Make Healthy Treats in this Season of Sugar Overload
Recently, a major cookie company sought my business during The Season of Sugar Overload, as I call it.
Obviously, the firm didn’t realize that its snazzy, color photos of sugary, buttery, super-sweet concoctions would NOT appeal to me, a dedicated anti-sugar advocate since 1998, when I quit sugar on doctor’s orders.
Indeed, I feel so healthy, energetic and happy by staying sugar-free — as I have for the past 17 years — that easily abstain.
But what about the millions of people who also received this or another tempting catalog filled with sugar-filled “goodies” galore? Inevitably, many will succumb to the holiday marketing hype and order cookies.
But you, dear reader, need to know that continually loading up on sugary, carb-loaded junk can leave you feeling terrible and harm your long-term health.
But, wait. You can enjoy yourself this holiday season. And you indulge in yummy, health-supportive ways.
To show you how you can enjoy healthy, sugar-free treats, I’m sharing my recipe for Connie’s Sugar-Free, Gluten-Free, Coconut Cacao Nib Cookies.
This paleo-style recipe, sweetened with low-glycemic index stevia, won’t mess with your waistline or blood sugar levels.
Not only are these cookies gluten-free, nut-free and vegan, but this nourishing treat features superfoods such as coconut, which contains immune system-strengthening lauric acid and medium chain fatty acids, which keep your cardiovascular system strong.
Then, instead of sugary chocolate chips, Connie’s Clean Coconut Cacao Nib Cookies features a smattering of antioxidant-strong cacao nibs. (That’s basically raw, unprocessed, unsweetened chocolate.
Let me know how you and your family like them!
Connie’s Paleo Coconut Cacao Nib Cookies
Makes about 12
Rich with the immune-system-boosting benefits of coconut flour, coconut oil and cacao, this “Connie-approved” cookie is not only nourishing, but it’s delicious. Plus, you can eat one without worrying that it will set off a tsunami of rebound sugar cravings.
Thank to Michelle Obama’s crusade to combat children’s obesity, major food companies such as PepsiCo and Kraft Foods are changing their products.
She is, in fact, “defining defining her role as first lady by taking on the $600 billion food and beverage industries in a quest to end childhood obesity within a generation,” observes Kate Andersen Brower of Bloomberg Business Week, in an artticle entitled, “Michelle Obama’s ‘Spotlight’ on Obesity Enlists Kraft, PepsiCo.”
“Her lobbying of companies to make products healthier, labels easier to read and limit marketing of unhealthy foods to kids is paying off,” Brower observes.
A month after she began her campaign, “PepsiCo Inc., the world’s second-largest food and beverage company, pledged to stop selling full-sugar soft drinks in schools by 2012.” In addition, Kraft Foods Inc., the maker of Oreo cookies and Oscar Mayer lunch meats, jumped on board, announcing that it would further reduce the sodium content of its products..
Reporter Brower points out that the first lady’s efforts are part of a “movement to recast what the food industry is selling,” according to David Kessler, who was Food and Drug Administration commissioner from 1990 to 1997. “She puts the spotlight on the issue like few others can,” Kessler told Brower.
The American Beverage Association — which represents soda companies — has now joined Michelle Obama’s effort by running a national ad, which claims that the industry is committed to reducing beverage calories in schools by 88 percent.
Things started happening after a well-publicized meeting in Washington on March 16 when the first lady addressed members of the Grocery Manufacturers Association, which represents major food companies such as Kraft and PepsiCo. At that GMA meeting, Obama urged the companies to reduce sugar, fat and salt in their products and “to move faster and to go farther” to make them healthier.
The first lady has “accelerated our focus,” Kraft’s president of health and wellness, Rhonda Jordan, told the Bloomberg Business Week reporter Brower, who then quotes Patrick Basham, an adjunct scholar at the Cato Institute, a Washington-based research group that promotes libertarian policies.
