Displaying items by tag: sugar digestion

How to read a food label, or more importantly how to avoid highly processed man-products that are high in fructose:

I get it.  You are frustrated.  You are living with Fructose Malabsorption and you don’t know what to eat.  You don’t know what is safe.  You wander the isles at your local grocery store looking at labels after labels frustrated because you can not even pronounce most of the ingredients.  Trust me, I have been there.  When I was first diagnosed with Fructose Malabsorption the grocery store made me incredibly anxious.  I knew I was supposed to avoid high fructose corn syrup and other obvious ingredients like honey and molasses; but I had no idea that so many other hidden, potentially gut bomb ingredients were out there.  I was at a total loss; to scared to purchase any mass produced food product.  At first, due to my food fears, I would only eat whole foods:  foods without a label.  But, after time I started to educate myself and realized that there were a lot of companies who were committed to using real whole food; and in fact there were a fair amount of products that I could eat.  I am ten years into my diagnosis, and have replaced my anxiety and food fears with knowledge.  I now know what is safe, what to avoid, and what questions to ask myself everytime I look at a food label.


I ask myself these questions when grocery shopping:


-Is this ingredient made in a factory or does it come from the Earth?


-Can I pronounce this ingredient?


-Can I create a mental picture of this ingredient?


For example:  I know that acesulfame potassium does not come from the Earth; nor can I pronounce it.  Also, I have no idea what acesulfame potassium looks like in its natural state.  Therefore, why would I want to eat it?  My body was made to digest real whole food, not man-made highly processed products like acesulfame potassium.


When I ask myself these questions I always come to the safest conclusion.  If it doesn’t come from the Earth; if I can’t pronounce it; and if I can’t picture what the product looks like in its natural state then I know I shouldn’t eat it.

 

Check out this food label:

 

When you first look at this label you might think this product is safe for me and you, and it is gut friendly.  High fructose corn syrup is never listed in the ingredients.  But, if you look closer and ask yourself the above mentioned simple questions you will realize that this product is a gut bomb, not safe.  “Organic Brown Rice Syrup, Organic Date Paste, Organic Cane Syrup, Organic Dried Cane Syrup, and Organic Tapioca Syrup” are all man-made highly processed products that potentially contain high levels of fructose and should totally be avoided.  Don’t be misled by the word “organic”.  “Organic” does not equal safe and does not equal healthy.  This product and other products like this should be avoided.


So what should you eat?  What products are safe?  Check out the Spotlight section of my blog.  I have highlighted many safe products.

 

It is important to keep a daily food journal when you are diagnosed with Fructose Malabsorption.  It will help you determine what foods are safe for you.  Each of us has a unique gut voice and we need to learn to listen to it.  Link here for an example of a Fructose Malabsorption Daily Food Journal.

 

Everyone with Fructose Malabsorption tolerates different levels of fructose and has their own unique gut and gut voice. It is best to make a list of what feels good and what doesn’t, listen to your gut voice, and remember it is all about the daily balance. 

 

 

Published in FBF Blog

The Top 15 Lessons I Have Learned From Starting A Blog About Fructose Malabsorption:

 

 

 In August of 2017 my daughter and I visited a local bakery to pick up a piece of cake.  This cake and bakery are well known in the Minneapolis area.  It truly is divine, delectable and downright sinfully good.  Our plan was to share the piece of cake and watch the movie "Titanic".  My daughter had been begging me to watch the movie all summer.  I kept putting off her request because who watches a movie in the middle of August in Minnesota?  August is fantastic in Minnesota.  Most of us spend our days outside boating, swimming, hiking, golfing, playing tennis, picnicking..you get the picture. August is all about enjoying the glorious weather before the winter hits and we are back to hibernating.  My son was off at overnight camp, my husband was playing golf and I decided to embrace her movie request.  It finally occurred to me that, yes, my daughter was asking to spend 3 hours with me watching a ship sink.  I didn't just need to watch this movie with her; I was lucky she asked me.  

Anyway, back to the cake.  As usual I always ask for the ingredient list in a bakery item when I order it.  Even if I have ordered this same item 1000 times before I always ask.  Trust me, both my daughter and I know what a fructose volcano feels like and don't want to make that mistake again.  The bakery assistant gave me one of those looks when I asked for the ingredient list, "it's one of those ladies, can't she just order the cake and move on."  I held my chin up high and didn't let her annoyance annoy me.  We diligently waited for her to return from the kitchen and hand us the ingredient list assuming it would contain the same ingredients we use at home to bake a cake:  flour, eggs, cocoa, baking soda, sugar, butter.  This time I was completely shocked when she handed me the list.  HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP was the second ingredient listed!  Yes, HFCS!  How could our favorite bakery cheat on us?  We felt betrayed.  Needless to say we did not purchase the cake and have not returned.  

Even though both of us were somewhat heartbroken we decided not to mourn the loss of the cake.  We chose to take on the challenge and bake an even better cake.  Flash forward four hours later, both us were crying as Jack couldn't fit on the rather large piece of floating door, lamenting the fact that Rose would be all alone, and devouring our cake.  To be honest, it wasn't as pretty as the bakery's, but it was delicious and totally safe.  As I was tucking Grace in that evening I said out loud for the first time, "wouldn't it be fun if we had a website all about Fructose Malabsorption?"

These are some of the most famous last words in our house.  Somewhat of an, "oh no, she didn't really say that out loud did she? "  Just so we are clear when I say something out loud that typically means it is going to happen and it is most likely something I have been considering for sometime.  When I say it out loud it basically means I have already created a google doc on the how, why, when and where of my new idea.  

My family was shocked when I told them about my idea.  I am the least likely person to start a website because my tech skills are not savvy, they are almost nonexistent.  For example, today I could not figure out how to turn the flashlight on on my phone.  I usually solve my technological misgivings by texting my kids.  They are the resident "Best Buy Geek Squad" at our house.  Typically, they make fun of my lack of tech prowess.  I constantly need to remind them that I didn't have email in college or a cellphone until after the birth of our first born.  Yes, I used to live in the dark ages.

Why did I speak those words out loud?  Because, I felt called to do it for my daughter.  It is really hard to live with Fructose Malabsorption, especially when you are a little kid.  I wanted to find a way for her to own her food intolerance and share her frustrations and discoveries.  I, too, needed an outlet.  Somedays I don't want to have Fructose Malabsorption.  I just want to wake up and go to that local bakery and gorge myself on a piece of cake.  But, I can't.  

