Halloween treats can quickly remind us of the impact of too much sugar. Hyper-stimulation, irritability, mood swings, fatigue, headaches, stomach aches and lowered resilience to infections, to name a few.
But it’s not just the sugar in the candy that can be causing Halloween distress!
Have a quick look at the ingredients in a Snickers Bar: milk chocolate (sugar, cocoa butter, chocolate, skimmed milk, lactose, milkfat, soy lecithin, artificial flavor), peanuts, corn syrup, sugar, skimmed milk, butter, partially hydrogenated soybean oil, lactose (a milk product), salt, egg whites and artificial flavor.
And another favorite, the Tootsie Roll: Sugar, corn syrup, partially hydrogenated soybean oil, condensed skim milk, cocoa, whey, soy lecithin, artificial and natural flavors.
Did you have any idea that there are DAIRY and EGG products in these candies?
What’s even more concerning, and this is the topic I’d like to highlight, is High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS).
Created as a way to achieve optimal sweetness at the least expense, HFCS has become the most common sweetner (replacing sugar or sucrose) in most processed and packaged products, and especially candies and beverages.
While HFCS is considered “safe” by the FDA, scientists have shown that rates of obesity, cardiovascular disease and diabetes are even higher for HFCA then for regular sugar.
Additionally, and I find this to be even less well-known, is that 30% of people are not able to absorp fructose from the digestive tract – a condition called Fructose Malabsorption.
That means that the fructose is basically stuck in the intestines where it pulls in liquid and creates digestive symptoms often considered to be IBS, such as diarrhea or constipation, bloating, gas, stomach pain, and even fatigue.
I’m one of those people!
I had always known that I didn’t feel well when I drank a glass of juice, but now I know why. Last year I tested myself for frutose malabsorption and came up postive.
First for Women Magazine published an article about my story in a May 2011 issue (photo above). Click here to read the article.
The rest of you are not off the hook, however! Even people without fructose malabsorption can only absorp 25-50 grams of fructose per sitting. So if you are not feeling so hot after some Halloween treats (or a glass of juice), fructose (or HFCS) may be at fault.
I wish I could say that was all. Unfortunately, it’s not.
Fructose turns into fat.
When I graduated from Oregon State University in 1994 with a bachelors in Nutrition, it was right about the time of the big push for “fat-free” foods. Americans were being told that decreasing fat intake would decrease obesity. I didn’t believe it.
Not only that but they were pushing a pyramid diet that included 6-11 servings of “breads and cereals” plus 5-9 servings of fruits and vegetables.
I crunched the numbers over and over, and it simply did not add up. It is impossible to lose weight by eating that many foods that contain carbohydrates.
I told every one of my clients that “fat-free” foods were the worst option, and the only way to decrease weight is to include (healthy) fats, along with protein, and to minimize carbohydrates to small amounts (preferably in the form of organic fruits, vegetables and high-fiber grains).
Now, 17 years later, science is beginning to show exactly what I predicted: “Fat-free” foods make you fat. To learn more, watch this video called Sugar: The Bitter Truth.
In fact, the rates of obesity and diabetes have soared since they released the food pyramid in 1992.
That is because “fat-free” foods contain carbs and corn syrup, all of which break down into glucose and fructose, which our bodies turn into fat (in the liver).
Glucose is processed through the liver, where it is either burned for energy (which is why exercise helps wtih weight loss), stored as fat, or turned into triglycerides and cholesterol.
Meanwhile 30% of fructose ends up as fat. Plus, fructose comes in without the brain knowing, so your brain doesn’t know you ate, and you’ll likely still feel hungry, if not hungrier (even though your fat cells are being filled up with fructose).
Now this doesn’t mean that you should start avoiding fruits and vegetables.
It simply means that if you need to lose weight – and if you have IBS symptoms – then put on your super vision goggles (that’s how I think of it) and search the labels on your favorite foods and beverages for fructose, HFCS, corn syrup and basically anything that ends with “ose.”
Because a high sugar diet is a high fat diet. Sugar, whether glucose or fructose, is converted to fat.
Furthermore, fructose can only be metabolized in the liver, and it leads to insulin resistance and high blood pressure, which basically means that it is a toxin for our bodies.
That is simply our biochemistry, and there is not a switch you can flip to change it.
So, the fastest way to lose weight and decrease bloating is to avoid the following:
- Cereals, muffins and donuts (even gluten free)
- Bread (most of which contains fructose)
- Alcohol (which is also converted to fat)
- Gatorade and other beverages that contain HFCS
As for the Halloween treats…If you are like me, after learning this information, you won’t be able to put the toxic stuff in your mouth. And I’m sure it is not what you want for your kids either.
This is how you become the person who hands out packages of carrots or stickers. (Ella tells me there is a TV show that jokes about becoming “that” person)
And when your child/children come home with bags of candy, give them a trade in offer for cash to spend on an item of their choice (that does not contain fructose).
Because while it may seem that “just one night of the year is not so bad”…”it’s just one piece of candy”…we all know well enough that one piece leads to the next and soon your brain will be craving it and not even knowing that you are eating it.
Now THAT is scary.
PS. To read my article from First for Women magazine – click here.