Two moms and an eye-opening experiment

 

The creativity of our readers is amazing! The following is an “experiment” that two Moms, Mandy and her friend Jessica, did over this past holiday season. 

They thought it would be interesting to keep track of all unhealthy treats, including the calories, fat grams, and sugar grams that three of their children were offered at school, church, and Grandma’s house from November 10 through December 25th; for a total of 45 days.  They charted it below, and the following is the summary: 

In forty-five days, three children, ages 3, 5, and 7 were offered a total of 41,734 extra calories; 1,927 grams of fat; and 6,470 grams of sugar! No joke! 

And interesting to note, because the Moms had both pledged to follow Dr. Fuhrman’s Holiday Challenge during that time, Mandy thinks the numbers would’ve been at least twice that amount had they not accepted the challenge. She said the children were amazing as they brought home the treats that they had passed up and counted the days on a paper chain.  As a reward, and as a way to reinforce in them that they weren’t “giving up” something, but making a trade for something better, the Moms took them to a hotel with an indoor pool and had a mini-vacation afterward. 

For better treat options, Mandy and Jessica found lots of fun and tasty ways to eat fruit, like frozen bananas with a little peanut butter to make banana ice-cream. They also discovered that it was a huge shift in mindset to get over the idea that they “had” to have a treat after every dinner, but they succeeded!

Here is the list of combined treats passed up by all three children:

[November 10 through December 25, 2011]

Candy Type

 Total Offered

Total Calories

Total Fat Grams

Total Sugar Grams

Snack-size Candy

 42

 4830

 299

 552

Cookies

 65

 8645

 437

 689

Ice Cream

 30 ½ cup servings

 8100

 540

 630

Pixie Sticks

 6

 100

-

 24

Smarties

 4

 100

-

 24

Chocolate Milk

 1 carton (school lunch)

 158

 2.5

 26

Suckers

 5

   120

-

 29

Cake

 6

 1410

 63

 210

Tootsie Pops

 5

 420

-

 100

Chocolates

 16

 1440

 37

 270

Full size Candy Bar

  6

 1640

 97

 164

Pudding

 1 serving

 157

 4.5

 26

Soda Pop

 2

 300

-

 78

Hard Candy

 7

 196

-

 28

Donut

 1

 198

 11

 23

Pie

 8 slices

 3092

 117

 258

Brownie

 7

 903

 33

 149

Candy Cane

 13

 650

-

 176

Sleeve of Thin Mints

 1

 480

 24

 63

Fudge

 17

 407

 23

 47

Box of Cocoa

 2

 1220

 47

 192

Bag of Crunch Bars

 1

 1440

 72

 168

Box of Orange Sticks

 1

 1120

 25

 175

Peanut Brittle

 8

 552

 20

 92

Divinity

 8

 1072

 13

 195

Small Cookies

 8

 1064

 62

 85

Airhead

 2

 50

-

 8

Licorice

 6

 246

-

 62

Grand totals:

 

41,734 calories

1927 grams of fat

6470 grams of sugar

   

309 calories per child per day

14 grams of fat per child per day

48 grams of sugar per child per day

   

25% of daily caloric needs

35% of daily fat intake

16% of daily needs for carbohydrates, according to one internet source

 

Bravo to these Moms and their precious children! 

Let’s all learn from their innovative experiment that it is truly up to us, as parents, to protect our children’s health and well-being.    

Contending is required now more than ever!

Okay, it’s time to get to the nitty-gritty of Dr. Fuhrman’s Holiday Challenge. It’s time to bring out a word that no one wants to talk about over the holidays. 

Based on my own experiences and interacting with others, the next couple of weeks will be some of the hardest weeks of the entire year to fight through!

Yes, “Fight.” 

To be successful in getting one’s health back, and to remain in optimal health, it takes contending. Contending involves a struggle with opposition in order to achieve a goal. And let’s be honest, the opposition facing us to eat sweets and junk food in the next couple of weeks will be at an all-time high! 

Platters of homemade cookies and candies will be suddenly and unexpectedly delivered to our front door by kind and thoughtful neighbors. With just the ring of a doorbell we will have multiple temptations at our fingertips. 

The office break room will have large bowls of chocolate covered Chex mix, salted peanuts and pretzels; or lovely cheese balls surrounded by cocktail crackers and creamy spreads.