This idea kept gnawing at me, finding ways into my dreams and filling up all of my thoughts.  Honestly, I was super scared to take on this challenge.  But, I kept coming back to images of my daughter not eating at school and social events, sitting in the corner feeling like she was different.  I needed to do this for Grace.  I wanted her to see that I am willing to do things I am scared to do.  If I can tackle the technical/website component of this adventure than maybe Grace can start tackling her fears and frustrations. The more I thought about it the more I wanted the challenge...I kept thinking you don't grow in life unless you try new things.  

On March 1st Families Balancing Fructose will celebrate our one year anniversary.  In the last year I have learned how to back end edit a website, upload pictures, analyze google data and navigate social media.  Almost one year in I feel like a tech genius!  One year ago I didn't even know how to create an embedded link in a document.  And, now my kids even ask me tech questions!

As I reflect on the last year I realize there are so many lessons learned beyond website editing.  I have learned so much about my gut, other people's guts, my daughter's determination and grit, and how to embrace Fructose Malabsorption and celebrate it

 

Lesson 1.  Everyone has a unique gut and unique gut voice.  Our individual gut is like a second set of fingerprints.  We need to find this voice and listen to it.  We can learn what works and what doesn't work.  We know how to feed our guts, how to make healthy choices and how to find joy in safe eating habits. Fructose Malabsorption makes us intuitive eaters.

 

Lesson 2.  All sorbitol including natural occurring sorbitol in stone fruits is a definite no for my gut and my whole body.  I try to eat a very diverse diet, but choose to avoid sorbitol at all costs.  On the flip side gluten and other foods on the FODMAP list work for me.  I can eat small amounts of garlic and onions.  A few times a month I enjoy green beans.  Back to lesson #1, each of us has a unique gut.  We all react differently to FODMAP foods and need to use this protocol they way it was created.  The FODMAP program was created to help us determine are gut fingerprints.  It wasn't created as a safe diet for all of us. If you want to learn more about FODMAPS take a closer look at my blog.

 

Lesson 3.  Protein is so good for my body.  Eating protein sources with essential amino acids aids in the digestion of fructose.  For the last few years I have intuitively known that protein is my gut's friend.  I have even figured out that if I want to eat vegetables or fruit that are higher in fructose eating a protein source with it helps.  I never knew scientifically why this worked, but I intuitively knew why.  Recently one of my new Fructose Malabsorption friends shared an article from the Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition that proves my theory.  Amino acids, found in proteins, have been scientifically proven to aid in fructose absorption.  This discovery has caused me to change my breakfast options.  Occasionally I add sausage links or whole milk cottage cheese to the breakfast rotation.  This discovery has also changed the lunches I pack for my daughter at school. Grace and I wrote a blog about school lunches and it includes 6 lunches that are low in fructose, kid friendly and easy to make.

 

Lesson 4.  Eating a diverse diet is good for me and my body.  The more I try to eat in moderation, not eliminate a lot of foods, and balance my daily fructose intake the happier my gut feels.  My gut is not happy when I limit my diet to only a few items.  My gut flora is diverse and craves a diverse diet.  In one of my earliest blog articles, Cliff Notes® on Sugar Digestion, I begin to explore this topic.

 

Lesson 5.  Most days I eat the same thing for lunch.  I am very utilitarian when it comes to my midday meal.  I don't want to think about Fructose Malabsorption and the fructose content in food.  When you have Fructose Malabsorption eating can become a pain in the you know what!  You constantly have to research and plan and think and prepare what you are going to eat. However, let's look at lesson 4.  I need to switch up my daily lunch routine.  Over the last year I have added new protein sources, a different collection of vegetables and have created many new salad recipes and simple vinaigrettes.  

 

Lesson 6.  My new Facebook Fructose Malabsorption friends have taught me a lot about gluten and glyphosate, and why organic flour can be different especially if it comes from a European country.  My grocery purchases have considerably changed due to these lessons.  I am now purchasing imported pasta and have decided it's ok to give your child white bread

 

Lesson 7.  My brother had an unfortunate agave incident this summer.  Much to his dismay we learned a lot about the agave plant.

 

Lesson 8.  I have always wondered why balsamic vinegar gives me a tummy ache?  And, why has it taken me 10 years to find the answer?  Balsamic Vinaigrette used to be my go to order out at a restaurant and consequently my go to way of leaving the restaurant feeling yucky.  My thought was vinaigrettes are healthier than dressings like ranch or caesar, dressings with more fat and; therefore, a better option.  Why then was I feeling bloated and why was my gut yelling at me when I was choosing balsamic vinaigrette?  I had no idea what was in balsamic vinegar and to be honest didn't realize I needed to know.  It hadn't occurred to me that my healthy choice was not healthy for me.  I didn't know that balsamic vinegar could contain anything other than vinegar.  And, I assumed it was a healthy choice because it was low in fat and I was putting in on a salad.

 

Lesson 9.  Are you like me?  Do you feel like the words "COCONUT SUGAR" are everywhere?  In your Facebook and Instragram feeds?  At your favorite restaurants and bakeries? What's the deal with coconut sugar?  Can we believe all of the health claims about coconut sugar?  Is it a healthier option compared to table sugar?

 

Lesson 10.  Over the last year Grace has finally owned her Fructose Malabsorption and wants to write about it. Grace's first article details how to navigate social outings when you have a food intolerance.

 

Lesson 11. In addition to Facebook I have connected with a lot of fellow FM patients around the world.  They have given me a lot of great advice, including new ways to explain Fructose Malabsorption to your friend, neighbor, relative and restaurant waiter.

 

Lesson 12.  Recently I’ve been revisiting old cookbooks that have been collecting dust on my shelves.  I found the Strawberry Shortcake cookbook my grandmother gave me in 1980 when I was four years old.  What I love most about this cookbook is that it encourages kids to get in the kitchen, make a mess, and start experimenting with flavors. There aren't any complicated directions that need to be followed.  Truly, the whole goal is to engage kids in new and unusual smells, textures, tastes and sights; and to be proud of something they created with their own two hands.  I also own my mom's Joy of Cooking cookbook that was published in 1964.  You will not find any glossy pictures in this book, just simple recipes and tips on how to cook fresh in season food.  This last year I have made a lot of recipes from these two cookbooks and highlight them on our website.

