Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: CANDY (04/28/16)
TITLE: Bitter Truths
By Holly Westefeld
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Research shows that sugar and simple carbohydrates activate the same addictive response in the brain as cocaine and heroin. Thus it is no surprise that we gravitate toward these empty calories, and that businesses exhibit complicity in assiduously marketing such products, particularly to children. It is, admittedly, unfair to lay all of the blame for these unhealthy products at the doorstep of food manufacturers. When we allow ourselves to be so busy that we do not prepare nutritious meals from wholesome ingredients, or are too apathetic or lazy to educate ourselves about cooking and nutrition, then we reap the consequences thereof.
The consequences are proving costly. Type II diabetes increased sevenfold in the United States in the twentieth century, and has nearly doubled again thus far in the twenty-first, and is increasingly affecting children. The price of medical care, while high, cannot compare with the heartache of watching those we love lose vision, heart and kidney function, and even endure amputation if they will not make the changes necessary to break the addictive cycle.
Sadly, sugar/food addiction is the main addiction, other than caffeine, to which most churches turn a blind eye, indeed often enable. Coffee, tea, and juice are usually accompanied by simple carbohydrates, such as bagels, muffins, doughnuts, or other pastries. Potluck dinners often have dessert tables to rival the main dishes, which are usually long on carbs, and short on protein and fiber.
Since convenience and junk food manufacturers are likely to make only token gestures toward healthy options, we must be proactive in our own well-being. One way to get started is to shift to drinking water, flavored with fruit if you like, so as not to drink calories that contribute nothing to satiety. Many people think of fruit juice as being healthy, but the truth is that, separated from the fiber of the whole fruit, it is basically equal to the amount of sugar found in soda. With the abundance of blenders and food processors, it is not difficult to make your own smoothies with whole fruit, perhaps even a veggie or two, and no added sugar. Yes, some whole grains take longer to cook than refined ones, but quinoa, for instance, takes no longer to cook than white rice, and has the added bonus of complete proteins. Whole grains that take longer can often be prepared in a crockpot. For instance, I cook steel cut oats with a mashed banana in the crockpot on low overnight, which results in it being pleasantly sweetened, but not tasting like banana.
There are several programs that guide one in biblical principles for eating, which can help if you are at a loss for a starting point. In short, though, the idea is to eat and prepare foods as closely to how God created them as possible. For millennia from creation, there was only one sweetener, honey, in addition to fruit. Honey is mentioned in twenty-three of the sixty-six books of the Bible. It contains trace nutrients, and has antibacterial properties.
Bitter truths are that it is profitable for companies to feed our sugar addiction, and might prove unprofitable for churches to boldly address the problem, though it would be a responsible approach to feed in to it less, and support those who really struggle more. The sweet truth, though, is that our nutritional well-being is completely within our control, and that if enough of us refuse to buy candy disguised as food, the manufacturers will follow the money. By all means, we may wish to make or buy some candy and other sweets for special occasions, but they must not be our masters, destroying the health with which God has blessed us.
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