Let’s be healthy! But what’s this about the recommended daily sugar intake?

For once, I’m not blogging about video or computer games or any sort of entertainment. This time, it’s about life.

I went in for a mini check up back in late November for a surgery I had earlier this month. It turns out that had I not decided to have this surgery — it wasn’t some necessary, I-will-die-if-I-didn’t-go-through-with-it one — I wouldn’t have known that I had a) high blood pressure and a b) thyroid problem.

I’ve done a lab test for the thyroid issue and nothing was out of the ordinary in that the hormones produced by the thyroid gland were at normal levels. Everything else that was tested checked out too. Since nothing out of the ordinary was discovered, the doctor suggested that an ultrasound be done. He doesn’t think whatever’s causing the thyroid to expand(? – is that the word I want?) is cancerous so there’s no absolute hurry to get it. Since everyone is in holiday mode, I figure I’d wait until the new year before I call for an appointment. Oddly, it turns out ultrasound labs are kind of scarce around my city for some reason. I could swear there were more a few years ago. And they only take appointments on Saturdays?

Anyway, I’m currently working on reducing my blood pressure and trying to follow the DASH diet~! I’m linking to a Canadian site because I’m in Canada but US visitors can check http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/dash/ for information. Of course, I’ve started to exercise too. I’ve did about 30 minutes of walking + other exercises for a week but has since made it 35 – 45 minutes. I’m hoping to push it up to an hour eventually since there doesn’t seem to be enough time to throw in multiple reps of sit-ups, squats, and other stuff within the current “time limit”. Of course, I could probably just assign days where I do nothing but non-walking exercises but I do so like taking “breaks” between sets of exercises with brisk walks. I suppose I just spend too much time doing the latter so I should cut back?

Now, based on my BMI (body mass index) — yeah, I’m Asian — I’m slightly overweight but have a big fat waist. 😦 This means I have to work on getting rid of all that fat around the tummy area. I’m hoping that, by following the 1,600 calories DASH diet, I can drop a few pounds within the next few months. My goal is 10 – 15 pounds. It should probably be 20 lbs but I’ll work on meeting the minimum first. 😛

With my goal all set and ready, I started wondering about sugar intake. I mean, it’s great the DASH diet is there to reduce sodium but what about sugar? D: I read on a few sites that, for female adults, the recommended daily sugar intake should be around 20 – 24 grams (5 teaspoons).

I froze.

After all, that bowl of brown rice/mixed grains congee w/ rock sugar I had this morning amounted to more than 70 grams of sugar. WTF was going on? I ended up going on a tirade on Twitter, throwing up a calculation of the amount of sugar I would be ingesting if I had nothing but 1% milk and slices of flax & quinoa whole grain bread for a single day based on the servings recommended in the DASH diet. The milk alone was 36 grams of sugar. Welp, obviously there wasn’t any way to meet the unrealistic magical number those health experts came up with.

It turns out the recommended daily sugar intake was based on ADDED SUGARS, not natural. Oh, that makes things so much better. (I’m being sarcastic.)

The problem is that nutrition labels don’t indicate whether or not the sugar in the product is natural or artificially added. Googling this told me that it’s because there’s no way to accurately measure it. However, I would think that that pack of mixed grains with its 70 grams of sugar per 1 serving of 100 grams means that they’re all naturally occurring sugar and that I’m not eating myself to death. Same thing goes for the carton of 1% milk.

This article lists some serving sizes of common processed foods and the possible amount of sugar they have. It’s on page 2: http://www.rodalenews.com/recommended-sugar-intake

A poke of my finger a few weeks back showed that I had normal blood sugar. This was before I started cutting back on processed stuff and randomly snacking on anything that didn’t require effort to cook so hopefully, if I follow the diet as best as I can, I’ll bring down the blood pressure and keep diabetes away.

My main issue right now is getting in the servings of vegetables and grains. Dairy is easy to meet since I can drink milk and eat yogurt or cheese. And added fats and oil aren’t much of a problem either. Nuts and seeds? My mom loves them so they’re abundant around the kitchen. (She could do with buying the unsalted stuff though. And I LOVE unsalted pumpkin seeds!)

I usually eat vegies cooked and I’m oh-so-lazy when it comes to cooking. We have no shortage of vegetables in the fridge right now so there’s really no excuse on snacking on them. I do plan on making some cabbage rolls at some point this week though. :9

Ooh. Vegetable juice is a suggestion. Naturally, making my own would be best but we don’t have juicer. :\ I suppose we can just make some sort of stew. (Again, with the cooking. XD)

Oh, funny story — my mom keeps insisting that certain foods like leafy vegetables such as lettuce, boy choy, etc. and even meats like chicken are hard to eat without salt. But you know what? I CAN eat them without any salt added. I’ve done it before. And every time there’s “not enough flavour”, she’d pour some soy sauce into a little plate or tiny rice bowl just in case I needed some seasoning on the food. The crazy thing about soy sauce is that 1 or 2 tablespoons, depending on the brand and which soy sauce you’re using, can contain around 1,130 mgs of sodium. The daily recommended sodium intake is under 2,400 mgs. REMEMBER THIS WHEN YOU GO TO CHINESE RESTAURANTS, FOLKS.

Another silly bit — I tried looking for low sodium soy sauce at a Chinese grocery store yesterday and according to the labels, any that claimed to be in low sodium simply listed the serving size as 1 tbsp instead of 2 like many of the other labels of the regular soy sauce. This just means that if you half the serving size of the regular soy sauce, you’ll get your low sodium alternative. 😛 I should go check out Whole Foods and see what kind of selection they have.

Thanks to me being vigilant about nutrition labels now, I can no longer each those yummy shrimp-stuffed rice noodle rolls any more since those things are pretty much DEPENDENT on soy sauce or hoisin sauce for flavour. 😦 I guess I can try and eat them without any but it just wouldn’t be the same. Tofu is actually kind of hard to eat without any salt too. ^^ I only add a few pinches of salt when I make them but who knows if those pinches add up to a teaspoon or 2. 😛

At any rate, I’ll probably post a progress update a few weeks down the road on how this whole diet thing is going. ^^ If things go as planned, maybe I’ll end up inspiring some other people? :0

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