 

Lesson 13.  Last fall my cousin, Cari, a millennial, told me about a conversation she was having with her friend about fructose and my rotisserie chicken blog.  Cari was shocked to find out that rotisserie chicken necessarily wasn’t a safe food and that a multitude of mass produced additives could be hiding in chicken.  Honestly, I was shocked, too. I had no idea Cari and her friends cared about their food choices as much as I do. Cari doesn’t have a food intolerance; and is a healthy 26 year old who loves trying new workout classes, going out to dinner with her friends and exploring Minneapolis.  Why does Cari care so much?  Do other millennials like her make food choices based on similar convictions?  The answer is, YES.  According to the Washington Post, “millennials are the largest U.S. age demographic, and as such they are key tastemakers.” Millennials are savvy eaters.  They demand transparency on food labels. They want to know where their food is sourced and do not want any hidden ingredients.  These are my kind of people.  I, too, demand transparency. I want to know exactly where my food comes from, what is hiding in it and how my health could be negatively or positively impacted by my food choices. The millennial population knows 6 truths about fructose that we all need to know.

 

Lesson 14.  Over the last year I have developed a list of questions you should ask yourself when you look at any food label.

 

Lesson 15.  I have also learned this year that it is really hard to take a good picture of food.  If you live in the Minneapolis area and want to be my photography intern contact me.  I am in need of help. I actually wrote a blog about my photography issues.

Published in FBF Blog
Sunday, 25 November 2018 14:44

Vanilla Almond Granola Recipe

This recipe comes straight from an experience I had 10 plus years ago.  A time when I succumbed to food product marketing rather than listening to my own gut.  When I chose bright, shiny, all tied up in a bow, supposedly healthy products.  A product that declared it would make everyone feel ready to tackle the day; a one size fits all type of product.  Hello, where was my intuitive eating, my gut voice?  Here is a direct quote from my About Me page on my website from this incident:

"My gut declared war on me when I listened to conventional marketing and purchased “healthy granola” and replaced my old-fashioned oats for breakfast. “Halt, don’t go there yelled my gut, you are going to regret this.”  But, did I listen, no!  I dove right into that bowl of honey soaked chewy granola with dried fruits and a sprinkling of high fructose corn syrup, agave syrup, and sorbitol on top.  Wow, was I wrong not to listen to my gut!!!  My gut fought back and this time I listened.  How had I got caught up in food product marketing?  Why wasn’t I living like my parents had taught me; and when had I let highly processed food products replace real food in my kitchen?"

This purchase, this poor decision actually was the catalyst for me to make a change in my life.  

After multiple years of assuming my constant brain fog and exhaustion were due to our hectic life schedule (even though I was sleeping 8 hours every night).  And presuming my joints throbbed because I had logged too many hours in the pool pursuing my dream of becoming a collegiate swimmer.  And, definitely knowing why all winter long I had sinus infections, bronchitis and a constant runny nose.  I thought it was because I was around little kids. I was just one of those people who got sick a lot.  In fact, one of my friends called me “Leaky Lindsay”.  Finally, after my granola debacle my gut was screaming at me; and I listened not knowing that my brain fog, sore joints and sinus issues were all related to my intolerable gut.  I made an appointment with a gastroenterologist and found out I had Fructose Malabsorption.  (Fructose Malabsorption and Chronic Inflammation)

I finally had an answer!  I knew what was making me sick, and I knew how to listen to my own personal gut voice rather than the multitude of voices shouting at me to make healthy decisions based on mass produced food product marketing.

Flash forward over 10 years later.  I am living and thriving with Fructose Malabsorption, not just surviving.  Most days are good, some days are bad.  But, I know how to eat, how to listen to my gut and how to advocate for myself.

I have tackled so many recipes over the last 10 years.  I have altered 100's of recipes and found safe substitutions.  Some of my substitutions have been complete failures; and others successful enough to be added permanently to my hardcover, 3 ring binder family favorite recipe book.  

One recipe I have struggled with is granola.  Honey and molasses are definitely a big NO in our house-both are sure to cause a Fructose Volcano.  But, this causes a dilemma.  How do you get the granola to stick together long enough to bake and create that wonderful granola crunch?

A few years ago a friend of mine made homemade lemon drop martinis in my kitchen.  She is a really good friend.  She asks questions about what I can and cannot eat, always sends me recipes to review before inviting me to her house; and most importantly supports me.   I am one lucky person to have a friend like this!  

Lemon drop martinis are apparently super easy to make at home.  The key is simple syrup and fresh lemon juice:  two things I can enjoy in small doses.  Simple syrup is boiled down white sugar and water.  The slower you boil it down the stickier it gets.  As I was patiently waiting for my martini it occurred to me that simple syrup was the missing link to my granola recipe.  Combine it with organic canola oil and Wallah!!!  We, fructose malabsorption patients, can eat simple syrup in small doses.  Simple syrup is much healthier choice for us.

As I am typing this it occurs to me I don't thank my friend enough for her kindness and willingness to dive into this Fructose Malabsorption adventure with me.  I will do this later today: thank her!!!

 

Vanilla Almond Granola Recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 60 oz old fashioned oats
  • 24 oz non-salt blanched almond slices
  • 16 oz egg whites
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 3/4 cups white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • I cup organic canola oil
  • 5 tablespoons vanilla

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 275 degrees.
  2. Line 3 jelly roll pans with parchment paper.
  3. In a large bowl combine the oats, almonds and egg whites.
  4. In a saucepan over medium-low heat combine the water and sugar.  Stir frequently until the mixture becomes like a syrup.  Stir in vanilla and canola oil.  Allow the mixture to cool for a few minutes.
  5. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir.
  6. Divide the mixture evenly among all 3 pans.
  7. Cook the granola for 135 minutes, rotating the pans every 45 minutes.
  8. Allow the granola to cool for at least 2 hours before transferring it to a container.

Tips:

  1. White sugar is a "safe" sugar for people living with Fructose Malabsorption.  It is made up of equal amounts of glucose and fructose.  Glucose is like a spaceship transporting fructose in our body.  However, you still don't want to over do it on sugar consumption.  The goal each day is to keep your fructose to 15 grams.  For more information on sugar digestion link to my article: Cliff Notes on Sugar Digestion.
  2. This recipe has 3 grams of fructose in each 1/2 cup serving based on a little fancy math and an internet side, Nutrifox.
  3. Gastroenterologists and other medical professionals have also found that protein, like glucose helps to transport fructose.  This recipe has 7.1 grams of protein in each 1/2 cup serving.  In our family we increase our proteins loads by adding Naked Whey protein powder to our yogurt and/or milk.
  4. Each of us has a unique gut and unique gut voice.  Almonds may not work for you.  They work for me in small doses.  No, I do not eat almonds everyday.  I enjoy this granola a few times a week.  You could use walnuts or other types of nuts and/or seeds.
  5. About a month ago I started a science experiment; a sugar science experiment to be exact.  I have been reducing the amount of sugar in all recipes by 50%.  It is working.  It doesn't change the recipe or the taste.  For more information on this experiment check out My Sugar Experiment.  I am planning on trying it with this recipe, too.
Published in FBF Blog
Wednesday, 31 October 2018 20:01

What I Eat For Lunch Most Days:

Most days I eat the same thing for lunch.  I am very utilitarian when it comes to my midday meal.  I don't want to think about Fructose Malabsorption and the fructose content in food.  When you have Fructose Malabsorption eating can become a pain in the you know what!  You constantly have to research and plan and think and prepare what you are going to eat.  

