I’m Sorry I Threw Away the Candy. I Mean, You’re Welcome!

‘Tis the day after Halloween, the pre-season expo event that kicks off Holiday Candyfest. And while the neighborhood outside seems clear of bad guys and boogeymen, the real monster is sleeping off the sugar hangover in the warmth of my children’s bedrooms. Even though I’ve not purchased one piece of candy, our home now has thousands of brightly colored packages with branded characters and colors, hidden in pillow cases, socks and shoe boxes, shoved into pockets, backpacks and lunch bags, and acting as currency, blackmail and rainy-day savings.

The monster sleeps now that my kids have left for school. So I slip into my Wonder Woman costume and recruit the hounds of hell (Ally and Sophie) into service. It’s game day, girls. This is what we’ve trained for.

Today, mom’s everywhere are shaking their heads at the countless wrappers littering the floors and waste baskets. We all know this isn’t good. But collectively, we agree that it’s “one day a year”, and we don’t want to deprive our kids, because everyone knows they’ll just grow up to have secret eating disorders. So we compromise under the guise of moderation, and offer a “treat” in exchange for another bite of vegetables and a smile that matches the one we see on the commercial that tells us we’re doing it right. And we console each other that we don’t “normally” let our kids eat bad food. So what’s wrong with letting them have just one piece?

For starters, it’s not just one piece.

One in three kids born after 2000 will be diagnosed with diabetes. One in three kids is currently obese, half are overweight, and those numbers are rising. As a society, we are sick with allergies, immune disorders, asthma, and ADD. We rush to get flu shots and antibiotics, and still find ourselves suffering with colds, ear infections, stomach aches. We’ve got metabolic disorders, hormone dysfunction and systemic inflammation. And while countless factors combine to create these problems–it’s the sum total of all that’s wrong–most of it can be traced back to our food supply. How it’s grown, how it’s processed, what’s in it, and just as importantly, what’s not in it.

Let’s talk about sugar…

High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) was introduced into the American food supply in the 1970’s. It’s a corn product. It’s cheaper and sweeter than regular sugar, and when the government began subsidizing our corn, it became a win/win for farmers and food manufactures. It’s now a multi-billion dollar commodity.

So what’s the big deal? First, HFCS is more than half fructose. Fructose is a derivative of glucose, which is the sugar that our body needs to make energy. Yes, fructose is found in fruits and vegetables; and in moderation, when mixed with natural fat, fiber, protein, vitamins and minerals, healthy bodies metabolize fructose safely.

The problem is not just the high amount of fructose in our foods. It’s the ratio of this sugar compared to the lack of fat, fiber and protein found in processed foods (including and especially those “low-fat” diet foods!). Yes, fructose is”natural”. But it’s being dumped into our foods in exponentially NONNATURAL quantities and chemical combinations.

When blood sugar is too high, it combines with protein in your blood to make “glycated end products”…the molecular equivalent to little shards of glass. These little shards of glass travel through your blood stream to your organs, tissues and limbs. Over time, this causes significant damage to the blood vessels and vital organs.

Then, when it’s done ripping holes in the arterial walls, fructose is sent to the liver to be metabolized. When the liver is overloaded, it converts sugar into fat. Fat accumulates in the liver, causing a wide array of maladies. These maladies turn into disorders, and then diseases. One bite at a time. And it is seriously affecting the life-expectancy of the next generation.

As a society, we judge each other based on weight. Skinny people don’t need to make excuses for stopping at the donut shop. But being thin on the outside doesn’t indicate health on the inside. Sugar doesn’t discriminate, and everything you eat either heals or harms.

Does one piece of candy matter? Not any more than one cigarette. But as both are addictive and play starring roles in deadly diseases, an argument could be made to pass on both.

I’m not a hypocrite; I’m not perfect. Of course my kids get candy. They are 15, 13, 9 and 7.  I couldn’t live in the mountains and homeschool them forever. I don’t bring it into our home (but look no further than the closest sock drawer), and that makes no difference.  Each day they walk out the door, there is a CandyLand of opportunity. From the bus driver to the teacher,  even the doctor and the dentist, sugary “treats” are the universal offering–especially for children. And objecting to it is offensive, as people are only being nice, and everyone knows that one piece won’t hurt a thing…

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