One night a few weeks ago I was going through some old papers of mine and came across the folder which contained all of my New Year's Goals, dating back to 1992. Somehow my son coaxed me into reading them aloud--how embarrassing for me and entertaining for Collin! Anyway I noticed one thing that kept coming up over and over again. In fact, you'll find it below in my New Year's post on this blog--"work on limiting refined flour and sugar in my diet".
Virtually every year I add that to my list of goals and every year I fail to make any progress with it. I eat a lot of sugar and white flour. Much less than the national per capita averages but much more than could possibly be healthy.
To my credit there's virtually no high fructose corn syrup in my diet. By varying estimates, Americans are consuming somewhere between 16 and 50% of their calories in the form of high fructose corn syrup. No wonder there's an obesity and diabetes epidemic!
No, my habits aren't that extreme, but neither are they good. As I've mentioned before, I bake all of our bread products and pastries and we almost never eat out, so I have a pretty good grasp on how much we're consuming. I purchase roughly 100 pounds of white flour per year and probably 30 to 40 pounds of sugar. I also go through a quart or two of local honey, a jar or two of brown rice syrup, about 10 pounds of whole wheat flour and incidental amounts of rye, cornmeal, semolina, teff and other flours. I ingest small amounts of corn syrup in the form of pancake syrup and also in the small amounts of processed foods that we're still buying, mostly tomato-based stuff.
Based on USDA estimates each American consumes roughly 136.6 pounds of flour per year (that's refined and whole grain flours lumped together) and 156 pounds of caloric sweeteners (sugar and high fructose corn syrup, mainly). Together Collin and I consume roughly 115 pounds of flour and maybe 60 pounds of sweeteners per year. Since Collin's only here half the time, I calculate my portion of that to be maybe 77 pounds of flour and 40 pounds of sweeteners. Gosh, that sounds obscene!
Well I'm determined that this is the year I will finally tackle this goal. And the first phase of that starts now. Collin left on Friday to be with his dad for the next three and a half weeks and I thought it would be a great time--while I'm alone--to begin making some changes.
The rules are a little hazy, but here's what I'm thinking. Nothing draconian just yet. I can have a little of this and a little of that. I can finish off anything that's still in the fridge. For instance I made homemade hamburger buns and some bagels this week and there's still one of each left in the fridge. I'm allowed to eat those. There's a little bit of leftover pasta in there too that I can finish off. I can't have sugar in my tea, but I think I'll let myself use honey (even though it's really no better than sugar). I've been sweetening my oatmeal with a little bit of brown rice syrup--so little that I can barely taste the sweetness. Fruit is okay, but I never eat extreme amounts anyway. White flour can only be used in very minimal quantities when making whole-grain breads--just enough to lighten things up a little.
And then there's the question of other starchy things. What about potatoes, and rice? I just bought a 5 pound bag of potatoes, so I will eat them. Don't want anything to go to waste, of course. As for rice, I guess I should stick to brown rice instead of white. Blah. I never have been able to acquire a taste for brown rice.
When I told Collin what I was planning to do, he said "But what will you eat, Mom??" I said "I know!!" He knows me only too well.
We'll see how all of this goes. I just wish the garden were a little further along, so I'd have a lot of interesting foods to distract me. I'll post an update once I get a little further into this challenge and let you know how it's going.