Saturday, April 27, 2013

Coming to a decision.

I've spent a lot of time thinking about this. It was not a decision that came easily, but I know that this is what needs to happen.

The blog Leaving Fatville will be coming to a close.

The healthy living community on twitter and the blogosphere was the light at the end of a very dark tunnel for me three years ago. It helped me remember who I was as a person, taught me that I'm worth taking care of and that no guilt should ever be felt for taking care of myself. It was the support I needed to lose over 60 pounds. It was where I found friends all across the nation that I can't imagine not knowing. It was where I realized that I wanted to grow my family and that I could have a healthy pregnancy. It was where I learned that I'm stronger than I realize, and that boot camp is awesome.

It pains me not to be a part of that community any more. I fear that it has moved on from this place of support and friendship. Most of my feed is filled with product endorsements and ambassadorships. I started to feel like I was being talked at, rather than to or with. There are still those from the good old days. I still see them on my Facebook feeds and on my reader. I still cherish them and the unwavering support they offer those around them. But this, this isn't my place anymore and I'm okay with that. I don't have the newest running shoes, or the best protein shake and that is fine. It was here that I did l learn what worked for me and my weight loss. I'll be able to carry that with me anywhere I go. For that, I'll be forever in debt to this healthy living community. You all taught me how to live healthy, how to make good choices and habits a part of my daily life.

And now, it's time to move on. It's time to try something different. What that is, I'm not sure exactly. but i have a massive interest in Solar energy Advantages and disadvantages right now

I'll miss you all, and if you want to stay in touch, please email me. Whatever my next venture happens to be, I'll make sure you're invited for the ride.

HFCS, part two.

I've tried to sit long enough to write the rest of this series and each time I can't finish. There's no way to write it that doesn't set my son up to find this in the future. I can't write this without showing the world the deepest and darkest part of my son's behavior. This could haunt him because of me. The Internet doesn't forget. And I can't forgive myself if I'm writing a post that causes him pain and embarrassment in the future. While the details will remain in the family, the results we came to will not.

I have no doubt in my mind that HFCS is the cause of his extreme behavior. I have no doubt that as a result of that, we will not have any product in our house that contains it. Shame on the companies that opt for using this chemical synthetic replacement for sugar. It is categorically NOT the same as plain old normal sugar and to hear it marketed as such is baffling to me. Other countries don't allow it in their food, so why do we? Why are we content to allow these huge corporations to feed us more chemicals than actual nutrients? Why is this acceptable?

The list of products that have high fructose corn syrup in it is exhausting and surprising. (And often unnecessary, I think.)

Ketchup
a1 steak sauce
almost all salad dressing
Campbell's soup (specifically vegetarian vegetable...wtf?)
most pizza sauce (even the independent restaurants)
spaghetti sauce
whole wheat bread (even the whole grain kind, I'm looking at you Sara Lee)
And all the way down to ice cream and frozen yogurt.

Supposed healthy food isn't even free of the stuff. Low fat yogurts (yay for Yoplait for listening go customers and replacing it with sugar) and Nutri-grain bars/granola bars have it. Those awesome little 100 calorie flavored rice cake snacks (Quaker, you big jerk), yeah those have it too.

Those companies don't make my grocery list, and they shouldn't make yours either. You might not have the extreme reaction that my son does, but our bodies run best on whole, natural foods that are free of chemicals. Send these companies a message. Tell them that you don't want this stuff in your house or your body. Saving money at our health's expense is NOT okay. It is not acceptable to pad your profits with our waistlines.

There needs to be change. There needs to be a line drawn in the sand. These companies need to know that we value real food and real health. What they are peddling as health food is no where near healthy.

Our voice as a health community should be heard. Our voice as parents should be heard. Our voice as human beings should be heard. I don't believe that profits should be chosen over the health of a nation. Please join me on change.org and sign the petition I've started to have HFCS removed from our food. This is the first step in the "war" on obesity and making our nation closer to being healthy.

http://www.change.org/petitions/usda-ban-high-fructose-corn-syrup

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

How HFCS changed our house, part 1.


