Sugar….de de de de de de
Oh, Honey Honey.
You are my candy girl,
and you got me wanting you.”
Honey, sucrose, glucose, fructose, and lactose we see these listed on food labels but what are they? Well in very basic terms, they are all types of sugar.
At times public interest in these various “sugars” increases when stories about sugar show up in the news, mostly to tell us to avoid it or eat it. Which shall it be? How do we get through the maze of information? It seems fructose is the current “bad guy” in the media and there has been a lot in the news about fructose. Much of the information comes from one small research study published by the AMA and has been rehashed in an over-simplified way. This may have lead to further confusion and more people anxiously scanning food labels to avoid the latest (un)healthy ingredient.
Fructose is a natural simple sugar found in vegetables, fruits and honey, it’s not something to fear, and certainly fruits and vegetables are NOT the foods that we should be reducing or eliminating from our diets. On the other hand, highly refined concentrated forms of sugar such as those in processed foods containing fructose and high-fructose corn syrup should indeed be limited. All sugars are not equal — even though they contain the same amount of calories — because they are metabolized differently in the body. Many of the sugars that we eat are mostly calories. They contain few or no other nutrients. Americans take in nearly 150 pounds of added sugars per year, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Sugar is a general catch all name for a class of sweet-flavored substances used as food. It contains few or no nutrients, but provides lots of flavor to food, which makes it a popular culinary delight and has been since ancient times. Sugar makes our food enjoyable and our medicine tolerable and it also helps signify the end of a meal, we know when the dessert shows up the meal is about to end with a little something sweet.
So, what are we to do when we are concerned about eating “right”? Here are a few suggestions: Eat foods that do not have a label! Huh? Yes, buy the foods that have not been processed, they are the foods on the outer perimeter of the grocery store. This way you wont have to worry about reading the label! Or better yet shop at your local farmers market. Whenever possible cook more at home get your family and friends involved in food preparation. This way it isn’t a burden that falls on one person but rather an enjoyable activity that involves, friends, music, a little wine and great conversation. As much as possible limit processed foods and beverages containing fructose and high-fructose corn syrup. Sugar-sweetened beverages do nothing more than add extra calories. Drink more water instead. Flavor your water with some citrus, cucumber slices or fresh herbs. Eat more fruits and vegetables; in general, a plant-based diet is good advice for everyone. Try to have at least one meal a day that is vegetarian. And above all filter what you read, use your critical lens and ask yourself: is this another crazy diet fad or yet, another blown out of proportion consumer food ingredient warning? Turn off the news, pick up the phone & invite friends over for dinner & share a great plant based meal followed by a delicious bowl of fructose containing fresh fruit.
This blog is designed to help clarify some of the key ways you can be helpful when you discover that an adult family member, friend or maybe even a colleague has eating or body image issues. I have specified adult since there are some differences when it comes to helping children with eating disorders -though many of these tips would still apply.
In my practice, I frequently hear about some of the hurtful and misguided things people say to those with eating disorders so while the intentions may be good, the comments can also be insensitive and possibly even harmful.
Some people may decide to ignore the problem completely, sometimes out of fear or just because they don’t know how to start the discussion or maybe they think that it will just go away on it’s own. It will not! Do not ignore the problem be proactive & get started today. Here is a list of suggestions of where you can begin:
- Try to learn as much as you can about eating disorders, there are many excellent websites such as www.NationalEatingDisorders.org that offer lots of helpful information.
- Avoid discussions that center around numbers, such as body weight, calories, and amount of food, time and quantity of exercise.
- Do not comment on appearance, “you look great today,” may be interepreted as you have gained (lost) weight. If you want to pay someone a complement, take the focus off physical appearance and on the essence of who they are on the inside or what wonderful things they have accomplished in their life.
- Tell someone you know and trust and figure out how you can both best help the person with the eating disorder. Do not gossip, the intention is not to spread rumors it’s to recruit support for the person you care about.
- Do not give ultimatum (such as, if you don’t get treatment I will have to end our friendship, this is not caring it is manipulation). Do not make promises that you may not be able to keep, such as agreeing never to tell anyone, a time may come when the eating disorder becomes a life or death situation.
- Model “normal eating”; this is not necessarily always “healthy eating.” if you are also frequently concerned about what and how much you eat you may perpetuate the problem. Instead, eat a variety of foods and do not subscribe to notions or good and bad foods.