Spouses will bring gift baskets of specialty cheeses and salami home from work.

After all it’s December! It’s time for everyone to celebrate . . . there’s always January to mop up the messes!

The most carefully thought-through strategies will be challenged right now, big time.   

If we become apathetic and passive anytime in the next couple of weeks, our best intentions will get bulldozed over. All the hard work and success up to this point will go straight down the drain. It happens all the time. 

One compromise will lead to two or three, and before one knows it the towel will be thrown in, high-nutrient foods will be replaced by disease-promoting foods, weight will be gained back, and poor health and suffering will abound once again.

So what does contending look like?

Yesterday three containers of a variety of Christmas cookies were delivered to our home. I was caught totally off-guard. I hadn’t planned for the sudden deposit of decadent treats. At first I ignored them. However, curiosity got the best of me, and eventually I opened the lids for a peak. Then I snuck a taste test. Instantly I knew I was in hot water and flirting with danger if I didn’t stop immediately. 

In northeastern Indiana yesterday we had below freezing temps. The sun was hiding beneath bleak skies and the landscape had turned gray. I had a table full of clean laundry to fold and a stack of shirts to iron. BUT I knew I had to contend. I had to fight. I quickly bundled up in my winter coat, threw on some gloves, snapped on a helmet, and hopped on my bike. I pedaled into a rural, adjoining county for a twenty-mile ride. My nose dripped and my eyes watered from the bone chilling air, but I had to ride away from the temptations in order to devise a specific plan of action. 

By the time I returned home I was fine. The fresh air had cleaned out the cobwebs in my brain and I had a practical strategy in place. (Btw, I still got the laundry folded, the shirts ironed, and I even had time to go to the grocery and stock up on my favorite vegetables and fruits for the days ahead.) 

I struggled and contended with the sudden opposition until I achieved victory.

That’s what it means to contend and earn great health; one victory at a time.

 

The holidays provide ample opportunity for extra practice that is so necessary for a lifetime of success. Let’s all get in the habit of contending for excellent health, because it’s not a matter of if temptations will come, but when.

If we can successfully overcome temptations during the holidays, we can be victorious anytime! 

How about you?

Are you contending?

 

 

image credit:  cookies by Esther Boller; cheese by flickr D.A.K. Photography

Slaying the Sugary Beast

Dr. KlaperAs a continuation of the Six Week Holiday Challenge series, Michael Klaper, M.D., will be sharing helpful and eye-opening insights into the health damaging effects of sweets on our bodies. Dr. Klaper assists in answering questions on the Ask the Doctor forum of DrFuhrman.com, and is currently on the staff at the nutritionally-based True North Health Clinic in Santa Rosa, California. Welcome to Disease Proof, Dr. Klaper. 

 

There you are, having waded into the Holiday Eating Scene and finding yourself knee deep in Temptation City. Platters of chocolate chip cookies, lovingly-baked and fresh from the oven, coyly call to you. Servings of sherbet shimmer seductively. The creamy pie looks especially good tonight. How do you fortify yourself against these pitfalls? 

Now, I wish that I could say that if you eat a clove of raw garlic in the morning and wear a rutabaga around your neck all day, you will never be tempted by sugary desserts. (Come to think of it, if you eat garlic in the morning and wear a rutabaga around your neck, you probably won’t be getting many party invitations, anyway, so it might not be such a bad strategy after all!)

But, seriously, I have been cursed with one of the most voracious sweet tooths (is the plural of “sweet tooth” really “sweet teeth?”) in history. Until my nutritional understanding grew to a point when most sugary treats just no longer seem as appetizing to me, any dark chocolate bar or vegan cookie within arm’s reach of me was in mortal danger. Yet, they are safe in my presence now. What has armed me with such fortitude? Why don’t I eat the cookies and the devil’s food cake this year? Because I know what they are!

To arm oneself with this sword of knowledge, a little sweet chemistry understanding is called for. Sugars do taste good, and there is no problem in enjoying the naturally occurring fructose in whole, fresh fruits. The problem is in eating sugar as a food! When you are holding a cookie in your hand, a piece of cake, a candy bar, you are holding a chunk of sugar in your hand. You would not consider going over to the sugar bowl and shoveling tablespoons of the white stuff into your mouth, but here you are, actually considering eating this large chunk of sugar as a food.

