Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Sweet Overkill

The USDA reports that the average American consumes anywhere between 150 to 170 pounds of refined sugars (this includes glucose, fructose, and sucrose) in one year.

That's a lot of sugar.

What does 150-170 pounds look like? Imagine 30 to 34 five-pound bags of sugar lined up next to each other on a counter. Now imagine eating all of that sugar. To break it down even more, eating 150-170 pounds of sugar in one year is also equivalent to consuming 1/4 to 1/2 pounds of sugar each day.

1/4 pound of sugar is equivalent to 30 teaspoons and 1/2 pound of sugar is equivalent to 60 teaspoons.

Studies have shown that consuming 75 to 100 grams of simple sugars (about 20 teaspoons of sugar - the amount found in two-and-a-half average 12 ounce cans of soda) can suppress the body's immune responses considerably. These sugars are known to create a 40 to 50% percent drop in the ability of white blood cells to kill bacteria and germs within the body. The immune-suppressing effect of sugar starts less than thirty minutes after ingestion and may last for five hours. By consuming 150 to 170 pounds of simple sugars each year, a person may have up to 80,000 hours of immune suppression!

(These facts were taken from: http://EzineArticles.com/2252026)

No wonder we are a sick society. And this isn't even taking into consideration that other effects of sugar - it's the leading cause of dental problems, and we all know what sugar can do to children's attention spans. There are studies that show that sugar feeds cancer cells, and causes heart problems.

Enough already.

I've always known sugar is bad for you. Refined sugar, that is. I know we need a little sugar in our bodies - it actually feeds the brain, I've been told. But that's natural sugar - the kind found in fruits, honey, and molasses. Refined sugars (white sugar, brown sugar, high fructose corn syrup, etc.) is not at all necessary. Your body survives much better without it.

As I said, I've known that for ages. I've tried to watch how much refined sugar I eat, and I thought I did pretty good. At 6 or 7 years old, I was famous in Sunday school for refusing any candy offered me. (Yes - you can say it...."health nut!")

Lately, however, I've gotten sloppy. My trouble with low blood sugar flared up again this year, and it just seems too easy to eat a few chocolate chips mid-morning, or nibble a piece of chocolate before bed. I've always loved ice cream. Chocolate chip cookies? Mmmmm! And my real weakness is "real food" that is chocked-full of sugar. Sweet potato casserole. Quick breads. Especially quick breads. Pumpkin bread, banana bread - you name it, I'll eat it 'til the cows come home.

And don't forget granola. That stuff could be served breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and I wouldn't complain.

All that has lots of sugar. It's addictive. Sugar is addictive. And yet it's so bad for you.

Wow. Now why does that sentence remind me of sin?

I can't snap my fingers and remove all the sin in my life, but I can try to do something about this sugar thing. I've become motivated to see if I can go for two weeks without putting any refined sugar in my body.

Do you have any idea how hard that can be in America? That not only means no chocolate or ice cream, but also no spaghetti sauce, salad dressings, store-bought bread, or granola!

Of course, there's still plenty left to choose from. God's a creative Creator, and He made plenty of "real" food that is delicious. It will be hard, but I fully believe it's possible. That's why I'm going to do it.

Two weeks. Cold Turkey. Nit-picky. Starting today.

Now for the big question - will you join me?

I'd love some accountability. And some companionship. Somebody to say "keep going!" and to tell me I'm not crazy.

Maybe cold turkey is a little much for you - but what about making a smaller commitment for these two weeks? Maybe you'll skip dessert every day. Or drink your coffee black. Anything to show us you're challenging yourself!

If you decide to do a challenge for these two weeks (Oct. 18- Nov. 1), please post a comment and tell us what it is.

If you want to join the same challenge I'm doing, let me tell you the rules I'm giving myself:

1 - The obvious; no refined sugars. This means I read the labels on everything, and if it contains any unnatural sugars, it's a no-no. I have a feeling I'll be eating a lot of from-scratch foods for awhile. :)
2 - You can "cheat" on one meal each week. (Don't you love making up your own rules?) I already know which meal I'm going to "cheat" on; Friday nights. It's our family pizza night, and I'd hate to miss out on that!
3 - Don't starve yourself. Be sure to fill up on good foods.

So what can we eat? Lots! Oatmeal sweetened with molasses and raisins, homemade bread made with honey, vegetables, baked potatoes, cheese, sour cream, apples, oranges, bananas, beans, noodles with herbs and butter, carrots, grilled chicken, meatloaf, fried potatoes, tuna-cheese-butter-and-lettuce sandwiches, hard boiled eggs, ...and much more!

If you discover a "hidden" source of sugar, that some of us might over look (like ketchup or BBQ sauce) post a comment to remind us! And be sure to post a comment if you join the challenge.

If you feel like it, post about the challenge on your own blog, to keep up your spirits.

On of the best parts about this challenge, I think, will be the new recipes we come up with. I've created one already! I had it for breakfast this morning. Shall I share?

Oven-baked French Toast

- 4 homemade rolls
- 2 eggs, slightly beaten
- 1/2 cup or so of milk
- lots of cinnamon
- 2 TBS molasses
- 1 TBS honey
- 1 TBS water

Slice the rolls into 1/4" slices. Layer in a 9x9 glass baking dish. Combine eggs, milk, and cinnamon. Pour over bread. Mix molasses, honey, and water. Drizzle evenly over bread. Cover and refrigerate overnight. In the morning, bake at 350 for 20 minutes, or until eggs set. Don't over bake.

This was delicious as-is; sorta like cinnamon french bread on the bottom, and gingerbread cookies softened in milk on the top, but next time I might add a TBS of melted butter to the molasses mixture, and pour it all in the bottom of the dish before I add the bread, eggs, and milk.

I'm also sprouting 1 1/2 cups of navy beans for a recipe later in the week. Start today if you want to try it! Sprouting is easy. ...but this post is long enough, so I won't give detailed instructions. Just google it. :)

Anyway....I am holding my breath for comments! Remember, if you meet this challenge, you've just escaped 3 1/2 POUNDS of sugar (or 420 tsp.) that would have been in your body if you ate the normal 1/4 pound a day.

Let's do it, folks!

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