Monday, January 28, 2008

Birth of a Sugar Junkie

Now that I understand the actual mechanism involved in weight gain (elevated insulin levels due to excess carbohydrate consumption), it is no surprise to me that there is an obesity epidemic. All I have to do is take a little trip in the "wayback machine" and think about the things I used to eat as a kid.

When I was around 5 or 6, this was typical fare in my home. To the right is the approximate carb count.

Kellogs Corn Flakes (2 cups) - 48.43g
Milk (1 cup) - 11.71g
Orange Juice (1 cup) - 25.79g

Peanut Butter Sandwich - 41.64g
Apple Juice (1 cup) - 28.97g

Banana - 27.65g

Chicken Pot Pie - 41.5g
Milk (1 cup) - 11.71g

Ice Cream (1 cup) - 31.97g

Total - 269.37

This is what would be a "healthy" day with mom keeping a tight lid on the sugar bowl. The times when mom & dad were working a lot, we had a babysitter in the afternoons, and just dad watching us at night while mom worked. It was more typical during that time to add in a couple of sodas at 41g of carbs each, swap sugar smacks for the plain corn flakes (64g of carbs), and add in a Hostess Ho Ho or three (54g of carbs). That would push the approximate carb level from 269 up to over 420.

Now remember, carbs = sugar. It doesn't matter if it starts out as toast, a soda, a banana or a chocolate donut. 50 grams of carbohydrates = 1/4 cup of pure sugar once that food is digested. Even without added sugar in my example above, I was still getting over 1 1/4 cups of sugar a day. When the parents weren't paying attention, I was getting over 2 cups.

My teen years were even worse. I had a serious Mountain Dew habit, had Snickers Bars and Little Debbie Snack Cakes several times a week, and ate burritos and grilled cheese sandwiches from the school cafeteria. Then I discovered beer.

Later I made a foray in to vegetarianism. This was supposed to be a way for me to be healthier and stop the weight creep. Instead it got worse since an even larger portion of my diet was composed of carbohydrates. By this time I was a full blown sugar junkie and didn't even know it. I thought I was eating healthy by choosing oatmeal instead of sugary breakfast cereals, whole wheat bread instead of white, and eating pretzels instead of potato chips. But I had actually swapped one form of sugar for another.

By finally avoiding sugar in all its forms, I am regaining my health. I still get angry thinking about how I used to eat, and the foods my mom thought were good for me. That poor woman read a lot about diet, went to Weight Watchers for her own problems, but never knew the real facts. By not knowing carbs = sugar, she inadvertently turned me in to a full-fledged sugar abuser. Now I know that sugar can be disguised as pasta, rice, bread, corn, potatoes and more. I also learned that it is an unhealthy addictive substance that ruins your health. Kind of like the food equivalent of crack.

As long as the medical community and government officials ignore the fact that carbs = sugar, parents will continue to turn their kids in to spastic little addicts. At first they will wonder why their kid is so hyper. Then when they get older, they will wonder why their kid is fat and how they ended up with type 2 diabetes. It's kind of like wondering how someone grows up to became an alcoholic when you have been giving them daily shots of Jack Daniel's since birth.


Barb F. said...

My Mom had a very small grocery budget for 6 people when I was growing up. I remember eating huge piles of speghetti and then icecream for dessert. Then there's the egg noodles fried in bacon fat (my favorite). Home baked bread every day and complaining because we couldn't have Wonder Bread like the other kids. I raised my kids the same way. Luckily I went low carb and my kids are following now in their 20's.

nonegiven said...

It isn't just the amount of carb, notice the lack of adequate protein in the menu you listed. At least it wasn't skim milk.

I don't think the carb fest just starts at birth, they carbed up a bunch of pregnant mice and even the grandmice were more insulin resistant.

Wifezilla said...

I totally forgot about the never ending pitcher of kool aid! Add that to the carb total. Yikes!

As for protein, I was a very picky eater as a kid. I know there were days when I had plenty, but it was more like hot dogs or something else highly processed.

Anonymous said...

I never tasted actual sugar till my first birthday - when I went bonkers for icing. But I was a heavy chunk at one year -over 30 pounds, on breast milk and tiny amounts of baby foods and later table foods.Us kids ate oatmeal for breakfast, a carefully measured 3-course meal for lunch and 4 course for supper from the proper food groups, plus bread at every meal, with jam on as a snack. Mom did the best she could with what money and knowledge she had. I had more of both, and still ended up obese. I finally learned why, and now I'm getting close to 90 pounds lighter. Low carb is the only remedy for carb addicts.

Tracy said...

Oogh, I was vegetarian for a few years in my 20's. Of course that meant loads and loads of starch! Never had a sweet tooth, but I sure had a starch tooth (and a starch belly to match)

Luckily as a kid, my dad was a great cook and we had very meat-centric dinners - and breakfasts were usually eggs (soft-boiled, with little smiley faces drawn on them) Course I dipped toast in mine.

Big Daddy D said...

Like the blog. Keep up the good work. FYI - Added you to my blog feeds site...

Nicole said...

It seems we have a few things in common! I'm also struggling with weight and am very much into collage arts. I'm putting you on my blog roll right now....

Anonymous said...

Bravo, well done, Linda. I just stumbled on your website and am very impressed. [and wondering why the latest entry is over a year ago?]
I'm a diabetes educator and everything you are saying is right on. I could add that most diabetes could be averted if instead of waiting for the pancreas to give out and blood sugar levels to elevate, physicians were to test for hyperinsulinemia early on and advise accordingly. High insulin levels in the blood usually occur years before actual diabetes kicks in.
Also, a tip: One thing that has helped me immensely with my sweet tooth is the use of xylitol. It's a much safer alternative to sugar that tastes exactly like sugar and can be used cup for cup in place of sugar in most recipes. I have made delicious no-carb cheesecakes, pies, puddings, etc. There is no other sweetener like it in terms of both taste and safety. Don't take my word for it-- you can research it online.
I hope this is helpful. Thanks again!