RK Tip of the Week|I’ll take a double espresso, light foam, single formeldahyde

Posted on December 22, 2010


“A moment on the lips, a lifetime on the hips.” Sadly, I can thank Mrs. Jeffries, our grade-school gym teacher for making that statement to our little group of grade-schoolers. I remember thinking “oh, don’t eat that delicious tasting food if you don’t want to get fat.”

While most likely meaning well, I know how that statement about food & fatness stuck with me, I can imagine it probably stuck with a few other girls too. It’s definitely NOT the way to teach kids about their relationship with food & their bodies. I gleaned from that statement that if it tastes really good when you eat it, you’re going to be seeing it on your body for the rest of your life, and thus, you should definitely not eat it for risk of an express ticket to eternal thunder thigh hell. And possibly why I spent a long time thinking that Diet Coke, sugar-free this, and (previous to sugar-free) fat-free that – also warranted by my parents’ viewing of Covert Bailey’s “Fit or Fat” program – were all the right things to put into my body.

“Butter? No Way! It’s fatty! Sugar in my granola bars? Uh-uh, we’re going Splenda infused all the way!” <–Sound like anything you’ve ever said? It’s been pretty tough to avoid the hype about low-fat and sugar-free foods, but real foods have become a shred of their former selves by the food companies shifting out the fat and sugar so their nutritional profile looks like something Biggest Loser would approve of.

I coach this with my clients all the time. The nutritional panel means MUCH LESS than you think it does. Yes, use it to understand how many calories are in the item, however: we’ve been coached to look for low fat items because those are “heart healthy” (they are not always as they say). Or we look for low sugar, because sugar is bad for us (it is, but some sugar, from a natural source, at the right time, is allowable). Both of these thought processes are wrong, here’s why:

Sugar is absolutely an addictive substance. You should definitely avoid most sources of sugar. However, if you move away from sugar but move towards artificial sweeteners – Splenda being the top one – you’re exchanging 1 problem for another. A good summary from naturalnews.com on what problem you’re inheriting by ingesting excitotoxins like fake sugars…

Aspartame & sucralose, two of the most common artificial additives (as Nutri-Sweet & Splenda), are excitotoxins –
which are amino acids that also serve as neurotransmitters in the brain. The nervous system needs amino acid neurotransmitters to operate. But when the dose is too high or builds from excessive daily intake, these amino acids cross the blood brain barrier and excite the neurons of brain cells to a point of absolute exhaustion. Then those brain neurons eventually die. As one consumes aspartame over time, there is a formaldehyde byproduct from metabolizing these toxic ingredients. The formaldehyde binds with cellular DNA and causes DNA damage. It tends to stick to the DNA and over time the formaldehyde accumulation causes massive cell damage, which breeds diseases of all sorts, even cancer. Within the brain and throughout the nervous system, heart, and intestinal tract there are glutamate receptors or channels. So it is not only the brain that is affected by excitotoxins over time. To read more from this article, go here.

As someone who used to eat Splenda-laden foods, I can tell you that it is a challenge to make the mental and physical switch away from those foods to foods that actually contain, gasp!, sugar! Won’t I get fat? No, you will not, IF you are moderating your total consumption of fat & sugar, and both are coming to you in natural forms. Look at the LARABAR. If you look at a its nut. panel, most contain 15-18g of sugar – pretty scary if you’re watching your weight! Right? Wrong. The LARABAR is made from dates, nuts, and spices – that’s it! Those grams of sugar came from the dates in the bar, and as part of a balanced diet, is perfectly acceptable for me. If you have blood sugar issues (if you get light-headed or have trouble losing weight, you may not be in control of your blood sugars), you may be better off doing 1/2 of a LARABAR with some extra protein as a snack & save the other half for the afternoon snack.

That is person-dependant, and if you have questions about this and other parts of your wellness program, coaching may be the right next step for you, and you can contact me directly regarding that using the blog’s “Contact Me” section at the top, under “About Me.”

We’ve been conditioned to think that anything that has fat & sugar calories is a NO NO. In reality, our cavemen ancestors ate fatty meats and oils like coconuts often, and consumed fruit when it was in season, in their part of the world. They probably didn’t eat 4 servings of fruit per day, so yes, you could lay off the bananas, grapes, oranges, melons a bit, and still be happy with your life. When you’re taking a look at a food, make sure it’s real food – and when flavoring coffee or tea – go for the real stuff, but train your palate to have “enough” sweetness from a minimal amount of sugar. Then get moving because regardless of if you eat no sugar at all, or if you are weaning yourself from it, you need to get moving to be optimally healthy!