It is a daily grind.  I can't just on a whim go out to lunch or pick something up.  Yes, there are restaurants I can visit and safe options at my local market; but, I don't have the flexibility that most people do.  My diet takes work and thought.  And, sometimes on super busy days I don't have extra time or brain energy to give to lunch.  

Over the last few years I have found that it is easiest to take the guesswork out of lunch.  I want to eat something that isn't high in sugar and is nutrient dense.  I have discovered my body does best when I limit my daily fructose intake to less than 15 grams a day. I choose to find 90 % of that fructose in fresh vegetables.  

Occasionally, I indulge in a homemade treat. Most days, I don't.  My gut and; therefore, the rest of my body is happiest when I listen to my gut and eat good, clean food.  

There are benefits to this diet.  It isn't all bad.  My food choices are mostly whole real foods and safe products that are made by companies who are transparent and committed to making clean products made from real ingredients.  I feel healthy, I have lots of energy and I am happy.  I have become an intuitive eater.  I know what works for me and my unique gut.  

 

Each day my lunch consists of a protein source, fresh vegetables and a simple vinaigrette.

 

Protein Source:  

Eating protein sources with essential amino acids assists in the absorption of fructose.  For the last few years I have intuitively known that protein is my gut's friend.  I even figured out that if I want to eat vegetables or fruit that are higher in fructose eating a protein source with it helps.  I never knew scientifically why this worked, but I intuitively knew why.  Recently, one of my new Fructose Malabsorption friends shared an article from the Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition that proves my theory.  Amino acids, found in proteins, have been scientifically proven to aid in fructose absorption.

I like to vary my daily protein source.  Some days I eat leftover baked chicken or salmon, and other days I add roast beef or Wild Planet Albacore Tuna to my salad.  My dietitian has told me many times that it is very important for gut health to vary our food choices.  We have millions of gut flora swimming around in our digestive system and we need to feed them and keep them happy.

 

Fresh Vegetables:

Each of us has a unique gut, like a second set of fingerprints.  What works for me may not work for you.  

We do know that vegetables for the most part are low in fructose compared to fresh fruits; and also contain glucose and glucose helps fructose absorption.   All vegetables are not created equally.  Asparagus, peas, jalapeño peppers, and broccoli have higher amounts of fructose compared to other vegetables.  Personally, I can tolerate these vegetables in small amounts and do not eat them everyday.  Many people living with Fructose Malabsorption also struggle with FODMAPS.  Asparagus, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, chicory leaves, globe and Jerusalem artichokes, karela, leeks, mushrooms and snow peas are high in FODMAPS.  Like the high fructose vegetables, I occasionally eat asparagus, cauliflower, artichokes and mushrooms.  I always partner these vegetables with a protein source and limit my intake to 1/4 cup.  

Click here if you would like to learn more about FODMAPS.

If you would like to learn more about sugar digestion and the fructose content in vegetables and fruits check out my blog: Cliff Notes© on Sugar Digestion.

 

Simple Vinaigrette:

My favorite salad dressing is Here Lemon and Basil Vinaigrette.  It is sourced from local farms, does not contain any artificial flavors nor preservatives, only uses real ingredients, and best of all the flavor is divine.  It is made by "Here".  Yes, "Here", meaning right here, close to home, this dressing is sourced and created.  I am not the only one who has discovered this dressing.  Many times when I visit my local Whole Foods Market this dressing is sold out.  I am actually somewhat devastated when it is not available.  This dressing is so good it makes me smile when I use it.  Our family uses it on fresh salads and as a marinade on grilled chicken.  My son, Jack, told me that this dressing makes, "the best chicken he has ever had".  That's right, here, at my house I am making the best chicken with "Here" dressing.  Check out their company's story.  

I also enjoy making simple vinaigrettes with dijon mustard, apple cider vinegar, fresh lemon, olive oil and herbs. Did you know that balsamic vinegar has 7.4 grams of fructose?  I didn't discover this fact until last summer and actually wrote a blog about it.  How was I completely in the dark about this?  With Fructose Malabsorption I learn something new everyday.  

Apple cider vinegar has 0 grams of fructose, yes, 0, totally safe!  My favorite vinaigrette made with apple cider vinegar and dijon mustard is:

Apple Cider Vinaigrette (serving size, 8):

Mix together:

I tablespoon apple cider vinegar

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon dijon mustard

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1/8 teaspoon dried oregano

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon pepper

 

My favorite mayo is Just Mayo.   I 100% agree with their mission:  "sustainable, healthier food that is affordable and delicious".  Why do they call it "Just"?  Simply, because it is "Just" good and "Just" the perfect thing for our body.  Like their label states:  "What is Just-an adjective, meaning guided by reason, justice and fairness".  I use it in my tuna salad recipe, greek chicken salad recipe and cranberry chicken salad recipe.  

 

What is your favorite lunch?  Share with Me, let's connect, teach each other and build a Fructose Malabsorption community.

Published in FBF Blog

Whether you are living with Fructose Malabsorption or not sugar is a hot topic right now.  We see stories on the news and in print about safe and unsafe sugars.  In social media platforms we are bombarded with countless marketing campaigns for low sugar, no sugar, and healthy sugar products.  Walk into your local bookstore and you will find a multitude of cookbooks all dedicated to sugar:  from decadent desserts to no sugar diets.  


As a 42 year old who loves to cook, bake, and go out to eat with girlfriends how am I supposed to live?  

How much sugar should I eat each week and what type of sugar should I use when I am baking and cooking for my family?  


I do not have all of the answers.  Each of us is different and we each have a unique gut voice.  What works for me may not work for you.  What my family likes to have for dinner and dessert may not be your family's first choice.  


But, I do think we all have a lot in common.  We like to celebrate birthdays, retirements and even Fridays.  We enjoy dinners out with friends, dinners in with friends; and ice cream on a hot summer night or fresh hot cookies straight from the oven on a cold winter night.  


I think we all crave balance.  We want to live a healthy life, but we don't want that life to be so restricted.  We want to celebrate with our friends and family; and also know that we are making choices that will keep us around for a long time to enjoy these celebrations.


How can we find this balance?  


