Tuesday, April 8, 2014

A Year Without Sugar

The view from my pantry.  Yup, there's all that bad stuff (and more).  Photo by J. Berta

Greetings All:

I haven't written a whole lot about health matters.  It's not an area of particular interest to me, although it probably should be.  I also think that life is w-a-y too short to deny yourself simple pleasures, such as food.  However, when I saw this post, "A Year Without Sugar," I knew I had to check it out.


Eve Schaub is the author of this article and led her family on a year without sugar.  I'm not just talking about sugar in cakes and cookies, but EVERYTHING!  Wow.  Although the year is up, both Ms. Schaub and her family elect to hardly eat any sugar.  The article is an interesting read and offers a lot to chew on, so to speak.

Ms. Schaub offers a number of reasons why she and her family pursued this path.  A couple of the key ones were to be more healthy and have more energy, both laudable goals.  Still, seems a bit...extreme to me.  

Of particular interest to me was her comments about energy.  She observes that after this year, "I don’t worry about running out of energy."  For me, that's an easy fix- coffee, lots of it.  (And I drink mine "sans sucre" thank you very much.)  Granted, one day back in 2009 when I was on an extended business trip, I did ingest more caffeine than usual.  I'll even admit that the one day I had 7 cups of coffee (and 4 Diet Cokes) might have been a bit much.  

There is a more serious side to this story, that would be the health issues related to obesity and other heath diseases.  Ms. Schaub makes her case in her article by saying:  "One in three Americans is obese.  The rate of diabetes is skyrocking and cardiovascular disease is America's number one killer."

The Center for Disease Control back up her numbers.  Here's a quote from their website:

"More than one-third of U.S. adults (34.9%) are obese."  


Here's another way to look at this stat:

From the Center for Disease Control (CDC) Public Domain/Fair Use Claimed

Phil Gramm, the former Texas Senator quipped, "America is the only country where its poor people are fat."  Some might accuse him of being a cultural imperialist.  However, if you look at the numbers, he has a point.  Here's another serving of facts for you:

"Are poverty and obesity associated? Poverty rates and obesity were reviewed across 3,139 counties in the U.S. (2,6). In contrast to international trends, people in America who live in the most poverty-dense counties are those most prone to obesity (Fig. 1A). Counties with poverty rates of >35% have obesity rates 145% greater than wealthy counties."


The thing about stats is they can be both shock and anesthetize at the same time.  As Mark Twain warned, "There are lies, damn lies and statistics."  

Here is an example of an individual we recently lost.  John Pinette died on April 5, 2014.  The cause of death was a pulmonary embolism.  

John Pinette, who passed away on April 5, 2015.  Use authorized from the owner (dbking on flickr) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:John_Pinette_2010.jpg

John Pinette was a talented actor and comic.  He got to open for none other than "The Chairman" Frank Sinatra.  He also was, unfortunately, obese.  He did have gastric bypass surgery and that helped.   However, he still was a large man.  There is more about his life and career in the New York Times editorial link below.  


I did not follow Mr. Pinette's career closely.  I had forgotten he had a part in the final Seinfield episode.  I do think it is a loss he died at 50.  That is not old. The shame in his untimely passing is that having been at his heaviest 450, he got down to 250.  He also had substance abuse issues yet was clean and sober at the end.  Here's what CNN reported:

"Although past addiction problems "took a toll on his body," Pinette was "clean and sober" at the end, his longtime manager Larry Schapiro said Monday."

CNN went on at length to describe the person John Pinette was on the inside:  

"He had a reputation among his friends and fellow comedians as a brilliant, incredibly funny and kind man."


There are in this nation today millions of people who may die, likely will die before their time due to heath issues.  That is sad.  I suspect of these millions, many are wonderful people who do good deeds for their community and are beloved by their families.  The fact that early deaths could be prevented is the tragedy.

So where does that leave us?  That's a tough question.  For me, I'd offer this:  Find your own way.  Perhaps giving up sugar is the best thing you could do.  It might save your life.  Then again, is it worth it to make it to 86 instead of 84 but silently curse when you want an ice cream cone and say, "NO!"  I'm certainly no expert on health but after working on this post, I think I'll be at least a bit more aware of what I'm eating.  I'll also concede that my 2009 coffee intake is a record that should stand and not be duplicated.  

I firmly believe that people should think for themselves, make their own decisions and be open to changing their positions.  With that in mind, if you'd like to try out a day without sugar, here's your chance- tomorrow.  Here's the link:


Good luck and if you do elect to go a day (or more) without sugar, let me know how it goes.  Who knows, maybe next year I might join you.

Be well (as well as you want) my friends,

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