What Do Vegans Eat for the 4th of July? Just Ask Me, The Manliest Vegan on the Internet!

It’s understood in our American culture that a real man takes pride in eating bacon, sausage, and beef.

Especially on July 4th. He simply (and ironically) laughs in the face of high cholesterol and onset diabetes.

Why? Because it’s manly to eat meat.

And because… ‘Merica!

How else could a man possibly get enough protein?

However, I am currently taking America by storm, as I am stumping both scientists and sociologists alike…

They are being forced to take notice that I am in deed the manliest vegan on the Internet, yet I am still alive and well.

Miraculously, I am perfectly in the correct height/weight/age range. I not overweight nor underweight. In other words… I’m getting enough protein.

How is it that I am not a walking skeleton? Why does I seem so happy and content in life? 

I am currently baffling our nation, as Americans everywhere are trying to wrap their minds around the fact that I haven’t eaten any pork (which includes bacon and sausage) in 8 and a half years, any meat at all in 5 and a half years, and no eggs or dairy in over 4 years.

My protein comes from six sources:

Veggies, fruit, beans, grains, nuts, and seeds.

So what does a manly vegan eat on July 4th? Whatever I want, as long as it consists of veggies, fruit, beans, grains, nuts, and seeds.

For this July 4th, my wife made a vegan lasagna (containing noodles and veggies) and some vegan sausage by Field Roast Grain Meat Co. as well. And I liked it.

I didn’t feel left out. I didn’t feel victimized. And I didn’t feel jealous.

Why? Because I am the manliest vegan on the Internet.

Instead, other men surely felt left out that they are not part of my manly vegan club.

(Mic dropped.)

 

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This is 36: I Hate Onset Diabetes Enough to Prevent It (Inside the Mind of a Crazy Vegan Dad!)

Something peculiar I have learned over the years about my active, plant-based lifestyle is this:

The most outspoken (and predictable) demographic who opposes my lifestyle consists of overweight men who have onset diabetes.

When they learn I don’t eat meat, dairy, eggs, or drink soda, and that I haven’t for over 4 years, they scoff at the concept. They basically mock me for “not getting enough protein.” They insinuate that because my kids are vegetarians, I am depriving them of proper nutrition as well. They have clearly told me on multiple occasions that there is no way I can possibly be healthy, since I am a vegan.

Have you processed the irony yet? These claims about my health are coming from overweight men with onset diabetes.

People who are officially not healthy are confidently telling me how unhealthy I am.  What?!

No other demographic is more openly opposed to how I live my life.

I don’t argue with them, though. I choose to let them continue to believe their version of reality. I am so confident in my beliefs, that I have no desire to try to convince them that my way is superior to theirs.

My motivation is to not become like them, in both their closed-mindedness and in their physically unhealthy state of being.

For me it’s pretty simple. I know that both an increased intake of processed sugar and meat lead not only to onset diabetes, but also prostate cancer.

I refuse to become another stereotype 20 years from now.

Therefore, I eat only plant-based foods, just 6 “food groups”:

Vegetables, fruits, beans, grains, nuts, and seeds.

I consume zero percent of my daily cholesterol (which is a default of the vegan lifestyle), while still consuming at least my minimum of daily protein and fat intake. My doctor has confirmed I am healthy and getting enough protein; and that I am healthier than most men my age.

Not to mention, I am perfectly in the healthy weight range for my age, height and weight. In other words, I am neither underweight nor overweight.

But what I eat is only 80% of it. The other 20% of what helps me avoid prevent diseases and health issues is the fact that I faithfully exercise and work out.

Being the busy full-time working husband, dad, blogger, and YouTuber that I am, I make my hour long lunch break at work my time to work out.

It’s basically a Triathlon of running 2 miles, along with either mountain biking or skateboarding.

This particularly diet and workout plan is what works for me personally. Before I became the crazy vegan, I was not consistently happy with my health.

I have nothing to prove to overweight men with onset diabetes.

I only have something to prove to myself:

That I indeed have much control over preventable diseases and health problems.

-Nick Shell, vegan, age 36

 

Top photo: Jasmine Moreno

 

If you found this blog post mildly intriguing, then you will definitely enjoy…

Top 10 Reasons My “Diet” is Consistently Successful and I am Still Healthy & Fit at Age 36 (from a Non-Vegan, Non-Vegetarian Perspective)

Readers’ Expectations 7: Chicken with Teeth, Jorge Garcia’s Haircut, and the Adorability of Betty White

Scary mutant birds, instructions on how to wear pants, and a surprising Jewish conversion all brought me recent traffic here on Scenic Route Snapshots.  I attract a weird bunch, sometimes.