We need to understand how our body processes sugar, how sugar is hidden in convenience foods and how all types of sugar are not created equally.  


At our house we LOVE to bake!  I think baking a treat from scratch adds to the celebration.  When my daughter and I bake we make a big mess in our kitchen, laugh a lot, and experiment with flavors and textures.  When the timer dings and we remove our creation from the oven we celebrate our accomplishment or our baking failure.  

 

Families Balancing Fructose Blog Articles All About Sugar:

Cliff Notes on Sugar Digestion:  a brief summary of how sugar is digested in our gut and tips on how to avoid the a Fructose Volcano

What Millennials Can Teach Us About Sugar:  My 26 year old cousin, a millennial, has taught me the importance of advocating for my gut and my overall health through food choices and intentional living.  It is all about balance.

How To Read a Label:  tips on how to read a label including 3 questions you should ask yourself every time you look at a food label and what man-made sugars are not safe choices

C Encyclopedia, Coconut Sugar:  my research results and an "encyclopedia entry" regarding the pros and cons of coconut sugar

 

Sugar and Chronic Inflammation:  why excess sugar intake can cause chronic inflammation in your entire body, not just your gut

 

Grace's Favorite Products and Recipes:  My daughter, Grace, has Fructose Malabsorption.  She is a healthy, thriving, 11 year old.  Grace enjoys baking, eats real sugar and balances her sugar intake each day.  Grace has learned that glucose is like a spaceship helping transport fructose in her body.

  


 

Published in FBF Blog
Tuesday, 18 September 2018 21:07

Coconut Sugar Encyclopedia

Are you like me?

 Do you feel like the words "COCONUT SUGAR" are everywhere?  

In your Facebook and Instragram feeds?  At your favorite restaurants and bakeries?  

What's the deal with coconut sugar?  

Can we believe all of the health claims about coconut sugar?  Is it a healthier option compared to table sugar?

I wish we were back in the 1980's when I was in elementary school and the internet did not exist.  A time when we couldn't get instant access to information that hadn't been vetted by reputable sources.  A simpler time when researching was easier and I knew everything I read had been verified, well-documented and fact-checked.  

When I was in 5th grade, let's be honest, when I was in high school; and I wanted to learn about something I would visit my local library and the collections of Encyclopedia Brittanica.  By the way, who is Brittanica?  

Anyway, if there was a topic I was interested in like coconut sugar I would open up the "C" encyclopedia and all of the information listed would be facts, not opinions or mass marketed health claims.

Today, when anyone wants to learn about a topic they most likely visit Google.  Within milliseconds we have access to lots of information and we can get this information sitting on our couches in our pj's.  Yes, there is something beautiful in this.  I love that I don't have to get in my car or even change out of my pj's.  

But, there is a downside to this accessibility.  If you search coconut sugar on Google there are 227,000,000 entries.  Yes, millions of entries.  And, these entries are not all facts.  It includes opinions, marketing health claims and yes, fake news about coconut sugar.  How are we supposed to fact check millions of entries?  Where is the truth?  Where is Brittanica when we need them?

I spent countless hours over the last few weeks researching coconut sugar attempting to sort out truth from fiction; healthy vs health claim; and authentic scientific research vs fraudulent investigations.

If I was Brittanica and could develop  a "C" encyclopedia with a coconut sugar entry this is what it would look like:

 

Families Balancing Fructose "C" Encyclopedia, Coconut Sugar:

 

What is coconut sugar?: 

Coconut sugar comes from the sap of a coconut tree similar to sap from a maple tree, the sap is boiled down to eliminate the water and it becomes a crystalline substance like what we know as table sugar. (a) (b)

Is there anything else in coconut sugar besides sugar?: 

Yes, according to the Food and Nutrition Research Institute of the Philippines coconut sugar contains trace amounts of zinc, iron, calcium, phytonutrients and antioxidants. (d) (e) When I first read this I thought score one point for coconut sugar.  If I am going to eat a treat, why not also get the benefits of healthy nutrients.  But, the more I dug into this research the more I discovered that this health claim is just a claim.  It can not be 100% verified and hasn't been vetted by multiple research institutes.  In addition, multiple companies from multiple countries make coconut sugar and there is a complete lack of regulations.  We can not fact check every bag of coconut sugar.  We honestly don't know what is in it.  We are back to square one:  coconut sugar and table sugar are tied.

What's the deal with glycemic index and why is this important when choosing sugar?:  

According to the American Diabetes Association, "the glycemic index measures how a carbohydrate containing food raises blood glucose levels."  (f) Glucose is the main source of energy for our bodies.  If you are living with Diabetes foods that have a low glycemic index prevent blood sugar spikes, spikes in blood sugar are not good for diabetics.  Coconut sugar has a lower glycemic index compared to table sugar.  So, yes coconut sugar is better for you if you have Diabetes.  A food's glycemic index does not correlate to whether a food is safe or unsafe for people living with Fructose Malabsorption.

What is inulin that is in coconut sugar?:

"Inulin is a type of soluble fiber that slows the absorption of food in the gut" and is found in coconut sugar, but not in table sugar. (a). At first you might think this is a win for coconut sugar.  It has fiber in it, and fiber is good for us, right?  Unfortunately, inulin is a high FODMAP food that can also be found in onions, garlic, leeks, asparagus and bananas.  Many people with Fructose Malabsorption discover after using the FODMAP challenge program that inulin causes gut unrest. (c) Why then would I substitute my regular table sugar for coconut sugar that has inulin in it?  I am constantly trying to balance my fructose and other FODMAP food intake and do I really want to introduce another FODMAP source in a dessert?

Encyclopedia Coconut Sugar Conclusion:

Coconut sugar is not a healthier option for me.  Coconut sugar contains inulin.

Table sugar does not contain inulin.  

Table sugar is sucrose.  Sucrose is 50% glucose and 50% fructose.  This is a fact.  And, glucose is like a spaceship transporting fructose across the gut barrier.  Glucose is FM's friend. (g)

When eating a treat I am eating it because it is a treat, it is special, and I have spent the rest of the day or week making healthy choices.

Sugar is sugar.  Coconut sugar and table sugar have very similar calorie amounts.  Let's get rid of the myth that some sugars are healthier than other sugars.  Sugar is sugar.

Michael Pollan sums it up in his book In Defense of Food: “If you’re concerned about your health, you should probably avoid products that make health claims. Why? Because a health claim on a food product is a strong indication it’s not really food, and food is what you want to eat”   Table sugar companies do not market their product with a health claim.  

