Note: This post was originally written November 19, 2012
Full disclosure: I ate Ho Ho’s and Twinkies as a kid and loved them just like the other kids. But, I was a child and didn’t know any better. I’m not a kid any more and wouldn’t think of eating them now. We didn’t know better back in the 40’s and 50’s. My mom used to give us Wonder Bread slices slathered with butter and topped with sugar as a treat. My dentist safaried in Africa on that treat years later.
Let’s look closely at a package of Ho Ho’s. There are three cupcakes inside. I was amazed to see that the serving size is all three, the whole package. Usually, they break it down to a smaller number to reduce the caloric hit. One serving of the Ho Ho’s yields 370 calories, according to Calorie Count.
If you don’t pay much attention to calories, let me explain. I weigh around 150 pounds and can consume 2100 calories a day to maintain that weight. The 370 calories in a serving of Ho Ho’s comes to nearly a quarter of my daily allowance of calories. That takes the place of almost an entire meal.
The three cupcakes contain 17 grams of fat of which 13 grams are saturated fat. That’s a mouthful, or should I say an artery full of fat. The government recommends that we not eat more than 21 grams of saturated fat in a day. This is more than 80 percent of that amount in a single snack.
There are 30 mg of cholesterol which doesn’t seem too off-putting.
Some 220 mg of Sodium are high, but I have seen worse.
Total carbohydrates come to 54 grams. Okay.
Only one gram of fiber. Most of us are lacking in fiber intake. This snack doesn’t help. Adults need around 40 grams of fiber a day. Ho Ho’s leave us 39 grams short.
Sugars come to 42 grams. A teaspoon of sugar amounts to 4.2 grams, so this is 10 teaspoons of sugar. Gag much?
Lastly, there are two grams of protein. The average adult needs over 50 grams a day. So, again, Ho Ho’s pretty much leave you at the starting gate when it comes to your need for protein, nature’s building blocks.
This little breakdown shows why junk food in general and Ho Ho’s in particular are called empty calories. You use up nearly a quarter of your food budget and are left with meager amounts of nutrients that you need to show for it.
Another problem I have with this is that eating all that sugar and fat is like taking a cattle prod to your taste buds. No wonder people get hooked on it. They get accustomed to that explosion of flavor in their mouth. Regular natural foods begin to taste mild by comparison, almost tepid. Our palates become jaded and start to crave that jolt we get from the 10 teaspoons of sugar rolled up in all that fat.
I consider Ho Ho’s among the junkiest of junk foods. They damage us when we eat them, pervert our palates, distort our eating habits and contribute precious little to our health or daily nutritional needs – a vicious downward spiral.
As far as Hostess going out of business is concerned, Of course I am saddened by the loss of 18,000 jobs, especially around Christmas time. I have been out of work. It sucks. You know that innocent children are going to get the short end of that this holiday season.
But, don’t forget the big picture. Some 60 percent of us are overweight and 30 percent obese. Another ten percent of us have type 2 diabetes, a preventable disease that stems from inactivity and poor eating habits. Those are some of the reasons health care costs are raging out of control and our teenagers are coming down with adult onset diabetes. You can read further about the ravages of obesity elsewhere on the blog.
If you are one of those folks who craves the sugar hit, I hope you realize your need to work your way off it. Start with fresh fruits, melons. I find that fresh pineapple is a wonderful cold sweet treat. Don’t be afraid to allocate an extended period of time to getting your palate clean. You didn’t sugar it up in a day. You can’t expect to clean it up in one day either.
I think we are all better off this Christmas season if the ho ho’s are coming from Santa and not from Hostess.
In October 2013 a Connecticut College release said, “In a study designed to shed light on the potential addictiveness of high-fat/ high-sugar foods, Joseph Schroeder, associate professor of psychology and director of the behavioral neuroscience program, and his students found rats formed an equally strong association between the pleasurable effects of eating Oreos and a specific environment as they did between cocaine or morphine and a specific environment. They also found that eating cookies activated more neurons in the brain’s “pleasure center” than exposure to drugs of abuse.