The Argument Against Forbidden Fruit

demonizing fructose

I’m no wellness expert.

Just a self-taught observer of health industry trends — who sometimes can’t resist aiming a snarky “say whaaaat?” at said trends.

Don’t get me wrong. You won’t find this girl disputing EVERY superfood discovery, holistic remedy or fitness craze that bursts on the scene. I’ve been known to guzzle kombucha and swear by kale, after all. But certain nutritional advice, I just can’t get behind.

Like demonizing fruit, for instance.

You haven’t heard? The fructose content in these plant by-products [formerly-known-as-healthy] causes weight related issues.

And the logical defense against this grave peril? Put down that apple. Back away from the produce stand. Eliminate fruits from your diet. All of ’em. Seriously…get with the times.

I’m not convinced, though. This claim carries a suspicious whiff of extremism that I don’t accept at face value.

Avoiding sucrose (a.k.a. refined sugar) makes total sense, but cutting out fructose — a natural carbohydrate which our bodies metabolize into energy — seems like overkill.

I digress, excess sugar consumption in any form leads to addictive cravings and medical conditions like cardiovascular disease, hypertension or diabetes. But the keyword here is excess.

On average, the USDA recommends 1/2 cup servings of fresh fruit 3 times per day, so overindulging could negatively impact your well-being. However, research indicates you’d have to overindulge like it’s your job before these health risks would even take effect.

study, during which participants consumed about 60 grams of fructose, showed spikes in blood sugar levels after ingestion. No bueno, right?

Well…yeeaaah. Until you break down those results.

Here’s what the study conveniently forgets to mention — this fructose amount equals 9 bananas, 5 apples or 120 strawberries. Since when did you last devour 9 bananas over a 24-hour period?

…….Anyone???  Case. In. Point.

Besides,  fruit contains nominal fructose levels, compared with other sweetened pick-me-ups. While an apple has about 13 grams of fructose, a medium Coke has 33 grams.

The takeaway? Any food, whether plant-based or processed, can become harmful in EXTREME quantities. Fruit — or, even the fructose molecule — is not your nemesis, though. When enjoyed in MODERATION, it’s a wholesome addition to any diet.

Sure, those wellness gurus might demonize “nature’s candy,” but what’s the alternative? Satisfying your sweet tooth with actual candy?

Perspective, people.

fruits are friends

 

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How to Trick the Kiddos into Curbing their Treat Intake

♫ This is Halloween. This is Halloween. This is Halloween. 

Well…as of tomorrow, anyway.

This bewitching occasion for both the young and young-at-heart is marked by ghosts and goblins, pirates and princesses, superheroes and starlets traipsing around the block together, chanting that quintessential phrase — “trick-or-treat!”

Undoubtedly, Halloween represents a childhood rite-of-passage, filled with excitement, fantasy, mischief…

And, of course, sugar.

Otherwise known as the kids’ main motivation for dressing up. That haul of Skittles, Twizzlers and Milky Ways, which they’ll triumphantly drag home then ceremoniously dump on the kitchen floor, might just be their favorite part of the whole evening. But, as a parent, excessive candy consumption is likely your biggest complaint.

So, how can you keep your children from wolfing down unhealthy amounts of refined sugar without squelching their innocent fun? These pointers will do the trick! (See what I did there?)

halloween treats without the tricks

1.   Sort the pieces of candy into small piles (about four–five apiece) and transfer each grouping into a snack-sized Ziploc bag. Store these bags out of reach until the weekend. Then, give your kids a sweet treat to enjoy on Friday movie night, or pass out individual “goodie bags” during their Saturday sleepover. If you associate candy with special occasions, they won’t crave the cavity-causing sugar on a daily basis.

2.   Start a rewards system, so candy becomes a sweet incentive rather than TV-watching “junk food.” Let’s say your kids received stellar report cards in the classroom, or completed their chore charts with minimal protest. Recognize these achievements by handing over a chocolate bar as positive reinforcement. Use the treats to motivate exemplary behavior — both at home and school.

3.   Combine a handful of candy with healthy snack alternatives. Add M&Ms to pistachios, pumpkin seeds and coconut flakes for a wholesome trail mix. Bake dark chocolate into zucchini bread, or serve alongside sliced apples and almond butter. Drizzle melted caramel chews over whole-grain oatmeal or poached pears. Therefore, kids can satisfy that sweet tooth, while you sneak nutrients in their diet.