“chicken with teeth”- I heard a rumor several years ago that the folks at KFC invented “the boneless chicken” thanks to their ethics-out-the-window scientists who were trying to create a chicken with as much white meat as possible.  If that rumor is true, I would have to say that if anyone could create a chicken with teeth, it would be those infamous KFC scientists.

“who doesn’t like betty white?”- Her evil arch nemesis, Betty Boop.

“mystery hole”- Let’s keep it a mystery.  Please- I sure don’t want to know about it.

“ethnic routes to becoming American”- To become an American, ethnically, simply arrive from your native country onto our shores.  That will make you ethnically American.  Unless you’re Canadian.  Now, are we all clear?

"Out to get Betty White since 1930"

“wear khakis to club”– Two words: “Don’t’”.  Unless you are coming straight from your job at Best Buy or your Sunday School class.  Or the club you’re referring to is a high school chess club.

“wearing pants with a gut”– One word: “Do”.  Please wear pants, whatever it takes: drawstrings, rope, Velcro.  I’m trying to imagine how big and out of control this gut must be for a person to need advice on how to wear pants.  But worst case scenario, there is always the option of losing the gut, right?  After all, onset Diabetes and heart disease are surprisingly not worth the empty calories and lack of physical activity.  If only Jillian Michaels were omnipresent…

Voted "Best Men's Haircut" in 2010

“Jorge Garcia haircut”– He played one of my favorite characters on LOST; Hurley Reyes.  What a lovable guy.  But I have to admit I’m a little surprised to see a man searching for pictures of Jorge Garcia’s haircut to use as a model for his own upcoming haircut.  I would be less surprised if it was a women searching for this.  I could understand “Ashton Kutcher haircut” or even “Alec Baldwin” haircut, but “Jorge Garcia haircut”, not so much.

“daryl hall” converted jewish–  Oh yes, you just now heard the word?  He’s changing some of the titles of his hit songs he recorded with John Oates to make them more Jewish, like “Kosher Eater”, “Sarah Silverman Smile”, “You’ve Lost that Shalom Feeling”, and “Yiddish on My List”.

“Hating seagulls I like being racist”– Having an enjoyable prejudice against a scavenger bird that hangs out at the beach doesn’t make you a racist.  It makes you a… specist?…

Don't make her angry...

You wouldn't like her when she's angry!

Why Betty White Doesn’t Look 88 Years Old (Yes, She’s a Vegan)

Thank you for being a host.

For me, no episode of SNL could ever be funnier than when Justin Timberlake hosted his first time in 2003.  But finally, thanks to Danish-Greek American actress Betty White, someone has come pretty close.  In fact, her hosting job earned Saturday Night Live its highest number of viewers since November 2008 when John McCain hosted and Tina Fey snuck off the set of 30 Rock to parody Sarah Palin.

It’s not necessarily easy to keep me laughing with TV shows and movies that are supposed to be funny.  But watching sweet little Betty White for nearly 90 minutes was the most consistent “LOLing” I’ve done since the first time I saw I Love You, Man.

Every skit was hilarious: “Delicious Dish”, “MacGruber”, “She’s a Lesbian”, “Scared Straight”, “Thank You for Being a Friend”, “CSI: Sarasota”, “Census”.  Which means all the hype leading up to Betty White’s hosting gig, including the facebook petition and the countless Internet articles speculating her success at hosting, actually were worth it.  Betty White as host of SNL will be right up there with Christopher Walken’s “VH1’s Behind the Music: Blue Oyster Cult” (“more cowbell”) in the SNL Hall of Fame of our minds.

And I was so amazed to find out that Betty White is 88 years old.  It’s natural to say, “But she doesn’t look 88 years old…”

Betty White at the 1988 Emmy's, age 66

I know that’s what I always think of people I see on TV who are celebrating their 100th birthday.  No one who is 100 looks 100.  But what does 88 years old look like?  What does 100 years old look like?

 

Eighty-eight looks like a 68 year-old who hasn’t taken very good care of themselves.  For example, perhaps a regular smoker who after their retirement doesn’t continue to live an active lifestyle both physically and mentally, nor do they take deliberate notice of what they eat and drink.

