Sugar in whole-cut meats?!


Matthew81

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So I'm starting Whole30 on Thursday, and just got back from the grocery store with some of the things I was planning to eat for the first week.

Having spent $20 I really shouldn't have spent on a turkey breast, imagine my surprise at seeing sugar on the ingredients list (I didn't even think to check for "ingredients" on a whole cut of meat.)

Now, I know Whole30 has a no-added-sugar rule. By that all-or-nothing standard, my precious turkey breast is out.

On the other hand, it doesn't register in the nutrition facts (Total Carbs: 0). Furthermore, fruit is allowed and it has sugar, and scientifically, sugar is sugar is sugar no matter where it's found, right?

So now I'm wondering, is there any practical reason to avoid eating this meat while I'm on Whole30? It's not like I'm trying to cheat the philosophy by sneaking a sweet treat or anything like that. Mentally and emotionally, it's just meat. However, if there really is a reason that added sugar (even in minute quantities) is actually different than sugar that is naturally present, then I guess I'll throw the turkey in the freezer for a month.

But I'd really been looking forward to some lettuce-wrapped turkey for lunches...

Thoughts?

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Because not eating added sugar is in the rules. Putting in exceptions would make the rules (which are actually simple but get so overcomplicated) even harder for people to understand. 

Prepackaged turkey breasts or tenderloins are very often brined before they are packaged and the overwhelming majority of brines contain sugar. 

The turkey will keep in the freezer (or heck, return it to the store and tell them you didn't realize there was sugar in it and you can't eat it) and chalk it up as an unfortunate lesson that you need to read every single label every single time. 

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So basically it's a matter of "those are the rules," rather than a scientific reason? (Not being snarky here; that's really what I was wondering about all along.)

The program doesn't forbid sugar in the same manner as it forbids milk, grain, etc. Besides fruit, an exemption was even made for the trace amounts of sugar in table salt. This implies to me that the rule of no added sugar is more about making things simple (not a bad thing overall) than about what trace amounts of added sugar might actually do to one's body (as is the case for milk solids in butter, for instance.)

If there's science behind the no added sugar rule, and if the science applies to trace amounts of sugar that is actually listed as "sugar" (rather than HFCS, etc.), then I'll skip the turkey. But if it's just a matter of "those are the rules" -- well, eating the turkey will do me more good than following the letter of the law. It's not like this is a case of SWYPO or anything; plus I already have a healthy relationship with real food and slew the Sugar Dragon two years ago while fighting the Great Gastritis War. :)

I wish the store would take it back, but they won't (I've tried with other things before), and the unfortunate fact is I can't afford a replacement even though this one ultimately won't go to waste.

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The reality is that if you eat the turkey, there are not going to be any Whole30 police that show up at your house and stamp across your forehead that you broke the rules. We're adults. Even within the confines of the program, no one's going to slap the turkey out of your hand. 

But no, that turkey is not compliant because it contains added sugar (which is clearly called out as not allowed per the rules). 

The official line from anyone is always going to be "don't eat the turkey", but you do you. 

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I am not a scientist, a nutritionist, or a doctor. I am a just a soccer mom with a diet coke addiction who a dark sense of humor. That being said you have 3 choices, freeze it, eat it before you start, or uses it till it is gone and don't buy that brand again. I would advise the first two but it is your body, your whole 30, and your mileage may vary. I hope it is a great experience for you! 

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I would strongly encourage you to read It Starts with Food. It thoroughly explains the science and the rationale behind every rule, including the science-y reasons that sugar is just plain bad for you. 

Like you, when I first started, I was doing mental gymnastics trying to rationalize my way out of certain rules. Because some of them just didn't make sense and I was trying to find a more "practical" way to approach a Whole30. Reading the book totally changed my perspective. It helped me really understand why the rules are the rules, and thereby increased my commitment to strictly following every single one of the rules. 

So yeah, there will always be some element of "the rules are the rules" but there is science and logic behind every one of them. And you'll understand them if you read It Starts with Food. So go read it! :-) 

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1 hour ago, kirbz said:

I would strongly encourage you to read It Starts with Food. It thoroughly explains the science and the rationale behind every rule, including the science-y reasons that sugar is just plain bad for you. 

Like you, when I first started, I was doing mental gymnastics trying to rationalize my way out of certain rules. Because some of them just didn't make sense and I was trying to find a more "practical" way to approach a Whole30. Reading the book totally changed my perspective. It helped me really understand why the rules are the rules, and thereby increased my commitment to strictly following every single one of the rules. 

