We don’t need another War…
Jamie Oliver I salute you. You have hands down revolutionised the culinary lives of not only a nation but many a world, and your cookbooks are a major feature of my let’s-try-out-a-new-recipe-on-my-family kitchen adventures. British school dinners are for the most part nutritious, we are finally letting our beloved schools of cod breathe again by choosing sustainably sourced fish, and we’re opting to eat more free range eggs and poultry than ever before. All in no small part thanks to YOU.
But when it comes to SUGAR I think you’ll find you’re going to need a little more than a heaped tablespoon of luck. Because this is a Cadbury’s Double Decker of a thing, and there are some very important facts that need to be brought to the attention of sugar-haters:
1: Energy goes where attention flows.
In other words, what we resist persists. So we can wage a war on drugs, disease, terrorism… and now… drum roll… The Dreaded Sweet Stuff with campaigns like #sugarrush but the principle is exactly the same. The more we focus our energy on what we DON’T want, the more the momentum for that VERY THING grows and grows until it becomes a desiccated coconut covered chocolate coated marshmallow snowball (figuratively speaking of course). Not only is this scientifically proven, it has a name: ‘The Observer Effect’. Jamie, Clean Eating Clubs and Paleo Posses across the land listen up: We are living in an attraction based universe. Yes. Really.
So when we want change around the subject of sugar and we want it badly, the universe computes our rage against the sugar machine as an instruction of ‘more sugar please, more statistics showing us how sugar damages the body please, more kids needing rotten teeth pulled out please.’ It may sound simplistic. It may sound like utter claptrap. But it is the precise nature of the universe we live in; a universe which is governed by The Law of Attraction.
And so, contrary to popular belief, it’s in the areas where we want change the very most that we really need to step back and focus on the positive outcome desired; the health, the well-being, the fitness.
This is a practical thing that anybody can go by:
– Giving our children mainly water to drink from a young age… *disclaimer – I do mean once they are no longer being breast or bottle fed. Milk should play its usual role in babies’ and toddlers’ diets until such a time*. If every adult in the land read and processed a chapter of the information in one of the incredible Dr. Batmanghelidj’s books on Water and the importance of drinking enough of it in our daily lives, the medical and pharmaceutical companies as we know them would struggle to exist. Obesity rates would plummet and we could have our cake and eat it. Which is exactly the way we live in our happy household where we drink a lot of water. And surprise surprise, as sanctimonious as I may sound (and I make no apologies), my kids don’t have the ‘taste’ for sugary drinks. In fact on the occasions when they have sipped on lemonade they’ve practically spat it out in disgust. When our bodies are used to the pure neutrality of water, anything over-sweetened in the drinks department tastes absolutely yukky!
– Reading the flippin’ labels on the sides of (in particular) juices, squash and fizzy drinks. But also processed foods. These things aren’t rocket science, rather everyday common sense responsibilites that we as parents and caregivers should be undertaking… As Jamie rightly says, if you couldn’t have found these things in your grandparents’ store cupboard, then put them back on the supermarket shelf!
– Moderating the amount of sugary food we eat. But in a positive way. And how many of us do that? This really is the crux of it. Body Shaming has taken humanity off kilter. We have to find a way, our own unique way, of giving our kids positive messages about their bodies. Scaring them with suggestions that their pot belly is turning them into little porkers because of all the chocolate biscuits they are gobbling up is never going to cut the mustard. Neither is harping on about the amount of metal rattling around in their mouths thanks to their numerous cavities. Remember: we live in an attraction based universe. We only receive back more of the vibe we are giving out. Positive body talk among families is the only way forward on this. So educate them. The Right Way. Making them feel they have a choice and praising your kids when they eat the ‘healthy’ stuff, or choose to partake in the school football team goes a long way towards a happy medium.
– Don’t deprive: don’t deny yourself or your children ANYTHING containing sugar. It will only lead to rebellion, secret eating and weight gain. Moderation is the answer.
