This morning, I watched my children eat a breakfast of cheerios, apples, and toast with strawberry jam, as they engaged in their early morning routines of being silly at the table. A leftover cup of rice and beans from the night before awaited me in the fridge, and it and I embarked on our twelve day routine: Into the microwave for 1 minute, let cool for another minute, add spoon, begin culinary boredom.
At breakfast this morning, the taste of the last 33 meals I’ve consumed sat in my mind like the lumps of cold leftovers I put in the microwave every day. I turned to my five year old son, engaged him in the serious look only a Father and son can share, and spoke the words which will forever be etched on his soul:
The thrill is gone
The thrill is gone away
The thrill is gone baby
The thrill is gone away
It’s now a few hours later, and because of ADD, he’s probably already forgotten the immortal words of B.B. King spoken to him by me, but one thing is for sure: I’m singing the blues today because I am bored by rice and beans.
Just as nature abhors a vacuum, the 21st century mind hates monotony. But why? What programs me to not be grateful for warm, nutritious, fat free, high protein, and rich in fiber food? Am I such an addict to the entertainment of food that I can’t even focus on eating a simple meal on a regular basis? Is this a new form of ADD? Attention-Deficit Food Disorder? What is the 21st century diet doing to me?
According to a study published a few days ago in the Journal of Physiology, “what you eat affects how you think”. The author Fernando Gomez-Pinilla, a professor of neurosurgery at UCLA, administered high fructose corn syrup to rats and then tested their ability to navigate a maze. They were slower and showed less synapse activity (http://bit.ly/Hn0yKb). Sugar is officially scientifically shown to make us dumber.
The Corn Refiners Association, which benefits from the sale of High Fructose Corn Syrup, immediately came out and said fructose and glucose are completely safe for human beings. But they offered no studies to show that it was beneficial for human beings. The best that biggest beneficiaries of high fructose sweeteners could offer is to say that it’s “safe”. Isn’t this exactly what Big Tobacco said about smoking fifty years ago? The evidence is overwhelming that high fructose corn syrup is causing obesity, and obesity is causing death, so how is it safe? (http://bit.ly/d7wvnO).
In a world which knows that obesity and being overweight kills us, what better lab test is there than to see how people respond in a healthy way to the maze of food at the grocery store? Do people who consume unhealthy items choose the food which will save their lives, or do they choose the food which will eventually kill them? Let’s be honest about this. How much free will do we think we have?
Two years ago a study by The Scripps Research Institute showed that the same molecular mechanisms which drive people toward drug abuse and addiction are the same as those which push people to overeat and be overweight (http://bit.ly/dwOH5t). It’s about time that we come to our senses and realize what our senses have been telling us for years: Our diet is killing us. 3 billion people on the planet are suffering from the addictions and poor decision making of millions of us in our quest to have what we want. Like parents addicted to crack who spend their rent money on getting another fix, we’re trading our children’s futures for sodas, candy, and fried foods. Either we’re addicted, too dumb from sugar to notice, or both. But whichever it is, we have to make a change for our selves, for the sake of billions of people right now, and the billions to come in the future.
As of today, I’m 12 days sugar sober, and right now I’m having the clearest thoughts of my life: I want to be done being a dumb, bored, sugar addict. I hope to break through my culinary boredom to be fully grateful for rice and beans creating a community which has produced the change which I’ve needed my whole life. I look forward to allowing this change to join the change of others in a world revolution.
You can contribute to my own struggle here.
Thanks for the post and your commitment to this cause. I would caution that the evidence isn’t overwhelming that high-fructose corn syrup is the sole or even major cause of obesity and that it isn’t safe. I think a huge problem is our sedentary lifestyle made possible by the very computer I’m typing on. High Fructose and glucose is safe in the very same way alcohol is safe–moderate proportions (the problems is, it is in everything). For some people I guess it isn’t safe if they can’t handle the addiction it can have on your brain.