It involves some circular reasoning: People who look young for their age are usually in shape- and because they are in shape, they look healthier and younger than most people their age- and because choose to stay in shape as they get older, they tend to be the ones who live to be the longest- and they tend to become the longest-living and youngest-looking people.

Enter Betty White, a vegan.  While I could never be that disciplined, I do recognize it’s no coincidence that she’s still so full of life.  And spunk.

On top of that, I’ve learned that people who continue to look younger than their actual age in their younger years, continue to look younger in their older age.  Like Dick Clark (80), Chuck Norris (70), Harrison Ford (67), or Johnny Depp (46).  So of course, genetics is a big part of it.

It’s sort of like a man’s receding hairline.  I’ve noticed that by observing the hairline of 21 year-old man, it is easy to predict how much hair he will have at age 40, 60, and 80.

Looking back at pictures of a young James Taylor, he already had a receding hairline going on.  By his 40’s, he was pretty much completely bald on top.

Robin Williams, who I would say best represents the average American man’s rate of hair loss, showed very minimal signs of balding when he made it big with his sitcom Mork and Mindy back in 1978 at age 27.  But by the time he did One Hour Photo in 2002 at age 50 (one of my favorite “scary” movies, though most people I talk to don’t feel the same way), it was clear he was losing some hair, but that he would not be going completely bald in his adulthood.

In other words, whether it’s a general youthful appearance or an extremely slow rate of hair loss, these “signs of youth” are obvious when a person is a young adult and they stay that way throughout the rest of their lives, given they take care physical and mental care of themselves.

So that’s why 88 year-old Betty White looks like she’s 68.  And why so many 68 year-olds we know look 88.  And most 100 year-olds look 70.

But most important isn’t how old or person looks on the outside, or even how young they feel on the inside.  What’s most important is how young a person’s body thinks it is- which is largely controlled by how well they take care of their own body.

Sure he's bald and 57, but LOST's Terry O'Quinn is one bad arse!

Because what good is it too look younger than your actual age your whole life only to die at age 60 (while “feeling 30”) because of heart disease, diabetes, or high blood pressure?  All of which could have been prevented or severely slowed down by carefully limiting sodium (meats and packaged/processed foods), sugar (other than from whole fruits), and saturated fats (animal fats, not fats from nuts and oils).  And replacing them with fresh produce, high fiber, plenty of water, and regular exercise.

 

I want to be like Betty.

And one more thing… Now that you’ve read my take on Betty White, why not read my perspective on: being a dad.  That’s right- parenting from a dad’s point of view.  I have been documenting my thoughts as a dad since the week we found out my wife was pregnant.  I formally invite you now to read my “dad blog”:

dad from day one

healthnutshell: What Exactly is a Doctor, Anyway?

Stupid question, but doctors should outlive their patients, right?


One of my favorite movies of all time is actually a documentary, Super Size Me.  As Morgan Spurlock goes on a 30 day fast food binge, he checks in with the three separate doctors to monitor his health.  But something I always thought about in the back of my mind when I saw one of the doctors in particular was “that doctor needs to go on a diet himself”.

Isn’t there something a bit off about that?  An unhealthy doctor?  A doctor who is in danger of a heart attack?  In my mind, a doctor is an expert on health.  Therefore, he should live out what he knows.

Consider a pastor of a church.  His career is over if he gets caught cheating on his wife (unlike certain celebrities who may lose their marriage over it, but not their careers…).  A pastor is held at a higher standard because of his profession.  Why aren’t doctors live by a higher standard as well?

Just like no one can take seriously a man under the age of 40 with a mustache, I can’t take seriously an unhealthy doctor.

I should find out what exactly a doctor is, according to Wikipedia:

A physician — also known as medical practitioner, doctor of medicine, medical doctor, or simply doctor — practices the ancient profession of medicine, which is concerned with maintaining or restoring human health through the study, diagnosis, and treatment of disease or injury.

What’s interesting in this definition is the lack of the word “prevention”.  So it’s a doctor’s job to maintain or restore human health, but not prevent a healthy person from becoming unhealthy.

According to the Wikipedia definition of a doctor and America’s general concept of them, doctors are there to help fix what is broken.  With medicine.

It’s no secret that doctors make money off of people sitting at home watching commercials targeted at unhealthy people who go to the doctor to buy the legal drugs they saw advertised.  I can remember a time, pre-1995, when I didn’t use to see commercials advertising for prescription drugs.  Doctors sell drugs, legally.  To people who, for the most part, were simply uneducated on how to live healthy in the first place.