– Try with all your might to sit down together and eat as a family. They simply don’t have these #sugarrush issues in Europe. Food isn’t secretly wolfed down in the kitchen. People come together. They eat. They celebrate life… and the dessert. Especially the dessert. They drink water with their meals. There is no addiction to corn syrup. They have naturally healthy appetites for all sorts of food. For real food. Take a cabbage leaf out of their books. It’s really as easy or as hard as you decide to make it…
– Get active. Take exercise. It can be as simple as a 30 minute stroll every day… around the house with your favourite music as a backdrop if you can’t be bothered to go out in the rain. The more of a drama we make exercise, the less likely we are to leave the couch. Small changes. Every day. Build on the momentum.
I practically guarantee you that following just one of my tips above will bring about health boosting miracles!
2: But here’s the other thing…
When we bring sugar into the equation we’re practically taking a quantum leap. Because sugar isn’t fish, chicken or Turkey Twizzlers. Sorry Jamie. But it’s not. We LOVE our sugar with a passion… and you can fight those glistening sugar cubes of temple-aching sweetness with saber lights of the highest Star Wars calibre… but ultimately that’s always going to be one helluva love affair to attempt to destroy. A little like hiding the cigarettes from the rebellious teenager, hiking the price up on alcohol (have you seen the UK’s underage – and overage – consumption rates compared to the likes of the Mediterranean where there are no restrictions and alcohol is accepted as part of culinary family life?). When we banish something to the ‘naughty step’ we usually only succeed in making it all the more tempting. Not only that but – and this is a very BIG but – we only make the chemically sweetened varieties of drinks all the more likely to end up in the nation’s shopping trolleys.
I have lost count of the number of family and friends who drink squash like it’s going out of fashion. And they do so thinking it is healthy! It’s frightening how many grown adults have never contemplated the make up of their wolf-dressed-in-sheep’s-clothing beverages. Now I know, I know Jamie has made it extremely clear that he doesn’t for one minute suggest aspartame (and it’s sucralose cousin) laden drinks make for a healthy alternative. But that’s exactly what many people are going to reach for in a bid to cut back on the sugary substances. And it’s the falsest economy! Jamie can say no more since there is allegedly ‘no conclusive evidence’ about the effects of these artificial sweeteners which are all too commonly used as a substitute for sugar in our food and drinks (mainly drinks). But once again, isn’t this common sense to us as adults? Would you eat a piece of plastic? I’m hoping the answer to that is a resounding ‘No’! So why then would anyone even contemplate a mouthful of diet style pop, reduced calorie fruit juice (cleverly masked in a carton with an image of healthy oranges or apples) or ‘no added sugar’ squash endorsed by a sporting body, I hasten to add… without at least being curious as to how these things were going to taste sweet?
The heart of #sugarrush is in the right place…
Do not get me wrong. But the issue just isn’t as clear cut as it might first appear. And the knock-on effect of the uneducated, the misinformed (by the consumer brands) and the lazy consumer will blatantly be an increase in chemically laden food. Because we are too trusting. We see a low calorie yoghurt and we assume from the pretty, innocent bountiful berries on its lid that it will contain nothing but goodness. It’s not until we get curious and empower OURSELVES that we realise ‘OMG, I am ingesting pretty much nothing but potato starch and sucralose…‘
I see your ‘fight’ in all its loving glory, Jamie… and the rest of you Health Crusaders. But we as humanity like to make our own decisions. We know intrinsically what is right for our bodies, what is right for us. So contrary to popular belief ‘healthy’ eating and its frustratingly irritating goodie-two-shoes of a cousin ‘clean’ are in fact about ditching the labels of good versus bad. By loving and embracing our food instead (since every atom of every morsel that we put into our bodies is quite literally, at a scientific level, affected positively or negatively depending on the good or the bad thought we are giving it), and getting back to basics we find a much more rewarding approach – an approach which allows us to make peace with sugar, adore our bodies and quit inflicting bad vibes on our food. And this is a multi-faceted process. It’s about uncovering the root cause of our reliance on sugary drinks, not sticking a plaster on it in the form of a tax. The food companies are answering our demand. Can you really blame them? The change starts with us. One hundred percent with us.
Sugar isn’t the enemy. I’m pretty certain both Mary Berry and Nigella would raise their Iced Finger pinkies, whilst tucking into a macaron or two, to that!