I inhaled half a jar of peanut butter last night and, no, it wasn’t the natural kind.
It started with watching TV while eating dinner and was a drastic reminder that for me:
Eating + watching TV + being alone = binge eating
Seriously, no food is safe. Well, except meat and cheese – but other than that – NO food is safe.
Cereal, I’m looking at you.
By the end, I had consumed half a jar of Jif and anything else that got in my path.
Which reminds me, I owe my aunt and uncle another jar of peanut butter.
Why am I telling you all this?
First, because it feels a lot better to share it than keep it to myself. Talking about my lack of willpower around peanut butter removes some of the shameful feelings attached to a binge.
Also, because it’s out of character for me – the Jif, not the peanut butter binge.
In general, I have a low opinion of most brand name peanut butter – Jif, Skippy, etc. – all the brands I grew up eating (and loving). For me, the turning point was when I found out their peanut butter contained more than just peanuts – I felt hoodwinked.
It’s not like they straight up lied to me and left the other ingredients off the label, but when I was little (and even when I got older) I never knew to question it.
I mean, did you know they add various forms of sugar and highly processed oils and emulsifiers?! I didn’t even know what emulsifiers were, let alone want them in my peanut butter.
Wait, back up – there’s sugar in peanut butter?!
Yep, there sure is. In fact, most name brands add sugar. For example, the Jif I was
eating shoveling last night had 2 grams of added sugar per 2 tbsp serving.
By the way, I ate WAY more than one serving. And, yes, the word added makes a difference.
Why? Because unlike the natural sugars found in fruits and vegetables, added sugars hit your bloodstream very quickly because there’s no fiber or micronutrients (vitamins/minerals) to slow down their digestion. This results in a steep spike in your blood sugar, prompting your pancreas to release insulin to shuttle the glucose (sugar) into your cells for energy.
While this may sound harmless (or too sciency), when you eat sugar in excess – and most people do – your pancreas has to release higher levels of insulin to shuttle the excess sugar and, since you don’t need it for energy, your body stores it as fat.
Researchers have found that excess sugar, fructose, in particular, can also lead to leptin resistance. Leptin is a hormone naturally found in the human body. It communicates to our brains that we are full and to stop eating. When you consume excess sugar over time, the communication weakens and your brain no longer receives the message that you’re full. This is called leptin resistance and it leads to overeating, among other things.
The point of this tangent is that peanut butter still tastes AMAZING without sugar added to it. While I can’t speak to exactly why many peanut butter manufacturers add sugar to their product, I can tell you that another sneaky side effect of eating sugar is craving more sugar.
And more peanut butter.
Okay, I added that one, but it’s not out of the realm of possibilities.
Now, my sister says I have an elitist view of peanut butter and you may agree with her. However, natural peanut butter (the kind made with ONLY peanuts) is much more affordable than most people think it is.
Case in point, these delicious options from Trader Joe’s:
I may be wrong, but I think that’s actually less expensive than the brand names.