So yeah, there will always be some element of "the rules are the rules" but there is science and logic behind every one of them. And you'll understand them if you read It Starts with Food. So go read it! :-) 

I will read it (honest!) but there's no way I'll be able to get my hands on a copy before I was planning to start this thing, and I am not going to procrastinate waiting for a book. ;) I'll be doing the Whole30 in full compliance, except for this turkey breast, which I'm choosing to view in the same spirit as the table salt exemption, because I know I'll need it for a few lunches and I simply don't have another option at the moment.

No other exceptions because from now on I'll even be reading the labels on celery and cucumbers. They won't snooker me again! :)

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@Matthew81 Best of luck to you on your Whole30 journey! I hope you love it as much as I did! :-) 

Also, for next time, I'm able to find a brand of compliant deli turkey called True Story at my local Costco. They sell turkey slices, snack packs of turkey slices (which I use for post-workout protein) and chicken breast chunks (which I can make a meal out of when in a hurry). I've also seen the brand at Walmart. Another brand that is officially Whole30-approved is Applegate (since recently becoming a Whole30 partner, they have a large number of compliant products now).

Of course, always check your labels because products vary  by region, but I've found those two brands to be pretty reliable for me! 

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It's because any added sugar (whether or not it tastes sugary) is feeding your sugar dragon and allowing your body to rely on that fast energy. I made the same mistake a few times, because who in their right mind would add sugar to smoked salmon? Or chicken stock? Or plain bacon? Or pickles? IT'S EVERYWHERE...which is why I learned it's really so, so important to read labels. Really makes you wake up and realize what you had been consuming (and how much sugar!) without even realizing it. I could go through a whole day thinking I had eaten zero sugary stuff, and yet it was really in EVERYTHING but I had no idea. Good luck!

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1 hour ago, CassandraYoung said:

It's because any added sugar (whether or not it tastes sugary) is feeding your sugar dragon and allowing your body to rely on that fast energy. I made the same mistake a few times, because who in their right mind would add sugar to smoked salmon? Or chicken stock? Or plain bacon? Or pickles? IT'S EVERYWHERE...which is why I learned it's really so, so important to read labels. Really makes you wake up and realize what you had been consuming (and how much sugar!) without even realizing it. I could go through a whole day thinking I had eaten zero sugary stuff, and yet it was really in EVERYTHING but I had no idea. Good luck!

It's actually exactly this (bolded for emphasis).  To the OP @Matthew81, no, there's no scientific reason for the no added sugar rule for things like this - it's because not only does the Whole30 change the food on your plate but it's teaching you how to learn what is in your food and really be aware and cognizant of how much sugar is in every.thing.  The sugar in that meat is probably not going to send you spiralling into a sugar bender but it does bring to light that MEAT could have SUGAR!!??!!

Why not eat the Turkey breast and then start your Whole30 the next day?  Or if you already ate it, do a Whole32 instead of a Whole30 if starting back at the beginning or delaying your official start date is harder on your motivation.  No one is going to smack that turkey out of your hand as @laura_juggles said but knowingly choosing to eat something with off plan ingredients during your 30 days is contrary to the rules and you won't have done a Whole30.

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Thanks to @SugarcubeOD for clarifying the science issue. "Doing a Whole30" isn't one of my goals anyway; I was attracted to the system because it seemed like a good framework to make an elimination diet work for me as I try to solve a couple of elusive physical issues. If the added sugar in the meat is not scientifically different than the allowed sugar in fruit, then this turkey is not going to sabotage my goals at all.

I'll be happy to read additional comments on the science of this particular issue, but otherwise...well, "the rules" are immaterial to why I'm here. :) 

Incidentally, Day 1 going well so far, but green beans with water chestnuts and bamboo shoots make an uninspiring lunch. ;) I'll be better prepared tomorrow with a salad featuring a compliant protein and dressing!

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@Matthew81, I have a very similar perspective to you. I'm on day 26, but on day 9 my mom accidentally switched the labels on the stevia-sweetened and unsweetened tea jugs. I swallowed one mouthful of stevia tea before I realized, "Wait, this tastes sweet!?" Then a paranoid tea tasting ensued in which all the tea tasted suspicious, so I just didn't have tea that day. Unfortunately, I got so stressed about having to start my Whole30 over that it made my mom cry!

In hindsight, that one mouthful probably didn't matter. I hate stevia anyway, so it wasn't doing anything for me to have it. I decided not to start over. So if that means I technically did a Whole8.5 followed by a Whole17.5, well... I don't care. This incident definitely didn't damage my health goals (but sadly had a pretty negative impact on my mom's day). I love the framework of the Whole30, but when the science behind the rule isn't really at stake and just the rule is, I'm not so concerned. People might tell me that I didn't do a Whole30, but I'm still enjoying all the NSVs like significantly clearer skin, better energy, clothes fitting better, and more confidence in my cooking skills!

Hope your Whole30 (day 5?) is going well!

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