The Secret Ingredient

I know I don’t usually discuss foodstuffs but after seeing this picture on Facebook

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I thought I really should raise the issue, if only for my own benefit so I remember in the weeks and months to come, because there will be precious point in having this surgery if later I am fooled by the marketing companies employed by the pedlars of sugar rich convenience food and drink.

We all of us have a relatively good idea of foods that have sugar in them. When you get a craving for sugar, more often than not you will buy a Mars Bar and a can of Coca Cola or indeed your own equivalent poison. Okay the healthy option is always there, you could eat some grapes or an apple and drink some orange juice to get the healthy option but even out of those three only the apple is the sensible option with the grapes themselves being loaded with sugars (let’s face it, how else does wine become so alcoholic!) and the orange juice having a startling amount of added sugar in it for sweetness.

The problem is that we as a nation are marketed to (I am more guilty of this than anyone) with adverts and packaging dictating what is healthy. Something that is packaged green and has pictures of sunshine and wheat on it will no doubt look much more healthy than a chocolate digestive but in reality they very seldom are because of the hidden sugars and sodium they put in the Granola bar to get the taste right for the consumer. If you want something healthy, eat an apple, if you want something loaded with carbs and sugars, eat a well marketed, attractively packaged piece of convenience “health confectionary”.

We have all been ill and thought to ourselves “I could do with some Lucozade or some freshly squeezed OJ, that will make me feel better” Well it has taken me years to realise this but the only reason you feel better is the energy boost given by the alarming amount of sugars in the drink and the fact that it hydrates you. You would be wiser drinking lots of water with a few tablespoons of sugar in it. It would give you the same effect (okay, it won’t taste as nice, but thats not todays point!) but we don’t think about it like that. We see the advert and think “Yes, I want some energy. I had better buy some”

Sugar is a silent killer that is put into our foodstuff in huge quantities. For example, I love a milkshake (among other sugary treats) and although I knew there was some sugar in it, I honestly thought I was being healthy because of the milk content of the drink. I would never consider taking a glass of milk and heaping sugar into it prior to drinking, yet that is really all a milkshake is, milk with a little flavouring and heaps of sugar. Again this is ONLY ONE example.

I found this list and although it is on a dental site, it will alarm you none the less.

After reading the above list, the one thing that really blew me away was boiled sweets. I love me a boiled sweet and a fruit jelly type of sweet, but now that I know, I think I will really have to be desperate for one to indulge my desire. In each boiled sweet there is an average of 1.2 teaspoons of sugar. Now I have been known to quite happily sit down and demolish a bag of boiled sweets over the course of an evening. Say in that bag I eat there are 30 sweets that is on average 36 teaspoons of sugar. Now I would NEVER consider sitting there and piling 36 teaspoons of sugar into my mouth, yet effectively that is what I am doing. It’s crazy. The jelly sweets are no better. An average bag will contain over 32 teaspoons of sugar. I mean crikey! I don’t even have sugar in tea so why would I consider eating that much, even if it is in the guise of sweets. It has to be madness.

Yet I still did it.

So what happens when you consume too much sugar.

  • Diabetes – Consuming too much sugar in your diet can lead to obesity. This in turn increases the chances of developing Type 2 Diabetes. I am very lucky not to be a sufferer as I have said many times before but people, if Diabetes is not treated with respect, it will eventually kill you.
  • Heart disease –  So the sugar leads to obesity, obesity raises blood pressure and the body starts to develop LDL cholesterol (also known as bad) The levels of this begin to rise and start to almost “fur up” the arteries when what you really need is HDL cholesterol (also known as good) to be coursing through your blood stream keeping it clean from LDL. Too much Cholesterol (LDL) will eventually kill you.
  • Tooth decay – This one is fairly obvious but don’t go thinking that brushing your teeth directly after eating a bag of boiled sweets will solve the problem. Yes it most certainly helps otherwise our mouths would be continually producing acids to breakdown the bacteria caused by poor sugary food choices, until the acid has eaten through our tooth enamel. The sugar in your diet has a huge effect on the health of your mouth, don’t forget, decay works from the inside out, not the other way around.
  • Bad mood – This is a new one for me. The NHS has labelled all of our lovely sugary foods like chocolate and cake, sweet sugary fizzy drinks and lovely old-fashioned boiled sweets, as “Bad Mood Food” I assume they do this because of the sugar rush/crash cycle the body goes through whenever excess sweet foodstuff such as chocolate is eaten. This I believe is a bit more linked to how sensitive your body is to external spikes of these ingredients so I would say this would affect some people more than others.

Honestly it is a total minefield out there and (please understand this is only my opinion and not a rant) unfortunately the worry about what we put in our bodies is all swept away with clever packaging making things look healthy and clever adverts making us believe that we are healthy people for eating this product. It is the same the world over and people will always want sugary treats so they will buy them but I would reckon a huge amount of revenue is made from “conning” a first time purchaser to an unhealthy product by simply working on their subconscious mind.

I have merely touched very lightly on this huge subject and I have only used the Granola bar as my example because I have recent experience of actually looking at what was in one when I found myself going back to the biscuit barrel for a second helping (this was pre 1000 cals per day folks.. Stand down…) but I know sugar affects everything on the shelfs of our supermarkets. The biggest one that amazed me (I have never eaten this product since finding out) was being told about the incredible amounts of sugars and salts in the most healthiest looking cereals. Special K is a plain cereal that is advertised as being the “diet cereal of choice”. We all know about the red dress that the woman wants to wear etc. Well perhaps if you do only eat two bowls of this stuff a day you will lose weight, but in doing so you will become malnutritioned and suffer terrible side effects from the sugar and salt they pour into the cereal in an attempt the get it to taste  “just the right amount of healthy”

For me, this is really going to be my biggest worry post-op because I was used to eating what I want, when I want and only when it was too late did I realise and know that I had to do something about it. It is an absolute minefield out there with more and more processed foods being offered under the guise of heath with glamour. I would even hazard a guess that less than 5% of these foods actually match up with its packaging and advertisers proffering it as being a healthy selection to make. It will certainly take a good deal of effort on my behalf not to slip into sugary habits and I know I will fail on many occasions but honestly, since reading this information, if I do,I have only myself to blame.

‘Till tomorrow,

Stay out of the fridge.

2 thoughts on “The Secret Ingredient

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