Basham believes that the first lady’s anti-obesity efforts are “in sync with public skepticism about `the motives of big business’ in the wake of the deepest economic crisis since the Great Depression.” He also believes that the recent moves by the companies may be an effort to prevent government crackdown.
“The food industry is terrified of being either legislated out of business or so regulated they won’t be able to do what they want,” Basham told Brower.
What’s intriguing is that Michelle Obama became concerned about child nutrition for personal reasons.
She told audiences at a National PTA Conference in Arlington, Virginia, on March 10, that she got a “wakeup call” when her pediatrician voiced concern about her family’s eating habits.
While I applaud the first lady’s efforts, as always, no matter what changes the large food companies institute, I encourage people to reduce or even eliminate their consumption of processed foods.
Vegetables and fruits that come courtesy of Mother Nature are best for our bodies. Plus, they taste better — something you’ll discover after you cut back on processed carbs.
We just don’t need to consume large quantities of packaged foods that usually have been extensively processed, with sugar, fat and salt added.
Listen to what else CSPI discovered with advertising from food companies that
participate in the “self-regulatory program.”
Of 452 foods and
beverages that companies claim are acceptable to market to children, 267, or nearly 60 percent, do NOT meet CSPI’s recommended
nutrition standards for food marketing to children, such as General
Mills’ Cookie Crisp and Reese’s Puffs cereals, Kellogg Apple Jacks and
Cocoa Krispies cereals, Kellogg Rice Krispies Treats, Campbell’s
Goldfish crackers and SpaghettiOs, Kraft Macaroni & Cheese, and
many Unilever Popsicles.
“While industry self-regulation is providing some useful
benchmarks, it’s clearly not shielding children from junk food
advertising, on Nick and elsewhere,” said CSPI nutrition policy
director Margo G. Wootan.
“It’s a modest start, but not sufficient to
address children’s poor eating habits and the sky-high rates of
“Nickelodeon should be ashamed that it earns so much money from
carrying commercials that promote obesity, diabetes, and other health
problems in young children,” Wootan said. “If media and food companies
don’t do a better job exercising corporate responsibility when they
market foods to children, Congress and the FTC will need to step in to
protect kids’ health.”
Wootan makes some valid points. Nick should be embarrassed by the fact that so many TV ads pitch junk foods that can lead to obesity, diabetes and more.
It’s time, I believe, for the government to step in to prevent junk food advertising to kids.
Curt Ellis, director and producer for the fascinating documentary "King Corn." (The best way to describe it is to quoteTheAustin Chronicle: "As relevant as Super Size Me and as important as An Inconvenient Truth.")
But, specifically, watching those food commercials for junk aimed at them that makes them wider. Not only that, but if there was a ban on fast food TV advertising, you'd see a big move to reverse childhood obesity trends, according to a new study from researchers from the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER).
In fact, just getting rid of those enticing TV spots for fast food could lead to 18 percent fewer overweight kids aged 3 to 11 and it would reduce the number of overweight adolescents ages 12 to 18 by 14 percent.
Of course, this study, published in this month in the Journal of Law and Economics, certainly adds to the ongoing debate in the food industry about whether or not child-directed food and beverage advertising should be allowed.
So why don't the government step in and do something about this? President-Elect Obama, are you listening?
Of course, any kid knows the answer, “A One…A.two-HOO…A three…” But I guess that’s the problem. I’d rather youngsters figure out how many bites it takes to get to the center of an apple.
Anyway, according to Slashfood, the prize for guessing the licks is 27 POUNDS of assorted Tootsie Roll goodies. Makes my teeth rot and puts me inso Sugar Shock! just thinking about it!
I’m not recommending you take action on this offer, but to get awestruck by this contest, check out the official entry form at AskMrOwl.com. And lest you get tempted, remember, sugar highs inevitably lead to sugar lows.
