sugar lips

To say I was excited would be an understatement.  Two of my favorite candies got married, and my beloved thought of me.

The other day, Mike brought me home one bathroom-sized, Dixie cup of white chocolate Candy Corn M&Ms from the office candy jar.  Mike knows I love M&Ms, and that this time of year, I love those perfect, buttery kernels of candle wax and sugar known as Candy Corn.  If he had brought me a full bag from CVS, I might have killed him, but he knows his customer.

Such a treat, I could not have been happier, though I did think he might have gone for the 5 oz. cup.  And what did the extra-small size cup say about what he thought about the size of my hips?  I decided not to go there.  Instead, I sat down at my desk to work the next day with my treat beside me.  A perfect day at my kitchen table with a few of my favorite things: a chair, my computer and sugar.

I was glued to my seat, hovered over the computer, when I decided to take a break from work and do a little research: Were people in favor of the candy corn/M&M marriage? (Turns out, the reviews are mostly thumbs down.) Much to my dismay, I realized that for two years I had been missing out on Candy Corn Oreos!  How had that happened?   I belly-laughed at NPR’s “Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me” Sandwich Monday blog.  I have a (holier than thou) vegan daughter, and particularly loved Ian Chillig’s comment: “I hope these Oreos are vegan, so vegans have something to not eat.”

And just when I thought all was right with the world, I noticed two tabs behind my word document that I had opened earlier that morning–and had totally ignored.

Those two stories brought me right down off my sugar high, because for those of us who like to sit back in the recliner, watch a movie and eat candy corn with their popcorn (and who doesn’t), the news was not good. Not good at all.

“Sitting is the New Cigarette Smoking,” was the headline that caught my eye. “Really?” I thought,  “If Sitting is the New Cigarette Smoking,who are these fat asses gonna sue? La-Z-Boy?”  But then I realized that the fat asses they were talking about included me.

It turns out that all of us who sit at the computer for most of the day (supposedly, even people who exercise for an hour in the morning) are at risk.  A new study reveals that about 60% of Americans suffer from “Silicon Valley Syndrome”—adverse health effects resulting from slouching over your computer—effects like feeling achy, having sore backs, having trouble sleeping, and headaches.  As my father would say, “I resemble that statement.”

And if that were all the bad news this October, I could live with that.  But there’s another study of course, and it was even worse (for me). According to a study undertaken in Germany, high blood sugar levels are associated with, of all things, memory loss.  Tell me it ain’t true.

Participants in this study, with an average age of 63, were required to recall a list of 15 words, 30 minutes after hearing them.  (I can’t remember 1 name for even 10 seconds, so they are all heroes to me.) Monitoring blood glucose levels, the researchers found that remembering fewer words was clearly linked to higher blood sugar levels.

I immediately went to put the leftover Candy Corn M&Ms down the disposal, but there were none left.

And it wasn’t a bunch of fatties and alcoholics who participated in the study—the participants were in better health than most of us.  Excluded from their study were people who were overweight, had diabetes or pre-diabetes, heavy drinkers, and anyone who already had a memory impairment.

I had a series of reactions about the blood sugar and memory study:

1.  What country did they say the study came from?

2.  How did they find 143 people, with an average age of 63, who were not either overweight, drank too much, or had any sort of memory impairment?  (No one I know could have participated.)

3.  How many people did they interview before they were able to find 143 of them?

4. This explains a hell of a lot.

So it turns out that sitting around eating candy is not so good for your health. Who would have figured?

And yet, there is hope. Samira Kawash, a professor emerita at Rutgers University and the creator of the Candy Professor blog, recently told NPR’s Rachel Martin that candy, which only accounts for 6 percent of the added sugar in our diets, has gotten a bad rap. Candy, Kawash said in her interview, at least is honest.  “It says this is a treat. Look at it as a treat. Enjoy it as a treat.”

So I’m going with that. Candy is my treat, and I’m going to indulge a little this Halloween…and the day after. But the sedentary lifestyle thing–that’s another story.  I am happy to report that I ran up and down the stairs three times and did a downward dog stretch in the middle of writing this article.  I’m trying.

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