If you do eat it, within minutes, your bloodstream is flooded with sugar. Soon, the structural proteins in all your tissues – the elastic fibers of your skin, the hemoglobin in your blood, the filter membranes in your kidneys, the inner lining of your blood vessels, the lenses of your eyes – all get “sticky” with sugar (the chemists say they become “glycosylated.”) In the 98.6 F metabolic “oven” of our body, the sugars and proteins melt together and oxidize, like the browning of bread crust (called the “Maillard reaction.”) These oxidized, damaged, and congealed proteins, officially called “Advanced Glycation End Products” do not function normally – the gummed-up, oxidized protein fibers break, skin cracks in the sunlight, eyes become less permeable to light, muscle proteins do not contract as vigorously, brain function dwindles – sound familiar? The aging process perhaps? EATING SUGAR AGES US!  (Remember, the acronym for "Advanced Glycation End Products" is AGE's!)

 

So, as my eyes fall upon the plate of cookies or candy, I actually flash the image in my mind of myself eating it, and simultaneously think, “This is a chunk of sugar in my hand. This stuff ages me. It makes my skin crack, my arteries stiff, and it leads me towards frailty and Alzheimer’s disease. Do I really want to eat it? Is it really worth it?”

I also know, after having indulged far too many times in the same, sugary seduction, that I am always physically sorry after I eat it. That is, it is guaranteed that within 15 minutes of eating the cake or candy, I will have that sickly, light-headed, slightly nauseated “I can’t believe I just ate all that sugar” feeling coursing through my body.

Nope. Not this time.

“Been there. Done that. Got the tissue aging. Don’t need to do that no more…”

It is said, “The truth shall set you free” - and the truth is, whether mixed with fat, as in ice cream, or baked into pies, candies and cakes, or dissolved in soft drinks, refined sugars are sweet poison. Like the poisoned apple in Sleeping Beauty, sugary treats taste good upon the tongue, but silently and relentlessly, they damage us.

Fortunately, if you look around, there is usually a safer, more wholesome way to appease your sweet tooth. There is most always fruit available at festive gatherings - but to make sure, bring some grapes or melon chunks in a discrete plastic container to munch on instead of the sugary seducers. (Of course, eating a hearty, ETL-style meal at home before you go out to party will make you less likely to nibble on handy but unhealthy treats while you are there.)

It also helps to remember that temptation is usually place-specific; that is, while the visual cue is right in front of you. I know that if I move away from the site of temptation and actively do something else for 5 minutes, my mind lets the sugary treat go to focus on the current conversation or task in front of me. I know that if I keep walking past the bakery or the sweets table at the party, the sights, smells and temptations will fade away in a few minutes. So, at the festivities, move to a different part of the room, have some of the food or trail mix you brought with you, strike up a conversation with an interesting person, and let your mind move on to something less detrimental to your health.

An especially powerful strategy that worked for me recently was to understand the power of commitment and abstinence. (I know what you are thinking, “Uh-oh, here comes the dreary part.” But read on; this turns out to be a joyful, empowering strategy.)

It began at the end of a talk given by Rory Freedman, author of Skinny Bitch. She said, “If you can do without a seductive food for a month, you will seriously reduce, or eliminate altogether, your desire for that substance. So, turn to the person next to you, lock pinky fingers with him or her, and both of you vow to help the other overcome their next food stumbling block over the next month.” The person to my left was Ann Wheat, co-owner of the Millennium restaurant in San Francisco, and without hesitation, we both locked pinkies and said, “Let’s both stop eating sugar!”

From that point on, we were “pinky buddies” - and whenever I would be tempted by a chocolate treat or piece of vegan devil’s food cake, I would think of Ann’s smiling face and earnest effort and say, “No, I’m going to stay strong because I know I will be talking to Ann soon, and I don’t want to let her – or me – down."

So, the month went by with this simple commitment steeling me through each moment of temptation. As the weeks sped by, my viewing of chocolate – and my desire for it – significantly changed. I saw it for the fatty chunk of congealed sugar that it is, and I lost my desire to eat it. Tastes certainly do change! So, another way to make your “sword” even more powerful is to make it through a month without eating your “problem” food, and see if you don’t feel less driven to eat it after that time.

