Eating right became important to me, especially as I had more children. I was comfortable eliminating partially hydrogenated vegetable oil and high fructose corn syrup from my family’s diet.
I had questions to answer. Was diet soda OK? What about the sweeteners? How much sugar was too much? And what about that jolt of caffeine when I was tired from a day of multi-tasking?
I did some research and I added a few more things to my list that I wanted to avoid in my healthy diet.
Do Not Eat This
1. Partially hydrogenated vegetable oils
2. High fructose corn syrup
3 Artificial sweeteners, diet sodas and regular sodas
4. Fruit Juices
6. Treats and sugar
7. White foods and white potatoes
9. Foods and plastic containers with obesogens
Artificial Sweeteners, Diet Sodas, and Regular Sodas
I stopped using any artificial sweeteners such as NutraSweet, Equal, and saccharin when I was pregnant with my first child. I didn’t want future medical research to discover that NutraSweet was the reason my daughter only had quintuplets every time she had children.
There are theories that aspartame stimulates your brain to make you crave even more sugar. Not exactly a winning strategy for eating right. I can use the low calorie item to ensure I want a greater quantity of real sugar. A 2004 study by Purdue researchers in the International Journal of Obesity found that artificial sweeteners may disrupt the body’s ability to count calories based on the food’s sweetness.
Diet drinks give your body sweetness, but do not offer any calories. Your confused body craves sugar even more as it looks for calories to go with the sweet taste of the diet soda. It is much easier to overeat as your body wants those additional calories.
To put it in uncomplicated terms, this study tells me that diet soda will make me fat. When I drink any kind of diet soda I am not nourishing my body with anything and may be making myself feel even hungrier. As for artificial sweeteners, I am still mildly paranoid about putting all those chemicals into my body. Eating right shouldn’t make me this nervous.
It was hard for me to understand the role of fruit juice, especially apple juice in eating right. Apple juice was so convenient. It was 100% juice. It came in little boxes with straws and pictures of fresh fruit and tractors. It took me a while to realize that tractors were on the box to help me feel as if the juice was “farm fresh”. My apple juice had 100% vitamin C and it sounded like a good choice to me.
In doing some homework, I learned that some people think juice makes you fat, and other people think it can be part of a healthy diet. At the end of the day, I tried to think of it in a simple, kindergarten way. What were the best calories to put into my body?
In sticking to my idea that my family’s food intake had to be nutritious, I personally decided that daily servings of apple juice along with cranberry juice cocktail and grape juice were not the best choice for eating right.
But what is there to drink? My vote is for water, sparkling water, milk and occasionally orange juice.
In my opinion and in the opinion of that extra twenty pounds I gained, granola is not a food found in my kindergarten kitchen. When I was in college in what seems like one hundred years ago, we had a salad bar containing a large bin of granola.
All the girls would pick through the granola to find the large, honey encrusted “chunks” of granola. Between the granola and my ice cream intake I gained five pounds in the first two weeks of school and went up from there.
Years after graduation, I put my college education to use and read the label of a granola bar box. I was eating the brand of granola bars that contained extra sugar and no vitamins. With life’s mystery solved, I realized that an important component of eating right is consuming calories packed with nutrition. So granola and granola bars are not one of my snack choices.
When I decided to avoid high fructose corn syrup and artificial sweeteners, I was unsure about what comprised a reasonable quantity of sugar consumption. After much research, I found this is a very difficult question about which everyone has an opinion. I still don’t have an answer, but I try to use some common sense with my sugar.
I realize people have learned how to live around plain, boring sugar for a long time and stay fit and healthy.
As a general guideline, I look for no more than six grams of sugar in my cereal, twelve grams of sugar in my power bar, and ten grams of sugar for anything else. Instead of eating foods with sugar, I gravitate towards food containing protein, dairy products, and fresh and frozen fruit with no sugar added.
I discovered my family really can survive without toaster pastries or chocolate sandwich cookies. Our eating right plan occasionally includes what we call a treat after dinner. We do not have dessert. The word dessert implies a reward for eating your meal.
I realize most people should be rewarded for eating my cooking, but I don’t want my family to expect sweet, junk-filled treats after every meal.
In eating right, we choose fresh fruit with our meals, and have the occasional after meal treat of ice cream or cookies.
I just don’t look that good in white. This includes white rice, white bread, white potatoes, and white sugar. These are foods that go straight to my abdomen and stay there. Or in my case, they also enjoy an extended stay on my hips. These foods contain very little nutrition and I can easily subsist without them, but it took some time for me to reach this conclusion.
The good news about the white food group is that it also includes rice cakes, which I actually believe were invented so people could feel like they were truly suffering in their quest to lose weight. When you see someone eating a rice cake, it is a signal to society that “I am on a diet, and you should avoid me because I feel hungry and deprived”. I want my family to eat food that is colorful and flavorful, not reminiscent of drywall.
Avoiding white foods and eating right also meant I had to stop pretending that french fries were a vegetable. I slowly admitted that greasy white french fries are loaded with artery clogging fat and I don’t want to give that to my family.
There are some theories that say that caffeine stimulates your appetite and I believe them. I have found that caffeine disrupts the precious few hours of sleep I get every night. But if my husband does not have his daily cup of coffee, my Prince Charming becomes Prince Grouchy. His body seems to handle the caffeine well, where as my body does not.
But when it comes to drinking Coca Cola or any other source of kid caffeine, I told my children that caffeine makes you short, which is why mommy is taller than daddy. I know that this will come back to haunt me someday soon.