There seems to be some kind of war going on against sugar in the media at the moment and all of a sudden everyone is going sugar free (or at least trying). I even phoned one of my most sensible friends last night who I always meet up for cake and coffee with and she declared that she had been sugar free for a week and had not even touched a piece of fruit in that time. I am suspicious…where has this sudden hype come from and why all of a sudden is sugar such an evil enemy?

Ok yes sugar can be bad but it is added sugar which is the problem and all the items you eat not knowing about the sugar. I get that but to go cold turkey on all sugars seems odd. People are talking about addictions, well yes we are addicted to food because strangely it keeps us alive and sugar is part of food. Why do people always go to extremes? Yes cut down on carbohydrates, cut down on sugar, cut down on fat but all this CUT OUT COMPLETELY stuff is just unsustainable and often pointless.  Too much sugar has always been bad, it is nothing new but to suddenly start saying it is the major cause of ageing etc is scaremongering and moving us away from the point that moderation is key to good nutrition and living your life sustainably.

Glucose, a form of sugar, is the human body’s key source of energy, through aerobic respiration through the breakdown of carbohydrates. The insulin reaction, and other mechanisms, regulate the concentration of glucose in the blood and clearly it is wrong to abuse that system by overloading, yet at the same time it is not right to demonise all sugars. Glucose is a primary source of energy for the brain. Unless you just eat protein which contrary to Dr Atkins etc is not healthy either because excess protein places pressure on the liver, you are going to have to eat some sort of sugar whether it is in vegetables, breads or fruits.

Indeed sugars occur naturally in many foods including fruit. Wholegrains even form sugar when digested but the difference here between a sugary cake and these wholegrains is that the fibre within the wholegrains slows the sugar process down during the digestion process. That is the point – the fibre, protein and healthy fats  in our food slows down the speed with which our bodies metabolise sugar as they take longer to process. So it is about balance once again – the natural way that things have been structured to work will create this balance, it is only when we mess with this that things do wrong. A banana may contain natural sugars but eaten on wholemeal bread is digested slowly and becomes beneficial. Also eat one banana not ten and you’ll be fine – moderation, moderation, moderation!

Juice can sometimes not be as healthy as you think because it is all the sugar and none of the fibre of the fruit or vegetable. To do it right the juice should be thick and pulpy trying to keep the actual body of the fruit within it.  In the Daily Mail some woman was talking about all these “hidden cunning sugars” in her daily food intake – she was eating Heinz tomato soup, carton Apple juice, chcolate, and cereal! Personally I would think all of that is obvious – anything processed which is not fresh is generally not that good for you duh! So apple juice in a cartoon that lasts until 2020? Bad! Tomato soup in a metal tin which lasts until 2030? Bad! Chocolate? Full of sugar, only in moderation! Cereal? Bad, it is always sugary and full of preservatives! Stick to porridge, oatmeal, or organic granola with a close Best Before End Date.

It would be the hardest thing in the world to avoid sugar totally and pointless because you have to eat it at some point – it is even found in vegetables! Who wants to avoid eating delicious cherries, strawberries, watermelon, oranges, carrots even?  All you need to do is avoid the added sugars which you do not need. These exist in fizzy drinks, in processed food and generally in items which are encased in a tin, a cartoon, or wrapped. Do not become terrified of any food group whether it be fat or carbs. The healthiest people I know are those who do not have food issues; they eat sensibly, they eat in a balanced way and they do not fear any food.

So I am off now to eat a watermelon and later I shall dare to eat some dried fruit! I do like living life on the edge!