If I break my nose, have strep throat, get a pregnant wife, or need to get “snipped”, I will go to the doctor.  If not, I do everything I can to avoid that place.  I definitely won’t go there to buy their new product.  I eat an apple a day, literally.

After suffering for years from a rare case of eczema, I did some research on Wikipedia to find out how to be relieved of the disease.  While no known medical cure exists, I followed the advice on Wikipedia and drastically changed my diet, and now, thank God, my skin cleared up on my hands.  Cost me no money and required no doctor’s visit.  Despite many people urging me to go for a visit.  I saved myself time and money.

Doctors are good.  They do their thing.  I do mine.  We already learned that a doctor’s job, according to Wikipedia, does not involve preventing the problem.  So I take it upon myself to do just that: prevent the problem.  So what do you call a person who does that?  I need a clever word for that.  Whatever it is, I am one.  And anyone can be one.

"Dr. H" from The Biggest Loser

As if looming Diabetes and heart disease weren’t enough of a reason to live a life of prevention, consider a new study done on doctors in India, which is said to be true in America as well.  Their average lifespan is around 58 years old for doctors, while the general population lives to be closer to 70 yeas old:

“Stress, a sedentary lifestyle and lack of exercise were the main causes of death in these cases. [Doctors] tend to become obese and are under great stress… Most of them are hypertensive and diabetic. These conditions reduce their chances of living longer.”

Read the full article:

http://www.mumbaimirror.com/index.aspx?page=article&sectid=3&contentid=201002092010020901523931154144cbf

Typically, medical doctors have stressful jobs that keep them from spending much time with their families.  They don’t make time for exercise or plan healthy meals.  Doctors have easy access to antibiotics and other medical quick fixes.  And of course it’s not uncommon for a doctor to smoke.  Not that any of those traits are unique to just doctors; they actually all sound pretty familiar.

And that’s another reason why I choose to live like a nutritionist, not a doctor.  My role models?  Jillian Michaels, Bob Harper, and Dr. Huizenga (“Dr. H.” from The Biggest Loser.  Seventh Day Adventists.  Kosher diet abiding Jews.  My dad.

They are my doctors, with or without the M.D.

Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution

Ten years ago when reality shows first starting becoming popular, I was the first to say they were lame.  But in the past decade, there have been a few that I have really taken interest in.  The Biggest Loser is one.  Because it doesn’t necessarily feature a bunch of type A personalities trapped in a house just for the sake of making people annoy each other.  I guess it’s that I like my reality shows to have somewhat of a meaningful people that somehow helps people.

Something I’ve learned about reality shows since 2000 is this.  Some of the best ones feature a British person.  The clever producers found a smart way invent a show that carries over the ideals of The Biggest Loser with the editing feel of Super Nanny (a show that truly annoys me) with a charming British host.

Jamie Oliver’s Food Nation wins my approval.

He goes to Huntington, West Virginia, the “most unhealthiest town” in the country, where 50% of the people are obese.  Not overweight, but obese.  Its status of unhealthiest town is based on government statistics on death.  Clearly the people of this town are doing something wrong.

The most entertaining part of this show is where we see the bass ackwards ways that the people of the town eat and what they deem as normal and acceptable.  Clearly not eating for nutrition, only for convenience and pleasure.

As Jamie visits Central City Elementary School, he discovers that pizza is being served for breakfast, along with sugary cereals that turn the milk pink.  The “mashed potatoes” are actually dehydrated potato flakes and they count as a vegetable serving.  (Potatoes are a starch, like corn.)

Jamie then takes a look in the freezer.  Mainly boxes full of processed foods that none of the lunch ladies can pronounce the ingredients.  To give them credit though, most people went being able to.  Because the ingredients are chemicals, not food.

Next Jamie visits for lunch.  Processed chicken nuggets it is.  He takes a look at the food the kids are throwing out as they leave: The vegetables and fruit.

Interestingly, it seems the only understanding Jamie receives comes from the pastor of First Baptist Church, Steve Willis.  In a clip of one of his sermons called “Culture Shock”, he tells his congregation:  “It should bother us that we’re the worst city in the worst state in the worst country.”  (For diet, that is.)

