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Are We Addicted to Sugar?

The simple answer is yes.  The average US citizen is extremely addicted to sugar.  100 years ago we ate about 4 pounds a year in sugar and now we eat our body weight annually in sugar!

I have always kind of assumed we probably ate a little too much sugar but in the past few weeks I’ve become aware of how big the problem really is.  Stapleton is an active neighborhood in a relatively healthy state, so for many of you I’m guessing this addiction to sugar isn’t news…but to me it’s a new awareness so I thought I’d share it with you.  Who knows, maybe you’ll improve your health and the health of those young kids who are forming their life long habits now.

So why did sugar get on my radar lately?  After all, I’ve been eating it my whole life without a thought…so why think about it now?  It actually started with a trip to Vegas recently.  I was lucky enough to go for the weekend with a few friends (courtesy of an amazing birthday surprise from my wife!)  We had a great time, but as you know that is a city built on excess.  Excess everything, including food.  We couldn’t help but notice that overall the people were not healthy.  I still have an image of a very large woman struggling to walk with a 4 foot daquiri literally strapped to her neck.  Very Vegas.  Although we kept ourselves under control (we’re all a little calmer than we used to be), I think the weekend just got my friends and I thinking about excess and wanting to make some changes in our lives.  (nothing like Vegas to make you want to change a few things, right?)

So when we came back we all tried out a few changes.  One friend has been running to work daily, another one has been doing all he can to not use his car.  (he went 10 days without a single car trip, which doesn’t sound big but give that a try!)  For some reason sugar was on my mind.  So I tried a week without it.

What I learned is sugar is in everything.  I allowed myself natural sugars (fruit, etc) but I avoided anything with added sugar.  Sugar is seemingly in everything!

This new interest in sugar spurred me to learn a little more about the topic.  Here are a few things I checked out that I think you would really benefit from:

Sugar Coated – a documentary available on Netfix that discusses how sugar came to be in almost everything we eat.

Fed Up – another documentary featuring Katie Couric on Netflix about how the food industry & it’s amazing power over us.

Able James interview of Barry Friedman (author of “I love me more than sugar”) – podcast you’ll enjoy about doing a sugar detox.

Once I checked out these 3 resources my awareness of sugar and how it has us hooked really came to light.  So what am I noticing as I avoid sugar?

First, I’m noticing that I am fine without it.  I’ve been avoiding it during the week and allowing myself to have it on the weekend.  (I don’t want to make a bold statement like I’m fully done with sugar…I’ve learned to pace myself a bit to increase my odds of success and true change).  If I can avoid it without too much pain though why subject myself to all the downsides sugar brings with it?  (Not sure what the downsides are?  Here are 25)

Second, I’m noticing the biggest challenge is not wanting the sugar, its just being hungry and not being sure what to eat throughout the day.  I need to work on this issue or I’ll fall back into old habits.  (Give me some pointers health nuts out there!)  I can tell I just need to have the right foods around and do a little planning ahead regarding my day.  Even when I don’t plan ahead though, I can usually make it work.  Almost every restaurant has healthy options.  (you know, that part of the menu you don’t look at)

Third, I’ve noticed that the more marketing a product has the more sugar it has.  Try the cereal aisle.  Look for a kids cereal that doesn’t have much sugar.  It will be the most boring, non-branded box on the aisle.  And fyi there is only one box of it compared to 100 boxes of sugar filled cereal with the latest cartoon characters on it.

Lastly, I’ve come to learn it really is a drug.  I took my kids out for pizza on Saturday.  They ate a good meal so I let them have Gelato.  Their behavior went from good to annoying and out of control in 10 minutes.  Kids just don’t have the tolerance we do so its easier to see the drug take hold of their emotions.  As adults we’ve now become numb to the effects.  (Sounds like alcohol or any other drug… you build up a tolerance and you need more to get the buzz)

The main thing I’ve become aware of is I want to help guide our kids to have healthy habits and frankly we’re not doing a great job when it comes to sugar.  We grew up with it being a reward for good behavior, its at every celebration (picture a Stapleton birthday party) and it’s just part of the daily routine.  Our third daughter, Sloane, has a habit of helping herself to the snacks in the pantry throughout the day.  As anyone with 3+ kids knows, the more kids you add the more you focus on just surviving they day with all kids alive.  We’re not as focused on seemingly small things, like sugar intake, as we should be but I want to step it up in this area.

Well thanks for listening to my little rant about sugar.  If you do nothing else, please just check out one of the three resources I posted above.

I’m at the beginning of the journey in terms of trying to change my habits (and hopefully the habits of our kids) so if you have any advice, any stories you want to share, any specific suggestions on what to eat, any changes you’ve made as a family,  any ideas on how to feed these kids healthier foods….please share them here!  You can put them in the comments on the blog, you can share them on facebook or you can email me directly at joe@focus-realtors.com.

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