THE REALITIES OF SUGAR AND THE HEALTHY VEGAN BAKING CRAZE
Sorry that I've been in communicado for the past 5 days. I've missed you and I'm excited to be back. I took a girls' trip, just me and my two daughters, to a big Northeast Ohio indoor water park/hotel called Kalahari. While I was there I had more time to myself than I've had in years, just me and my laptop, surfing the net, while my daughters were having a ball in the lazy river. Me? I'm not the biggest fan of public water.
I had time to think. And mull some stuff over. And it wasn't lost on me that the majority of the patron's of said water park were overweight. No, not overweight. Obese. Call in "The Biggest Loser" on NBC obese.
That kinda thing gets my heart breakin' and my brain workin'. Just what the heck is going on here? No one wants to carry around extra weight, I'm totally convinced of that!
It took some serious creativity on my part to find food at this place that would even remotely qualify as plant strong. We did our best, it wasn't my most proud food moment. But we were there for the fun, not the food, and the time away to think . . .
One thing I've been thinking a lot about lately is what appears to me to be an Internet phenomenon: "Healthy" Vegan Baking and Raw Vegan Desserts. Simply put, I'm very confused by this phenomenon. We've got all of these seemingly healthy, mostly women, bloggers spending countless numbers of hours concocting, photographing and writing about baked or raw, rich and sweet goodies. All in the name of good health.
It's very easy for someone like me, someone with a sugar addiction, to get sucked in by the promises of "healthy" desserts. Here's what really went on in my mind, "Maybe that's where I've been wrong all along . . . my sweets weren't the healthy sweets, they were the run-of-the-mill old fashioned kind . . . maybe that's why I have this extra weight. If only I had been eating these raw or vegan treats all along I wouldn't have gotten fat in the first place. I should start making lots of raw and vegan goodies instead."
But it didn't work like that at all. Raw and vegan desserts packed on the pounds just like the old-fashioned kind of desserts did. I was puzzled. How do the raw/vegan dessert bloggers "indulge" in these treats (yes, they are "treats," because even though they are made from many wholesome ingredients, they are still very high in calories and not at all necessary for human survival!) in what appears to be a regular fashion and not get fat? Or are they making all of this food just for show and not actually consuming it themselves? Pawning all of the baked goods off on some unsuspecting coworkers or family members (munching by proxy)? Are they eating these treats every day, as it appears from their blogs, and maintaining their svelte figures? What is going on here?
Then, as if right on cue, Debby at Happy Healthy Long Life did a very interesting blog posting about sugar. More specifically, the evils of sugar. I certainly recommend reading her post here if you haven't already. I did, 'cause you know I love me some sugar. And like I said, I had a lot of time to myself on this vacation.
I had the time to watch Dr. Robert H. Lustig's 90 minute YouTube video (I did fall asleep once in the middle, but then picked up again the next day), which Debby turned me on to and which I have embedded below. If your food issue isn't somehow connected with the over consumption of sugar or sugar+fat, you are officially excused from this post. But if you, or someone you love, can't put down the cookie, this is worth your while.
"A high sugar diet is a high fat diet."
Yes, that's what Dr. Lustig said. But I was confused. I thought a calorie is a calorie is a calorie and it's a simple equation of calories in and calories out? Don't tell me now that my favorite calorie, the sugar calorie, is even worse for me than I had ever imagined!
Yep folks, it just might be the worst thing that you can feed your body. Eat sugar, get fat.
Dr. Lustig argues, very specifically and scientifically, that fructose (the sugar in fruit, refined sugar, high fructose corn syrup and yes, the healthy blogger's beloved agave syrup) causes obesity. He details out how the body metabolizes fructose in a very unusual way, by turning it directly into stored body fat. Not only that, sugar overrides the body's natural hunger regulation signals, so when you consume sugar your body sends off signals that it is hungry even though it has plenty of calories to burn.
Yuck. A vicious cycle of consumption, weight gain and, inevitably, disease. Sugar turns into fat and makes you want to eat more food? Kinda explains how I got fat to begin with, doesn't it?
Luckily for us, this is not the case when the fructose is consumed with fiber, the way nature packaged it--in real fruit (not fruit roll ups). Fruit juice=really, really bad. Whole fruit=safe. Here, you can watch the whole thing if you've got 90 minutes and you're not sleepy:
I know what you are thinking. Moderation. Yes! Moderation! All of these "healthy" treats the bloggers post about are being consumed in moderation. Perhaps they are. But somehow I suspect that if you are here reading my blog, moderation is not your strong suit. So what's a sugar addict to do?
The only thing we really can do, I say. Educate. Yourself. You know that 90 minute video embedded above? Watch it. It just may be the thing you need to see today.