Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Meditations on Sugar

I have a post all worked up in my head about Rachel Pastan's Lady of the Snakes, but I'll have to write it down tomorrow. Right now, I want to talk about my weak time of the day. It's about now, just so you know, so this post is really therapeutic (hopefully preventing me from raiding the ice cream in the work freezer). Must resist the 3 pm urge to eat sweets!

I'm cutting out sweets. Someone asked if this meant that I'm not eating fruit. Um...no. Do you see that orange on my desk? How about the bowl of fresh pineapple in the fridge and pint of strawberries from Lance's garden? There's no way that I can not eat fruit. I love it so; apples are a staple afternoon snack. Fruit is way too yummy to ever give up, and I shouldn't anyway since it's packed with nutrition and deliciousness.

Obviously there are ways to eat fruit poorly. Take yogurt with fruit in it. Yum! Yogurt is the ultimate health food, right? Now look at the ingredient list and the amount of sugar in it. Even if you're not eating a HFCS (high fructose corn syrup)-loaded yogurt (or worse yet, Splenda-loaded), even the Brown Cow (all natural!) variety is packed with sugar in the form of cane juice and maple syrup. No thanks--unless rarely as a treat (I like the Low Fat Vanilla Bean, personally--reminds me of ice cream!). Better to just toss some fresh or frozen fruit (without added sugar) into plain yogurt if you're have a yogurt craving and can't stand plain.

Fruit has juice and sweet without any need to add more, but we've gotten our taste buds accustomed to eating sweeter and sweeter things. Just try buying cranberry juice that's all juice and without freakin' HFCS. You have to dodge anything with the word "cocktail" in it because that means it's loaded with death in the form of chemically-produced corn-sweetener. I'll save the rant against labels for another day, but reading the ingredient list is all important if you want to eat in a manner that even resembles healthy.

HFCS has revolutionized the food industry. Mammals evolved to crave sweetness. The food industry has realized this, even if you haven't. If you don't believe me, go read the labels in your refrigerator or pantry. Most anything processed will have some form of added sugar (though you may not recognize it by name), I guarantee it. And much of that sugar will be derived from corn. It's the industry's way of making sub-par food taste a bit better to induce us to keep on buying it.

Instead, we should return to the simple, wholesome apple if we want sweet. Or fresh pineapple. Or berries. They offer more than just something for the sweet tooth--the have fiber, vitamins, anti-oxidants, and they just might help you live forever. Or at least help you live a more quality life. When we quit believing that "peaches in heavy syrup" is somehow more satisfying than a real peach fresh off a tree, we are making a step toward health and a better world, and a step away from industry-controlled crappy food. Off I go to peel and eat my orange!

1 comment:

Justin Ray said...

Sugar, sugar, sugar. It was horrific how much sugar I put in some drinks when I worked at Starbucks. If someone ordered a venti white mocha, it got five massive pumps of what amounts to syrup. And if they got a raspberry white mocha, it got five more...blech. I'm not that much of a fan...except in bread. Love myself some nice, sweet bread.

I do wish that the non-cocktail fruit juices were not so much more expensive than regular ones. I do drink a lot of juice.