A few weeks into January and this year's food enemy has already been established. Previous culprits have included saturated fat and carbohydrates, but in 2014, sugar is the new devil.
UPDATE: Hey sugar, I'm a little confused
Why? Following scientific evidence that links sugar with obesity, diabetes and heart disease, the World Health Organisation (WHO) is set to recommend a cut in our daily sugar intake.
Current guidelines suggest 10.
This change could be significant but it hasn't happened yet. Still, while WHO and government advisors debate the issue, sugar has well and truly been put in the spotlight. And it isn't getting good press.
Perhaps it's all part of the new year, new brilliant you spiel, but from TV programmes devoted to the issue to sugar-free diet plans in all the weekend magazines, the sweet stuff is now the worst thing you can eat.
Channel 4's recent Are You Addicted To Sugar? show asked the question, "is sugar the new tobacco?" and a recent article in The Telegraph suggests sugar is "as dangerous as alcohol."
These questions and comments have been sparked by research from health experts such as Action on Sugar, who are campaigning for a reduction in sugar in foods and soft drinks.
These experts are doing a good job of raising awareness about a valid nutritional issue, but they aren't suggesting we cut sugar out all together. First of all, it's extremely difficult to avoid and second of all, it's not a balanced diet.
Yet many lifestyle magazines and nutritionists are implying avoiding sugar will totally transform our lives in an instant. Once you've spent a fortune on chia seeds, nut butter and almond milk, that is.
There's no denying drinking fizzy drinks all day is not good for you and the health implications of overindulging are severe. But the media has portrayed sugar as a substance we should be scared of.
The comparisons and language are dramatic, the drastic measures we should take to avoid it are unrealistic. It's not exactly encouraging for anyone who actually does want to kick their sweet tooth. Instead, it's destroying our relationship with food.
Throw in the recent 5:2, Atkins and Paleo diet crazes and eating isn't something to enjoy anymore. We're told time and time again food is bad for us. Surely what we consume should come down to personal health, lifestyle and above all, choice? I don't know about you, but I miss the old everything in moderation mantra.
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