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Cream in my coffee and why I can’t win for trying

January 11, 2012 4 comments

Years ago, I would drink my coffee black as night.  Heck, it was probably only when I started getting hooked on McDonald’s iced coffees a couple of years ago that I even considered putting cream in my coffee.  Now that we make our own iced coffees at home, I’m definitely a fan of creamer.

Hazelnut flavored to be specific.

Prior to trying the South Beach Diet, I was drinking your regular old Fat Free Hazelnut creamer.  A non-dairy product.  Can’t remember for sure, but I thought the carbs in that were higher than in the regular (non fat-free) variety.  I think that was the reason that I decided to try a new way to flavor my coffee – sugar-free (you guessed it, hazelnut) syrup and fat free half & half.

After a while though, I longed for the more genuinely hazelnutty flavor of my ready-made creamer.  I was excited when I discovered the Sugar-Free Hazelnut creamer.  Hooray!  I thought I had finally achieved a good balance between something yummy tasting and relatively low carb.

Then, I read an article somewhere online about the hidden places where you’ll find trans fats.  Guess what?  Non-dairy coffee creamer is one of them!  Granted, most have less than 0.5 g per serving, so they don’t have to list it on the label.  But, since I usually had 2 servings in the morning and would sometimes have another 2 for an evening coffee treat, I thought it was worth looking into.  Sure enough when I read the label, trans fats were not listed.  So I checked the ingredients.  Third item on the list is PARTIALLY HYDROGENATED SOYBEAN AND/OR COTTONSEED OIL.  Shit.

So, I figured it was back to my trusty fat free half & half and sugar-free hazelnut syrup.  Only the other day, I just happened to gaze at the label and noticed this item – I think it might be second in the ingredients list: HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP.

Seriously?  Double Shit.

So now I’m in a pickle.  I wonder exactly how many grams of trans fats are in the non-dairy creamer.  Probably regardless, it would be better if I didn’t make it a part of my daily intake.  So for now, I’m sticking with the fat free half & half.  I also thought I might give some 1% milk a try too.  I don’t really put a lot in, so I’m thinking I might not even notice the difference

Have you ever switched from a food that wasn’t good for you to one that you thought was better, only to find out in the end that one wasn’t so great either?

Curse you, Jillian Michaels!

January 5, 2012 2 comments

I say that tongue-in-cheek, of course.  Why?  Because she taught me something about nutrition that I wish I could unlearn.  Okay, maybe I don’t – but it would have been nice to remain blissfully unaware about this issue.

The issue at hand?  Sugar alcohols and their impact on blood sugar.

Several weeks ago, when I placed an order for our usual vitamins/supplements, I noticed that our online store also sold Atkins bars at a decent price.  Since I was getting free shipping, I decided to add a few boxes of various flavors.  One was the Chocolate Hazelnut Bar, which I had never even seen in stores before.  Holy crap, it was soooooo yummy!  There was so much nutty goodness, it didn’t really even strike me that I was eating fake chocolate.  In my mind, I had found the perfect snack – the box showed only 3 net grams of carbs.  Looking at the label confirmed this – 18 total carbs minus the 7g fiber and 8g sugar alcohol = 3 net carbs.  Hooray!

But then, Jillian Michaels had to come along and burst my bubble.

In her book Winning by Losing (not “Lose to Win”, as I mistakenly called it in a recent post), she dropped the bomb that you shouldn’t actually just subtract sugar alcohols from the overall carbs because they actually do impact your blood sugar – and have a relatively high Glycemic Index value.  Are you shitting me?  I could swear that I read in one of the South Beach Diet books that you *could* subtract sugar alcohols.  I’m going to have to give that one another read and see if I just made that up…but I know I had read it somewhere.  Well, Dr. Atkins at least probably believes this since his products tout a net carb amount that excludes sugar alcohols.

Anyway.

I decided to do a little more reading on the subject and found a good article on About.com.  So apparently there are different kinds of sugar alcohols and they all have a different GI value.  Malitol syrup is the highest listed, coming in at a 52 whereas good old sugar has a value of 60.  Not much difference, eh?  Of course there are others with a lower GI value (like 9 or 13) and even a couple with 0.

So, as long as my new favorite friends are made with Mannitol or Erythriol, I’m all good.  I certainly hope that Malitol isn’t on the list of ingredients…

You guessed it – both malitol and malitol syrup appear in the list of ingredients.

Talk about screwed.

So here I was, feeling guilty about having an apple because even a small one has 21 grams of carbs.  I looked to these Atkins bars as my salvation – my guilt-free treat option.  And now I’m highly upset.  Crushed.  Disillusioned.  Okay, well maybe more confused than anything.  At least this other article suggested how you could subtract part of the sugar alcohols from the total carb count…

Where do I go from here?  I suppose that those Atkins bars are still a better snacking option than say a Snickers bar, but what about an apple?  An apple comes from nature and I would think would be a better option.  But it still has more carbs than the Atkins bar, regardless of whether you subtract sugar alcohols or not.  Maybe I’m being a little too literal and should just go with the flow – as long as I’m not eating 4 apples or 4 Atkins bars per day, does it really matter in the grand scheme of things?  Maybe there’s something to be said for not paying attention to all this carb nuttiness and just trying to make healthy, common-sense choices?

Talk about rocking my world.  Is there anything you’ve learned about fitness or nutrition that has rocked yours?

Focusing In

December 30, 2011 4 comments

The holidays are almost behind us and it is time again to look forward to the promise of a new year.  Where past failures melt away and the allure of a clean slate shines brighter than the glitter on my son’s last art project from school.  I try not to make resolutions, but I can’t help but think about how I would like for 2012 to go for me.  This year, I would like to focus on three specific areas that I believe will help me in my journey to lose weight: exercise, nutrition, and overall well-being.

One of the biggest victories I can boast from this past year is the fact that I’ve been exercising on a consistent basis.  Looking back at my first forays into riding our recumbent bike, I am amazed to remember how I started riding for 10 minutes at a time, 3 nights a week.  Then 4 nights and 5 nights.  Then, 15 minutes, 20 minutes, 25 minutes – until I’ve worked my way up to 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week.  This year I’d like to vary my exercise routine – including Wii games, workout DVDs, and strength training.

Nutrition is something that I’ve always felt I knew about on the surface.  You know, green = healthy, fried = artery-clogging.  But this year I’d like to not only learn more about nutrition, but also try new foods and new ways of preparing foods.  Fish have been on my will-not-ever-eat-even-if-paid-a-million-dollars list since I was about 12.  This year, I’d like to try at least 1 fish dish.  If I still hate the taste/smell/texture of fish, so be it.  But at least I’ll give it a try!  I would like to learn more about beans and greens – like swiss chard and kale.  How can you prepare them and/or incorporate them into existing dishes?  Who knows, maybe I’ll become a veggie-holic!

Finally, I’d like to focus more on my mental/emotional well-being.  During my more introspective moments, I’ve come to realize that I’m my own worst enemy when it comes to my weight loss efforts.  I know what I should eat and what I should avoid.  But..all that knowledge goes to hell the minute I’m bored, stressed, celebrating, bummed, etc.  So I need to find ways to better deal with what bothers me and to stay busy so I don’t veg in front of the TV after a long day and nibble.

How’s that for going almost as far as naming some resolutions, but not quite!

How about you?  Are you making any New Year’s Resolutions?  Or are you going the route I am?  Or doing something altogether different?