- Do not try to take charge or make threats, you cannot force someone to get treatment and becoming the food police will not help the situation. Be gentle, encouraging and supportive.
- If you eat a meal with someone suffering from an eating disorder, take the pressure off; this means, don’t talk about or make comments about their food, how much they eat or don’t eat, or how they eat. Instead, take the focus off eating and discuss something completely unrelated, preferable something uplifting & positive. Meal times are incredible stressful for people with eating disorders.
- Challenge false beliefs: such as the myth that weight loss relates to happiness, or that being overweight is a sign of laziness.
- Don’t buy into the media obsession with diet, beauty and thinness, change the channel, keep those fashion, diet and celebrity magazines out of your home or place or work, better yet be an advocate, write a letter to the editor and voice your concerns to those that have the media power.
Keep in mind eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental health disease in America.
Take a look at these statistics from the National Eating Disorders Association as illustrated on the CNN website below:
First lets start with the “what not to do list”:
- Do not discuss your own, weight, diet, exercise plan or body & weight concerns, around your children.
- Do not make comments about other peoples weight or diet, for example “she is so fat,” or “you look great have you lost weight?”
- unless you have a medical reason to follow a special diet, do not make special meals (fat free meals, low calorie) for yourself, this gives the impression that some foods are bad and should be avoided.
- Get rid of the scale! If you are weighting yourself frequently, chances are, so is your child. Do not define yourself by a number on the scale but instead on your health and how you feel and all your other positive attributes.
- Do not make your children eat everything on their plates. You are responsible for what they eat but not how much of it they eat. In other words, you get to decide what is an appropriate & balanced meal, but no one should be forced to eat beyond his or her own level of comfort & satisfaction. Encourage children to be open minded by modeling open-mindedness and explore new foods, they should be encouraged only to taste the unfamiliar food.
- Protect your children from adverse media: food, diet & weight messages, for example fashion, and body building & dieting magazines.
- Do not ban certain foods because you think they are unhealthy, think about moderation instead. Some foods are meant to be fun and as long as they are not replacing a balanced diet, you should not worry about the “fun” foods. Otherwise, your child may hoard these foods or eat them in secret.
Instead, model good self-esteem, and eat a “normal” balanced diet! I will write about what normal looks like in a future blog.
If you have other suggestions to add to this list, please place them in the comments below…
Many kids at some point will be considered “picky eaters.” In fact, it is normal for kids to have certain foods they will avoid because they taste “yucky.” Most adults will also have food likes and dislikes. But how do you know when it has gone too far and may actually be something more serious, possibly even an eating disorder?
There are many clinical tools available to health care professionals to screen for eating disorders. If you are concerned that your child may have an eating disorder, or even if something just does not, “feel” right then you should seek professional help. However, there are some early warning signs (or red flags) that may indicate that there is something not right, that it is something more than just being a “picky eater.” Generally, more than one of these signs and symptoms will be present:
- Unexplained weight loss or failure to gain weight
- Food Hoarding
- A sudden change in eating habits, or a dietary change
- Avoiding all foods that contain fat or sugar
- Eliminating from their intake a particular food group, such as fats or carbohydrates
- A sudden interest in exercising or a dramatic increase in exercising
- Scrutinizing food labels
- Frequently checking their weight
- Calorie counting
- Frequently talking about being too fat, or pointing out that other people are too fat or too thin
- Social Withdrawal, spending less time with friends and making excuses to avoid social situations that involve food
- Avoiding family meals or making excuses to not participate in the family meal
- A sudden interest in cooking and preparing food for other people but not eating the food themselves
- Mood change or unstable moods, or a sudden disappearance in their sense of humor
- Complaining of being “too cold” when others do not feel cold
- Unusual patterns of tooth erosion
- Finding bags of vomit, usually in the child’s room
- A significant and unexplained weight gain in the family dog
- Playing with their food for very long periods of time or dawdling for hours over a meal
- Food obsession, talking about and thinking about food more than usual
Of course, many of these signs and symptoms may also be indicators of other problems but if you find that, a child has several of these behaviors it may be time to consider an eating disorder screening with a qualified health care professional.
If you are planning a garden for the first time, walk around your yard, noting which areas get some sun now, and where it will be sunniest in summer for at least 6 hrs per day. After you have found a good spot, stake it off. If it is super sunny, you will grow about anything there except for leafy crops like lettuce and spinach in the heat of summer.