I was going to save this for my Saturday Crunch post, but I thought that this article from The Telegraph deserved a post of its own, as it serves up the bitter truth about sugar.
We all know that sugar is bad for us, it causes spikes in our blood sugar levels, triggering the release of insulin in our body before our energy levels slump and we reach for another fix, causing a rollercoaster cycle of peaks and troughs, sugar addiction and of course, weight gain.
Now one American doctor, Robert Lustig, is calling for restrictions on sugar to put it into the same league as alcohol or tobacco. You may think that it’s absurd, that sugar is nowhere near as toxic as alcohol or tobacco, but it is. In fact, possibly more so as there is no age limit of when we can legally start buying it.
Sugary sweets and snacks are regularly given as a reward to children from an early age, and it’s often associated with this idea long into adulthood. Feeling down? Have some chocolate! Bored? Grab some biscuits…the continuous cycle of sugar addiction is one that needs to be broken, starting with better education.
“Did you know that the average Briton eats 1.25lbs of sugar per week? Or that on average, British children get 17 per cent of their calorie intake from sugar?”
It’s shocking to think that while many of us struggle to get our five-a-day we still manage to eat and drink our way through over 70g of sugar a day.
Even if you do try to avoid it by cutting out biscuits, chocolates and breakfast cereals, the real danger is the hidden sugars that are taking over our foods in an ever increasing number of misleading guises. In his article Leith notes that food manufacturers have even started putting sugar into smoked salmon, sausages and fish sticks, while farmers are under pressure to grow sweeter fruit and vegetables.
Leith explains: “When you add sugar to one thing, you have to add it to other things, too, so they won’t be left behind. Have you got a headache? Take an ibuprofen. It’s probably sugar-coated, like a Smartie.”
So could we really put restrictions on sugar the same way as tobacco or alcohol? Lustig likes to think that we can, by doing things such as increasing the price of fizzy drinks and restricting the advertising of sugary foods, but ultimately I think that the few key people who make the decision would do everything in their power to stop it from happening as it would lose them too much money.
While some food manufacturers are making a move in the right direction by reducing the amount of calories in their products over the next few years, it’s ultimately down to us, the consumers, to make the right choices.
Eating a balanced diet doesn’t have to be a privilege of higher earners as my post about eating healthily on a budget shows. All it takes is a simple move away from processed foods to one filled with whole grains, protein, fruit and vegetables. It may be difficult at first so take it one step at a time, eliminating biscuits for a week, then ready meals and so on. It can be hard cutting down on sugar, but your life will be much sweeter for it.
Do you think there should be restrictions on sugar?