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No sugar, low sugar

| by Victor Cherubim

( March 12, 2014, London, Sri Lanka Guardian) “While fat used to be the old enemy ,dieticians now point out that the huge amount of sugar we consume are making us unhealthy,” We also hear both excess sugar, or even no sugar in our diet puts the body in either a fat storing mode, or in a vulnerable situation, if we are diabetic.

The human body is an amazing machine. But each body is built differently to the other. Each of us came with an instruction manual so it seems, specially written for us. The problem with us is that many of us cannot read our instruction manuals. Is it because they are written in a foreign language, or is it because we have no faith in ourselves and have relied on doctors/ or dieticians who we think are more specialised to translate these manuals? They also charge us large amounts of money to reduce excess fat, by surgery or otherwise, when we could ourselves have melted our fat by a balanced diet of proteins and carbs.

Sugar feeds sugar, fat feeds fat and salt feeds salt. Our bodies feel and become used to enjoy and crave what we feel like eating. We console ourselves that we can exercise our way out of excess fat or even poor nutrition.

But, the problem is not really, in our genes or in our stars. It perhaps is our choice of food, most often comfort food, or the foods available to us in supermarkets, which we are able to buy, or the diet in fast food outlets which we have to consume.

Most food in supermarket shelves today, has a “sell by date.” How many of us know that there is excess sugar introduced in unprocessed food for shelf life. How many of us realise that “trans fat” is part and parcel to prolong shelf life.

Diet and lifestyle

What about our lifestyle? Do we have the time or the money to do what our grandmothers did and eat more greens and natural foods? Can we even have the inclination of checking the labels on cans of food today?

Can we really have a square meal in a round can? Some are against genetically modified food. Are we really able to give judgment on GM food? Food to us is what we see and eat.

In UK, there are outlets which serve fast food delivered to the door, over the phone. The name is “Just Eat.” This is the hype we are now getting accustomed to, by the hour.

User scan scan

What else in food is vogue? As time is precious, there is a new smart phone “App,” which has come out which will enable shoppers to seek out foods with less salt, less fat, less sugar.
Users can scan the barcodes of nearly 90,000 packaged foods. “Safe Switch” will suggest healthier options. It is getting to the point that we are being told by “Big Brother” what
“we should and we should not eat”.

A balanced diet

Meals have to be balanced, which we all agree. If we should have to use Harvard’s Healthy Eating Plate as a guide, we are recommended to eat mostly vegetables, fruit, whole grain,
healthy fats and healthy proteins. They suggest drinking water instead of sugary beverages.

Our local nutrient diet

We are endowed with a variety and type of carbohydrates in our diet in Sri Lanka. It is not quantity but quality that counts. We are equally able to consume a protein package. The fish in our diet is essential. We also can choose a fibre filled diet rich in whole grains, vegetable and fruit. Organically grown foods, including our traditional greens “gotukola” for example and local fruit “mangoes and goraka," not forgetting spices and herbs, are all available and are rich in natural nutrients. Calcium too is important in milk and milk foods.

But the most important to my mind is not only sugar, but salt. We in UK have just completed,
“Salt Awareness Week.” The average daily intake of salt in the UK is 8.1 kg. However, the recommended maximum is 6 kg. It is well known that a diet high in salt is linked to conditions such as raised blood pressure, cancer and kidney disease. Whilst we think of sugar, as unhealthy, sugar comes not only as white, refined, Demerara, but also in many forms such as glucose and fructose.

Why eat healthy?

We eat for being healthy is trite. We really eat for many other reasons. Our body needs nutrition to overcome tiredness, to avoid degradation of already existing ailments, the manifestation of some genetic predispositions and the appearance of some diseases caused by poor life hygiene. It is not only healthy eating that matters; it is taking adequate rest, relaxation and exercise that makes the difference.