Finally, if you do find yourself absolutely unable to resist tasting a given treat, and you do have a bite or a whole cookie, don’t panic, don’t regard yourself as a failure – and above all, don’t say, “Well, I’ve blown it now, so I might as well eat every bad thing in sight.” Rather, make it a reinforcing learning experience. Yes, you put it in your mouth and are eating it. So, taste it for what it is – congealed sugar on your tongue. Then say, “Yep, that tastes like the chunk of sugar I knew it was and I don’t want to eat any more of it.” It is OK not to finish the piece of cake or eat the entire gooey chocolate caramel. No penalty for that confirmatory bite – just fully taste it, decide you got the taste sensation you came for, and that you don’t need to eat any more of it. Put it down, find a healthier ETL alternative, and rejoice in your inner fortitude.

As you demonstrate this power to yourself over and over, you will find yourself to be like the mighty lion or lioness, who, as they stride through the forest, are not distracted by the frogs of temptation that croak at them from under the leaves.

Happy, healthy holidays!

 

 

 

 

Let's Change Halloween

OK. I know Halloween is a really fun holiday for the younger generation, teens included, but I, as a parent, can't stand it. It is the one holiday that promotes ill-health and practically every parent/adult I know goes along with it. It is not a holiday for our children; oh no, don't kid yourself. It is a holiday for the candy industry.  Do our children really benefit from a holiday where they are given junk that is bad for their health, their psychology, their emotions? Very few understand the serious consequences to our childrens' health from this.  And, they don't just have one treat, they go home with a huge stash of brain-damaging, cancer-causing junk that lasts for weeks or months.  

I don't get it--I do get all the propaganda about Halloween. Many corporations benefit from it, like Party City for example. What I don't get is the public going along with it. I buy small, inexpensive toys to give out and the kids love it. That makes me feel better. But I can't stand seeing the aisles and aisles of candy being sold in the supermarkets and in bowls in professional offices you visit. Our country, in promoting this junk food day is promoting ill-health and if there is one thing I know, the fattening of America is getting worse and worse.  Should we really be exploiting our children and sacrificing their future to benefit the junk food industry?  

Let's make Halloween treats healthy! Give out healthy treats or toys. I know raisins don't compare to a Snickers bar, but it may stop your child from having a sugar-high tantrum that night!  We need to start changing the way we act with our children, as a nation and individually, if we are really going to help them to a healthy future.

What are you doing with your family on Halloween?  Are you going along with this insanity or not?

Children Eating Sweets Daily Linked to Violence

Children who eat sweets and chocolate every day are more likely to become violent adults according to UK researchers.

The Cardiff University study involving 17,500 people is the first study to look into effects of childhood diet on adult violence. It found 10-year-olds who ate sweets daily were significantly more likely to have a violence conviction by age 34. The researchers found that 69% of the participants who were violent at the age of 34 had eaten sweets and chocolate nearly every day during childhood, compared to 42% who were non-violent.

The link remained even after controlling for other factors such as parenting behavior, location of where child lived, not having education after the age of 16 and whether or not they had access to a car when they were 34.

So not only does eating junk food in childhood increase the risk of adult cancers as stated in my book Disease Proof Your Child, there is now evidence that suggests eating sweets may contribute to sending your child to jail down the road. Interestingly, this link between violent behavior and sweets was better than the link between abusive parenting behaviors and violent crime. Parents need to know that giving their children sweets is dangerous for many reasons.

The study was reported in the British Journal of Psychiatry.

Spooktacular Ideas for a Healthy Halloween!!

My kids always look forward to Halloween, even though they don’t eat the candy (at least in front of me). They look forward to dressing up in costumes, being out with their friends, and staying up late on a school night.

I, on the other hand, I do not look forward to Halloween. I don’t like the focus on fear of ugly-looking creatures and giving of toxic items to children. (I don’t call the candy “treats” because they certainly aren’t nourishing.) The sad fact is that even normally well-behaved children can start acting crazy after consuming all the highly-sugared, chemicalized junk they get. And the disrupting behavior can last for as long as a month afterward.

So, I'm not a person who believes in letting eating choices turn my home into a war zone. Read my recent "War Zone" post on DiseaseProof. I believe in providing an education in healthful eating—and setting a good example! I keep unhealthful foods out of the house, and trust my kids to use their best judgment. Thankfully, we have figured out how to make Halloween a happy time for all of us, without joining in the candy craze. Here are some tips that have worked for us.