Go ahead, enjoy an occasional treat made with real sugar if that works for your body.  I know my gut enjoys an occasional square of dark chocolate or a piece of my daughter's homemade cake.

 

 

 

 

Sources:

(a) Washington post article

(b) Wikipedia article on coconut sugar

(c) What is Inulin and is it a FODMAP? 

(d) Food and Nutrition Research Institute 

(e) Medical News Today 

(f) American Diabetes Association

(g) FBF Cliff Notes on Sugar Digestion

Published in FBF Blog

It is hard to believe summer is almost over.  We had great weather in Minnesota this summer.  My highlights include time spent on the lake, long walks, picnic lunches on the screened-in porch, and a more relaxed schedule.  My children, Jack and Grace, spent their summer playing tennis and golf, getting ready for hockey tryouts, fishing, hanging with friends, and attending summer camp.  

To be totally honest I am anxious about the start of school.  Both Jack and Grace will be attending new schools, and our schedule becomes very busy.  A sense of dread comes over me when I look at our September schedule.  I wonder how are we going to fit in homework, hockey, tennis, choir and flag football along with all day school?  Will there be anytime for family dinners or weekend lunches on the porch?  

Every fall I go through a re-adjustment period.  I miss my kids and I miss having lunch with them.  I treasure our summer lunch time:  30 minutes of bonus Jack and Grace time.  We do our best connecting when we share a meal.  During lunch, just like family dinners, the kids are somewhat held captive by our kitchen table.  We laugh, share our highs and lows of the day, and talk about current events in the world and in our lives.  

This September my goal is to plan more family lunches on the weekend.  I will let you know how it goes.  I realize my goal is pretty lofty.  Have I not just told you that our calendar is packed?  Oh well!  I might need to readjust this goal.  My new goal is to plan at least one family lunch a month on the weekend.  

My daughter, Grace, was diagnosed with Fructose Malabsorption 6 years ago when she was in preschool.  Over the last six years I have had a lot of opportunities to practice making healthy, low fructose and kid friendly school lunches.  For fun I just Googled how many days a year kids attend school.  According to Google, the average is 180.  Multiply that by 6 you get 1080.  Times that by two (because my son, Jack, eats low fructose too) and that is 2160 lunches.  Holy moly!  I have had a lot of practice!

Grace and I took pictures of six of our favorite school lunches from last year.  As you can see my kids do like sandwiches, but they also love leftovers, salads and "hodgepodge" lunches.  What is a "hodgepodge" lunch?  It's my fancy name for cleaning out the fridge and pantry, and making ordinary foods seem fun because it has a special name.  

I used the USDA nutrient database and the Eat This Much website to calculate relative fructose amounts in the six pictured lunches.  

Disclaimer:  I did my best to accurately calculate the amount of fructose in each lunch.  However, I am not a food scientist.

My highest level of math was calculus.  Which in all honesty was completely over my head.  My parents paid a lot of money to my math tutor. 

In addition, Grace and I have determined what foods work for us and what foods don't work for us. 

Some of these foods may not work for you.  

My six lunch suggestions are listed in clockwise order according to the above picture, and starting in the upper right hand corner.

Lunch # 1:  Traditional Peanut Butter Sandwich, Turkey Roll-up and Sliced Cucumbers

Total Fructose:  4.23 grams

FM Tips:  

  1. We purchase our sandwich bread from Breadsmith Bakery.  Breadsmith bakes all of their products from scratch and uses fresh, real, whole food ingredients.
  2. Yes, it is definitely ok to give your child white bread.  Wheat bread tends to be higher in fructans and contain unsafe sugars like honey.  I explored this topic on my blog: "It's Ok To Give Your Child White Bread".
  3. At your local grocery store look for peanut butter that is made without sugar and without any added man-made sweeteners.  This will help lower your daily fructose load.
  4. I purchase deli turkey that does not contain any added sugars.  We prefer Boar's Head Simplicity.  Boar's Head Simplicity products do not contain any artificial ingredients and are minimally processed.
  5. Cucumbers are very low in fructose.  1/4 cup of cucumber slices contains only .225 grams of fructose.  

 

Lunch #2:  Leftover Burrito Bowl, Sliced Carrots, Double Take Verde Good Green Chile Salsa, and Shredded Mexican Cheese

Total Fructose:  1.67 grams

FM Tips:

  1. If you have a dinner recipe your kids love, double it.  I do this at least twice a week and then use the leftovers for lunch the next few days.  Everyone is happy.  My kids are happy because they get one of their favorite meals for lunch.  And, I am happy because leftovers definitely cut down on school lunch prep time.
  2. My kids love Cilantro Lime Rice Bowls with Southwestern Chicken.  It is a "go to" dinner at our house and makes great leftovers.
  3. I am currently obsessed with Double Take Verde Good Green Chile Salsa.  Typically, I do not indulge in a lot of salsa because tomatoes have close to 4 grams of fructose/serving.  What I love about this salsa verde is that it is made with tomatillos and tomatillos have only 1.3 grams of fructose/serving.  Each day I balance my fructose loads like my own personal kitchen scale. Salsa verde makes this balancing act a lot easier and gives me room to eat additional fruits and vegetables.

 

Lunch #3:  Caesar Salad 

Total Fructose:  < 1 gram

FM Tips:

  1. I prefer to make Caesar salad from scratch.  It is super easy and uses real ingredients.  
  2. At our house we call Caesar salad, The Gateway Salad.  Why is it the Gateway Salad?  Caesar salad has a cult like following among Jack and Grace’s friends.  You would think ranch dressing would be more idolized. After all, Caesar salad is made with anchovies.  Gross! I love Caesar salad, but would never eat an anchovy and highly doubt my kids would either.  I think the Caesar loves comes from the Romano cheese.  It gives it that tangy, nutty sweetness.  Once I discovered the magic of the Caesar salad I started taking advantage of it.  I would micro-chope cucumbers and radishes into tiny matchsticks, and dice broccoli into minute pieces and hide it among the creamy Caesar dressing.  Fork by fork Jack and Grace would eat all of the hidden vegetables. It undoubtedly is magic! 
  3. I prefer to purchase croutons at our local bakery, Breadsmith.  They are minimally processed and contain no artificial ingredients.
  4. In this lunch I added 1/4 cup of fresh pineapple which only has .88 grams of fructose.  It is all about daily balance.  Yes, you can eat pineapple, but limit your amounts.

