Are you addicted to sugar? Is sugar a toxin? Do certain foods make you fat?
Is Sugar Toxic?
Are you scared? You should be. Or should you? As a registered dietitian nutritionist, I am not afraid of food. I know what to eat and how much to eat to be healthy. I am not here to discuss the inaccuracies of the documentary Fed Up. To clear up the misinformation, the International Food Information Council Foundation (IFIC) wrote a six-page commentary, which can be viewed here.
I am concerned about the kids. As someone, who helps kids lose weight, it was heart-wrenching to see the children in Fed Up struggle with excess weight. When I started my private practice 25 years ago, kids needed to lose 10-20 pounds. Now it is common to see kids with an extra 50-100 pounds.
Who and what is to blame? There are two sides to every story. I would like to offer my solution to the problem. Parents want their children to lose weight, but very few of them want to pay for it. When parents are told my services probably aren’t covered by their insurance, I usually don’t hear back from them.
For over 20 years I have been saying that if insurance companies had been better about reimbursing the services of registered dietitian nutritionists, we would not have the current obesity “epidemic”. We are the nation’s leading nutrition experts, and it’s all about prevention. We offer accurate, science-based nutrition, along with accountability, support, encouragement, and inspiration. No gimmicks. No special interests.
There will always be food manufacturers to tempt you with mouth-watering goodies to increase their profits. There will always government policies that may not have your best interests in mind. BUT armed with the right information, you have the power to make the right choices. You can choose NOT to buy high-sugar, high-fat, or high-sodium foods. You can balance your meals and limit the calories. Diets don’t work. It’s more about living a healthy lifestyle with plenty of fruits and vegetables and incorporating physical activity.
Is it really necessary to avoid all sugar, as suggested in Fed Up? No. There are 4 calories in a gram of sugar. If a food has 4 grams of sugar, that’s only 16 calories. Moderation is the key. On the other hand, lead and arsenic are toxic and should be avoided. Are you willing to never eat a box of whole grain cereal, a can of tuna, or a glass of wine in order to avoid processed food? After working all day, is opening a jar of pasta sauce for dinner the end of the world? Let’s be realistic and practical. Can you eat fewer cookies, cakes, and chips? Probably.
Obesity is a complicated issue. Overall, if I were to fault only one thing, it would be big portions. When I grew up, a bottle of soda was a treat on Saturday nights. Today, there are bountiful amounts of high-calorie treats on a daily basis. To a certain extent in the war against obesity, it’s not what you eat – it’s how much you eat that matters the most. Knowledge through nutrition education is crucial.
Problems don’t magically disappear. To be effective, everyone needs to take action, including kids, parents, schools, communities, the food industry, and the government. Are you willing to eat smaller portions? Walk every day? Write congress to stop marketing unhealthy foods to children? Call your insurance company for dietitian coverage?
Registered dietitian nutritionists have to be used to their fullest capacity in schools, industry, government, and wherever decisions are made about food and nutrition to protect our children’s health and to make a difference.
Are you Fed Up? What are you going to do about it?
Disclaimer: I consumed and enjoyed chocolate while writing my comments.