Paul, thanks for the response. But I’m going to have to disagree with you here. While you are right that sedentary lifestyle is a factor in causing obesity, it isn’t a major factor at all, and excerise is actually the least effective way to lose weight. Studies show that 90% of obesity is caused by diet, and only 10% by a sedentary lifestyle. And as much as I wish that HFCS and glucose are safe in a moderate amounts, the evidence that it can be taken moderately isn’t there. For instance, is cocaine safe in recreational amounts? Thousands of people take cocaine recreationally without overdosing or developing what they call a habit. But would we say it’s safe for that reason? Just because some people can moderately consume products with HFCS, does that mean it is safe to consume for all people? By 2030, over 70% of men in America are expected to be overweight or obese. Does that sound like a group of people who are behaving moderately in their eating habits? Here is a recent discussion about it: http://www.cnn.com/2012/04/27/health/soda-obesity/?hpt=hp_c2. Watch the video as well. Here’s the lecture which they’re talking about: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dBnniua6-oM.
I try to keep my mouth shut – I really do – but as a person who is still classified as being “obese” – and that’s after already losing somewhere near 100 lbs (when I was in the 300 lb range I stopped weighing, so I have no idea what my peak weight was) food is a topic I am immensely passionate about. One of my main passions, however, has to do with how much emphasis we put on WEIGHT and not on overall health. It used to be there was at least a modicum of truth to a thin person possibly being in better health than a heavy one, but these days, it’s just not true. Our OBSESSION with weight has led to just as many health crises in thin women as in overweight ones. Essentially, fat or thin, it’s nearly IMPOSSIBLE to find a truly HEALTHY woman these days. And while I am more aware of women’s health issues than men’s, I suspect the same is true of men as well. The bottom line is, our food is KILLING us, and it doesn’t really matter if your body deals with the toxins by storing them away in fat cells, or rejecting the toxins by having an allergic reaction to the food (making you unable to eat almost anything) – we’re all dying just as fast from our FOOD!
In any case, one of the things I want to point out is that there is a lot of “hype” about HFCS and how bad it is for you. While I ABSOLUTELY agree that HFCS is incredibly bad for us, and even more so because it’s in just about EVERYTHING. The problem is that when you focus on just the product alone, it gives us the ability to look past the REAL issue, which is not WHAT kind of sweetener is in all your food (HFCS or Sugar) but rather the AMOUNT of sugar carbohydrates it adds to your food. In other words, I now see sodas advertising that they are made with “real cane sugar” and people flock to buy them because the clever marketing geniuses have convinced us that the real danger is the TYPE of product being the issue and not the AMOUNT. In other words, sodas made with HFCS have 44 grams of sugar per 12 ounce can (and who drinks just a 12 ounce CAN of soda anymore?) that’s the equivalent of 11 teaspoons of sugar. And obviously a 20 bottle has nearly double that. The problem though, is that the soda made with cane sugar still has the same AMOUNT of sugar! It doesn’t really make a significant difference if you’re using HFCS or table sugar – 44 grams of sugar in a 12 ounce beverage is completely unacceptable – particularly when you add that in with all the additional sugar added into everything from yogurt (which used to be a “healthy” food) to “healthy” cereals like granola, to spaghetti sauce and ketchup. And it’s not just sodas either- even supposedly more “healthy” drinks like vitamin water still have approximately 35 grams of sugar carbohydrates in one bottle. They try to fool you by showing less carbohydrates on the nutrition label, but you have to look at the serving size. They consider one bottle to be 2.5 servings. While ounce for ounce that means Vitamin water has less sugar than a soda, 35 grams is still WAY too much sugar. The FDA recommends no more than 12 – 15 teaspoons a DAY. The point is, we have to stop buying the hype, the razzle-dazzle and the bait-and-switch of marketing companies out to sell a product. Our food – all of it – is saturated with sugar and sodium, and the SOURCE of it doesn’t matter nearly as much as the AMOUNT. Sugar is an addictive substance, and it doesn’t really matter if that sugar comes from corn or cane, it’s still just as addictive.