Should Ronald McDonald be Shot?

People are getting fatter and fatter thanks to McDonalds and their counterparts and, quite frankly, it seems as though they really don’t give a s**t so, I’m not going to take it back, that giant plastic clown deserves to be shot!

I realise that this may be an ever so slightly emotive title and I am not advocating that anyone should start shooting giant plastic clowns with nauseatingly cheesy grins and stupidly big feet (yep you’re right I don’t like clowns) but I do think that McDonalds and their ilk should be held to account for their contribution to the current obesity crises in the USA and the UK. They currently have a promotion which actively encourages their customers to buy larger portions of their ‘food’ in the hope of winning prizes. I use the term ‘food’ loosely as I believe that the packaging has slightly more nutritional content than what’s inside it!

mcdonalds buttermilk chickenHowever, in response to public criticism, they have now helpfully added a nutrition calculator to their site which apparently allows their customers to make informed choices. This for example will tell you that a sweet BBQ bacon and buttermilk chicken burger has 830 calories, 39g of fat etc and it will also show you what these are as a percentage of your daily values. So, with this particular burger, the saturated fat content works out as 53% of your daily allowance…….more than half……..in one burger………without fries………or a drink……..or a desert! The only two things it doesn’t give a percentage for are trans fats and sugars which are, without doubt, the two most dangerous things on the list. The sugar content of this one burger is 18g and the daily recommended allowance is 25g; that means that it contains roughly 75% of all the sugar that you should consume in one day – not really caramel sundaysurprising that they didn’t want to add the percentage to this one is it?

If you add a vanilla shake to that, that’s another 59g of sugar which is more than 200% of your daily allowance; not only that but you’ve also just opted to take on board another 490 calories. If you manage to resist the McFlurry and other ice-cream deserts on offer and instead opt for the apple pie you will be consuming another 230 calories and another 12g of sugar. However, if the sugar high that you will be experiencing after eating 3 times your daily recommended amount in one sitting isn’t enough for you, they do offer a hot caramel sundae. It doesn’t look very big but it does contain a whopping 620 calories and another 57g of sugar.

The upshot of all this is that, if you take the burger, shake and a caramel sundae you have pretty much blown your calorie intake for the day as that lot adds up to almost 2,000. Yes, you did read that correctly – almost 2,000 calories in one meal. However, much worse, you will have also worked your way through 134g of sugar!!!

Fresh Fat Chinese Boy Meme mcdonalds make fat kids youtubeSo Mr McDonald has very kindly broken down your fat, carbs, calories and vitamins (!) so that you can include his ‘food’ as part of a balanced, calorie controlled diet but he has carefully neglected to mention that regular intake of his products will make you fat. Yes, I’m sorry but I am going to be that blunt because it’s a fact. Even if you take some of the salad options they’re going to push you over your daily sugar limit in no time at all (yes I did say salad); the Southwest Butter Milk Crispy Chicken Salad has over 500 calories but it also has 9g of sugar which is over 35% of what you should be eating in a day. If you decide to have a ‘fat free’ chocolate milk with your salad (a label which is used to fool people into thinking that they’re eating healthily), you will add another 22g of sugar and that’s you done for the day.

All this begs the question WHY in the name of all that’s holy do people keep going back to McDonalds??? It’s really surprisingly simple – SUGAR is addictive. It’s more addictive than cocaine. People will tell you that McDonalds ‘food’ tastes great but, if they banned it from their diets completely for a week and then went back to it they would realise that it actually doesn’t taste great, just very, very sweet.

Obviously, despite the relatively low cost of their meals this means that McDonalds will continue to make enormous profits. Effectively they have a captive audience; they have created a band of followers that they know will keep coming back to get their ‘fix’ so it’s not in their interests to reduce the sugar content of their offerings. The business model has been so successful in fact that it has been copied many times over and there are now hundreds of fast food chains who tempt people in with ‘healthier’ and ‘low fat’ options in an effort to appease the authorities who are having to find the money to fund the current obesity crisis but until they reduce the sugar content nothing will change. People are getting fatter and fatter thanks to McDonalds and their counterparts and, quite frankly, it seems as though they really don’t give a s**t so, I’m not going to take it back, that giant plastic clown deserves to be shot!

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When One Just Isn’t Enough

if something makes us feel good we want to do it again and again.

Apparently millennials are going to be the fattest generation ever in the UK but why?