Jamie decides to check out the average home situation to see how a child’s eating habits are affecting by the parents.  He visits the Edwards family, who are all overweight to obese.  Perhaps most notable is the 12 year-old son who appears to be well in the latter 200’s.  And a 4 year-old daughter who, based on her size, I thought was 6 or 7.

Not surprisingly, the mother makes them fried doughnuts with chocolate icing every morning for breakfast.  When Jamie confronts her about this, she laughs.  He tells her that by laughing off her enablement she is using a defense mechanism.

Their freezer is full of frozen pizzas.  Or as they call them: snacks.

Jamie convinces the family they all the food they eat is the same color- golden brown.  Therefore, they bury their deep fryer in the backyard and has the mother pray over it, like a funeral.

The next day back at the school, Jamie Oliver begins his experiment. He has a week to improve the diet of what is being served in the lunchroom but at the same time staying under budget.

He learns that the lunchroom ladies are required to serve two “grain servings” each meal.  In this twisted world of reality, they serve pizza as a grain serving.  But since they have no true grains to serve, they serve two carbs in place of it.  Which both consists of white bread.

My favorite (and the most disturbing) part of the episode was when Jamie took several kids aside in a classroom to teach them what is in their beloved chicken nuggets, which they told him they often eat for dinner when they get home.

He takes a baked chicken and removes the edible parts, including the breasts and the wings.  He takes what is left and places it into a blender: the bloody leftovers and bones.  After letting the chicken’s leftovers run in the blender for a few seconds, it becomes a pink, blobby substance that he molds in to patties, sprinkles with breadcrumbs, and deep fries them.

Definitely was as disgusting as it sounded.  After he cooks the Frankenstein patties, Jamie asks the children who would like to try one.  Without much hesitation, most of the kids eagerly raise their hands.  And eat the homemade nuggets.

Jamie Oliver then explains to the camera that this was the first time anyone has ever wanted to eat the nuggets.

Another funny, yet sad, part of the episode was when he went into a classroom full of 6 year-olds to make sure they could identify fruits and vegetables in their whole form.  That didn’t go too well.  One kid thought a potato as a tomato and that was about as close as any student go to being correct.

As the episode starting winding down, Jamie took the Edwards family to the doctor for a check-up.  The father admitted that they only go to the doctor once “something gets broken”.  Surprisingly, the 12 year-old son mentioned earlier does not yet have Diabetes, but the doctor indeed classified him as “morbidly obese”, telling his parents that if he remains this way his condition will take off at least 30 years of his life.

Back at the school again the next day, Jamie decides to do an experiment for some of the parents of the schoolchildren, since his chicken nugget experience didn’t pan out so well.  Having the children hold a giant tarp, a loaded dump truck emptied a month’s worth of lard into it.  Along with hundreds of gallons of chocolate milk.

Interestingly, Jamie informed them (and us) that chocolate milk has more sugar in it than soda.  Yikes.

Jamie now has to prove he can make a healthy meal to serve that day for lunch that the children will actually eat, and still come in under budget.  He learns that the school does not have forks or knives.  The kids are so used to eating nothing but processed foods that spoons are all they need.

Along with the principal of the school, Jamie teaches the children how to use a knife and fork.  The kids don’t really like his healthy meal that much, and Jamie doubles the expenses of the budget, but because this is a contracted series, the superindendent and head nutritious agreed to give Jamie more time to change the eating habits of the school.

I have a feeling that Jamie Oliver’s Food Nation has the potential to become more than just a 6 episode mini-series.  Hopefully it will replace The Super Nanny.  Please?

Favorite Quotes:

“It sets like concrete?”  -Jamie Oliver, repeating the words of one of the lunch ladies as she described to him how they make the “mashed potatoes”

“The milk’s got crap in it.  The cereal’s got crap in it.”  -Jamie, explaining the lack of nutrition in the breakfast served at the school

“What’s right with that?”  -Jamie, answering a lunch lady who asked him, “What’s wrong with that?”, referring to a frozen solid chicken nugget Jamie took out of the freezer

“I’m here for the money, but you gotta love the kids too.”  -Alice, the head lunch lady

healthnutshell: A Tablespoon of Sugar or a Cigarette?

A new way to view the worth of the happiness that sugar brings us.



I have never understood the addiction a person encounters who is dependant on alcohol or nicotine. Half-jokingly I have even said that I should take up smoking to prove that I have the will-power to stop. And while my body knows no enticement to the addictive qualities of alcohol or nicotine, I have been fighting a physical addiction my own life.

