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Full of Sugar!

I’ll take a 3 Musketeer, Sky Bar, Welch’s Fudge, Hershey, and Cracker Jacks.”  That’s how I spent my paper route money.  Packing away all that chocolate and sweets was not the best financial investment and often led to cavities and a few extra pounds, but the sugar fix seemed to “outweigh” any of the negatives.

I continued my sugar-heavy diet into my early adulthood happily loading up my coffee and cereal with sugar, scarfing down a double fudge cake for my birthday or taking a bicycle ride break for that refreshing root beer float.  But as I got older and my immortal attitude faded I decided to reduce my excessive sweets intake to prevent those cavities and added pounds.  Gradually, ice cream and cookies became an occasional special treat rather than a staple.  But just when I thought I had this sugar thing under control new warnings from scientists, nutritionists, healthcare professionals, and especially my wife raised a red flag about the amount of added sugar (AS), not just in the obvious players like cookies and cakes, but in most foods.  So, I started to pay attention to nutritional labels and WTF–bread, ketchup, orange juice, pasta, pizza, and peanut butter have added sugar.  That shoots my supposed semi-healthy diet back to the “needs work” level.sugar tracking cartoon

I started to read nutritional labels and it confirmed that foods that I thought were sugar free are loaded with AS.  It’s kind of like discovering that those brownies you ate at that party were laced.  I’m disappointed in the food industry who covertly loaded up everything with added sugar but, ultimately, we are responsible for what we eat, and I should have paid more attention to those numbers on ALL food labels and what they mean.

It was time to become an informed consumer and learn more about what seems to be an ingredient in everything.  So, I googled: Added Sugar, Foods with Added Sugar and Bad Effects of Sugar?  These are some of the major facts from my search:

  • Candy, baked goods, and sweetened dairy are the main sources of added sugar. But foods you don’t suspect, like breads, soups, protein bars, cereals, and most of our favorite drinks can have sugar
  • The brain is affected with sugar creating addiction and cravings for more and more sugar.
  • Studies have linked a high sugar intake to a greater risk of depression in adults.
  • Candy can rot your teeth (knew this one)
  • Sugar is linked to Increased inflammation resulting in joint pain and increasing your risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis.
  • It may make your skin age faster.
  • Can lead to type 2 diabetes.
  • Can lead to heart disease, heart attacks, and strokes.
  • Eating less sugar can help lower blood pressure.
  • Damages your pancreas and insulin levels often resulting in type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
  • If you have diabetes, too much sugar can lead to kidney damage.
  • Can lead to weight gain (knew this one)
  • It can make men impotent
  • Recommended sugar intake for Men: 9 teaspoons/36 grams daily
  • Recommended sugar intake for Women: 6 teaspoons/25 grams daily

The biggest surprises in my unscientific, but informative research is: the prevalence of sugar in everything we eat, the low amount of the recommended daily added sugar allowance, and the serious health risks of a heavy sugar diet.  Eating a couple of pieces of my favorite carrot cake would include 82 grams of added sugar, over double the daily recommendation of 37 grams–FUBAR.  With all these negatives, it’s time to start paying attention to everything we eat, read nutritional package labels, and use the tools available to become informed consumers.

One of those tools is the FDAs Food Tracker calculator, so you can determine nutritional values including the amount of added sugar in your foods.  Just enter a food name in the calculator and click on the nutrient info: https://www.supertracker.usda.gov/foodtracker.aspx  After a few clicks on the calculator I realized “I’m full of sugar”.

I’ve decided to cut back, even more, on added sugar, being mindful of the recommended added sugar daily dose limits.  Will I totally give up sugar—no way!  I think that total abstinence is like holding your breath and when you finally breath in or come off your 0-sugar diet it’s a huge inhale of air or sugar.  The fact is that large amounts of sugar is in most foods, so I will stop putting sugar in my coffee, look for lower sugar content substitutes, read product nutrition labels, and only eat my sugar laden favorites when no one is looking.

I don’t think sugar should be an all or nothing choice, but we should all be informed consumers so we, and not the food industry, are deciding how much added sugar we eat.  Take charge of your diet by using the calculator above as a guide to choose healthier foods and budget for your occasional sugar feast, read those food labels, and lobby the food industry to create healthy foods that don’t taste like cardboard like a slice of double fudge chocolate cake with 0 grams of added sugar.

Climate Change Morons

I live in the warm south, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, average January temperature 50/30 and our local newscast (1/3/18):

“It’s officially colder here than in parts of Alaska…Today’s high in Anchorage is 48 degrees, our’s… a balmy 32. Anchorage’s low for tomorrow, 20. Our’s…15 degrees.”

