The Great Sugar Debate: How Much is Too Much?

I’ve heard this topic mentioned 3 times in the last month; 3 being the magic number. So I have my ears perked up and I’m ready to listen to both sides of the sugar debate.

Sugar is definitely my weakness when it comes to food. However, I have cut down and cut out probably half of the sugar that I ate a year ago. And I do notice a difference! I’ve lost weight, I have a greater sensitivity towards sweet foods and I feel better overall.

I read a health magazine that says “women should not eat more than 6 teaspoons of sugar a day.” What?? Only 6 teaspoons! That’s like my breakfast and coffee, and nothing else! I’m not there yet. And besides knowing that healthy low sugar foods cost twice as much does not help my conservative food budget either.

Here’s another sugar fact from a Rite Aid Wellness newsletter:

The average American consumes more than 22 teaspoons, or 355 calories, of added sugars per day. That means sugars that are put into the foods you eat, rather than those that occur naturally in fruits, vegetables, and other unprocessed products.

Eating excessive amounts of sugar can lead to more than weight gain; it can also have an adverse affect on your heart, fluctuate cholesterol levels, and diabetic symptoms as well as tooth decay.

Here is what you need to look for on food labels (get in the mindset of reading food labels ALL THE TIME):

  • Cane juice or syrup
  • Corn sweetener or syrup
  • Dextrose, fructose, or glucose
  • Lactose or maltose
  • Molasses

Sugar that comes from natural fruits is just a bit better than its processed counterpart, but anything in excess can be bad for you.  Women should limit themselves to 25g or 100 calories a day from sugar while men should opt for 37g or 150 calories a day. 1 gram equals about 4 calories, so skip on the colas, sweet teas (like I did), juice boxes, and that convenience store energy bar – they all contain too much sugar for you.

Add more whole grains, whole wheat flour, dried fruits and bite-sized veggies to your daily food intake to stave off the sugar cravings. Because the more sugar you eat, the more you want to eat and you know where that will take you, right?

What is 1 type of sugary food that you have given up or would like to eat less of? Let’s build a list and make a pact to decrease our intake of it. I have excluded bottled sweetened teas and instead carry a 24oz stainless steel bottle of unsweetened green iced tea with me now.

Grandmother’s Cupboard Can Alleviate Common Cold Symptoms

Herbal Remedies May Not Be the Cure for the Common Cold,
But Often Work Better Than Pre-Packaged Cold Meds

There’s more than prunes, oatmeal and canned tomatoes in your grandmother’s cupboard. Grandmothers really do know best when it comes to alleviating coughs, sniffles, teary eyes and headaches caused by the notorious common cold.

I remember my grandmother (God, rest her soul) giving my father a shot of whiskey to cure a coughing spell he had once. Although his eyes got red and watery, the coughing did stop. I have tried the whiskey cure before for sore throats and dry coughs, and it has helped; I do recommend having something in your stomach before throwing a whiskey shot back though! My grandparents did not spend much on going to the doctor when they got a cold because most of their symptoms could be alleviated with herbs and veggies right from their garden or from a nearby market.

Antibiotics do cure the common cold, and even your doctor will tell you this; however, a combination of garlic and Vitamin C taken at the first signs of a cold (you know that scratchy throat feeling or a migraine) can greatly reduce your symptoms as well as heal your body’s immune system naturally. Raw garlic acts like an antibiotic and does not have those funny feeling side effects like other decongestants and prescription antibiotics. Besides, our bodies are becoming more immune to lab-created antibiotics which won’t help our cold symptoms  or any other infection.

Herbal treatments and supplements are our best defense against the common cold. Have a few of the following in your cupboard for the next time you start feeling run down, have a scratchy throat or need a box of tissues for a runny nose. (Source: Natural Health, Nov. 2010)

Echinacea (ek a na sha) – Stimulates your body’s immune system. How to use: Buy as a liquid extract or capsule since the entire plant is both beneficial and medicinal to strengthen your immune system. Use five droppers of tincture (liquid) or 2 capsules at the onset of a cold, then 2 droppers or 2 capsules every 4 – 8 hours up to 24 hours. You make a hot tea with the liquid or add it to juice or water. If it’s too bitter add a little honey to sweeten.

Elderberry – This herb warms your body and has many anti-viral properties that reduce both flu and cold symptoms. How to use: Buy from a recognized natural health or whole foods store to find the best quality product. Follow the directions on the package at the onset of flu or cold symptoms. Can also be used in conjunction with other herbal supplements.

Garlic – Allicin (sounds like penicillin), the anti-bacterial compound forms in fresh raw garlic when it’s crushed, chopped or chewed and works similar to prescribed antibiotics, but without harming your immune system. How to use: Buy fresh garlic cloves, crush, slice, mince or chop and allow to sit for 10 minutes to maximize the allicin. Then eat or put on toast (do not toast with the garlic otherwise it will lose its strength). You can also swallow since you don’t have to chew it to receive its potent power. You can do this several times a day to get the most effectiveness and reduces your cold symptoms much more quickly.

Ginger – Similar to Elderberry, Ginger also raises your body temperature to fight off viruses, and it has anti-flammatory and immune fighting properties. How to use: Chop ginger root and let simmer in water to make ginger tea for 10 minutes, strain, and add lemon and honey to taste. You can also buy ginger tea bags and 1 tea bag is good for at least 3 cups of tea.

Licorice – Also packed full of anti-viral properties which help lessen your cold symptoms and boost your antibodies. Good for sore throats. How to use: Licorice tea is the best way to treat colds, and you’ll often find it mixed with herbs because of its potency. Not recommended for those who have high-blood pressure. Drink up to 3 cups of licorice tea daily throughout the duration of a cold.

