I don’t want anyone to worry that I’m writing a post about food. I’m perfectly fine or at least as fine as could be expected for someone who like almost everyone else in the U.K. this week seems to have realised that almost all their foods are packed full of sugar.
When it comes to their diet as much by chance than anything else, I am reasonably healthy but not particularly so. By nature I much prefer savoury foods than sweet foods so have never had more than a bit of a doughnut, danish pastry or any sweet more sugary than a very plain chocolate (UK or Belgian hmmm).
For at least the last 10-12 years I’ve always taken great care over what I eat and lost about 4.5 stone in the process though from time to time 1 or 2 come back and I have to lose it again but I never get to how I was when I grew up.
Aside from one or two small frozen pizzas every month, my food intake doesn’t really vary much and is generally very healthy. Branflakes or low fat diet for breakfast about 360 days of the year. I eat my main meal about midday which again is much healthier than evening meals and it is usually soups, jacket potato with beans and cheese, chicken salads or left over Sunday roasts, rice and chicken. That sort of thing and with maybe just some fruit around 4pm.
I’m not a vegetarian but I’m not a big meat eater. I can go all week or all month without having any and then I’d prefer chicken or turkey over anything else. Maybe some locally farmed sausages or home-made beef burgers 5 or 6 times a year and that’s about it. As I don’t like sweet things, I never really have desserts.
Whenever I buy anything that is packaged rather than fresh produce, I always check the labels to make sure it is low fat so you can imagine my surprise when like many others it was highlighted in most media outlets for 3 or 4 consecutive days that nearly all food is impregnated with sugar, even or especially so the healthy eating ones.
I can understand if doughnuts are full of sugar, that is the point but why should my glass of orange juice contain more sugar than a doughnut? Why is a tin of Heinz soup containing as much sugar as candy or sweets?
The reason is of course is that over the previous decades, food manufacturers have gradually increased the sugar levels in their foods, particularly so about 10 years ago when public pressure made them reduce their fat levels.
It seems that almost every food type is packed with sugar that needn’t be there. In bread, soup, health products, even crackers and bran flakes which are as dry and unsweet as can be imagined.
I have no desire to eat any sugar whatsoever. I don’t have any in my cups of tea, I don’t even like sugar. Obviously sweet things taste to sweet to me, even my apples are of the older sour variety. If I go to a bakers I’d rather have a meat or cheese pie or pastry than anything else.
So why then is all my food full of sugar? Don’t the manufacturers realise that someone who eats bran flakes isn’t primarily motivated by the taste and especially not a sweet taste? If one chooses an extra healthy yoghurt as opposed to an already healthy in comparison to other foods normal yoghurt that the last thing I want to have is sugar. If I wanted sugar I’d have sugar.
I have no problems with eating foods with natural levels of sugar. I know some people try and avoid all sugar but I have no problems with sugar that is in food naturally. I can handle the 1.4 grams of sugar in a few potatoes. That isn’t going to hurt anyone but the near 5 tea spoons of sugar in a Heinz Vegetable soup isn’t natural.
Luckily we eat a lot of home made food made from scratch, probably about 75% of our meals are that way. We don’t add sugar or salt to anything and our soups and breads taste much better than anything I have bought. So why do the food manufacturers do it? At least give people the choice to have food with out added sugar.
I feel that I would lose more weight if I wasn’t consuming so much sugar. I did a test yesterday and my sugar intake was still 15% higher than that recommended in the USA which I expect is probably higher still for European levels. If with all my efforts I am consuming all this unwanted sugar, then the average person doesn’t have a chance.
To think all these years of eating relatively healthy foods and they have only been healthy fat wise. I may as well have just eaten for years at McDonalds or ready-meals…. except I don’t like them because they are too sugary and fatty.
In the future I can see I am going to be eating not much more than root vegetables and lean meat. I pretty much did that for the 2 week Christmas and New Year period and despite eating more than I usually would, felt much better in almost every way.
Bizarrely, because we often go for the cheaper food options they are often healthier than more expensive foods or foods bought from more expensive stores. Many have lower sugar and fat levels which is a bonus to us. I guess its because the cheaper foods don’t deserve to have even more yummy fats and sugars to make them taste nicer.
I think that new food regulations should be brought in to ban excessive sugars (and fats) in foods and imagine that in 50 years time people will look back in horror almost like people do today about smoking cigarettes or using poisonous substances and metals like lead and aluminium in foods and food production centuries ago.
Really, people shouldn’t even have to worry about food labels. There should be no foods and certainly no “healthy options” that contain anything but trace levels of sugar and fat, if any. If the food is on the shelf, it should be as healthy as if I cook it myself after all I just have a pan and an oven to make meals from the foods I grow or buy from farm markets and people like Heinz, Danone and Tropicana have untold resources to give us the healthiest food possible.
Despite the NHS and many respected news outlets stating that there is too much sugar in foods and that it is likely behind the ever growing obesity levels and generally all foods must have their sugar levels reduced by 30%, the organisation Sugar Nutrition UK denied there was any problem at all. Well they would wouldn’t they?
The recommended daily limit in the UK is 70 grams of fat and 90 grams of sugar though many suggest 40 grams of sugar is what we should be aiming for. With that being the case, unless I eat only natural and unprocessed products, even with having a fat intake of less than 10 grams, my very healthy daily meals are when it comes to sugar unhealthy.
It’s already shaping up bad for breakfast. Branflakes (what could be healthier than branflakes) and orange juice equal 33 grams of sugar (presuming the glass of orange is 200ml, mine is 300 or so so I have broken the limit by 6am. I may have well have had bacon and eggs.
Then for lunch how about a jacket potato (lets say 1 gram of sugar) and a tine of beans on top which comes in at 25 grams of sugar. I may as well had a pepperoni pizza or cheese burger.
Just a tiny snack later in the day, a yoghurt at nearly 17 grams of fat.
All in all, without any extras or treats or even healthy things like fruit or cereal bars let alone drinks, it comes in at 85 grams of sugar which is just under the maximum limits and twice as much as the more healthy limit. 85 grams of sugar is equal to nearly 22 tea spoons of sugar? Who in their right mind would want to eat that amount of sugar? And that’s me making a concerted effort not to eat anything fatty. Some days, I’m not even full for more than a few minutes at lunch time.
I think you’ll agree that these meals are in no way fatty or traditionally thought of as being unhealthy and yet they definitely are if you are worried about sugar or your weight levels. Should I just eat raw vegetables day in day out or eat some junk food for a change? On the evidence above, unless you make all your food yourself, low fat just equals high sugar.
Pretty much the only breakfast cereal that has zero sugar is Shredded Wheat which I’ve never had but I guess is like Weetabix. Just my glass of orange juice and branflakes every morning for breakfast comes to 15695grams of sugar a year or nearly 16kg / or 29 pounds of sugar. If I swapped that for shredded wheat and a cup of tea my morning sugar intake would be zero. I don’t know enough about diets but I imagine that would result in quite a bit of weight loss.
In 2008 the average American consumed 60kg / 28 pounds of sugar alone each year. Sugar is both unhealthy, unnecessary and highly addictive and medical opinion is leaning more and more towards it being responsible for obesity and diseases such as diabetes rather than the main problem being fatty foods.
If anyone could tell me how much weight I’d lose from just changing my breakfast to a non-sugar alternative and saving that 16kg/28 pounds, I would love to know!