What You Might Not Know About Your Cookies! (Eat At Your Own Risk)

November 3rd, 2008

Did you know, when you eat cookies, that you are, more than likely, eating palm oil? No? You probably didn’t. Most people don’t, so don’t beat yourself up about it. Unfortunately, palm oil is bad news – both for you and for orangutans all the way over in Indonesia. It harms your health, the animals, and the environment, all at the same time.

According to many reports, orangutans are ‘dying for cookies,’ and not in the way sugar-starved dieters do. They’re literally dying because the palm oil plantations that are needed to make cookies, biofuel and other products that contain the oil are destroying the Indonesia and other areas that the orangutans call home. Crackers, cereals, pastries, and microwave popcorn are all guilty, as are companies like Oreo, Pepperidge Farm, Keebler, Mrs. Fields and many others.

One of the sneaky ways that palm oil shows up in foods is by making you feel better in other ways. You see your favorite snack food there on the shelf. In big, bold letters it proclaims that it now has 0 grams of trans fat! You feel better about eating it, but have you ever looked to see what else might have changed? If the trans fat went away, what else moved in to take its place? Palm oil, which is saturated fat, which is basically just as bad for you, especially in large amounts.

About sixty percent of the palm oil in the world is produced by Malaysia. This is important, because Malaysia doesn’t like the United States telling people that palm oil is bad for them. The country doesn’t want it listed as a saturated fat anymore. They think it’s being ‘lumped in’ with other oils that are worse to eat and being unfairly treated, mostly by the soybean growers.

While palm oil may have its place in some foods and other items, the majority of it is only there because of the push to remove unhealthy trans fat from many staples of the average American diet. However, since palm oil is actually not really any healthier, there is nothing being gained by people who eat it and everything being lost by the animals and plants that formerly lived where clearing is taking place to build palm oil processing and harvesting facilities.

A lot of orangutans are feeling the pain of the way that industry is changing and the demands that are being placed on the individuals who must provide palm oil and other items for human needs. There are Websites where people can donate to the cause of these poor animals and where they can stay updated on the continued efforts to ensure that no more orangutans are harmed and there is no further destruction of the environment.

Palm oil is found in most margarine, shortening, potato chips, cooking oil, soups, sauces, crackers, baked goods, and confectionery products as well as biofuel, lubricants, detergents, soaps, and cosmetics including lipstick, makeup remover, body lotion, and sun cream. Most people don’t realize how much palm oil they use or ingest over the course of their lifetimes and how unhealthy it is for all involved. There are some places in the world where elephants are being used for slave labor on palm oil plantations. If they are not needed for that, they are simply killed because they are in the way of progress. By 2020, it is believed that the need for palm oil will double and that means that 1,160 square miles of new crops will have to be planted – and land will have to be cleared and habitats destroyed to do this.

So many rainforests are being destroyed, and the chief reason for that is economics. People want the items that palm oil is used in and for, so there is a strong market for the substance. This desire to make money is clearly going to supersede any concerns that these companies have about the environment or the people who purchase their products.


Curb Your Sugar Cravings

September 15th, 2008


The best way to curb your cravings for sugar – especially if you’re on a diet – is to eat more fruit.

Fruits are naturally sweet, and they help you to feel like you’ve gotten a treat and to feel full at the same time. You can also eat nuts, vegetables, and salads to help feel like you’ve filled up, but they might not help with your sugary craving.

If you just have to have something sweet, don’t eat by yourself.

People who eat alone tend to binge more. This is definitely true if they’re depressed and if they’re eating sweet and sugary things.

Having a piece of fruit will help to cut your sugary craving in half, and if you do have a dessert, you’ll eat less of it and feel better about sticking to your diet.

Sweets After Weight Loss Sugery: Smart Choices

December 18th, 2007

Artificial Sweetener OptionsSweets are a real problem for people who have undergone gastric bypass or lap-band weight loss surgery. Patients report feelings of loss for sweets and strong cravings. Yet patients know sweets pose several problems after weight loss surgery including dumping syndrome and weight gain. Patients who indulge in sweets not only get physically ill they also suffer feelings of failure and self-loathing for lack of will power.

