Sugar Time

February 4, 2011 in Diabetes Management, Health, Nutrition, Weight Management by Mary Ireland

    Remember: Today, Feb. 4, is National Wear Red Day. Show your support for
women’s heart disease awareness by wearing red. The statistics are
sobering -- one in four women in the United States will die of heart disease.
It’s also the leading cause of disability in women.


Unfortunately, Americans seem to have taken to heart the lyrics of the song Sugar Time; you remember those lyrics, “Sugar in the Morning, Sugar in the Evening, Sugar at Supper Time…”

In Dr. Grandma’s post earlier this week, Singing Get Off Your SoFAS, (I guess singing is a common them this week), she discusses the new USDA’s Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010. The data from this document is appalling:

  • 72% of men are overweight or obese
  • 64% of women are overweight or obese
  • 33% of adults are obese
  • ~32% of children and adolescents ages 2 to 19 overweight or obese
  • 17% of children are obese

The number of Americans afflicted with diseases caused by poor diet and physical inactivity – even in the absence of overweight or obesity – is staggering:

  • Cardiovascular disease
    • 81.1 million Americans—37 percent of the population
    • 16 percent of the U.S. adult population has high total blood cholesterol
  • Hypertension
    • 74.5 million Americans—34 percent of U.S. adults
    • 36 percent of American adults have prehypertension
  • Diabetes
    • ~24 million people—almost 11 percent of the population—ages 20 years and older – have diabetes
    • ~ 78 million Americans—35 percent of the U.S. adult population ages 20 years or older—have pre-diabetes
  • Cancer ~ 41 percent of the population—will be diagnosed with cancer during their lifetime
  • Osteoporosis - One out of every two women and one in four men ages 50 years and older will have an osteoporosis-related fracture in their lifetime

These diseases are not only crippling bodies, they are crippling our economy. Based on research reported in The American Medical Journal, 62.1% of all bankruptcies in 2007 were medical related. The research shows that 92% of these medical debtors had medical debts over 10% of pretax family income. The remaining 8% of bankruptcies resulted from loss of significant income due to illness or mortgaging a home to pay medical bills. Most medical debtors were well educated, owned homes, and had middle-class occupations. Three quarters had health insurance. In addition, the costs of these illnesses that Medicare and Medicaid has to pay are an enormous burden on the American taxpayer.

Because there is a strong lifestyle (i.e., poor diet and sedentary lifestyle) component to all of these diseases, there is good news: you have a large degree of control over whether your health will be impacted by them. In large part your fate is in your own hands. It is up to you to live a lifestyle that will allow you to enjoy a health old age. It is a choice. Personally whenever I hear people say, “I don’t like to exercise or I really don’t like vegetables,” my first thought is, “and you think dealing with the complications associated with these lifestyle related diseases is a picnic in the park?” Consider the complications:

• Blindness
• Kidney failure requiring transplant or dialysis for the rest of your life
• Amputation of one or both legs
• Paralysis
• Chemotherapy and Radiation
• Incapacitating bone fractures

... just to name a few. Excuse me, but I’ll take veggies and exercise any ole day.

Overconsumption of added sugar is a common culprit in all these diseases. The problem of overconsumption of sugar is so dire, The City of New York Health Department released a video on the dangers of sugar (you may have to scroll down a tad). They wanted to make an impact about the dangers of eating too much sugar and this video does.

So what to do? “Getting Rid of the Whites” is usually the first item on any list of how to improve your nutrition. I’ve also seen the advice: if you can do only one thing – stop eating sugar. In this case sugar includes high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), white sugar, brown sugar, corn syrup, corn syrup solids, raw sugar, malt syrup, maple syrup, pancake syrup, fructose sweetener, liquid fructose, honey, molasses, agave, anhydrous dextrose, and crystal dextrose. In other words all sugars. You have to be vigilant because sugar is pervasive. The following pie chart from Chapter 3 of the USDA’s Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010 shows how these sugars creep into our diets.

