Honey, Ah, Sugar Sugar

By Paige Romanowski

Monday morning comes fast for everyone, does it not? It certainly seems like it in the world of BodyRite Training. And like every Monday morning, confessions pour out of the mouths of my clients regarding their weekend adventures with food, drink and the like. And like every empathetic trainer, I try to navigate through these conversations with just the right amount of disdain, diplomacy and...shall we say, forgiveness? At BodyRite, the focus is the food and what I really care about more so than how many spin classes my peeps took is what they are eating. Human activity matters, getting our heart rate up matters, lifting heavy stuff matters, sprinting every seven to ten days matters – however, the information we put into our systems matters more. 


The idiom “the devil is in the details” is a true story and couldn’t be more accurate when it comes to the current food crisis in America. Sugar is the devil and he finds his way into everyone’s pantry, refrigerator and table. If you aren’t paying attention to what you are eating, sugar will creep into your diet. Between 1980 and 2011 the rate of diabetes has increased from 5.6 million to 20 million. Excessive consumption of sugar is to blame. Food has never been so sweet and it’s killing Americans. 


New York Times best selling author Joseph Mercola, is an osteopathic physician and proponent of Paleolithic nutrition and he estimates that “our ancestors likely indulged in around one tablespoon (60 calories) of honey per day (when available), which is stunningly low compared to today’s average sugar intake of one cup (774 calories) per day!” Dr. Robert Lustig, a professor of clinical pediatrics at the University of California, released a video that went viral on YouTube during the summer of 2009 with an estimated 6 million views. His video was about the toxicity of sugar titled “Sugar: The Bitter Truth,” and according to Lustig, fructose is poison. 


Other sugar experts make similar claims about the dangers of sugar like health journalist Gary Taubes, author of the popular book Good Calories, Bad Calories: Fats, Carbs, and the Controversial Science of Diet and Health, has reasonable concerns about sugar intake because as Mr. Taubes points out, insulin resistance is quite likely to be the dietary cause of some cancers. Dr. Nancy Appleton, author of the book Sugar Suicide, lists about 143 research-supported reasons to kick the sugar habit. 


The truth about sugar and it’s long and short term effects on the human body is now a topic that people are interested in since researchers are able to make some important connections to our health, our wellness and our longevity. I am not convinced yet that people are truly listening however; sugar is, after all, highly addictive. Mercola states that “sugar has the ability to increase pleasure-yielding opioids in the brain, similar to morphine and heroin, making one’s sugar cravings often too strong to ignore.” Not only that, but sugar is in everything and called many things that layman label readers can’t even identify. So my job as a “food coach” let’s say, is to find out what my clients are eating and then educate them on the details of proper food identification and consumption. The overwhelming factor by far is sugar. Most of them typically believe that they are eating healthy and doing the right thing according to the information that is being fed to them by their doctors, the television and the FDA. Typically, the information is misleading, contradictory and flat out not true. 


I signed up a new client in the beginning of July. He is a male, above the age of 75, almost five foot six weighing in at 238 lbs. We sat down together for his orientation and documented his food life. Once I had all the data, it was blantly clear that there was way too much sugar in his life and the overabundance of insulin floating around was causing his waistline to expand. Sadly however, this client like so many others, really was trying to do the right thing. Here is what his typical breakfast consisted of:

• 3 egg whites

• 1 container fat free yogurt/

1 container of regular yogurt

• granola (for yogurt)

• pear

• 1 cup orange juice


Doesn’t look too bad, right? Four weeks after our first meeting and some dietary changes, my client had another body composition evaluation. The results were amazing – he lost a staggering 12 pounds not to mention inches in his waistline. His breakfast now consists of whole eggs or another protein source and vegetables. Nutrition is now back into his breakfast and its low glycemic nature means his blood sugar will be level instead of spiking like it was with all of the sugar he was getting in the granola, yogurt, fruit and fruit juice. I am confident my client will lose 40 pounds by December, no problem, because he is now free of the sugar cycle and understands the behavior patterns of sugar. 


The devil has many names so it’s important to know what to look for when reading labels. Some common terms: sucrose, fructose, dextrose, high fructose corn syrup, rice syrup, maltodextrin, sucralose, sorbitol, agave nectar, evaporated cane juice, honey, fruit juice concentrate, lactose, sorghum syrup, aspartame, xylitol and there are many more. 


Essentially, I want my clients abstaining from sugar entirely. The quicker I can get them off “the crack” (as I call it), the quicker I can rid their bodies of visceral fat. Banning sugar from your life or even just practicing the 80/20 rule, will not only help diminish fat deposits, but it will also improve your physiology. Mineral imbalances, inflammation, anxiety, attention disorders, degenerative diseases have all been linked to excess sugar consumption. Clearly there is more to shunning sugar than just weight loss; it’s about wellness. 


Take ownership of what you are eating and understand the cause and effect of food, in particular sugar. I believe that sugar of any kind is a treat; we should practice extreme moderation and thoughtfulness when ingesting this substance. Sugar can be a bowl of pasta, a glass of champagne or a cookie just to name a few. Sugar is in every aisle of every grocery store. Whole food nutrition equals feeling well, looking well and living well. Dancing with the devil is a slippery slope loaded with consequences of every kind. Know your enemy!



Paige Romanowski, certified personal trainer, is the owner of BodyRite Training. She works in Riverhead, NY at Maximus Health & Fitness and also owns a personal training studio in Mattituck, NY. Visit Paige’s website at www.bodyritetraining.com