8 - 2010

Food Rules 34-36: Sweet And Salty

This is my ongoing,11-week series about Michael Pollan’s book, Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual.

Part II is called, “What Kind of Food Should I Eat? (Mostly plants.).” This installment covers rules 34 through 36.

Rule 34: Sweeten and salt your food yourself.

This is definitely a rule to live by. If you want to see how effective it is, consider that SugarStacks.com reports there are nearly 10 teaspoons of sugar in a 12-ounce can of Coca-Cola.

photo from SugarStacks.com

If you made your own sweet tea, using 1 cup of sugar per gallon of tea, a 12-ounce serving would contain 5.3 teaspoons of sugar. Even McDonald’s sweet tea has “just” 30 grams of sugar per 16 ounces, which would shake out to 5.6 teaspoons of sugar in 12 ounces, or about half what a Coke has.

And (Southerners, feel free to excuse yourselves here — I know you can’t help it when it comes to the tea) just picture yourself with a 12-ounce glass of tea in front of you, sweetening it with nearly six teaspoons of sugar. Most of us would get tired of the stirring required to mix in that much sugar. Point taken — sweeten and salt it yourself.

Rule 35: Eat sweet foods as you find them in nature.

This is a great one. Pollan points out that natural sugars come along with fiber — usually in fruit. That makes us get full faster. As well, the sugars in fruits or vegetables are more complex, meaning they break down in our bodies more slowly and give us less of a sugar high.

I have a ferocious sweet tooth, and I often tell myself this rule. In some circles, fruit gets a bad rap, but I figure it’s much better than the alternative. Somehow, I can manage to eat a whole (possibly huge) bag of M&Ms, but I just don’t feel like eating an entire bag of apples at one sitting. And I don’t get the sugar headache/nausea from the apple, either.

Pollan also points out that you should eat and not drink your sweets — drinking calories just isn’t natural for most mammals (so forget that sweet tea, too).

Rule 36: Don’t eat breakfast cereals that change the color of the milk.

Pollan says it all: “This should go without saying.” There is some argument that food coloring agents can affect some children’s moods and behavior, and those colors just aren’t right — especially eaten on a daily basis. Not to mention that colored cereals are full of refined carbs, chemicals and probably jam-packed with sugar.

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