I grew up in a household where our sugar and refined carbohydrate intake was watched very carefully. It was due to the fact that my younger sister is epileptic and my mom quickly came to the conclusion that her seizures came on from any and every form of sugar, or food that converts into sugar in our bodies. We were lucky to have even raw, organic honey in our house. There was no trace of junk food, low-fat/zero-calorie food and McDonalds was a treat, maybe once a year. As a little girl with friends that would avoid coming over, because we never had anything ‘fun’ to eat, that was not always easy to deal with. However, it made me hyper aware of the impact food has on us. So much so, that I became a vegetarian when I was twelve (not anymore, but still consume a limited amount of meat), started working out when I was 15 (mostly because my mom bought me Alyssa Milano’s Teen Steam video and I was hooked!), and have tried to maintain a healthy lifestyle ever since.
Last weekend, I watched the documentary “Fed Up”. Katie Couric partnered with Laurie David (Oscar-winning producer of The Inconvenient Truth) and director Stephanie Soechtig to produce a powerful movie about the food industry. Essentially, everything the public has been told about diet and exercise is wrong. Yes, flat out, dead wrong. It focuses on the fact that the U.S. government in the late 70s was concerned about obesity and decided to promote a low-fat, high carbohydrate diet, which is now back-firing in ways we could have never imagined. It goes into much more depth with studies, cases, doctors, etc which they based their decision upon, but that’s the conclusion. When fat is taken out of food, the taste is taken away too. So what did we have to add to bring back the taste, more sugar, but in different forms. Modern society is now consuming more sugar in every possible form, than we ever have before and it’s becoming a serious epidemic.
This epidemic is affecting everyone, but it is affecting children the most. To the point that this generation of children will have the shortest lifespan that we have ever witnessed over the last several decades.
Fed Up tries to say that we should not blame these children, that they are constantly bombarded with food advertising that is coaxing them to eat only the worst, most junk-laden, fast foods that are on the market. It’s on their TVs, in their grocery stores, in their refrigerators, at their schools, and it goes on and on. I completely agree with this, but not the part where they can find these foods at home. The movie tries to say that it has become a generational thing. So, if your grandmother grew up with Coca-Cola, so did your mom, and then naturally you will too. I realize that some parents don’t know any better, but to not give them some of the blame for their child’s obesity is letting them get away with it. I know that in the busy and some what expensive life we live, that fast and cheap has been ingrained into millions of people, without much consequence. However, in 2014 it’s not difficult to realize that McDonalds, Coca-Cola, Pop Tarts, Doritos are bad for you. Maybe I’m wrong, maybe the average person does not know this, and feels that there is nothing wrong with their child consuming any of these products. Then where does the problem lie?
Introducing your favorite soft drink, but with zero calories! Or how about a low-fat version of your favorite cookie? No wait! Your favorite yogurt, but with less sugar.
Yup, you see these products everywhere. Every possible food and drink item has a low-calorie, low-fat, zero-calorie, less sugar version, which we have been led to believe is healthier for us. I have to tell you, I have never understood why anyone would buy, let alone consume any of these foods. I’ll tell you why, because if you are a Coca-Cola lover, but want to be “healthier”, you think by buying and consuming the zero-calorie version, is a healthier version. Well, you’re not. All of these products have some form of sweetener or sugar substitute, and due to the fact that it’s sweeter than regular sugar, but not actual sugar, you end up consuming more and yes, putting on weight. Anyone that thinks they are “losing weight” from consuming any of these products is kidding themselves.
The parents that want to help themselves and their children lose weight, but consume the same favorite foods and drinks, are just doing everyone a disservice.
One of the doctors interviewed for the movie is Dr. Robert Lustig. I first came across Dr. Lustig when he was part of Sanjay Gupta’s 60 Minutes piece on sugar. He has started a campaign to prove that sugar is a toxin, yes a toxin. He is essentially basing this on the evolution of the modern diet and the amount of sugar we consume today. In the 60 Minutes piece, as well as in the movie Fed Up, the majority of food we consume today that ought to be something you enjoy once in a blue moon (such as McDonalds, Coca-Cola, most, if not all chocolate bars, donuts, candy, etc) have become staples in the average, American diet. And due to the high consumption, we have become addicted to sugar. What’s even worse is, if you are mainly consuming diet foods, that all have a sugar substitute, our bodies are wondering where the sugar is and as a consequence, you naturally consume more to satisfy your sugar craving. It’s just an evil-cycle.
The question is, what do we do about this?
The team at Fed Up has started a challenge, encouraging everyone, primarily children, their schools and their parents, to go sugar-free for 10 days. I think it’s a great beginning, but what’s happen after the ten days? Well, if you’re not committed or have limited will power, you’ll just go back to your same eating habits. This is where I feel a movie like Food Inc. can take over where Fed Up leaves off.
Food Inc.’s premise is relatively similar, in which we need to avoid buying and consuming processed foods, and focus on shopping the perimeter of your local grocery store and at your local farmer’s market. By shopping the perimeter of your grocery store, you naturally focus on buying fruits and vegetables, meat and fish, and grains, such as bread. I think this is a pretty good and quite effective way of reducing your sugar intake. Will you have to cook more, yes! Is time an issue, especially if you’re a busy mom or working mom (or dad for that matter!), yes, but if you care about your health, your going to make time to prepare meals with real food.
I don’t know about you, but I’m fed up. I’m fed up with these companies producing food and making a ton of money on the backs of our health. I’m fed up of doctors and the medical community pushing drugs on us, rather than taking a more holistic approach by taking our diet and lifestyle into consideration when they’re assessing our health. Enough is enough!
Life is much more enjoyable when you’re healthy and consuming delicious, nutritious, real food. It’s time we all take back our health and our lives.