According to Dr. David Katz in his book The Way to Eat a sweet tooth is not a matter of will power it is a matter of genetics. Early humans found sugar was a quick source of energy when they consumed it in the form of fruit, honey and sugar cane. So the tendency to like sweet is in our genetic code. But the difference today from then: sugar is now highly processed and in abundant supply.

Dieters consider sugar evil and blame sweets for weight gain. According to Dr. Katz “Sugary foods are often high-fat, calorie-dense foods as well; the pleasant taste of sugar stimulates high intake while the fat does much of the damage in terms of calories, weight gain and adverse health affects.”

I like that Dr. Katz’s attributes our genetic code for the sweet tooth – in my pre-WLS dieting life I considered myself a weak failure for having a sweet tooth. Unfortunately, my bariatric surgeon didn’t fix my genetic code for sweets. But what did happen during the early post-op and the weight loss phases is my interest in sweets waned. I believe once I was off the carb-fat-sugar roller coaster my body adapted to the more nutritional diet without processed sweets.

Limit Sugar For Health: General health guidelines indicate we should limit sugar intake, particularly processed sugar. Dr. Katz advises “Make some general commitment about the acceptable place of sweet foods in your diet.” He adds, “Such a commitment is only as good as your follow-through, of course. But making decisions about tempting foods at a time other than when you are tempted is a good strategy in general.”

For WLS people with gastric bypass that commitment is firm – most patients will get sick (dumping) if they consume sugary products. Lap-band patients don’t live with that fear, they need some personal resolve to limit or avoid sugar products. For all of us the desire to maintain our weight loss should be a good motivator.

Sugar Substitutes: So far we have two facts: 1- We are genetically coded to desire sweets and 2- We need to limit sugar intake for our health. Could two facts be more contradictory?

A variety of artificial sweeteners are available from the sugar alcohols (Sorbitol, Xylitol and Mannitol) that cause gas and bloating problems to the non-nutritive sweeteners such as Saccharine, Aspartame and Sucralose (Splenda). Dr. Andrew Weil, author of “The Healthy Kitchen” is concerned about the use of artificial sweeteners. In his book he says, “In the first place, there is no evidence that they help anyone lose weight, although that is why people use them…Second, most of them taste funny. And, most important, the highly popular ones may be harmful.” He sites studies that link Saccharin and Aspartamine to health problems.

Dr. Weil recommends sucralose, sold under the band name Splenda. He said, “It tastes better than aspartame and appears safer.”

Splenda, Sugar and WLS Diet: In general nutritionists working with WLS patients agree Splenda is an acceptable sweetener for patients when used in moderation. (Moderation – that word comes up a lot in our WLS food discussions!)

Many recipes can be adjusted to use all Splenda or a blend of Splenda and sugar. Using a blend of sugar and Splenda produces the best results for texture and moistness yet cuts half of the calories and carbohydrates. Using all Splenda eliminates all sugar calories, however, some consumers say using all Splenda results in an unpleasant after taste and unappealing texture. Using all sugar is not an acceptable option for WLS patients for reasons already noted.

Knowledge, Moderation, Occasion Ultimately, the key to including sweets in the WLS lifestyle is knowledge, moderation and occasion.

  • Know what is in the sweet product you are eating. Find sweets recipes that contain other nutritionally beneficial ingredients while eliminating or at least decreasing the sugar and fat.
  • Moderation: a small serving is fine. Scientific studies indicate a craving can be satiated with a modest portion eaten slowly and savored. I have found my occasional chocolate craving can be satiated with one Andes’ thin mint – think about it! One mint – 26 calories and 2.6 grams of sugar, 1.6 grams of fat.
  • Plan your occasions when you know you will indulge and then indulge wisely. Know the kind of sweetener used in your treat, know your serving size and know you will stop when that serving is consumed. At first it isn’t easy but with diligence planned occasional treats can be included in your WLS lifestyle.Love your new diet: Finally, rather than focusing on all the beloved lost foods spend time enjoying and loving your new way of eating. Dr. Katz said, “Even though you were born to like sugar, if your diet shifts, step-by-step to one richer in nutrient-dense, calorie-dilute, natural foods, there will simply be less place for processed sugar in your diet.”
  • Author: Kaye Bailey