Sweet Tooth

Monday, May 28, 2012
Tonight, I found myself glued to a 4-part series on HBO called The Weight of the Nation. While my skinny husband was cracking jokes as he walked through the living room (he had no intentions of watching it with me), I gave him the evil eye. If you have never had a weight problem, you can't understand the feelings of hopelessness, depression...I could go on and on.

For me, food became my comfort, my safe place. Whenever the tears wouldn't stop, I baked. Sounds silly, but it's what I did. I am an expert on peanut butter fudge, peach cobbler, and chocolate peanut butter lava cake. I say this with disgust. When I finally realized what I was doing to myself, I knew I had to change my habits or else my health was going to be seriously affected.

I tried for months to lose weight. I tried all the latest weight loss diets. I even counted calories and exercised, but nothing happened. After the first of the year, I made an appointment with a bariatrician. After lots of blood work, an EKG and a biology/nutrition lesson on how/why my body was functioning based on the foods I was eating, I finally felt like I had a grip on what I needed to do.

The number one lesson I learned is sugar is everywhere. For me, sugar was keeping me from losing weight. I don't mean fudge and cobblers, but rather the sugar found in everyday foods, such as fruit and vegetables, breads, pastas, etc. I was consuming entirely too much sugar. I had no idea the amount of sugar in foods. I've listed the nutritional info below for a popular cereal marketed for weight loss.

 Brand Name Healthy, Low-fat Cereal 
Calories 100 
Total Fat 1 g 
Total Carbs 22 g 
Dietary Fiber 3 g 
Protein 2 g

Looks good, right? By subtracting the fiber from the carbs and dividing it by 5, you can calculate the teaspoons of sugar in a serving (22-3/5). This healthy, well-known breakfast cereal has 3.8 teaspoons of sugar. A half cup of skim milk adds an additional 2.4 teaspoons of sugar. If you also add a medium-sized banana and a glass of apple juice, you can expect to add 14.8 more teaspoons of sugar.

 Let's review. A "healthy" bowl of low-fat cereal with skim milk and a banana, as well as a 12 ounce glass of apple juice will have you ingesting 21 teaspoons of sugar. Yes, that's what I said. Twenty-one teaspoons!!!! Wow! If you're trying to lose weight, this probably isn't the best breakfast to start off the day. Just to compare, a Snickers bar only has 6.8 teaspoons of sugar.

After losing forty pounds, I found it truly is a balancing act. I've had to learn to track not only my calories, but my protein, carbs, and fiber. (See a more detailed explanation of what I'm doing here.) If I want that piece of birthday cake, then I have to balance its sugar with the rest of my meals for the day. As a nation, most of us do not realize the sugar we consume. If you're having trouble losing weight, talk with your doctor. Let him/her know you want to see a dietician. Weight loss truly is individualized. I have a set amount of sugar I'm allowed to have each day based on my test results and family medical history. I also have a specific number of calories and protein. I'm proof positive it can be done. So, don't give up!  :)


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