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Possumhaw: What you don't know will kill you


Shannon Bardwell



" ... The most powerful tool for nutrition you have is knowledge of what you're eating." 


-- Jennifer Cohen, author and health blogger 




"14 'Healthy' Foods That Are Actually Bad for You" caught my attention. The article's author was Jennifer Cohen and the website was Forbes. As a healthy vegetarian, I knew I'd ace the list. I was wrong. 


Morning breakfast consisted of light strawberry yogurt, fresh fruit topped with dried fruit and nuts from a package. With the exception fresh fruit, nothing was really healthy.  


More bad news filled the larder: flat pretzels left by guests, fruity snack bars, prepackaged fruit cups, peanut butter packed with preservatives, cans of assorted nuts, prepackaged maple sugar and cinnamon oatmeal, our Wednesday night frozen pizza. Even the all-natural Stevia had added dextrose.  


It turns out the culprit is mostly added sugar. The website says "excess intake of all processed sugars result in compromised immune function," and on the same site Dr. Serge Ahmed stated, "It turns out that sweet taste of sugar is more rewarding than the high of cocaine." I'm thinking sugar withdrawal might be hard. 


The American Heart Association suggests women consume no more than 25 grams and men 35 grams of sugar a day. A banana has 22 grams alone. I was starting to panic. 


Sam was on board and was the first to say, "Out with the fruity snack bars." Having been to too many funerals lately, we were thinking more about what we could control health-wise. 


This was the short list of what we needed; (I'd have to wing the rest when I got to the grocery): carrots, natural peanut butter, bananas, apples, almonds, cauliflower, artichokes, avocados, eggs, Greek yogurt, black beans, salad greens, blueberries, broccoli, brown rice, regular oatmeal and really natural Stevia. 


Also, I fired out a recipe request to a family member who eats healthy and hikes on weekends. She said eating healthy requires more time and more cooking. Considering the alternative, we would just have to do it. I took the recipe list for frittatas, soups, salads and snacks with me to the grocery.  


The produce section was easy. I bought organic where possible. In the organic shelf-goods, I found organic natural peanut butter with no added sugar or preservatives. A small jar was $8. My anxiety level was rising. I decided to leave it on the shelf and check the regular peanut butter aisle for options. I found a reasonable store-brand peanut butter in a regular size jar, organic with no added sugar or preservatives. I bought four jars, two crunchy and two creamy. I started to calm, realizing shopping was a learning experience and we were moving in the right direction. 


At the checkout lane, I turned to see David, whom I hadn't seen in years. I had heard he had stage-four cancer, and frankly I didn't think he'd be with us, but there he was smiling. We reacquainted. Asking how he was, he said "good." He said he did his chemo treatments but also worked with a nutrition doctor.  


I told him about the sugar and preservatives. He said, "Oh yes, no sugar." Then he held up a cabbage. "I just add onions and boil it to death."


Shannon Rule Bardwell is a Southern writer living quietly in the Prairie.


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