On my days off this week I went home to Portland and saw the new food documentary: Fed Up. It describes the appalling and disturbing background of why our country is addicted to sugar, and the repercussions we see such as obesity, diabetes, and other diseases. The movie not only made a deep impact on me but it left me very depressed, angry, sad, enlightened and appalled at the situation we have put ourselves in. It made me want to make a difference. Not only would I say that everyone should see it, I think everyone should be required to see it.
As a part of the media efforts for the movie, there is a Fed Up challenge you can sign up for on the website which means going cold turkey and eliminating all added sugars from your diet for 10 days. This not only includes the obvious processed sugars found in many packaged foods but seemingly natural sugars like honey, agave nectar and maple syrup. If you keep up with my blog I obviously eat sugar frequently. I might not be considered an “average” American in that I don’t buy processed food and am already relatively conscious about my sugar intake. I often cut the sugar in half for homemade baked goods and buy full fat, plain varieties of food products like yogurt. I grew up with parents that didn’t let me drink soda except for treats, however we lived off sugary cereals for breakfast. We ate healthy homemade meals but I’d have packaged peaches in syrup with lunch, with homemade cookies for a snack. There was always something sweet present to balance the healthy options I consumed. It wasn’t perfect, but it was what I knew. I’m actually proud to have parents that cooked homemade meals, the benefits are so much clearer to me now than they were earlier.
Because the film touched me so deeply, I’m planning to take the Fed Up challenge and cut out all processed sugars. While this may not be as hard for me as for others who haven’t yet taken the step away from processed foods, it’s still going to be incredibly challenging. To start with some facts about my current lifestyle, I’m not obese nor am I at risk of it. I eat a generally healthy diet, exercise several times a week and cook homemade meals instead of buying processed foods. I don’t drink soda or eat fast food. Like many people, I have a natural desire to eat sugar and desserts on a daily basis. The most challenging part of this is that I work in the hospitality business, and I eat at least one meal at day at work. I’m frequently, if not constantly, exposed to food, finding myself eating possibly four meals a day sometimes. There are breakfast breads, omelets, food that’s just going to be thrown out anyway, cupcake competitions, cafeteria breakfast, lunch & dinner, unlimited soda & juices and assorted snacks everywhere.
My Fed Up challenge is going to start this Sunday. I’ll be updating you on what I ate each day, the struggles of cutting out sugar, and what I learn along the way. I’d recommend everyone reading this to see Fed Up, take the trip to the nearest theater and try to tell me you weren’t affected by the time you leave. Not only will it make you take a step back and think about how large food companies affect the way you make decisions on what to eat, I hope it will cause you to want to make a change in the world.