The Dark Side of Cupcakes

While “cupcake shops can provide a more accurate and timely guide to the frontiers of urban gentrification than traditional demographic and real estate data sets” according to Rutgers Urban Policy lecturer Dr. Kathe Newman, the stark reality is that transitional neighborhoods are just that - transitional. That's what Dayna Al-Saleh points out with this mapping of cupcakes against gang territory in the Mission neighborhood of San Francisco.

Mission: Gangs and Cupcakes, by Danya Al-Saleh

For Shame

Shame, it seems, does nothing to deter certain human behavior. A new study out of USC states that "the more we anticipate wagging fingers, public pillory and guilt, the worse we're likely to do when it comes to self-control. If we focus on the pride that comes from good behavior, we make better choices." How did the researchers come by their results? With cake, of course. (My kind of scientific study!). Researchers offer study participants chocolate cake. The participants who focused on the pride they would feel in resisting the cake, fared better - they ate less of the cake. Said more scientifically: "when it comes to self-regulation, anticipated pride outperformed anticipated shame as well as unconsidered, heedless consumption."

Why should this be so? "Simply put, anticipating pride makes us feel good, and anticipating shame makes us feel bad."

Focusing on the positive effects of our actions can help us to act in the ways we want to.

Hmmm. I'm going to think of how proud I'll be of my abs when I skip a cupcake. I'll let you know if it works!

Home as the Hub

Where health begins. Meaning, it should be the healthiest place you have. Because there are just too many messages and bad behavior influences lurking outside our homes. We can make it easier for ourselves if we make sure our environment supports our choices and therefore protects us from our own worst instincts. My plan? I don't want to eat junk food therefore no junk food in the house. It's bad enough I live so close to a cupcake shop!

Sugar Ain't So Sweet

I'm sure you saw the recent expose on sugar in the NYTimes.  It came on the heels of news that sitting is killing us, too. So what's a cupcake lover to do?  I thought I had a bit of the sugar game beat by switching to agave nectar, but after the sugar article I did some research and realized I have been fooling myself.  Agave nectar is just as bad as regular ol' sugar and possibly worse due to its high concentration of fructose.  What about honey?  No better.

Now fructose, found in fruits naturally, is okay, but processed to the almost 90% level that is found in agave nectar is not.  Which had me wondering what diabetics do.  My mother had diabetes and I know I am at risk for it as well.  

To give you some benchmarks my research uncovered that a glucose level over 100 is prediabetes and some even say that 90 is.  Ideally glucose should be between 60 and 70.  But what does that mean in sugars you can ingest?   My research turned up this answer: no more than 60 grams of sugar a day.

BTW, sugars are in almost everything so even if you don't consider it a sweet, you may be consuming lots of sugar.

While fruit for dessert is the optimal choice, I know I that will not be happy without a certain amount of baked goods in my life.  So to that end, I've discovered stevia and erythritol.

Stevia is a natural sweetener used in South America and in Japan (in almost everything). You can learn more from Dr. Weill. Erythritol is natural sugar alcohol.

From what I can tell bakers use them in combination. I’ll try out some recipes and let you know how it goes.

On the Way Home

I was walking home after surreptitiously stopping to purchase a cupcake when I ran into someone I knew. But, at first, when I saw her coming towards me I didn't recognize her. I don't think she recognized me either until we stepped further towards each other.

In the moment that I didn't know her, I found myself thinking something about the woman my eyes alighted on. After we stopped and chatted for a bit I wondered, what if I could tell her? What if I could tell her what and who I thought she was before I realized I knew her? Would the feedback be helpful or useful? Or dangerous?

Then I thought, what did she think of me - in that moment when she hadn't recognized me? Would I want to know? Yes... I think.

Is that the upside and downside of friendship? We know each other too well to recognize something and love each other too much to say anything if we did?