For starters, the food makers promised to either stop targeting ads at kids or to advertise only "better-for-you products" to them.
One product that apparently meets these guidelines, devised by the food corporations themselves, is Kellogg’s Apple Jacks cereal, which was specifically reformulated so that it’s "better for you" (notice that they didn’t say "good for you"), according to Stephanie Clifford of The New York Times.
In fact, the very first ingredient listed on the Apple Jacks package is sugar. If that’s an example of something that’s supposedly better for kids, I shudder to think what was worse.
Big Food also issued its own report and press release congratulating themselves on meeting its own guidelines.
The food makers’ report notes that companies used varying criteria to determine the sugar content of "better for you" food, such as food that has no more than 12 grams of sugar per serving (which doesn’t count sugars found naturally in fruits, vegetables, or dairy).
So, by my calculations, Kellogg’s did the absolute least they could, using their own lax standards, to make their Apple Jacks less unhealthy.
The companies also decided for themselves what exactly advertising aimed at children means, so the standards vary.
Interesting. Don’t you think Coca-Cola was well aware that kids watch shows that aren’t primarily aimed at them such as "American Idol," which appeals to some 2 million youngsters, according to Clifford’s New York Times article?
The FTC and Big Food will have to forgive me for being none too impressed with this so-called progress.
"Given the concerning picture of food marketing’s infiltration of children’s lives painted by the FTC report, it is disappointing that they continue to perpetuate the myth that self-regulation can effectively rein in an industry whose profits rely on commercializing childhood."
The Center for Science in the Public Interest also weighed in with some strong words of their own, saying that Big Food’s pledges to be more responsible are "carefully tailored with loopholes" and arguing that there’s a "disconnect between the food industry’s talking points and what we actually see on television during children’s programming."
Given the crisis of childhood obesity in the U.S. and the seemingly endless ways food manufacturers have found to push their products on children, I completely understand why the CFCC and CSPI feel so strongly.
As a mother to a five-year-old, I also strongly believe that Big Food isn’t doing nearly as well as they should be.
Well, according to Dunkin’ Donuts, this new “healthier” menu will include items that are either at least 25% lower in calories, fat, saturated fat, sodium, or sugar “compared to a base product or other appropriate reference product” and/or contain ingredients that are “nutritionally beneficial.”
Gotta hand it to the company for its clever marketing moves. At first blush, this new development, which we learned about, thanks to Lauren Shepherd of the AP, sounds interesting and even promising.
But, let’s face it, when you examine nutritional data a couple of the supposedly healthier items featured on the menu, the phrase “not smart” may come to mind. (At least to mine.)
Put it this way: The “healthier” medium-sized, 24-ounce Reduced Calorie Berry Smoothie still contains lots of calories (370 to be exact) and massive amounts of sugar (62 grams or about 15 1/2 teaspoons). No idea how much of that is naturally occurring sugar. (The entire drink has 73 grams total carbs or 18.25 tsp. of sugar.)
But this allegedly better-for-you beverage has, according to Dunkin’ Donuts, at least 25% less sugar than its full-calorie Strawberry Banana Smoothie. (This 24-ounce, 550-calorie regular version has 118 grams of carbs, of which 103 grams are sugar or about 25.75 teaspoons.)
Meanwhile, ingredients in this “improved” concoction aren’t anything I’d put in my body these days. The drink still contains sugar as one of the first ingredients, plus sugar in various guises (such as blackberry concentrate, blueberry concentrate, oligofructose and high fructose corn syrup). What’s more, it includes an artificial sweetener such as sucralose (the artificial sweetener sold by market-leading Splenda). .
Jennifer Moore, my research assistant and blogger here put it cleverly. She wrote to me: “Seems to me that saying the Reduced Calorie Berry Smoothie is better for you than the full-calorie Strawberry Banana Smoothie is like saying a light cigarette is healthier than a regular one.”
