High Fructose Corn Syrup – What’s all the hubbub?

high fructose corn syrupI’ve finally found evidence that my instincts surrounding what I consume have a scientific basis! I always preferred to “spend” my calorie intake on actual food. It just seemed not nearly as enjoyable to drink my calories, so I’ve had a long standing relationship with water. Yes, water! And now I am so grateful.

Obesity is such a rampant disease in our country that I feel I must share a little bit of what I’ve discovered over the years. This disease is responsible for the vast majority of our health care needs because it leads to so many other diseases. And that’s not counting the emotional and mental health problems that obesity leads to!

Once upon a time I would have said the single biggest thing you can do for your health is to quit smoking – or not start! And while that is still true, it’s interesting that we now have ways to ingest nicotine that really doesn’t do much harm to you. That’s a great thing! If you’re interested in seeing a short video on this topic click here.

High Fructose Corn Syrup – Quit Now!

Now I think the single biggest thing you can do for your health is to quit high fructose corn syrup (HFCS)! That may be a bit dramatic but maybe not. We all know that too much sugar is not good for us. (At least I think we all know that!)  But there’s something about HFCS that makes it particularly insidious.

Not only is the sugar bad for us, but HFCS actually interferes with the things that help us control our appetite. It interferes with our metabolism. It inhibits the triggers that tell us we’re full. So we just want to eat more. And more. For reasons unknown HFCS in drinks is especially harmful for determining what we eat. In other words, when HFCS is consumed in food, there is more of an ability for the body to self regulate and eat less to compensate for the increased calories that have been eaten. But when HFCS is consumed in liquid form, there is no counter balance that triggers us to eat less to make up for the calorie intake from the drink. So when we drink soda, energy drinks, HFCS sweetened juice or yogurt drinks, we end up consuming a lot more calories than we need.

This is really simple way of describing the situation. If you want to read more technical information you can find an article in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition here. It isn’t mentioned here, but others have discovered that HFCS is as addictive as cocaine. The combination of overriding the messages that tell your brain that you have had enough to eat, and the addictive nature of HFCS, means that consuming HFCS is literally forcing your brain to have you eat more than you should. The why may be controversial but several studies provide evidence that there is a difference between regular sugar and HFCS. Here is one.

Now whether making sure we don’t consume HFCS is really the single biggest factor determining our health, that may be an exaggeration. We all know we need to keep moving and using our bodies. We all know we need to eat healthy foods, the less processed the better. And we know there is an emotional component to health. Yes, we have sweet foods for celebrations. It might be counter productive over all to insist that we eat no added sugars. My mother used to say “If you quit smoking you may not live longer, but it sure will feel like it.” It’s hard to have the humor come across in writing. This same woman did, in fact, quit smoking for her grandchildren. Unfortunately not early enough to avoid lung cancer. But I digress.

I don’t want to make anyone feel guilty about eating the occasional (even daily) sweet treat. I do want to help you make wise choices and understand the potential consequences of your choices.

Develop Good Habits

habitsHopefully everyone has seen our message of persistence in the karate school! We all know how important is it to be persistent – to build good habits – to be consistent. But it’s a lot easier said than done, right?

Developing Good Habits

In this message I want to go a little deeper to make it easier for you to develop good habits.  A lot of times we hear messages “just do it” and the first thing that comes to mind is “yeah, right, how?”

I want to share some powerful tips to answer the “how?” question taken from The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg. The subtitle is Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business. It’s a fascinating book which I highly recommend if you’re a reader. If you’re not a reader, I’m going to distill the most important points that you can apply to your own life.

Find Your Habit Triggers

Usually when we talk about habits, we’re talking about bad ones we want to break. Let’s use the example of putting on unwanted pounds because of an afternoon cookie habit. The first thing you want to be aware of is what is triggering the habit. Take some time to develop awareness. Are you hungry? Are you bored? Is it just an opportunity to get up and move around, or to go and chat with others?

Once you can determine the trigger then you can address the real motivation behind the habit. Duhigg calls that the cue that leads to a routine that leads to a reward.  If it’s hunger, might there be a healthier choice you can make? If you’re bored, what else might you do instead? If it’s just time for some movement, maybe you can take a quick walk instead. So for example, if we can determine that the real reward we’re after is having an opportunity to socialize, we can change the routine to be checking in for a few minutes with a buddy instead of going and getting cookies the next time we feel the “cue”.

As many of our character packets state – in order to change anything we first need to develop awareness.  Developing awareness of our thoughts, our feelings, our habits, is hugely important in terms of how to transform them. If we’re not even aware of our habits, we can’t possibly change them!

This week we built on the same theme of developing habits by challenging the kids with this mat chat:

Being PERSISTENT can build great habits! You’re going to see how easy it can be to create a habit.

So think about what good habit do you want to start working on? In a few weeks we’ll be unveiling our Summer Learning Program – so you might want to get in the habit of reading every day. Or if it’s not already a habit – make brushing your teeth every morning and every night a habit. Maybe you’ve got both of those down. How about making your bed every morning? That’s a great habit that will make you feel good every night for the rest of your life! (it’s so much nicer to go to bed and find a nicely made bed ready for you!)

 This week we’re going to start working on the habit of having every class greet the class coming in after them. We’re going to fist bump every student who is waiting for the next class to start. Along with the fist bump we’re going to say what the training theme is. Right now we’re on PERSISTENCE! Let’s see how long it takes us to make this a habit!

Parents, help your kids develop good habits. Start by letting them see you develop your own good habits!

Persistence – Never Giving Up!

persistenceThis week we started the theme of PERSISTENCE.

In karate we like to say that a black belt is a white belt who never gave up! The same is true of almost every successful professional, every successful athlete, and every successful musician! Some people think talent gets you where you go in life, but it’s just not true. Hard work and persistence gets you further than talent.

We’re also going to be focusing on self-defense. We reminded the students that their PARENTS are their first line of self-defense. They need to be persistent in listening to what their parents tell them and then persistent in obeying them!

Persistence is also what forms good habits. (You generally don’t have to TRY to have bad habits!)

Persistence Mat Chat

If you don’t brush your teeth today are they going to fall out tomorrow?
If you eat a lot of candy today and skip a healthy meal, are you going to suddenly be really unhealthy?
If you don’t do your homework one night, are you going to fail?

If you continue to not brush your teeth over time, what’s going to happen?
If you continue to not eat healthy meals and just eat junk, what’s going to happen?
If you never do your homework, what’s going to happen?

What we do over time, adds up to what kind of life we’re going to have: whether we’re going to have healthy teeth, a healthy body, or do well in school.

So our habits are pretty important – our habits are going to determine an awful lot about us.

How do we get good habits?

First you have to decide what habits you want. Start with just one thing you want to improve. Then just DECIDE to do it!

Be persistent! In the beginning it’s hard. Be nice to yourself, don’t beat yourself up, when you slip up. Just start over. And over. Have someone help you – remind you. The really cool thing is that after a while of really trying, and having to start over – one day you find yourself doing it without even thinking. The persistence paid off and now it’s a habit!