Friday, 30 May 2014

A spoonful of sugar...

In today's health conscious but massively overweight world, we are fed a daily diet of health-scare stories on the news.  What's good for us today, may be terrible for us with the next headline-grabbing piece of research.  Too much red wine is bad for you, a little every day is good for you.  Tea is good for you, bad for you, only green tea, only rainbow coloured herbal teas, no tea, just water... too much sugar is bad for you, but sugar replacement sweeteners are even worse!!!!  WAIT.  MY HEAD IS EXPLODING!  LET ME GET OFF THIS RIDICULOUS ROUNDABOUT!

But there does seem to be some agreement that too much sugar is bad for you.  At the moment it seems to be the bad guy as far as obesity is concerned.
a really interesting article about sugar consumption from The Guardian
Well, most high-sugar foods don't contain many other valuable nutrients and goodness, so you're getting a lot of calories without much benefit in terms of feeling full, fibre, or slow-release energy.  This can lead to becoming overweight, and the health problems associated with that.

Also too much sugar leads to tooth decay.

Sugar is found naturally in many foods, which is fine, it's supposed to be there, for example in fruit.  Don't cut down on fruit because it's good for you.

It's the added sugar that we need to be more aware of.  It has many cunning disguises (corn syrup, glucose, sucrose, fructose, maltose, honey, hydrolysed starch).  We should try to keep added sugars to no more than 10% of our calorie intake every day, between about 50g and 70g (which seems an awful lot to me!).

If you're checking labels on foods, then you'll be looking for "carbohydrates (of which sugars)".  More than 22g per 100g of food is high.  Less than 5g per 100g is low.

The worst culprits are ready-made sauces and ready-meals, children's cereals, sliced white bread etc. because we don't always expect them to be full of sugar.  Cakes, fizzy drinks and chocolate you kind of know what you're getting, and we know we should be trying to cut down on those.

I think though, that before we start worrying about reading the labels of everything that we buy in the supermarkets, we should start with what we are doing ourselves.  Here are a few occasions when I know I add sugar to things I prepare.  I'm aiming to reduce the amount by at least half, and get myself used to the taste without so much sugar:

  • I sometimes put a spoonful of sugar in my tomato sauce for pizza (the recipe says so), but when I forget, it still tastes fine.
  • I usually put a teaspoon of sugar on my grapefruit, more if it's a yellow grapefruit.  I should try to stick to the pink ones, and reduce the sugar a bit.
  • I put a teaspoon of sugar in every cup of coffee.  I tried cutting this down to a half, but habit won out and I went back to one.  So I cut down on the amount of coffee I drank and switched to tea, which I don't have sugar with.  I'm convinced I could lose the sugar in the coffee, but it'll take some weaning.
  • I put a couple of teaspoons of sugar in the bread mixture - I don't think I'll tinker with that recipe too much, I wouldn't want to mess with the magic.
  • I bake with the children, it's usually sweet.  I'm going to try and bake more savoury muffins etc.  And for desserts we're trying to include more fresh fruit with natural yoghurt rather than sweetened yoghurts.
  • And my real secret vice is Coca Cola.  I very rarely drink it at home, but it's my drink of choice when out and about, and I know it's BAD!  I'm trying to replace it with orange juice and soda water, or even just plain old tap water, but I really love that Coke!

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