Here’s a brief follow-up on our recent post about the addictive power of Oreo Cookies – and, in fact, all high fat/sugar treats. Today, we take the ‘sugar’ thing a little farther, highlighting the insidious sub-chemistry of ‘hidden sugar’ in processed foods we eat every day…
We’ve been telling you, for months now, about how the makers of processed foods – especially heat-and-eat items, snacks and breakfast cereals – manage to get a lot of Sugar into their products without saying so in as many words in the ingredients lists on their labels. Today, we’re going to tie up some loose ends and help you learn to find hidden Sugars…
Food mega-manufacturers feel they have to add lots of Sugar, Salt and Fat, because the ingredients they must use, to make their food products by machine, have been so highly processed that most of the flavour and texture has been processed out of them.
Like a bear and a honey tree,
we know it’s bad for us,
but we do it, anyway…
Know the lingo
The most obvious indication, on product ingredient labels, that there’s excess sugar in a packaged, processed product, is the presence of mysterious ingredients whose names end in ‘ose’. As in Sucrose, Glucose, Dextrose, Fructose, and Lactose. These are all sugars, with varying degrees of complexity in the molecular structures. The simple sugars, such as Dextrose, are the worst for you, because they are so easily absorbed and stored by your body. Sure… A lot depends on an individual’s metabolism and other factors. But, in general, the presence of a lot of sugar is just the beginning.
Where there’s Sugar…
…There’s probably also Fat. They enable each other, like Chocolate and Strawberries. Or cigarettes and Coffee. You have one, you want the other. You NEED the other. But the craving for sugar is, apparently, wired into our brains. Recent studies seem to indicate that our forbears – and I mean early ones, while proto-Humans were still hunting and gathering – evolved in such a way that those who got the most sweets had the best chance of surviving. So, nowadays, even though we don’t have to fight a hive full of 20,000 bees every time we want some Honey, we still crave more sugar, even after having an amount that’s sufficient to our needs. It’s hard to fight your genes.
And don’t forget the Salt!
Where there’s Sugar and Fat, there’s almost always Salt, too. Think of the classic candy treats… Salt Water Taffy, Dark Bar Chocolate and Dutch Liquorice… Each a symphony of all that’s bad for us in excess: Sugar, Fat and Salt. And, to make things worse, Salt is essential to life and we all have a built-in craving for it, too. Somewhere in the mists of our collective past, we evolved in such a way that those who got the most salt had the best chance of surviving.
So, what do you do?
As with all things tempting and excessive, we should not only espouse but consistently practice a philosophy of moderation. I always try to remember a slogan painted on the kitchen cabinets at a summer cottage where I stayed every summer when I was little:
“Enough is Equal to a Feast!”
~ Maggie J.