A Year of No Sugar: Post 32

March 18, 2011 § 4 Comments

One day last week when I was still at the Mayo Clinic with my Dad, we were eating lunch in the cafeteria when a rather heavyset couple sat down at the other end of our table. Of course, you never know why someone is a Mayo, or even which person in a couple or group of people might be the “patient,” but wandering around you do tend to look at folks and wonder… why is she here? Is it him? All these people are suffering in some way, some more obviously than others. One day I met a woman at the hotel’s laundry machines who explained without prompting that her husband was so ill- with pancreatitis I think it was- that she couldn’t leave him in the room alone very long. As we were talking she got a cell phone call to tell her that her nephew had cancer.

Occasionally you would notice someone red-eyed and sniffling into a Kleenex as you sat down in one of the many waiting rooms… what could anyone really say? Or do? Who knows what news they may have just received? And then you see the children with parents heading to an appointment and you just pray they are here for something ridiculously benign, like an inverted hangnail.

But back to the large couple in the cafeteria. They had clearly gotten the “I’m trying to be good, or mostly good” meal: they each had purchased a large chef’s salad with a breadstick, she had added a banana and a skim milk, while he had a large diet soda and a piece of pie for dessert. I couldn’t help but wonder to myself if they wouldn’t have been better off enjoying a meal with much more fat but much less sugar/fake sugar. I mean, sugar (or the chemically fake stuff) was in the salad dressing, in the breadstick, in the diet soda and in the pie… it was freakin’ everywhere on their tray and it was as if I, through some mutant power which might qualify me to be a comic book superhero, was the only one who could see it. I idly wondered if perhaps one of them suffered from one of the many variants of metabolic syndrome, and if so, if anyone would ever offer the suggestion that they might be healthier forgoing the salad in favor of the pot roast and mashed potatoes…

Now, clearly, I’m no doctor, no nurse, and no dietitian. But it just seems to make a lot of sense to me when Dr. Robert Lustig says that we’re effectively missing the technicolor elephant in the living room when we caution people to watch their salt, watch their fat, watch their alcohol, but rarely if ever do we mention the deleterious effects of sugar, and it’s omnipresence in our contemporary diet.

But maybe, if enough of us pester our poor waitresses for ingredients and start reading the depressing labels on the foods in our supermarket, just maybe that dialogue will change. Recently my mother sent me a short article that appeared in the February 11 issue of the New Orleans Times-Picayune by dietitian Molly Kimball, entitled, “Secret Sweets: You my be surprised how many ‘healthy’ foods contain added sugar.”

In the article, Kimball notes that the “just-released 2010 Dietary Guidelines say that we should ‘significantly reduce’ our intake of added sugars… That’s because diets high in added sugar are linked not only to obesity, but also to an increased risk of high blood pressure, triglycerides, inflammation, and low levels of good HDL cholesterol.”

Yes! Thank you! Of course, the article is minuscule, basically a list of how much sugar you find in products you’d never suspect such as salad dressing, ketchup, bagels, pasta sauce and bread. Sound familiar? If she wanted to she could’ve added to her list: chicken broth, mayonnaise, breakfast cereal, dried fruit, english muffins, pita bread, coleslaw, virtually every sauce known to man…

You and I know the list goes on and on. In fact it’s long enough to make one suspect Dr. Robert Lustig may be onto something when he observes that as fat consumption has gone down, obesity, type two diabetes, hypertension, heart disease and stroke have- nonetheless- gone up. In his YouTube lecture that I’m going to keep referencing until you break down and finally go watch it, “Sugar the Bitter Truth” he states it as plain as can be: “It’s not the fat, people. It’s not the fat.”

I wished, somehow, I could have communicated that to our table mates that day, and saved them from who knows how many bad salads, not to mention a lifetime of trying to be “good” and wondering why it still isn’t working.

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§ 4 Responses to A Year of No Sugar: Post 32

  • Rachel says:

    I DID finally sit down last night and watched 3/4 of Dr. Lustig’s lecture. He really drives home the point and makes it clear that sugar is toxic.

    As I have joined in on your no sugar journey, I do my best to cut out sugar and replace it with fruit, smoothies and any other concoction I can come up with to sooth my sweet tooth cravings. But it’s not easy… at all! I grew up on sugar and it feels like I am turning everything upside-down to get it out of my diet. It’s an emotional attachment. It is also challenging to change it because other people take it offensively when you don’t want to eat their baked goods our share an ice cream.

    Sugar is so acceptable and is even expected to be consumed. I wonder how Dr. Lustig “kicked the habit”. Logically it’s easy to understand that we shouldn’t consume sugar, but it’s much more difficult to do emotionally and socially. But I am forging ahead, right along with you!

  • eli says:

    Mom always says, eat moderately without eliminating the stuff you love because if you do then you kind of focus all your attention on that stuff you deliberately avoided. Id rather have a Coke than a diet one and not keep it in the house but as something to have at a restaurant on the rare occasion we go out.
    Eve Ogden has always been my magic diet pill because I spend so much time laughing with her that food gets forgotten. I dropped about 10 + pounds after visiting you and Amy.Throw Steve into the mix and I lost another 5.

    Mayo Clinic and loss:
    Especially when younger, I was stared at even by celebrities at Mayo because I was the youngest in the room and when I stand when my name is called to see the doctor, they have a look of shock on their faces.They expect one of my parents to be the patient.

    When I have heard bad news like you had with that woman you met, I have quietly tell the person something to the effect of, “Please forgive me, but I honestly dont know the words that could possibly sound proper at a moment like this. My heart aches for you and I shall be thinking about you and your family.” When King Hussein died at Mayo, I wrote his wife – Queen Noor and she actually replied with thanks for such an honest message.

  • Stefan Zielonka says:

    G’day Eve,
    Very interesting Eve. Your thoughts and experiences about the ‘ill effects’ of sugar are well documented. It was only after recently reading a book about the dangers of sugar consumption that I became aware of these effects.

    The book is “The Sweet Poison Quit Plan How to kick the sugar habit and loose weight” by the Australian author, David Gillespie. He recommends not eating dried fruit as dried fruit contains a substantial amount of fructose in that state and should be avoided as well. He write -for example, that 100grams of raisins contain 31 grams of fructose whereas 31 grams of grapes contain 8.1 grams of fructose. Further, he gives appetising recipes as well. Many of the comments that you make about the poor eating habits of your countrymen apply also to us, here in Australia. I recommend this book to you.

    I purchased a camera bag some years ago and a little later, a shoulder strap. Both are ‘surviving’ the huge amount of usage they are getting. A well made camera bag surviving the harsh use and sometimes – harsh abuse, that it has to put up with!

    Regards
    Stefan

  • Eve says:

    Stefan-
    I am looking into that book- thank you for the recommendation Stefan! In particular I’m curious to find more recipes…

    I am wondering if dried fruit “contains” more fructose because we eat more of it than we would the corresponding amount of fresh fruit? Hmm. I’m not ready to give raisins up just yet!!

    Glad you are enjoying the posts- AND your Bare Bones and YStrap! -Eve

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