In high school, when I was “using” the most, I quickly became aware that I had symptoms of an unhealthy person. I had a lot of difficulty breathing, to the point it took hours to fall asleep at night. Not to mention my abundant allergies. So what was my addiction? Refined Sugar. (Sugar that is added to a food or processed in any way.)

Back in those days I ate a king size Little Debbie fudge round for breakfast every morning and another for an afternoon snack. And that was just the tip of the iceberg lettuce.

Evidently, men aren’t supposed to admit to loving sugary things. But I openly acknowledge my love and addiction. Chocolate. Ice cream. Cookies. Milk shakes. Peanut butter brittle. Candy. Sweet tea. Dr. Pepper.

Since childhood, I could never finish a meal without having some kind of sweets. My worst vice was Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. I even overdosed on them one time back in 2003, eating 36 of them in a 16 hour period. From that day I developed a rash that lasted 6 years. Six years, not days.

In October 2008, I “hit rock candy bottom” after my hand eczema (dyshidrosis) got “out of hand”. Take a look at the pictures on this Wikipedia entry to see what I was suffering from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dyshidrosis.

I stopped eating shellfish and realized that it helped tremendously, because I learned by wearing my metal wedding ring that my hand eczema is triggered half by contact with heavy metals, which shellfish are full of. The other 50% is the consumption of refined sugar.

It has taken me since October 2008 to get to the point where I am now.  Which is basically a 0% tolerance policy on refined sugar. I couldn’t quit cold turkey. I needed my sugar too much.  Like any threatening drug, I was addicted.  Mentally and physically.

It’s been a long process. The only sugar I eat now comes from 100% fruit juice, fruit, and whole grain bread. Sweets are out of my life.

Aside from the hell that resided on both of my hands for most of last decade, something else helped inspired me to stop my sugar addiction. A realization. A new mindset:

Consuming a tablespoon of sugar is equal to smoking one cigarette.


That may seem like a broad claim since I am not a doctor nor has there ever been a clinical study to prove it. All we really have to go on is the following research I have done, along with the fact my hand eczema is currently 95% cured (thank God).

But consider this: It wasn’t until people began adding sugar into their diets that they began getting cavities. Toothbrushes and toothpaste came about because people starting eating sugar.

Even today, people from tribes in the world that do not have access to Coca-Cola and do not have a concept of adding sugar to their diet coincidently do not suffer from tooth decay. Nor do they suffer from the rate of cancers and diseases that the rest of us do.

I’m not the first to say it: There is a definite link between the health of a person’s teeth and how prone they are to developing health problems in the rest of their body:
http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/hl-vs/pubs/oral-bucco/2009-smile-sourire/index-eng.php

No one needs to be told of all the horrific things smoking does to the human body. Just in case, here’s an overview:
http://quitsmoking.about.com/od/tobaccorelateddiseases/a/smokingrisks.htm

However, most of us truly don’t realize that arguably, the presence of sugar in our diets causes all kinds of cancers and diseases as well.  Most notably, the consumption of refined sugar leads to diabetes, obesity, and tooth decay.  Plus:
http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20060818171925AA5czDQ
http://www.rheumatic.org/sugar.htm

This isn’t to say that consumption of refined sugar causes lung cancer and the same exact health problems that tobacco causes. But eating foods that are processed with refined sugar leads to just as many health problems.

I am confident that a person who smokes a pack of cigarettes a day (20 cigarettes), compared to a person who consumes 20 tablespoons of sugar a day, will be just as affected with an unhealthy body. Whether it’s for 5 years or 30 years.

The more sugar in a person’s daily diet now, the unhealthier they will be later in life. Like cigarettes, the damage isn’t instantly obvious. It can take decades before the person’s body begins to scream for help, like mine did.

To find out how much sugar is in a product, take a look at the nutrition facts. Look under “Total Carbohydrate”. Then scroll down to “sugars”. Divide that number by 12. That is how many tablespoons (not teaspoons) of sugar is in one serving of that product.

The average can of soda contains around 3 ½ to 4 tablespoons of sugar, or according to my analogy, has the same health dangers as smoking 3 ½ to 4 cigarettes.

Therefore, a person who drinks a 2 liter of soda (or the sugar equivalent of it through other sweets) a day will have the comparable health risks of a person who smokes one pack of cigarettes a day.

(For some great visuals, click here: http://www.sugarstacks.com/ )

But as we know, it doesn’t take smoking an entire pack of cigarettes day for a person’s health to be affected by it. So it’s important to check out those forgettable smaller amounts of sugars we consume as well.

