Friday, April 16, 2010

Artificial Sweeteners: Blue, Pink, and Yellow Packets

When I was little, treats or “sugars” in the house were sparse. When they were available all the siblings kept an eye on them to make sure whatever it was-it was evenly distributed. Over time, these sugar products became inexpensive and have infiltrated our homes. We have traded healthy snacks for desserts three plus times per day. And we got bigger and now obese. As smart Americans, we found a way to have this same sweet taste without the calories or sugar spikes that real sugar has. Yep, out of the production lines came diet drinks and those colorful packets-the artificial sweeteners.

We really have enjoyed them. But, as a society, did we get smaller and lose weight with these products? No. In fact, we have gotten bigger and many Americans are not only obese; but more and more Americans are now morbidly obese. Why is that? It’s because we crave the taste of it, not the calories. We crave tasting the sweet stuff. Thus, the more of the sweet taste, the more we crave.

No matter what it is, a diet drink or a coffee with artificial sweetener in it, once we have it – it turns on our craving for more…and the mental agony for the day starts. About every 2 hours or so you are not hungry; but, you physically feel you need something to feel better – or stop your craving. So you feed your withdrawal symptoms so you can go back to work and concentrate on what you were doing. You might get a pretzel, grab a small handful of M&Ms off someone’s desk, pop a peppermint in your mouth, snack on some popcorn, or consume anything that is a simple carbohydrate or sugar to get the craving gone….only to have it again 2 hours later. And each time you complete the mindless nibbling or increased consumption of simple carbs and sugars you are disappointed in yourself and don’t understand why you did it….because after you have fed the craving the urge or craving is resolved and you can once again think rationally. How could you have let yourself do that?

It’s simple. We do not recommend diet drinks, artificial sweeteners or simple sugars. Once you begin consuming these substances the battle begins. You have turned on the craving for the day and for the most part…you will fight it all day long. So avoid the battle, avoid the addiction…concentrate on lean protein and fruits and vegetables at each of your meals and for your snacks. Stay Healthy from the beginning of your day to the end.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Chocolate Bunnies for Easter?

Happy Easter! For many of you this means going to church to celebrate the meaning of Easter as well as carrying on some of the Easter traditions. Which include eating candy and chocolate bunnies. There is so much information about dark chocolate and it’s benefits that many of the patients we see tell us ….“I have been eating my dark chocolate. You know, it is healthy for you.”

Well, it is true, dark chocolate is a rich source of antioxidants (containing more than milk or white chocolate), and the fat present in dark chocolate is metabolically neutral. Studies have demonstrated a small amount of dark chocolate everyday can reduce blood pressure in individuals with high blood pressure and can reduce LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol) by up to 10 percent.

Other benefits of dark chocolate aside from protecting your heart include:

  • It stimulates endorphin (happy hormone) production.

  • It contains serotonin, which acts as an anti-depressant.

  • It tastes good.

BUT, this isn’t a free pass to eat all the dark chocolate you can get your hands on. Chocolate is a high calorie, high fat food. Most of the studies done use 3.5 ounces of dark chocolate or less per day to get these benefits. If you are eating dark chocolate and telling yourself it is healthy; while at the same time, gaining 10 pounds, become pre-diabetic, and gaining abdominal fat (bigger waistline)-you aren’t being honest with yourself and you are hurting your own health. Also, if you are addicted to sugar; this keeps you craving for more sugar (see Curbing Your Sweet Tooth).

One bar of dark chocolate can contain up to 400 calories. If you eat half the bar of dark chocolate for the day you still have to balance out those extra 200 calories by eating less of something else.

It’s like life-everything in moderation. Enjoy the present pleasures in such a way that you do not injure future opportunities.

Happy Easter everyone! Hope you spend the day filling up your souls and keeping your body on the healthy track.