I've gone back and forth on writing this. Part of me wants to scream it from the hilltops, and the other part wants to shelter my son from ever finding this on the internet. I don't use his full name, but any amount of googling could probably put two and two together. The desire to protect other kids and parents won out, so you'll be hearing his and my story. It's not a short story, and I want to make sure you all get the whole thing. This will be the first part of the series, the rest of the story to come next week.

It's no surprise that HFCS has been the subject of some not so nice media of late. Studies tying it to obesity, diabetes and general weight gain have flown all over the news wires. It's man made, and while it's process leaves no trace (which still lets it be labeled as "organic" by the way), it's vastly different from the sugar it claims to replace.

Once I started learning about cooking food and nutrition, I could see that this ingredient was not welcome in my house. It wasn't until I'd cut out soda, sugary cereals and snack foods that I found I had a reaction to it. When I consume anything with HFCS in it, I break out in cystic acne so painful, it hurts to touch my face. It takes nearly a month to go away and can leave some pretty ugly scars. Oh, how I'd wished to have this knowledge in high school. I could have saved myself so much grief and pain over my skin. Even now, well into my 30s, when I have anything with that ingredient, cystic acne will appear on my face. Recently I've noticed another tell in my body that alerts me to HFCS in foods. As soon as I taste it, the back of my throat will itch and burn.

We do our best to keep foods that have it out of our house, but it's not as easy as it sounds. It's in *everything*. Ketchup; it's the second ingredient after tomatoes. Salad dressing, yup… it's in there, too. Sodas, cookies, chocolate, even sauces. Chocolate milk, bread (including whole wheat), and yogurt. It's disheartening to see it in so many things that are considered good and healthy foods, because it's not. It's not good, or healthy.

Recently my son turned 5. We had been waiting for this on pins and needles. So many parents tells us that's when their kids turned around and really starting learning manner, behavior and limits. It's supposed to be the beginning of the golden age of awesome for raising kids. I can't tell you how much I was looking forward to that.

Some of you may have read the post about the school snack incident. It was about this time I started to notice something in my son. On school days, almost like clockwork they ended with horrible screaming, crying fits. I'm not talking about a regular temper tantrum here, I'm talking about crying SO HARD that he can't speak. On the verge of hyperventilating and unable to form words. The only thing that would stop him and begin calming him was to hold him in a crushing bear hug until he could breathe normally again.

Alarm bells were going off in my head. Bear hugs, screaming/crying to hyperventilating states; all over nothing. A simple directive or even a reminder to finish putting away toys or cars. This wasn't simply a case of not wanting to do these things. It was like seeing your completely normal child taken over my pod people. Underneath the crying, I'd see panic on his face. He didn't know how to stop crying or calm down when these episodes hit. This was so out of left field that I started to really worry that something was happening to him. I'd asked about his development at his doctor's appointment and nothing indicated that he was near the spectrum. It was baffling, and more than a little frightening.

These crazy meltdowns didn't happen on the weekends, so where were they coming from? It wasn't school. He loves school, his teacher and his friends. No big changes at home, or with relatives. We'd taken him out of after-care ages ago, so there were no older kids picking on the smaller ones. It just didn't make sense. I couldn't figure it out. I started putting him to bed earlier thinking he wasn't getting enough rest. The strange meltdowns were still happening.

Then, he had two days off from school right after a weekend. No camp, no daycare, he was just hanging with me and little brother. I was making all of his food and it was all the regular, healthy stuff we eat on the weekends. No. Meltdowns. None. Not even a little. He still would get frustrated or upset, but it didn't dissolve into the levels that I had seen before. He could calm himself down and carry on being a kid. So what in the heck was making the school week ones so different?

To quote my son, quoting a certain movie with "minions" in it…. Light. Bulb.

Could it be the food at school? Could he have a different sensitivity to HFCS than I'd developed? It seemed so far-fetched that I almost couldn't fathom it. Who the heck had ever heard of HFCS causing autism-like symptoms in completely normal and healthy kids? I know there's some groups that think changing diets and going gluten-free can help with certain spectrum disorders. But he didn't fall into that category, so would this apply to him? I packed him off to school the following day with my heart in my throat. If it was the food, we'd find out soon enough.
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