds a bit like America, doesn’t it?  It doesn’t take a scientist to see the results of this product…it is all around us.  I saw it in myself.  I see it in people I know.  My kids would be part of the statistics too if I let them eat what is being marketed to them and to me as a mom.

There are may other facts, theories, thoughts…about High Fructose Corn Syrup and I’ll leave this post with a few links and videos that you can read and watch. Make an informed decision with the foods that you are using for your body.  Education is key.

Challenge for YOU…go throughout your home today, your cupboards, your fridge, your snack drawer, your pantry…and find all the items with high fructose corn syrup.  If you want to go a bit deeper…look online at your favorite restaurant or coffee stop and see what ingredients they use in their products that you eat and drink.

Thanks for being part of The Journey!

20130717-222549.jpg-Jessica

Jessica is a mom of three kids, wife to one and a fitness instructor at two locations in Rochester, MN.  Jessica is a writer for The Journey along.  You can read more about her story of getting healthy at “The Beginning”.

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