There is a mountain of evidence that points towards increased consumption of refined sugar which is both physically and mentally addictive; sugar increases dopamine levels in our brains and that makes us feel good. Human beings are no different from animals in that, if something makes us feel good we want to do it again and again. One triple chocolate muffin leads to another and before long one just isn’t enough to satisfy us so we take two and so it goes on. homer-simpson-drooling-meme-815

Unfortunately, if you stuff your face with chocolate muffins on a regular basis you are going to get fat (I realise that’s not politically correct but it’s a fact). Some people are happy to be fat but some are not, they suffer emotionally when they see the pounds piling on but, ironically, the thing that is causing their emotional distress is also the thing that makes them feel good – refined sugar.

This is a viscious circle and it needs to be broken. Essentially there are two ways to do that: either go cold turkey and cut sugar out of your diet completely or find another, healthier way to get the same happy feelings that sugar gives you. Cold turkey can certainly work for some people, the physical addiction cycle will be broken in a few days, but only if the pleasure of losing weight outweighs the pleasure felt when eating sugar. If it doesn’t then you will feel deprived if you stop eating sugar, like you have lost something precious and the urge to go back to it will be stronger than ever. This is one of the reasons why people try one diet after another, lose a few pounds, and then gain them all back again and more besides.

There are other foods that increase dopamine in the brain which are much, much healthier than refined sugars – almonds, avocados, bananas, fish and dairy for instance. Of course, if you really want to give yourself a boost, your brain releases endorphins, serotonin, dopamine and adrenaline when you exercise.happy runner

Those same chemical reactions occur when we listen to our favourite music so, if you create a playlist of upbeat tunes, stick on your headphones and go out for a brisk walk you’ll be getting double bubble! Not only that but you’ll lose weight and, as you will have replaced one mood enhancer with another rather than depriving yourself of all those good feelings you will be more likely to keep the weight off.

Tum tiddly tum tum

It’s not easy to get a six pack but it’s really easy to get a family pack

People in middle age are more prone to fat around their tummies and, although we can build our stomach muscles through crunches and other exercises, no-one will see them if they are hidden under a layer of flab!

In the UK almost one quarter of adults are obese and in the US it’s one third and those figures are set to rise if the pundits are to be believed; this means that there will be a corresponding increase in those illnesses that are associated with obesity such as high blood pressure, diabetes and certain types of cancer. Unfortunately, as we get older, it gets more difficult to keep the weight off, especially around the tummy area but there are things that you can do to keep yourself in super shape and reduce the risks.

Firstly, remember that your body is the most amazing machine in the universe and, to get the best out of it, you need to put good stuff in and the good stuff comes from nature and not from a laboratory (no offense to any scientists who may be reading!). For many years now artificial sugars have been added to many foodstuffs and, without realising it, people are consuming far more sugar than they used to and what does sugar do? Yep it piles on the pounds. So, is the answer to go for the ‘sugar free’ option? No.

Things like fizzy drinks which are advertised as ‘sugar free’ don’t contain any natural sugar but they do contain artificial versions which actually taste more sugary than the real thing and work on the body in the same way i.e they tell our body to store fat because they trigger the production of insulin. Instead try making your own juices using ingredients like cucumber, lemon juice and ginger – it tastes great and will help your body to burn fat without really adding any calories. Green tea will also boost your metabolism and help your body to break down fat (have a look at the science here).green tea

Refined carbohydrates are also not going to help you trim down a spreading waist line; white bread and white pasta will give us a burst of energy but this burns out after a very short period which means that our blood sugar levels drop and then, more often than not, we have a sugar craving which we will want to satisfy with something sweet which means we end up consuming more sugar and we’re back to square one. Having more whole grains and therefore more fibre in your diet will make your body work far more efficiently and effectively.

Another mucked about with in a lab ingredient we have to think about is something called ‘trans fats’ otherwise known as hydrogenated vegetable oil which is used to make products stay fresher for longer. Food. Unhealthy foodThought to be a major contributing factor to obesity and related health problems in the US the Food and Drug Administration said that trans fats ‘could no longer be generally regarded as safe’. However they still crop up in many foods such as doughnuts, shop bought deserts, fast foods, chocolate biscuits and cream substitutes.

