Monday, March 4, 2013

Ah, Sugar Sugar

One of my newest adventures is eating healthy. I have done a LOT of research on what you should and should not consume and how it affects you. Two topics I have focused on are processed foods and sugar. 

Processed foods can be traced to 4 of the top 10 chronic diseases: heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and cancer. By cutting out processed foods, not only are we lowering our risk of these four diseases, but we will also gain energy, lose weight, improve regularity, and feel better as a whole. Why wouldn't one want to cut out processed foods?

Don't know what processed foods are? They are foods that have been altered from their natural state such as: white flour, high sodium canned foods, boxed meals, processed meats, sugary breakfast cereals and packaged meals, snacks, and sweets. 
However, some foods should be processed or are not harmful after being processed. 
For example, milk does not have to be processed, but it should be processed. 
If you do not pasteurize your milk, you will not kill the bacteria that it contains causing food-borne illnesses. You also need to homogenize it to keep the fat from separating over time. 
Other items such as frozen berries and veggies are not harmful because freezing them actually helps in preserving their vitamins and minerals. 
100% whole grain breads and oatmeal are a few processed items which are not only okay to consume, but should be consumed. 

You should check out these videos about the aging of processed foods.

Excessive Sugar intake causes weight gain, cravings, binge eating, and heart disease (noticing a pattern yet?). It has also been linked to depression, migraines, poor eyesight and autoimmune diseases. 
According to USDA the average American consumed 152.4 pounds of sugar in 2000
That is an increase of 32.8 pounds since 1950-1959. 
Are you sick to your stomach yet? Well, if not, here is a fun fact from USDA:

"In a sense, sugar is the number one food additive. It turns up in some unlikely places, such as pizza, bread, hot dogs, boxed mixed rice, soup, crackers, spaghetti sauce, lunch meat, canned vegetables, fruit drinks, flavored yogurt, ketchup, salad dressing, mayonnaise, and some peanut butter."
Hot dogs? Lunch meat? Pizza? These were my favorite lunch time meals as a child. Heck, I still love them. I always knew they weren't the best for you, but sugar?  I don't even want to know what else that little guy is hiding in! 

The American Heart Association recommends that we limit our daily intake of sugar to 7% (100 calories) for women and 9% (150 calories) for men. 
Did you know that ONE can of soda contains 130-150 calories? 
Okay, quick fix. Drink diet soda. 
Wrong. Diet soda contains aspartame, which not only is linked to cancer, but causes you to crave sugar more than real sugar. 
Could you imagine the improvements we would make to our bodies by changing these two things? Maybe heart disease wouldn't be the leading cause of death...just maybe.

Are are interested in making these changes to your life,but are still struggling on what to pick up?
Look for products of nature  
Shop the outer ring of the store: meats, dairy, fruits, veggies, whole grains etc. 
Read your labels. 
Look for items that have 6 ingredients or less. 
Avoid high fructose corn syrup and hydrogenated oils. 
And this is just the tip of the iceberg. I am not perfect, and I don't want to be. I will still eat processed food and sugary snacks on occasion, but my goal is to control my intake of it, not let it control me. So, I welcome you to join me in my triumphs and downfalls in leading a healthier lifestyle. 

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