Our low of 9 degrees last night broke a record cold set in 1887—beyond FUBAR!  It’s snowing in Florida, Hilton Head, and Myrtle Beach.  Hell has truly frozen over!climate change cartoon

Our President thinks climate change is a hoax which might reflect the brains running our government—scary.  For years thousands of scientists have been warning that we are screwing up our world and accelerating global warming with our excesses including the unbridled burning of fossil fuels and unchecked deforestation.  Seas are rising and formerly rare weather disasters have become common everywhere and regions that were warm are cold, cold are warm, rainy are dry,….  Climate scientists and experts have recommended solutions to the problem, but our President seems to think that he is more of a climate expert than these apolitical educated scientists.

In a recent Trump tweet, he showed either his arrogance or ignorance about climate change:

In the East, it could be the COLDEST New Year’s Eve on record. Perhaps we could use a little bit of that good old Global Warming that our Country, but not other countries, was going to pay TRILLIONS OF DOLLARS to protect against. Bundle up!

Belittling the universally accepted and scientifically confirmed climate problems trivializes the increased frequency of abnormal weather and losses, both life and property, from hurricanes, floods, droughts, fires, and extreme temperatures.  This is a real problem and not a joke.

Let’s compare the climate change credibility of our President to our climate expert scientists.  The diverse scientists, both liberal and conservative, have no reason to lie about their climate change results.  They follow the Freakonomics model of believing the data— 1 + 1 = 2.  The President lives in the past and is a fossil fuel advocate relying on coal and big oil companies bottom lines to justify his decisions.  It seems like the only science used for our President’s non-existing climate change policy is totally political and driven by energy company and development-anywhere profits.

It’s past time for a change in leadership and policy.  We need strong leaders who are willing to stand up to the powerful fossil fuel industry and radically alter our environmental policies and reverse the way we treat our Earth, or our grandkids are going to incinerate or drown.   So next time you vote, remember the weird weather, your grandkids, and your power bills and elect people who are not “climate change morons” or at least elect morons who will listen to the scientists.

Give the Gift of a Great Adventure

Christmas has always been about family and lots and lots of presents.  The neatly stacked, meticulously wrapped gifts waiting under the Christmas tree to be savagely opened in a matter of seconds were the product of Santa lists generated with the help of store catalogs and ingenious, brain-washing ad campaigns.  Passing fads like Cabbage Patch dolls were elevated to the level of gotta have at any cost and parents feel the pressure to purchase the “coolest” toy or gadget of the season.  And this cycle of “latest and greatest” presents is passed on to future generations programmed to keep up the tradition—Ho!, Ho!, Ho!

Is there a better way to celebrate and make holiday memories that will last way beyond the toys that have lost their appeal or worn out?  Hello, daughter.  She has always appreciated the “gotta-have” gifts but with her love of family and adventure she created a new gift-giving model that changes the emphasis from toys and gadgets to memorable experiences that became more of a tradition than the old PeeWee Herman doll.  She’s all about exploring and new interactive experiences like hiking, skating, horseback riding, ocean kayaking, bicycling the CicLAvia (Los Angeles), riding roller coasters, interactively drumming with Ringo Starr at the Grammy Museum, touring the Hearst Castle and the Will Rogers ranch, visiting the animals at the San Diego and LA zoos, Legoland, visiting movie sets and stars at Universal, and anything else that creates a special memory that doesn’t come from Amazon.

This past Christmas was no exception when our gift experience was a tour of Warner Brothers (WB) Studios.  It became one of her most creative and memorable Stephanie great adventure gifts.  We hopped on a tour guide driven golf cart and we were off to see amazing displays of movies and movie making.  We entered the worlds of stars like Clint, Superman, James Dean, Wonder Woman, were assigned a Harry Potter house by the sorting hat, viewed and touched hundreds of props including JFK’s famous Presidential desk, dozens of chandeliers, old and new phones, and anything else you’ve seen in the WB movies, a Batman car show, and on to the final interactive part of the tour.

The tour was spectacular but the interactive defines my daughter’s idea of what a complete adventure should be.  You don’t just sit and watch if there is an opportunity to become part of the action.  We sat on the Friends sofa, toured Ellen’s set, and then the “Holy Grail” of the interactive displays, an opportunity to ride the Bat Cycle in front of a green screen and create your own short Batman movie.  So, with not much urging, I was nominated to be Batman while my wife and daughter recorded my beyond talentless, but energetic, performance.  This is a video of me as the next superhero totally fulfilling my daughter’s mantra of immersing yourself into an adventure and disregarding all self-respect.

We have been gifted all sorts of experiences from my daughter and have tried to return the favor with her family.  We still can’t resist finding the latest and greatest cool gift to put under the tree but from all our Christmas’s past we can remember all the cool experience gifts but would be hard pressed to tell you what was under the Christmas tree.  Lesson learned!  And as an added gift to my daughter, she gets Dad pay back by watching his less than star performances.