Nutrition and Weight Loss/Gain – The Sugar Epidemic
Something I’ve learned about foods is that processed foods are designed to kill you. Obviously, that sounds extreme, and I’m not necessarily suggesting that it is the intent of those who ‘design’ these foods to inflict harm upon us, but that’s exactly what they’re doing, nevertheless.
Of course, their intent is to sell more of their product, just like cigarette makers’ intent is to sell more of theirs. Unfortunately for us, the methods by which they accomplish this are broadly similar – find and exploit a weakness in your body chemistry, introduce an external agent that gets you addicted, then supply you continually with their product to feed your addiction.
So how do they accomplish this? Well, let’s get jazzy and call this the ‘Two-Pronged Nutritional Attack’.
1 – Processed foods are packed with sugar.
Our body craves sugar and sugar creates a need for itself by manipulating your hormones and body chemistry. There’s an interesting interview I found in the Guardian newspaper featuring Robert Lustig, who says in his interview: “sugar creates an appetite for itself by a determinable hormonal mechanism – a cycle, he says, that you could no more break with willpower than you could stop feeling thirsty through sheer strength of character. He argues that the hormone related to stress, cortisol, is partly to blame. “When cortisol floods the bloodstream, it raises blood pressure; increases the blood glucose level, which can precipitate diabetes. Human research shows that cortisol specifically increases caloric intake of ‘comfort foods’.” High cortisol levels during sleep, for instance, interfere with restfulness and increase the hunger hormone ghrelin the next day. This differs from person to person, but I was jolted by recognition of the outrageous deliciousness of doughnuts when I haven’t slept well”
You can read the full article here
I firmly believe that what Mr. Lustig is talking about is factual, because I’ve experienced it myself. I didn’t understand what was taking place at first, but I understand it now.
Sugar is addictive. Mr. Lustig explains the science behind the addiction. Food scientists exploit the science for their own financial gain. Human health is the unfortunate casualty in a war we don’t even realize we’re participating in since the real impact of what the food companies are doing to us is hidden by biochemistry which we don’t understand and also the way in which ‘Nutritional Information’ is presented.
Take a look at the box of cereal you have in your kitchen and you’ll see what I mean. If you look at the front of the box, the ‘marketing’ space, you’ll see the usual health-oriented claims for high protein, low sugar etc.
For example, when I first tuned into this issue it was triggered by a rather unusual reaction I was having to a box of Kellogg’s Cracklin’ Oat Bran.
I was on a particularly aggressive health drive during the latter part of June and early July. Basically, I was trying to focus hard on eating healthy and cutting out processed foods. I was eating plenty of veg, fruit, animal protein, dairy product, eggs etc, and avoiding anything processed with added nutrients, sugar or chemical preservatives. It wasn’t by any means an attempt to restrict calories, it was more an effort to ‘feel’ healthier and overcome a perpetual feeling of lethargy.
My regular breakfast was a rotation of different brands/types of cereals – bran flakes with dried raisins, oatmeal, cheerios and my favorite – Kellogg’s Cracklin’ Oat Bran. What I found myself doing was eating a bowl of cereal for breakfast, followed by fruit snacks, a healthy lunch and meat/veg/salad dinner. But in between I found myself drawn to and dipping into the cereal box, in particular, the Kellogg’s brand. I even started eating a bowl of cereal about an hour after dinner, sometimes even two bowls, to satisfy an odd craving. It was a craving that I was having a real hard time with but I wasn’t sure why.
There was an underlying sense of feeling hungry, but it was irrational since I’d recently eaten a full meal. But it was also the same kind of craving you feel when you crave chocolates or ice cream. It was a very specific desire for sugar.
But how could my healthy breakfast cereals by satiating this craving for sugar? Well, first of all, I felt little or no guilt when indulging in a bowl or two of cereal, with 2% milk, even after dinner. This stuff is packed with good vitamins, minerals, protein etc, and it’s low in sugar, according to the box.
But then I took a closer look at the nutritional panel and that’s when the warning bells sounded.
Here’s the nutritional panel from Kellogg’s Cracklin’ Oat Bran:
Serving Size 3/4 Cup (49g)
Calories 200 (kcal)
Total Fat 7 g
Sodium 135 mg
Sugar 14 g
Dietary Fiber 6 g
That’s quite a lot of sugar, yes, but the real problem is with the serving size.
Take a calibrated measuring cup, fill it to the 3/4 line with the cereal and empty the contents into your normal cereal bowl – there’s nothing there! There is no way on earth that 3/4 cup is an actual portion size for a healthy adult. So I added from the box direct to my cereal bowl to make up a typical portion. Then working in reverse I measured the portion back into the calibrated cup and back into the box. 2 1/4 cups per bowl was a typical portion, albeit a rather small one.
Now let’s look at the nutritional panel with this more ‘real-world’ portion size:
Serving Size 2.25 Cup (147g)
Calories 600 (kcal)
Total Fat 21 g
Sodium 405 mg
Sugar 42 g
Dietary Fiber 18 g
Now, how healthy does that look? 600 calories and 42 grams of sugar! That’s almost 10 teaspoons of raw sugar. And don’t forget to add the milk calories to the 600 present in the cereal, and you’re close to one-third of your recommended daily intake.
I strongly suggest that you try this at home and calculate your own typical portion size of these boxed cereals, and any other packaged foods for that matter. You may find your portions are less than mine, but I’ll bet that many of you discover they’re actually more since I tend to eat regularly so tend towards smaller portions.
