Tuesday, January 27, 2009

There's Sugar in My Salt...And Other Things I've Learned

This past week my husband, Rob, went to North Carolina to be with his sister while she was in the hospital recovering from emergency surgery. “I ate like crap all week,” he complained. He told me that each time he and his family indulged in less than healthy foods they would jokingly say things like “you do know that Sugar’s the Devil, don’t you?” as they popped the offending food in their mouths and munched happily. “So you were laughing at me.” I stated. He looked at me with deer-caught-in-the-headlight eyes.

Over the course of this month I have learned a lot. I’ve learned that there is a whole world of nutrition, like organics and gluten-free, that I haven’t a clue about. I’ve learned that my family has eaten every item on the Top 10 Worst Foods list (see link at right). I’ve learned that foods like bacon, hot dogs, and luncheon meat contain nitrates and nitrites, which are known carcinogens contributing to stomach, pancreatic, and colon cancers. I learned that the Devil has numerous siblings and they are just as evil. Oh! And I learned that Dextrose is another name for sugar…and it’s in my salt.

I’ve also learned that sugar can increase your risk of Alzheimer’s Disease (1). It can cause depression (2), and Varicose Veins (3). I’ve learned that there are not enough scientific studies being done on the dangers of sugar because they need to be funded and who would profit from proving those dangers? I know we’d all benefit, but who would profit?

I learned that my children think it’s hilarious to passionately eat Dairy Queen Blizzards in front of me while moaning with pleasure. I also learned that the longer I go without eating sugar the easier it is to not be affected by passionate blizzard moans. I’ve learned that what I do with sugar is my own personal battle and it’s a one-person battle at that. It’s not my family vs. sugar, it’s not my husband and me vs. sugar, and it’s not Julie and me vs. sugar. We can only support one another, share tactics and strategic moves, but when it comes to combat, we are on our own.

I’ve learned that if I expect my family to reduce their sugar intake and eat healthier, it’s up to me. Until they decide to fight sugar on their own, it’s my battle; not theirs. I’ve learned that if I want my son to start the day with a nutritious breakfast, I have to get my butt out of bed at 5:30 a.m. and fix it for him. I’ve learned that my children will eat old-fashioned oatmeal if I add brown sugar and raisins to it and don’t cook it till it’s mushy. I’ve also learned that if I decrease the amount of brown sugar I put in their oatmeal every day, they will continue to eat it and not even notice! I’ve learned that it takes patience and lots of preparation and planning to reduce sugar and even more to eliminate it.

I learned that Julie ate Sugar Puffs this past week. She’d caught a cold and with her compromised immune system, it quickly turned ugly. She could barely get out of bed. Her husband, Neil, lovingly brought her Sugar Puffs, which she gratefully gobbled. The devil had taken advantage of her weakened state and was tugging on her ankle. I wasn’t surprised, really; I was often there. Well, I’m pleased to say that Julie recovered and got herself back on track. Just a little slip up; no big deal. This is her battle and I’ve learned that Julie is a very determined soldier.

So on to sugar-free week three. As I move forward I reflect on the past two weeks and the lessons I’ve learned. I’ve learned that not everyone feels as strongly about the dangers of sugar as I do and people will need to take responsibility for their health on their own terms. But, I’ve learned that it’s worth it to put myself out on a limb and share what I've learned about nutrition. You see, it’s all part of my battle strategy. And I think I’m gaining ground; for although my family laughs and says, “you do know that Sugar’s the Devil, don’t you?” they are becoming aware. And awareness is a very powerful weapon. The more aware they are, the closer they come to starting a fight.

1. Frey, J. Is There Sugar in the Alzheimer's disease? Annales De Biologie Clinique. 2001; 59 (3):253-257.)
2. Ibid, 440
3. Cleave, T. and Campbell, G. (Bristol, England: Diabetes, Coronary Thrombosis and the Saccharine Disease: John Wright and Sons, 1960.

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