We need fats in our diets but we should be looking at naturally occurring polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats such as those found in nuts and avocados, olive and soybean oils. almonds-avocado

If we are more sensible with our diets and look at eating natural foods that keep us fuller for longer, we also won’t be thinking about snacking during the day; one of the worst culprits when it comes to adding weight. It’s not uncommon for people to have a can of soda between meals and a chocolate bar as a mid-afternoon snack but these two items, on their own, can give you more than the daily recommended limit for sugar plus you’re taking in around 350 calories which will take you about an hour of fast paced walking to burn off!

It’s not easy to get a six pack but it’s really easy to get a family pack if you overload on sugary and starchy foods and don’t exercise enough.

Would you give your child cocaine?

“if you’re a good girl, we’ll stop off at MacDonalds afterwards as a ‘treat'”

In a news article out today, a doctor is calling for weight-loss surgery to be more readily availble for children; he claims that it’s a necessary measure to stem the rise of obesity in the young. Essentially he is urging parents to put their kids under the knife, before they are fully matured and promoting the removal of a large portion of the stomach so that the intake of food that will satisfy their appetite will be greatly reduced.

I will no doubt be called out for saying this but wouldn’t it be simpler, cheaper and less traumatic for the child to speak to the parents about nutrition and exercise? This ‘obesity epidemic’ has only come about since the mass consumption of processed and fast foods and the inclination of kids to spend their days glued to their mobile phones rather than being outside kicking around a football or riding a bike so why can’t we start there?

It’s been known for sometime that sugar is highly addictive and yet it is added, in one form or another, to virtually all junk food and processed foods. Some scientists say that it’s more addictive than cocaine but parents seem to be quite happy to continue shovelling it down their kid’s throats in the name of ‘convenience’. It also doesn’t help that parents will often negotiate with their children using sugar as a bargaining chip – “if you’re a good girl, we’ll stop off at MacDonalds afterwards as a ‘treat'” or “be a good boy and we’ll buy you some sweets”………

This sends the message that sugar is a reward for good behaviour.

Conversely, vegetables and fruit are, I would imagine, rarely used for motivation; how many parents say “be good and you can have vegetable stir fry for dinner”?

I’m not saying that parents who use food as carrot or stick are bad for doing so; I certainly grew up with the idea that sweets were treats but that was before the days of sugar being hidden in absoutely everything so I didn’t consume enough of it to become addicted…………

Exercise, or lack thereof, is another contributor to obesity in the young. I wonder how many children walk to school these days rather than have their parents drop them off in the car on the way to work? How many exercise with their parents on a regular basis; go out for a walk, go swimming etc? How many play team sports on a regular basis? Finally, how many do all of these things but in a virtual world?

Cutting out lumps of kids’ stomachs is not the answer; fresh natural foods and regular exercise are the things that will end the ‘obesity crisis’ but I guess that’s a pretty old fashioned idea………..

Unnatural Enemy

keep those wrinkles at bay but also to tickle your taste buds!

As we get older sugar and refined carbohydrates become our enemies as they can actually damage the cells in our bodies.

Basically, refined carbohydrates are forms of sugar and starch that don’t exist in nature. For example, most white bread: the grain to make the flour used to create the bread exists in nature but the additives used to keep it fresh, for instance, don’t.

Even foods labelled as being ‘healthy’ are not necessarily so. So called ‘diet’ cereals contain a great deal of sugar unless they are unsweetened and 100% whole grain. Snack bars, unless you can see a label which says ‘sugar free’ will also contain high levels of sugar.

To avoid the aging effects of this type of food – keep it natural with fresh fruit and vegetables, fresh fish and lean meat.

Here we have an example of a daily meal plan which will keep refined carbs and sugars to a minimum, helping to keep those wrinkles at bay but also to tickle your taste buds!

Breakfast: Porridge oats with raw honey. These are complex carbohydrates that are low-glycemic which means that they release energy slowly rather than giving a quick blast of energy which spikes your blood sugar.