In my opinion, this is a sly and underhand way of hiding the real facts from people without falling foul of the FDA.
And remember, sugar isn’t just added to cereals, it’s added to just about everything you eat that’s processed – even fast-food burgers have added sugar.
Why? – because it’s addictive and the consumer craves it via a chemical process over which he or she has no real control.
And let’s not forget about the combination of sugar and caffeine found in soda.
The food industry has waged a war on us and most of us don’t even realize it. We think the real enemy is GMO and pesticides when in actual fact the real enemy is something far more sinister than tobacco or alcohol – it is sugar.
So the bottom line is that you’re cramming sugar into your system via all of the processed foods that you eat, and unless you can live on the measly 1/2 cup or 3/4 cup serving size, you’re eating a LOT more sugar than you think – and calories, and fat, and carbs, and GMO products laden with chemical pesticides.
What blew my mind is the way in which my body reacted to my cutting out processed foods. It was the removal of the sugar found in these processed foods that triggered my body to crave the one specific source of sugar it knew was at hand! – Cereal. I was cramming 100 grams of sugar per day into my system just to compensate for the sugar lost by giving up the other processed junk.
This is a serious reaction to a serious addiction that I never even knew I had!
At least drugs, tobacco, and alcohol are labeled for what they are – harmful addictive substances. Yet due to clever manipulation by the large food companies, the sugar addiction we ALL have is hardly known about or understood, but boy is it ever exploited!
2 – Processed foods are nutritionally deficient, even when they claim to be fortified with vitamins.
Think about the obvious impact of that on your health. When you eat a given amount of calories each day, let’s say an average of 2000, your body needs to claim a certain level of vitamins and minerals (nutrition) from those calories. If it cannot retrieve sufficient from what you’re eating, what do you think it does? Well, it craves for more. Nutritionally deficient foods give you the feeling of fullness, but how often do you eat junk food then find yourself hungry again an hour or so later? The reason is that from a nutrient standpoint, you may as well have eaten the box that your food came in. So your body is saying ‘whatever that was that you gave me didn’t have enough ‘X’ in it, so I need more…’
And if you don’t supply your body with essential nutrition in some form, then over time you become weakened and sick – usually as a result of some immune system related illness. This ‘illness’ can manifest in many different ways and it can also materialize quite slowly so we’re never really cognizant of what actually triggered it.
For example, as we get older we generally become less active and our need for calories is reduced. So we reduce our calorie intake yet at the same time we’re reducing the intake of vitamins, minerals, amino acids and all of the other macro and micronutrients that our bodies need. And since our foods are so nutritionally deficient, what happens? We start to feel stressed, fatigued, we gain weight, we become irritable, normal bodily function starts to deteriorate and eventually we end up at the doctor’s office looking for a chemical solution. Rarely will your doctor suggest a holistic or natural solution that involves taking a closer look at your nutrient intake, so the root cause of the issue is simply masked over with chemicals. It’s a downward spiral and you’re never going to get off it unless you wake up to what’s going on.
So what about the claims made by some manufacturers that our foods are fortified with nutrients? In most cases, the processes these foods undergo destroys the majority of nutrients in the original product and destroys those nutrients added as ‘fortification’ too. What ends up in the box can hardly be classified as food, in many cases. If you can’t trust a company to take a raw food product, supplied by Mother Nature, and get it to your table with its nutrients intact, how and why should you trust them to add something that’s supposedly replacing what was there already? It’s a fallacy. Not to mention the source of these foodstuffs and their origin. Wheat (cereals and a vast amount of other products that find their way onto your table contain wheat), soy and corn are some of the food substances that we should be particularly wary of.
“Eating genetically modified corn (GM corn) and consuming trace levels of Monsanto’s Roundup chemical fertilizer caused rats to develop horrifying tumors, widespread organ damage, and premature death. That’s the conclusion of a shocking new study that looked at the long-term effects of consuming Monsanto’s genetically modified corn.” Is an extract taken from this article here
I could go on and on about this but there’s enough that’s already been written and you can find it easily online. I want to stick to the facts of my own personal experiences.
I recommend that whatever you do you start today with good dietary supplementation. That’s the easy first step.
Then you can take more time to figure out how to replace the bad foods in your diet with real foods -foods that are unprocessed and contain real nutrients that haven’t been added by some chemical fortification process.
It takes a little while to figure out what’s junk and what’s real, but it is relatively easy to do and the benefits will be transforming to your health and well-being. In fact, it’s mostly intuitive to find out what’s good for you. Did it come from a field to your plate, or did it go through some ‘manufacturing’ process requiring it to be affixed with a label specifying certain ‘other’ ingredients that were not part of the product when it was harvested? Is it a GMO product – a bastardized version of what Mother Nature intended, or is it non-GMO and ‘heirloom’?
Figuring out some healthy foods is relatively easy, but once you start to change your diet away from processed, sugar-laden foods, you’re going to be faced with the task of working out how to crack a sugar addiction that you didn’t even know you had.
Cracking this sugar addiction and supplying your body with good nutrients, in my honest opinion, would practically obliterate obesity from our society. With moderate exercise, the purging of processed (sugar laden) foods from our diet, the introduction of ‘real’ foods, and the recognition and identification of how your body will react when the source of poison is removed – you can eat as much as you want, whenever you want, and you’ll never get fat!
In the next section, we’re going to look at calorie counting and see how two different types of diet can make all the difference when it comes to weight loss and weight gain. I’ll show you how to eat more and still lose weight.
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