Friday, December 30, 2011

20,000 Grams of Sugar on my Stomach Wall

I'm BACK!!!

I last posted at the beginning of the year and I have finally returned now that the year is coming to a close. By no means was this intentional. I just happened to have an extremely busy year. In the past 12 months, I graduated from my MPH program, completed a fellowship, moved to a new city, and started a new job. The smoke is finally starting to clear and I'm back, with nutrition on my mind.

I purport to live a relatively healthy life. I'm pescetarian. I eat fruits and vegetables. I am fairly active. I don't drink sodas. I shop at stores like Trader Joe's and Whole Foods that tend to stock healthier food options. I hardly ever eat candy or fast food. I cook most of my meals at home. That's all great, some people would say, but what about nutrient intake?

Now that I have a community nutrition job, I have been spending lots of time thinking about micronutrients and the USDA's new MyPlate diet diagram. First of all, I realize I need to eat even more fruits and vegetables. In fact, half of your plate at every meal should be fruits and vegetables, and I'm working hard to accomplish that. I've been eating string cheese with my meals to achieve the recommended dairy intake. I am also reading nutrition labels with a new level of understanding and scrutiny. In the past, I might have seen a food item with 15 grams of sugar and thought nothing of it since I wasn't making the appropriate conversions. After learning that 4 grams is equal to 1 teaspoon, I am royally freaking out. I'm losing all my epicurean delights in the name of nutrition. Just last night, I polished off the last bottle of hard cider--a personal favorite--from a 6 pack I purchased. I glanced at the nutrition label as I was taking the last sip and realized it contained 16 grams of sugar. Really??? I just drank 4 TEASPOONS of sugar? No thanks! This morning, I realized one serving of my favorite cereals--Kashi Go Lean Honey Almond Crunch and Cracklin' Oat Bran--both have roughly 3 teaspoons of sugar. Hmmm, not exactly comforting. As a rare treat, I had a Sonic Reese's Peanut Butter Cup Blast last week. I looked up the nutrition information and it has about 54 grams of sugar if I remember correctly. That's about 13 teaspoons of sugar.

The way I see it, what's for me is for me. I don't expect everyone to share my concerns. I know my body and I know I have to eat extra carefully in order to achieve and maintain a healthy body weight. I am well equipped to handle changes (and some people are complacent aren't) and I am already revamping my diet plan. I recently lost 10 - 12 pounds and I want to keep the momentum going!

How exactly do you measure up? Is your daily food intake in line with the USDA's MyPlate recommendations? Are you satisfied with your intake of sodium and sugar?

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