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Lunch: Avocado Salad

Avocados are full of mono-unsaturated fats i.e. the good kind and they will help your skin stay hydrated and will help your body to absorb nutrients. If you can use a low sugar or sugar free salad dressing all the better. A simple dressing of olive oil, lemon juice and salt and pepper is delicious and with the creaminess of the avocado, you shouldn’t need to load your plate with mayonnaise or salad cream.

salmon fillet with vegetables and basilDinner: Salmon with Roasted Vegetables

Salmon contains Omega 3 fatty acids which naturally moisturise the skin from the inside out. They can also protect the skin from sun-induced inflammation and we all know that the sun’s rays are aging for the skin

Or: Lean Steak with Fresh Mushrooms. beef with mushrooms.jpg

Good quality, lean red meat will give your body protein and protein helps to build collagen. Mushrooms are rich in Vitamin D and anti-oxidants which protect your skin against wrinkles and other damage caused by the environment.

 

Snacks: Oranges and almonds.

Oranges contain high levels of vitamin C and loads of water. The vitamin C will help your body to produce collagen (the main structural protein in your skin) and the water will help to keep your skin hydrated.

Almonds are high in protein, vitamin E and mono-unsaturated fatty acids. Vitamin E is an anti-oxidant and, for older women, has the added benefit of helping to reduce the hot flushes caused by the menopause!

 

Let’s compare these natural foods to the ingredients found in some fast food chain burgers: plastic burger

Enriched flour (bleached wheat flour, malted barley flour, niacin, reduced iron, thiamin mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid), water, high fructose corn syrup and/or sugar, yeast, soybean oil and/or canola oil, contains 2% or less of the following: salt, wheat gluten, calcium sulfate, calcium carbonate, ammonium sulfate, ammonium chloride, dough conditioners (may contain one or more of the following: sodium stearoyl lactylate, datem, ascorbic acid, azodicarbonamide, mono- and diglycerides, ethoxylated monoglycerides, monocalcium phosphate, enzymes, guar gum, calcium peroxide), sorbic acid, calcium propionate and/or sodium propionate (preservatives), soy lecithin.

All of these additives are just in the burger bun so that’s without considering the processed cheese slice or the ketchup or mayonnaise and the burger itself.

Ready meals also often contain many additives and artificial preservatives which will give flavour and increase the shelf life but they are hard for your body to digest. They are also often loaded with sugar which can have a seriously aging effect on the body. The recommended daily intake for sugar is around 25g (1oz) but some ready meals contain up to 50g in just one serving so, in just one meal, you will have already eaten twice the daily recommended amount! meal0618

Eating naturally will not only keep your skin looking younger and firmer but it will also keep your body at a healthy weight; many people consider that the obesity epidemics in America and, more recently, in the UK have been caused by the increase in the consumption of ultra-processed foods.

Love Hurts

The question is: What is too much?

It’s a sad fact of life that, sometimes, the things that we love most will not make us happy in the end and this is so true when it comes to food. Unfortunately people build emotional attachments to certain foods in the same way that they do with people and, just as we must accept that our love of Johnny Depp or Angelina Jolie is destined to be unrequited, we must also accept that our love of some foods will ultimately do us harm.

Various Governments have gone to great lengths to ensure that food packaging these days is covered with loads of nutritional information which is supposed to enable us to have a healthy and balanced diet. Unfortunately there isn’t enough room on the packaging to explain what all the percentages and diagrams actually mean so most people don’t take a blind bit of notice. There are a few things in food which we need to keep an eye on if we are going to live a healthy life and one of them is:

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Sugar: Much of the processed and fast food that are the staples of many people’s diets these days contain an awful  lot of added sugar and, simply put, ingesting too much sugar can lead to heart attacks, liver failure, type two Diabetes, certain cancers and a host of other nasties that you really don’t want. The question is: What is too much? Anything more than about 25 grams or 6 teaspoons a day is the answer. So what is going to take you over your 25 grams?

A single can of cola has about 39 grams

A supermarket sandwich and a low fat yoghurt have around 30 grams

A blueberry muffin has around 30 grams

Just these 3 items could well be lunch for someone who is trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle: there’s no fat in cola, a sandwich is just a sandwich, the yoghurt is low fat and everyone knows that blueberries are good for you. Right? Unfortunately no – in this one meal you will have around 99 grams of sugar which is 4 times the recommended daily amount. If you then add in cereal and milk for breakfast you will have around another 15 grams; sweet and sour chicken with rice for dinner could add another 60 grams which takes your total for the day (without snack bars, sweets, ice-cream or chocolate) to around 174 grams

You will also need to check any labels carefully when you decide to reduce your sugar intake as it can be referred to as sucrose, syrup, dextrin, dextrose, fructose, glucose, saccharose and sweeteners, to name but a few!