If you didn’t take the time to watch the New York City Health Dept video above, please watch just the first few minutes to get an idea of how easy it is to drink 93 packets of sugar a day – that is the biggest piece of the pie above – 35.7% of sugar is consumed in beverages. The next largest percentage is grain-based desserts. Please note that sugar and saturated fat are often combined with refined grains to create a dessert that will send your blood sugar level sky rocketing – while your body receives no nutritional value.

The big question is "How do we solve this problem?" Like most Americans, Dr. Grandpa has a sweet tooth. When he was diagnosed with diabetes in 2004, Dr. Grandma went to work using her knowledge as a Registered Dietitian with a PhD in Public Health to design a style of eating -- in addition to other lifestyle changes -- to get him healthy again. That is when she discovered erythritol.

Erythritol, classified as a sugar alcohol (although it is neither a sugar or an alcohol), has the most attractive profile as a widely useable sweetener among all the sugar alcohols. Erythritol yields close to zero calories (0.2 per gram). It is on the FDA GRAS (Generally Regarded as Safe) list and has been used by humans for thousands of years. It works well for diabetics, and does not cause tooth decay. Erythritol is absorbed in the small intestines and excreted relatively unchanged by the kidneys and therefore doesn’t cause the gastric upset – bloating, gas and diarrhea -- that is associated with eating other sugar alcohols such as maltitol, sorbitol, isomalt, and xylitol. Dr. Grandma has formulated Delight to be as sweet as sugar.

Products using Erythritol are not only substitutes for the empty calories and rapid blood-sugar spiking attributes of sugar and HFCS, but also as a substitute for sugar’s close relatives: honey, brown sugar, molasses, fructose, maple sugar, powdered sugar and agave. Both honey and agave have 60 – 64 calories per tablespoon; which is compared to 45 for table sugar. Because they are a little sweeter than sugar, it brings the calories to about the same as sugar, in order to achieve the same sweetness. Remember, if you’re watching your sugar intake, agave and honey are not ‘sugar savers’ and fall in the added sugars category.

Today, Dr. Grandpa is no longer considered to be a diabetic. He has learned how to successfully manage his weight and his blood sugar levels through exercise and the good tasting nutritious foods that Dr. Grandma provides. If you are interested in avoiding/controlling diabetes check out Dr. Grandma's recipe section. For everyone's sake, we need to end Sugar Time.

For more information about Erythritol, see Erythritol the Coming Alternative to Simple Sugars, Making our Sweet Seeking Taste Buds Happy, Reply to “The Dirty Little Secret of Sugar Free Products,” and What is Erythritol?

Savory Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Peppers

This recipe is as yummy and easy to make as it is nutritious. It is a good substitute for white potato fries. You should vary the amount of pepper to your taste -- or leave it out all together.


2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 Anaheim peppers sliced with the stem removed
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons Dr. Grandma's Delight (you add a few drops -- 1/2 teaspoon or so -- molasses, if you like)
1 1/2 tablespoons paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon poultry seasoning
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1 pinch cayenne pepper

Preheat an oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C).

Place the sweet potato chunks and sliced peppers into a large mixing bowl. Drizzle with the olive oil, then sprinkle them with Delight, paprika, black pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, poultry seasoning, chili powder, and cayenne pepper. Toss until the potatoes are evenly coated with the seasoning. Spread onto a baking sheet -- I like to use a cast-iron skillet.

Bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes, then turn the potatoes over with a spatula, and continue baking until the sweet potatoes are golden and tender, 10 to 15 minutes more.

Scrub sweet potatoes and wash peppers.

Cube sweet potatoes and slice peppers.

Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with Delight

Add remaining spices.

Toss to coat.

Put on baking sheet. (I used a cast-iron skillet.

Turn potatoes and peppers after 15 minutes. Roast another 15 minutes.

Ready to serve!