Let’s a take a look at a classy favorite, Starbucks. Just a tall (the smallest size) Caramel Frappaccino has 53 grams of sugar, which is 4 ½ tablespoons of sugar, or 4 ½ cigarettes. A tall iced white mocha has 41 grams of sugar, which is 3 ½ tablespoons of sugar, or 3 ½ cigarettes. http://www.starbucks.com/retail/nutrition_info.asp

A Snickers bar has 28 grams, or nearly 2 ½ tablespoons of sugar, or cigarettes.

Ten years ago, the Atkins diet surged with popularity, and suddenly everyone was avoiding carbs. But we need carbs. It’s the sugar in them that’s bad.

Whole grain bread is an important part of our diet, since it contains a good amount of fiber that we need to our food to push through our intestines. But even whole grain, whole wheat fiber has some sugar in it. It’s a matter of finding bread with the most fiber and the least sugar. And dividing that sugar content by 12 to find out how many tablespoons of sugar it contains in a serving.

From all my research, it’s difficult to find a nutritionist who will give a solid number for the amount added sugar we are allowed in a day. Because many that I talked to said ideally, none. But for the ones would give me an answer: 37.5 grams of added sugar per day. About 3 tablespoons.

In other words, a king size Snickers bar or a Starbucks tall iced white mocha will meet this limit 100%. (Though a can of soda would be over the limit.) So we have a fun snack like that and think we’re okay. But, what about the rest of the added sugar we are going to eat that day too?

Like bread? Fruit juice? Whole grain cereal? Yogurt? Milk?

By simply eating the healthy foods we should be eating already, we are naturally going to get close to that those 37.5 grams (or 3 tablespoons) of sugar. So it leaves out room for any sugary snacks.

Because even if we eat completely healthy balanced meals, once we add a bag of M&M’s, we exceeding our daily allowance. And keeping in my unproven theory that a tablespoon of sugar is equal to a cigarette, just one sugary snack on top of an already healthy diet would be like smoking a few cigarettes.

But the truth is this: Most people don’t already eat healthy, balanced meals. So that’s even more “cigarettes” in a day.

The good new is, we don’t have to count all sugars against our 37.5 gram allowance:  Like whole foods such as bananas or blueberries. Or really any food that has not all been processed and has had some kind of sugar added to it.

Because even healthy bread and yogurt have added sugar, even if its organic evaporated cane juice. For example, I just finished a serving of Stonyfield strawberry yogurt which contained 34 grams of sugar. They added organic sugar and strawberry juice to sweeten the yogurt. That’s my full allowance of added sugar, and that was an attempt to be healthy. Not to mention the grape juice I drank earlier today. Lesson learned. Next time I’ll go with cottage cheese and strawberries I slice myself.

And even 100% fruit juice is processed- juice is only a part of the whole fruit. So it must count against the 37.5 gram allowance.

But somehow if the fruit is eaten whole, with the fruit flesh, it counteracts the negative elements of the sugar it contains.

And of course, there’s no cheating the system. Artificial sweeteners are not a safe alternative, with links to potential cancer risks, negative effects on the liver, kidneys, and other organs, gastrointestinal problems, developmental problems in children and fetuses and headaches, to name a few:
http://www.truthaboutabs.com/artificial-sweeteners-natural-stevia.html

I think the most motivating element for me in all this is not so much a fear of getting cancer, but more about getting diabetes. Multiple sources continue to report that 1 out of 3 American children will become diabetics as adults if their current lifestyle continues:
http://www.truthaboutabs.com/artificial-sweeteners-natural-stevia.html

I have lived the first 28 years of my life in favor of becoming a diabetic. After seeing a few photographs of people who had to have their legs removed because of the disease, I decided that I don’t mind getting old, but I do mind getting old and unhealthy and account of my carefree lifestyle in my young adulthood.

So which is worse? A tablespoon of sugar or a cigarette?

At best, they’re the same. They both have enough potential to give us cancer and diseases. I’m not willing to risk my life for either one. I want to be the next Juice Man. Out of control eybrows and all.

Related posts by the same author:

Barley into Beer  http://wp.me/pxqBU-2L

1.2 Billion People Can’t Be Wrong  http://wp.me/pxqBU-43

 Beauty and Self-Worth aren’t the Real Issues  http://wp.me/pxqBU-2c