 

Lunch #4:  "Hodgepodge" Lunch:  Leftover Grilled Chicken, Clementine, 365 Pita Chips, Hummus, Frozen Broccoli and Peas

Total Fructose:  3.36 grams

FM Tips:

  1. We purchase Whole Foods 365 Pita Chips.  They have only 1 gram of added sugars and it is real sugar, not man-made sugar.  They are the cleanest pita chips we can find.
  2. Hummus is very low in fructose.  For those of you who are using the FODMAP elimination program hummus would be one of your test foods.
  3. I included in this "hodgepodge" lunch leftover grilled chicken and frozen broccoli and peas.  By the time your child eats his or her lunch the frozen vegetables will thaw.

 

Lunch #5:  Leftover Homemade Cream Cheese Puffs, Sliced Cucumbers, Clementine, Applegate Farms Turkey Pepperoni, Glutino Pretzels

Total Fructose:  2.68 grams

FM Tips:

  1. I like Organic Valley Cream Cheese because it doesn't contain added sugars.
  2. Applegate Farms Turkey Pepperoni contains less than 2% of added sugars and is gluten free.
  3. Glutino pretzels only have .5 grams of fructose per serving of 24 pretzels.

 

Lunch #6:  Wholly Guacamole, Organic Valley String Cheese, 1/4 cup Blackberries, 3 Mini Bell Peppers, 1/2 Turkey Sandwich on Breadsmith Bread

Total Fructose:  4.06 grams

FM Tips:

  1. Sucrose, or table sugar, has equal amounts of fructose and glucose.  For example, one piece of Breadsmith white bread has 3 grams of sugar.  Therefore, it contains 1.5 grams of fructose and 1.5 grams of glucose.  Glucose is like a spaceship that helps transport fructose throughout our body.  For more information on the Glucose Spaceship refer to my article on Sugar Digestion.
  2. Wholly Guacamole has 0 grams of added sugars.  

 

Everyone with Fructose Malabsorption tolerates different levels of fructose. It is best to make a list of what feels good and what doesn’t and remember it is all about the daily balance. For example, a 1/4 cup of pear slices can be ok if during that same day you focus on eating all other foods that are low in fructose and eat foods that are high in glucose. Everyday my goal is to have my personal fructose and glucose science scale heavier on the glucose side or in balance.  I limit my daily fructose load to less than 15grams, and eat safe fruits and vegetables each day.  I still choose to eat fruits and vegetables with higher levels of fructose occasionally.  For me and my daughter it's not about elimination, it's about balance.

 

 

 

 My Favorite Leftover Lunches:

 

I, too, like to eat leftovers for lunch.  Leftovers prevent me from spending money at the many over priced salad restaurants in town.  But wait, I do sneak away occasionally and indulge in the most delicious, lick the bowl $12.00 salad.  We all have to treat ourselves once in a while.  After all, I have packed over 2000 lunches in my life.

Here are my favorite leftover lunches (in clockwise order starting in the upper left corner):

Chicken and Vegetable Salad with Asian Dressing

Cranberry Chicken Salad

My Twist on a Caprese Salad

Chicken Caesar Salad

Power Bowl with Steamed Jasmine Rice, Just Mayo and Wild Planet Albacore Tuna

Southwestern Barley and Vegetable Salad

Mediterranean Bowl

Zataar Zucchini Salad

Asian Glazed Salmon with a Matchstick Salad and Orange Vinaigrette

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Published in FBF Blog

Apple Cider Vinaigrette (serving size, 8):

Mix together:

  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/8 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper 

 

Caprese Salad (serving size, 1):

Toss:

  • 10 cucumber slices, chopped into small bite size pieces
  • 3 strawberries, sliced
  • 4 large basil leaves, sliced
  • 15 mini mozzarella pearls

Tips:

  1. I like to use Maille Dijon Mustard.  It is a simple recipe, but adds the right amount of pungent flavor to any dish.
  2. I used 2 teaspoons of the vinaigrette on each salad and saved the rest for salads later in the week.
  3. 3 strawberries have less than .75 grams of fructose.  That's a healthy choice for me, and my kids prefer this salad if it is made with strawberries vs tomatoes.  A little sweet goes a long way when it comes to kids.  
  4. If you are curious why I don't use balsamic vinegar check out my blog.
Published in Quick, Easy, Healthy

I have always wondered why balsamic vinegar gives me a tummy ache?  And, why has it taken me 10 years to find the answer?

Balsamic Vinaigrette used to be my go to order out at a restaurant and consequently my go to way of leaving the restaurant feeling yucky.  My thought was vinaigrettes are healthier than dressings like ranch or caesar, dressings with more fat and; therefore, a better option.  Why then was I feeling bloated and why was my gut yelling at me when I was choosing balsamic vinaigrette?  

I had no idea what was in balsamic vinegar and to be honest didn't realize I needed to know.  It hadn't occurred to me that my healthy choice was not healthy for me.  I didn't know that balsamic vinegar could contain anything other than vinegar.  And, I assumed it was a healthy choice because it was low in fat and I was putting in on a salad.  I realized I was still stuck in the 1990's way of thinking about food.  

It has been really hard for me to rid myself of the food rules I learned in college.  Food rules like fat is bad, carbs are good; and all salads are healthy.  I assumed any salad I ordered with balsamic vinaigrette was healthy because it was low in fat and was called a salad.  I had no idea how much sugar and man-made sweeteners were added to those supposedly healthy salads.  And, had no idea that all of this sugar was wreaking havoc on my gut and entire body.

When I was finally diagnosed with Fructose Malabsorption in 2007 many of these food rules were necessarily replaced with new rules about how to live with a food intolerance.  Once I started eliminating all processed man-made sweeteners and reducing my daily fructose intake to less than 15 grams I started to feel a lot better and started making better choices.  My new salads were not full of craisins and honey glazed almonds.  My dietitian had taught me that those foods were super high in added sugars and fructose and obviously a bad choice for me.  Instead I learned how to enjoy salads with cucumbers, radishes and a few slices of green pepper.

Why then were my new low fructose salads causing me stomach distress?  What was I eating?

Recently I revisited the Food Intolerance Network's list of foods and fructose amounts.  As I was reviewing the alphabetical list my jaw dropped on the second letter, B.  I couldn't believe it!  Balsamic Vinegar has 7.4 grams of fructose.  How did I not know this?  No wonder my salads felt like they were poisoning me.  7.4 grams of fructose per serving!  The way I use salad dressing, more as a side dish vs a salad dressing meant I was potentially eating over 15 grams of fructose just in my salad.  My gut was yelling at me because it wasn't happy; it was being invaded and was trying to tell me to stop eating balsamic vinaigrette.