Now, let’s look at another ostensibly healthier breakfast item on the DDSmart menu: The nutritious-sounding Multigrain Bagel. Are you ready to dash over to Dunkin’ Donuts now to get it?
Well, I invite you to check out the ingredient list first: First off, it has still has 380 calories. Then look at what’s included: Enriched flour is its primary ingredient and high fructose corn syrup is fourth on the list. (When items are listed first, it means there’s lots contained.)
Look, I’m all for restaurants — especially fast food chains — to finally realize that more people want healthier foods to eat.
But unfortunately, many large companies still don’t “get it,” in my opinion. After all, the gulf between what companies such as Dunkin’ Donuts assume is “beneficial” and what is truly beneficial is still pretty big, if the new DDSmart menu is any indication.
One more thing: I’ve quietly held my tongue for way too long.
Why did Rachel Ray — the adorably, chirpy poster child for quick, healthy meals — team up with Dunkin’ Donuts, a collaboration she began in March 2007? I was sooo disappointed when I first started seeing these ads, because I happen to like Rachel and had hoped she’d become eventually sugar savvy.
You see, even though Rachel — winner of the Emmy for Outstanding Talk Show-Entertainment — speaks about Dunkin’ Donuts coffee, by signing on with the company, she is, in effect, promoting their sugar-filled, morning “treats” such as this Chocolate Glazed Cake Donut. (It has 340 calories and 39 grams of carbs, which translates into 9.75 teaspoons of sugar, because refined carbs are converted into sugar quickly. Most people look at just the sugar content — which is 16 grams or 4 tsp. of sugar.)
Back to Rachel. After all, isn’t she pointing out that American Runs on Dunkin’? (Actually, I think a more accurate way of putting it would be that: America Runs for a Few Minutes on Dunkin’ and Then May Soon Poop Out on Dunkin’ — because of the sugar-shock reaction.)
By allying herself with the donut company, it sure seems that Rachel isn’t hip to sugar’s dangers. (She obviously never read — or even glanced at — my book SUGAR SHOCK!, which I one of publicists sent to previously to her production company.
She seems very smart. Doesn’t she realize that by pushing Dunkin’ Donuts coffee, she’s also promoting their sugar-filled donuts?
I sure hope I didn’t I ruin my chances of being on the Rachel Ray Show because I was so outspoken. After all this time, I just had to say something.
This just in: At least, Rachel Ray is more into feeding America’s pets well dogs well (or at least better than Americans who run on Dunkin’ Donuts, because the cheerful chef just launched a new line of dog food, as Rachael Ray Nutrish (like nutritious, “only not,” claims Calorie Lab‘s Sarah E. White, who got the news from Portfolio.com, which picked it up from PR NewsWire
The dog food — which is touted as having “no fillers, no junk” — includes doggie treats named after her favorite furry friend, Isaboo, including “booscotti” (sure sounds like “biscotti’ to me) in bacon and peanut butter flavors. The nice news is that Rache’s decided to devote proceeds to Rachael’s Rescue, a charity that helps at-risk animals.
Jennifer Moore contributed to this SUGAR SHOCK! Blog post.
He wonders if people in New York are picking lower-calorie foods that calorie counts are posted in restaurants with more than 15 oulets.
Noting that the new regulations present a "great opportunity for obesity researchers," Dubner recommends delving into whether or not calorie-sensitive behavior occurs at certain times of day, days of the week or even types of days (holiday vs. workday, bad weather vs. good, etc.)
He also encourages discovering if these calorie counts "shock people into buying/eating differently" and if so how long their shocked state lasts.
Intriguing questions, but I’d like to recommend that New Yorkers take matters in their own hands and put this info to good use.
In other words, don’t leave the studying up to the obesity researchers. Instead, Big Apple residents (or visitors), study your behavior. See what you do with this caloric information.
Take these regulations as an opportunity to learn more about what you put into your mouth. After all, the better foods you eat, the better you feel.
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