Beware of Food made with “Real Fruit”

Driving north from Santa Clarita is a billboard advertising McDonald’s new smoothies. They’re made with “real fruit.” Momentarily I wonder as opposed to what? Plastic fruit? Imaginary fruit? Then it comes to me: artificial fruit flavorings. . . .McDonald’s is implying that their smoothie is healthy choice although it’s not. grrr Beware of food made with “real fruit”! Not healthy? Not by a long shot. There’s enough sugar in them thar smoothies to make an addict of me. More sugar than regularly occurring in nature. In nature a wild person, a feral human views fruit as sugar. They don’t eat sugared fruit like we do. Our teeth, guts and tongues aren’t designed for this uber-sweetness. Spare tires and love handles are made from this sugar loaded stuff.

That’s sneaky. What are the implications of a product that has to sell itself this way? I mean through sheer manipulation. Other restaurants, corporations, delis and bakeries sell treats. Super Rich Treats. The corner donut shop, however, doesn’t market a donut rolled in powdered sugar or iced in chocolate as health food. I notice apples in the supermarket are not advertised as “made with real fruit.” Neither are the bananas nor melons. When I make my smoothies at home I don’t add artificial food flavorings. Nope. No Artificial color? Nope. Not even salt. I actually don’t add sugar. I figure the base recipe of juice, ice and fruit is plenty sweet enough. Other times I use yoghurt, fruit and flax or I add in hemp or chia.

Per the McDonald’s website their berry smoothie contains over a third of cup of sugar, or 69 grams. Get out yer measuring cup. Have a look see at how much sugar is a third of a cup. Do a visual. Shocking, right? For that much sugar why not have a yummy slice of six layer coconut cake, pecan pie or sachertorte? I try to save rich desserts for special occasions because I know eating like that regularly is sure to cause gout, obesity or irritable bowel syndrome. Smoothies, on the other hand, with the promise of fresh fruit sound fiber-luscious. Why does McDonalds pack the sweeteners into their drink, when fruit is naturally sweet? Follow the money! Sugar sells because sugar is addictive. Humans are hard-wired for crave. From birth we are designed to desire the sweet stuff.

(If you believe in evolution) the natural addict isn’t a problem for the first few hundred million years. In the wild sugar is limited to fruits, milk and honey. Cultivated hives and crops of sugar cane arrive late in human history. The remains in Pompeii reveal that ancient Romans have beautiful teeth. Why? Because their only sources of sugar are fruit in season and occasional honey from uncultivated hives. Sugar becomes cheap and common place barely a hundred years ago. Industry is zippity zip. Evolution is snail pace. Sweeteners like High Fructose Corn Syrup, Corn Syrup, Aspartame, and Sucralose are intensely flavored. Poor humans don’t stand a chance.

The more sugar I eat, the more I need. As with any controlled substance, I am compelled to recreate the original pleasant tingle. But my taste buds are dulled. Sugar has been introduced into all kinds of products such as tomato catsup or spaghetti sauce all in a big design to get me drooling. No fooling ! Food manufacturers want repeat customers. Repeat buyers make the economy go round. In an all out bid to increase revenue, manufacturers substitute real sweeteners with high fructose corn syrup, a sweetener so intense that merely a fraction is necessary as compared to traditional corn syrup sweetener.

Problem? My body can’t recognize high fructose corn syrup as food. It passes right through me like eating a plastic bag, or swallowing a penny. Just because it sits in my stomach, doesn’t mean  I’m getting anything out of it. Which means I end up eating more. I eat more for eating ineffectively. Not all calories are the same. A pound of sugar does not generate the same body fuel as a pound of fiber, or a pound of protein or a pound of starch. So now, in addition to the 320 calories spent on a berry smoothie I need 320 calories more of FOOD, a total of 640 calories. The salty yummy french fries probably won’t make me feel full either, because they are devoid of fiber. ouch. My body is still hungry. A fiberless white flour bun does not give me a “full” feeling. Two thousand calories later, my body is still searching for something, making me feel hungry, because she wants nutrition.

“I can’t eat healthy! It tastes like Crap!” my friend wails after her doctor suggested Xinc change her diet. I get it. Remember, I’m the one who once topped the scales. I didn’t change my habits over night. I wean myself. I use a trick I from the original Jane Fonda workout book (back before VHS was invented): if I must have sweetie sweets, I make ‘em myself. Yes, I bake cookies, pies and cakes. I bake pretty well. I bake bread once a week. This may seem counterintuitive. One obvious benefit is the lag time between desire and presentation. If I have to bake the cookie instead of buying it I lengthen/strengthen my impulse control.

Other Benefits:

1) The ingredients do NOT include high fructose corn syrup, or partially hydrogenated palm oil.
2) Baking is fun, social and mentally stimulating
3) Everyone loves someone who is snap in the kitchen. Make new friends and meet people who share the health habit
4) In a recession, here’s the cheapest hobby ever! Home made food costs less than pre-made
5) I transition from homemade to healthy, adding fiber then replacing white flour with whole grain over time
6) I enjoy the subtle taste of real fruit now only after I get used to the taste of unadulterated food. i.e. health food no longer seems tasteless to me

I used to think the four food groups were junk food, fast food, snacks and finger food. Learning to cook and bake is life affirming. Now I know the four groups are what’s around, left-overs, go to the store  and eating out!

Now y’all play nice!

Sat Nam


Now y’all play nice!

Sat Nam