Since my diagnosis 10 plus years ago dietitians, nutritionists and gastroenterologists have learned a lot more about Fructose Malabsorption.  We now know what foods are safe and what foods are not safe.  We know how to limit our fructose loads and balance our glucose and fructose intake.  We also know how excess fructose can cause chronic inflammation and a myriad of symptoms beyond an irritable gut.  I know so much about Fructose Malabsorption I feel like I should write a Wikipedia article.  With all of this knowledge how did it not occur to me to look into what is in balsamic vinegar?  After 10 years of living with this intolerance how was I still making such a big mistake?  

Why?  Because let's be honest it is so hard and exhausting to put so much effort into eating.  Sometimes I just want to go out to eat and order food without questioning the waiter like he is being accused of directly poisoning me.  I want to look at a menu and see options, not limitations.  

But, that is not my life.  If I want to feel healthy I need to make healthy choices.  I need to know what is in my food.  Balsamic vinegar is not an option for me.  

I am not feeling sorry for myself.  I feel so much better now that I know what was poisoning me and how to avoid high fructose foods.  My gut is happy, I am not living in a constant state of brain fog and my joints do not ache all day long.

Yes, I am still going to make mistakes.  However, I am going to learn from these mistakes.  I am going to learn what is healthy for me and write my own set of food rules.  

For example, did you know apple cider vinegar has 0 grams of fructose?  Yes, 0-how awesome is that?  7.4 less grams of fructose than balsamic vinegar awesome.  I honestly had no idea that vinegars could or couldn't have fructose and all vinegars are not created equally.  Thank you Food Intolerance Network for helping me.  Thank you for teaching me what is good for me and what isn't good for me.

Last week I decided to make a caprese salad sans the balsamic vinegar reduction because I added a new food rule to my collection.  Rule #34:  balsamic vinegar is a definite no for me.  

Instead of a balsamic vinegar reduction I made a simple vinaigrette with apple cider vinegar.  I substituted the tomatoes for strawberries to make it more appealing to my kids and added cucumbers.  By adding cucumbers I didn't feel the need to serve another vegetable at dinner.  Food rule #7:  always serve vegetables at dinner.  

We loved the salad.  And, I loved that I was eating something healthy for me. 

 

 

Apple Cider Vinaigrette (serving size, 8):

Mix together:

  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/8 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper 

 

Caprese Salad (serving size, 1):

Toss:

  • 10 cucumber slices, chopped into small bite size pieces
  • 3 strawberries, sliced
  • 4 large basil leaves, sliced
  • 15 mini mozzarella pearls

Tips:

  1. I like to use Maille Dijon Mustard.  It is a simple recipe, but adds the right amount of pungent flavor to any dish.
  2. I used 2 teaspoons of the vinaigrette on each salad and saved the rest for salads later in the week.
  3. 3 strawberries have less than .75 grams of fructose.  That's a healthy choice for me, and my kids prefer this salad if it is made with strawberries vs tomatoes.  A little sweet goes a long way when it comes to kids.  
Published in FBF Blog
Tuesday, 24 July 2018 21:16

My Brother and the Agave Incident

You know how you have those stories in your family that you pass down from generation to generation?  Those stories that always make you laugh as soon as they are mentioned and transport you instantly back in time?  In my family our stories include Sao Feng from Pirates of the Caribbean, David Hasselhoff and Captiva Island, a mule deer, banana tubing at Grandview, and the Minneapolis Pedal Pub.  These stories are our favorite stories to tell.  When ever we meet someone new and have them over for dinner one of these stories inevitably comes up in conversation and makes us laugh so hard our cheeks ache.  These are the stories that define us.  When told, these stories turn strangers into friends and awkward moments into intimate gatherings.  

Over the 4th of July we spent 10 glorious days on Gull Lake with my parents, my brother and sister in law, my nieces, my cousins and a good friend.  After a long day on the water or on the golf course we would all meet on our screened-in porch for dinner, a few cocktails and lots of story telling.  10 nights of family time and laughter is so good for my soul.  I reconnected with my family and was reminded why it is so important to spend time with those we love.  

One evening, my brother and cousin declared it Margarita Night!  They are both avid athletes and conscientious about their diet.  They primarily eat food from the Earth and limit man-made highly processed food products.  So Margarita Night did not come from a mix.  My brother spent a painstakingly 30 minutes squeezing fresh limes and purchased an "organic" tequila.  It was 93 degrees and 93% humid in the shade that evening so the margaritas went down pretty quickly.  Needless to say we laughed a lot and retold many of our favorite stories.  

Later than evening, after my brother and his wife had put the girls to bed my brother started to feel kind of yucky.  At first he noticed his gut was talking back to him.  It was rumbling and gurgling and basically yelling at him; warning him that something was about to happen.  Then the intense pain set in.  The pain in your gut that makes you sweat and you don't know if your body is going to eject the invader from your top end or bottom end.  I will not get into the rest of the details, but will let you know that my brother's gut decided to purge the intruder through the back door.  

The next morning I looked at my brother and instantly knew something was wrong.  He had dark circles under his eyes and looked a little green.  He told me what happened, and I simply looked at him and said, "you have been agaved!".  "Agaved?", he questioned.  "Yes," I responded.  "The supposedly organic tequila you purchased was made with 100% agave syrup".  

My brother gave me one of those looks like here we go again - my sister, the know it all, it about to impart wisdom on her little brother.  In fact, I was.  

I informed my brother that "agave syrup is basically high-fructose corn syrup masquerading as a health food.” (a).  And, agave syrup is actually higher in fructose than high-fructose corn syrup.(b)  It contains 90% fructose.  I concluded with the simple fact that the agave plant is used as a natural laxative in herbal medicine practices. (c).  Hence, that is why he spent the evening having a "Dumb and Dumber moment".

My brother was shocked.  He assumed the tequila he purchased was healthier.  After all, it's label claimed it was a healthy choice.  It was made with agave syrup and agave syrup is a "natural product".  Clearly my brother had been duped.  He was trying to make a healthy choice, one that concurs with his food beliefs and diet culture.  My brother had been "agaved"!!!  

Even Dr. Oz has been "agaved".  In 2014 he posted the following on his blog:  "Over the past few months, I’ve become increasingly concerned about a sweetener that I’ve recommended on my show in the past. After careful consideration of the available research, today I’m asking you to eliminate agave from your kitchen and your diet." (d)

Later in the day my brother started to feel better and was ready to laugh about his evening.  I did feel bad for him, but I also knew that this would become one of those stories we add to our collection.  I now lovingly refer to it as:  "My brother and the agave incident."

Sources:

a.  Debunking the Blue Agave Myth

b.  Is Agave Nectar Good for You?

c.  Agave Nectar Side Effects

d. Dr Oz's Blog

 

Published in FBF Blog
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