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Every January my mom cuts alcohol and caffeine out of her diet. She’s been doing it for years now, a way to reset her body. A couple of times she tried to cut out refined sugar, which lasted less than a week (and it was not a good week!). We were talking about that, my boyfriend and I, and he said that it would be really easy for him to cut added sugar out of his diet because it’s not part of his daily diet like it is for me (I fully admit that sugar is in pretty much everything I eat). Anyway, as he thought it would be easy I challenged him to 3 days of no sugar (or alcohol because that can be broken down by the body in a way to mimic sugars).

Friday was day 1 and it was a failure from the outset. Starting with his peanut butter (sugar filled) and banana. Then he wanted jam (sugar) on toast. Then he was just going to have honey on toast, but our bread contains high fructose corn syrup. Fine, he sulked before going for the honey roasted peanuts (both sugar and high fructose corn syrup). He attempted to have some salty pita chips only to discover that they too contained sugar. This led to a very grumpy and hungry boyfriend. We couldn’t have spagetti for dinner because all the sauces we had contained sugar. Luckily we had eggs and cheese in the house so he was able to have some food before drinking a “5 Hour Energy” too fast for me to point out that it too contained sugar.

Before you think I’m mean for starving him (we’d just had snow and couldn’t really get to any grocery store), I did tell him that he could stop this challenge as soon as he admitted I was right, which he refused to do.

Anyway, the point of this for me was to show how little we really know about what we are eating. My boyfriend is intelligent, college-educated, and grew up with parents who cooked and who taught him how to cook, he does understand what is nutritional and what isn’t. However, he hadn’t even noticed how much of what he ate contained sugar.

This lack of awareness of what we eat was hit home to me by the comments on the thought catalog post that I mentioned yesterday. Someone honestly believed that soda contained fat and that was what made it bad for you. That also thought that “bad fats” were all man-made. Some people thought that fat wasn’t in “healthy” foods. Others still think that calories are all that’s important (I’ve already explained my hatred for calories counts).

My point is, do you know what you’re eating? And do you understand what that means (especially in countries like the US where high fructose corn syrup seems to be in almost everything you buy)?
I don’t think we should be counting calories, or even watching the fat/sugar/sodium content of everything we eat, but I do think that it’s important that we not only understand what is in our food but that we also know how that can affect our bodies. Both in the good and bad ways: we should know how fat is vital for life and also how excess of certain types of fats can cause problems; know that too much salt is bad, but that too little is bad also (and why), and understand why we are supposed to eat fruit regularly (scurvy is actually becoming a problem again).