  1. Hand out inexpensive toys or gifts instead of candy. By setting this good example, perhaps a neighbor will pick up on the idea. Even if nobody follows your lead, you will feel good about your decision. Toys are perhaps a little more expensive than candy, but not much, and they definitely send a great message to both the kids and the parents.

    My children help choose what they think is cool. In recent years, we have been giving out glow-in-the-dark necklaces and bracelets*. The best thing about these toys is that they make kids safer in the dark because cars can see them when they are walking in the road. Kids say, “Wow!” or “Cool!” when they see the glowing gifts, so I know they love them. Plus, my kids are proud to hand them out. Now that my kids are older, they always remind me when it’s time to place my order (which is right around now). Other toys that we have purchased include small cans of Silly String, glow-in-the-dark animals, and glow-in-the-dark balls.
     
  2. Make your family's favorite dinner on Halloween night, including their favorite desserts. There are great healthy fall menu ideas in the Member Center recipe guide. With full stomachs, your kids will be less tempted to eat the junk they receive. You also can try the Halloween treat recipes in the September 2006 Healthy Times Newsletter, or have some delicious Pop'ems on hand from DrFuhrman.com.
     
  3. When the children come home, set a limit on how many candies they are allowed to eat. I suggest you allow them two pieces of candy, which they can pick out—and then discard or give away the rest. We let our children pick one or two candies to eat. Most of the time they only take a bite or two before tossing the rest out. Our youngest, Sean, has no desire to even taste the stuff, because as he explains, "I don't eat junk food." Luckily for us, he is too finicky to try anything new. He rejects anything he is not accustomed to.
     
  4. Some people find it easiest to throw out all the candy after the children go to sleep. Little ones probably won't even remember it once it's gone, and getting rid of it eliminates temptation for the adults in the house.
     
  5. Life is full of compromises— and this day will pass! I believe that with a little advance planning you can ensure that your children will have a good time and not be tempted to hide or sneak candy. Plus, you will be happier knowing that they will be eating a lot less candy this year than they did last year.

That's a good start!

Find more great tips on feeding kids right and how detrimental it can be if you don't!
Read Dr. Fuhrman's Disease Proof Your Child.

*Glow Stick Factory (American made glow products often at half the price of imports) http://www.glowstickfactory.com

Watch Out for Vampire Easter Bunnies!

If Peter Cocktail comes hopping along today, don’t worry. The worst he’ll do is leave a few pellets on your carpet, but should you encounter any vampire rabbits. Quick, lock the refrigerator and hide your tomatoes. If not, Bunnicula will suck them dry:

 

 

Oh, and if you’re fighting the urge to sink your fangs into some Easter treats. Satisfy your bloodlust with this candy carnage. See what happens when marshmallow Peeps meet the microwave and Cadbury Crème Eggs fall on mousetraps. It’s gruesome.

Via Diet-Blog.

Image credit: muzikman74

Times are Tough, So Eat Pasta?

We all know the economy is bad right now. People are pinching pennies. And that’s why, despite the obvious recession, pasta-makers are experiencing growth. Apparently, total pasta consumption in the United States rose by 0.4% per volume and this doesn’t even include sales by mega-retailer Wal-Mart. Shoppers are buying more pasta because it’s cheap; the Associated Press explains.

No doubt, junk food producers love to hear this! Some companies have already started pushing unhealthy cheap food. Because previous reports indicate during a time of recession people are more likely to ditch healthy foods, such as fruits and vegetables, in favor of inexpensive stuff, like cereal and candy.

Okay, it’s not impossible to eat healthfully in these tough times. Just keep your eyes open. For example, every week I find all sorts of reduced price fruits and veggies. Hey, every little bit helps!

Via Fit Sugar.

Image credit: urtica

Slumping Economy, Slumping Diets

Okay, no matter what side of the political fence you fall on, we can all agree, the economy is in toilet. For most of us, money is tight. And according to experts, this spells trouble for the already horrible American diet. People might become more inclined to ditch healthier foods, like fruits, vegetables, whole grains and fish, for cheaper, horrible foods, such as fast food and cereal; Reuters explains.

And previous reports have claimed up-ticks in candy sales are directly related to recession. But, you can survive hard times healthfully, if you keep your eyes open! You can find plenty of great, reduced priced produce at most supermarkets and farmers markets are a haven of affordable fruits and veggies.