Wednesday, March 11, 2015

WELLNESS WEDNESDAYS: Fifty Shades of Sugar Part 3

"Sugar is not love."  

             --Kathleen DesMaisons, Ph.D., from Little Sugar Addicts

I write a lot about sugar in my work to create solutions to the childhood obesity epidemic in America.  Whenever I give a talk to children or adults, I like to bring a teaching tool such as a bottle of soda or juice to illustrate the lessons. 

Image result for picture of pop tarts
Pop Tarts contain 4 OR MORE different sugars, including High Fructose Corn Syrup
Last weekend I had the pleasure of speaking at Healthy Start Coalition of Indian River County’s 2nd Annual “You are Worth More than Gold” seminar.  I asked for 2 volunteers and got a 10 year old and a 12 year old to help me. I asked the girls to pick one of the items I had on the table and they went straight to the box of Pop Tarts.  What followed were powerful lessons for the adults and the children, as I asked questions of the girls and empowered their voices by giving them the microphone.  “Why did you pick the Pop Tarts?”  I asked.  The 10 year old answered, “Because that’s what all the kids eat.”  “Look at the Nutrition Facts label and tell everyone what a serving size is,” I asked.  She looked at the label and replied, “1 pastry.” I asked her to take a shiny silver package out of the box and open it, which she did.  I put the microphone in front of her and asked her to tell the audience how many pastries were inside the package.  “Two,” she said.  “When you or your friends have a Pop Tart, do you eat just one pastry out the package or two?” I asked her.  She replied, “Two, of course!”  The girls and I then proceeded with the math lesson, multiplying everything on the label by 2, since the label applied to just one pastry. 

Here is what they found in one package (2 pastries) of Pop Tarts:

  • 400 calories, not 200
  • 340 grams of sodium, not 170
  • 76 grams of carbohydrates, not 38 grams
  • 4 different sugars
  • 2 different food dyes

As I have previously written in 50 Shades of Sugar, when food manufacturers use different kinds of sugar in a product, the sugar can be hidden within the ingredients.  The fact is that if all sugars were combined and listed as just “sugar”, then sugar would be the first ingredient on many processed foods marketed to kids.  Heck, who are we kidding – adults are sucked into the Pop Tart scam as well. Ingredients are listed by quantity, so what you see listed first is the ingredient there is the most of. 

REAL FOOD LESSON #1:  Look on the ingredients of processed foods AND drinks (think “box”, “can”, or “bottle”) for HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP.  This highly processed sugar is highly addictive and harmful to children.  Stop buying any food or drink that contains high fructose corn syrup. 

Become a nutrition detective.  This simple change can help you (and the kids) stay, or get to, a healthy weight.  It can also help you (and the kids) enjoy good moods because eating too much processed sugar is a major contributor to bad moods due to extreme fluctuations in your blood sugar. 

For more facts about why eating less sugar is a very good thing to do, please listen to my recent "Pop Up Health" with Nancy Heinrich interview on WAXE 107.9FM/1370 AM with Chef Michael Glatz from La Patissiere in Vero Beach, Florida, then click here.

With love and gratitude,
Nancy Heinrich

Founder of the Growing Healthy Kids Project