4.   Avoid stockpiling the Halloween candy stash over a long period. Cut down on those trick-or-treating leftovers by purging your house after a couple weeks. Surprise co-workers with a peppermint jar in the break room. Include Hershey squares in care packages for a neighbor or the kids’ teachers. Sweeten up holiday get-togethers with party favors for each guest. Chances are, as the Halloween novelty wears off, your little ones won’t even notice the missing candy right away.

Of course, sugary indulgence is part of childhood, so I’m not suggesting you deny them altogether. Parents should encourage kids to be…well, kids. The key word is MODERATION.

Provided your children aren’t over-stuffing themselves on Halloween goodies, there’s no reason to micromanage. Simply offset those empty calories by serving balanced nutrition at meal times.

After all, even the youngsters will probably concede that fresh vegetables, lean proteins and whole grains are more substantial in the long-run than a temporary sugar high or quick-fix craving. So, let ’em have their thrills. Just make sure it’s within predetermined boundaries.

happy halloween

On Turning Your Body Image from Naughty to Nice

The holidays are a challenging time of year for me.

I won’t even bother pretending otherwise.

So, with Christmas just 2 days around the corner, that telltale anxiety has begun creeping up on me.

In T-48 hours, the festivities will commence. I’ll be plied with cut-out cookies, green bean casserole (whose appearance at the buffet table always makes me wonder: why is this even a thing???), and every sugary beverage imaginable. I’ll spend Christmas dinner inwardly squirming because there’s no socially acceptable reason to escape “family time” for a stress-relieving workout.

And — most cringe-worthy of all — I’ll nod and *fake* smile as the table conversation invariably shifts to, “I reeeeeeally shouldn’t eat this, but…”

Don’t give me wrong though, I still love the holidays.

No, seriously. I do.

I’m a sucker for seasonal traditions. I can flawlessly quote Elf, and I know the lyrics to every musical sequence in White Christmas (that’s right…not just the title song!). I’m always convinced reindeer can fly upon watching the “Santa Tracker” with my younger cousins. In fact, I’m even listening to “Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” while typing this post.

Yep. There’s no denying it. Christmas is magical.

Too bad the magic often takes a backseat to my “holiday weight”-centric neurosis.

Negative body image seems grossly intensified during this time of year, and I sure wish Santa would fill my stocking with manuals on getting through the season, unscathed by those pesky insecurities. All gift-wrapped and foolproof because I am on the Nice List, don’tcha know.

Right. If only.

Instead, I’m left to my own devices when faced with excessive eating, thoughtless comments, and degrading voices inside my head. And — if you’re anything like me — you’ve likely experienced the exact same struggle.

But, since we’ve established the Big Guy won’t be bringing any “Body Image Survival Guides” on his sleigh anytime soon, I’ll leave you with this:

3 strategies, which have empowered me to sidestep feelings of inadequacy, so I can actually enjoy the festivities. Maybe you’ll find them helpful, as well. Just sayin’…

  1. If you want a cookie, have a cookie! Depriving yourself  is counterproductive and will frequently lead to a binge. Instead of suppressing a sweet tooth or restricting your regular intake to compensate for said sweet tooth, only to lose control and devour the whole damn cookie jar when nobody’s looking, allow yourself some wiggle room. Don’t overindulge, but listen to those internal hunger cues. If your body is craving chocolate chip goodness, for instance, feed the urge.  Eat 1 cookie. Taste it. Savor it. Then, walk away from the remaining dozen. Sweet tooth satisfied. Anxiety alleviated.
  2. Enough already with “good” vs. “bad” foods! There are no bad foods (unless they’re loaded with artificial preservatives…then, they can’t really be considered food). Only bad eating habits. Example: I might avoid green bean casserole, but my sister loves that shit. Therefore, green bean casserole is neither “good” nor “bad.” Regardless of our individual taste buds, it’s still just food. How food is consumed, though, can be detrimental. Whether you’re obsessively counting calories or mindlessly munching until nausea ensues, you fall into the disordered eating category.  So, eliminate those labels. If you like something, just eat it.
  3. You can be social while staying in shape! Rather than sneaking away from the crowd to sweat off Christmas dinner, turn exercise into a family bonding activity. Take a brisk walk around the neighborhood together, while enjoying holiday lights. Organize a backyard touch football scrimmage. Even play Wii Sports with your cousins (that’s what I do!). By all means, get moving! Just don’t let fitness take precedence over relationships. Strike a healthy balance. Instead of turning your desire for physical exertion into a covert mission, invite others to join in the action.

Oh, and (because…randomness) here’s a picture of some cookies.

Christmas cookies Yes, I baked them. I also — gasp! — ate them.

Guiltlessly.

If I can, anyone can.

You’re welcome (and Merry Christmas!).