Vitamin C – Works as an antioxidant and has additional antihistamine effects. Shortens the duration of cold symptoms if at least 1,000 mg is taken daily. How to use: Start with 1,000 mg/day at onset of symptoms. Some holistic health books even say you can take 1,000 mg/hr for 12 hours everyday until symptoms subside. Capsules or caplets work well, look for Vitamin C (without a supplement) or ascorbic acid.

Diving For Treasures in Unusual Places

Treasures can be found amongst dumpsters, garbage and curbside trash pickups too, like framed pictures, reusable throw rugs, bed frames, shelving, couches, kitchen tables and more.

I have a knack for finding used boxes whenever I move (and I move often too). Uhaul and moving companies will oftentimes “buy back” used moving boxes and offer them at a reduced price or even free sometimes for those who know to ask. However, I have found the best boxes in recycling dumpsters. Many businesses have a separate dumpster for boxes, and I find both flattened and unflattened boxes.

Other treasures can be found amongst dumpsters, garbage and curbside trash pickups too, like framed pictures, reusable throw rugs, bed frames, shelving, couches, kitchen tables and more. Fine Diving Chicago writes about Tips for Dumpster Diving and all the treasures that can be found in others’ garbage.

Curbside trash alerts are often posted on Yahoo groups’ Freecycle for your community. It’s pitiful that people would rather haul their junk to the curb or the dumpster than call their city’s Salvation Army, Goodwill or other charitable organization to come pick it up for free.

We need to reduce the garbage and landfill, not add to it. So think twice before throwing away something that still has another life some place else.

#Green #Building: Recycled Homes Receive the Green Stamp of Approval

Recycled homes are good for the environment, neighborhoods and foster a real sense of belonging among those who choose to live in these communities.

I have never owned a home before. I did go through the lengthy process once, but the terms were not suitable to my liking.

Since I have become more interested in green building and architecture as well as reducing my carbon footprint, building a home from reclaimed materials or recycling cargo containers seems like the perfect fit for my budget.

Hearing about buildings and homes being torn down and thrown away makes me a little sick to know that many of those materials can be reused for someone else. And that is the mission and goal of one nonprofit organization in North Carolina. Builders of Hope was established in 2006 by Nancy Murray, who also works with a team of licensed staff contractors and volunteers to rebuild homes in Raleigh saving thousands of homes from filling up the state’s landfills.

Some have criticized saving dilapidated homes from being torn down; however, many more families want to know that the house they buy is helping the environment too by using recycled materials. Recycled homes are good for the environment, neighborhoods and foster a real sense of belonging among those who choose to live in these communities.

Get the full scoop on Builders of Hope from an article in Natural Home Magazine.

Worst #Fast #Food Restaurants For Your Health

I hope you know by now how dangerously unhealthy fast food is in America. You know, but you close your eyes when you bite into that 35 gram patty at the Golden Arches or the meat by-products or something like that from that South of the Border place (ok, so the company refuted these false claims, it is real meat, but it’sstill not healthy). Even though the King of Burgers advertises its Angus burger is pure 1/3 pound of beef, does it really look and taste like Uncle Steve’s grilled burgers on Labor Day? Yeah, that’s what I thought.

We can be some really stubborn self-indulged Americans when it comes to convenience and food, hence the name “fast food.”

Besides knowing that there is more fat (the bad kind) in one fast food burger (or chicken) from fast food restaurants in the US than any person would ever need in a week, there is also an unmentionable amount of dangerous toxins and preservatives too. Toxins = toxic. Preservatives = the stuff that keeps your body from decaying (Ewww!).

What fast food restaurants do you really need to avoid (well, all of them) and especially what menu items are the worst foods for you? Read the list and find what you’ve been feeding your body. Then go home and drink plenty of filtered (not bottled) water to wash it out of your system.

A Few of the Worst Fast Food Menu Items

Taco Bell – $2 meal deals (ack, that was my fave) – liquid sugar, 1 bag of chips with MSG and preservatives and something that they call a taco or burrito, is not meal sufficient.

KFC – Double Down sandwich – packed with 1,380 mg of sodium, bacon, cheese and squeezed between 2 pieces of chicken. KFC should have had EMT’s waiting in the parking lot for anyone who ordered this heart attack waiting to happen. What were they thinking of?

Worst Fast Food Restaurants in the US

Long John Silvers – everything is deep fried in fat…who gets to taste anything else, Hushpuppies included? Eating here makes you feel like you gained 20 pounds before you even leave the place. Just say “No” to this place.

Pizza Hut – many foodies and food bloggers have said that their pizza is one of the worst fast food choices ever. High fat cheese, high sodium sauce and pepperoni does not equate to any healthy food choices. That includes those crispy fried wings with sauce too. If you must go, order water to drink with lemon to fill yourself up, so you won’t eat so much and it will flush out our system sooner than later.

Carl Jr’s/Hardee’s – cheap eats is what you get as well as the quality. Hardee’s used to be somewhat like a decent fast food place for beef, but something about their food has never quite digested right with my family. Shakes are decent though (still high in fat).

White Castle – nostalgic, yes; heart healthy, no. I’m not even sure if the meat on that little dinner roll is really meat. It’s more like spam with chopped onions. It was once my son’s fave, but I think it must have been only face value. I feel queasy every time after I eat one of those “mini-burgers.” I wonder if they would taste better if made from soybeans?

Of course there are others, and if you have an un-favorite fast food restaurant, please share your thoughts! What do you think is the worst fast food menu choice?

Sources for the worst fast food and fast food restaurants of 2010

The Stir
Fast Food Reviewed

Suggested healthy reads about unhealthy food choices

Pop Culture Class Blog (lots of good links/sources for feeding a fat nation)