Sugars are added to the majority of processed foods that we eat every day, such as breakfast cereals and ready meals. Worryingly, many consumers are unaware they are used in such large quantities.
All the scientific research shows that no matter what size you are, diets make you hungry and create powerful cravings for the very things you're trying to avoid. As well as these cravings, dieters feel deprived.
The problems occur when children come home, bloodstreams pumping with sugar overload. When those sugar levels rapidly drop the tantrums and meltdowns begin, and mum and dad suffer through the fallout. This is what irks parents most: the fallout.
Well on the face of it, up against a can of coke, fruit juice seems a great 'natural' alternative - and the image of breakfasting on a bowl of cereal with a glass of orange juice is ingrained in our nutritional psyche as a 'healthy start' to the day. Yet even this seemingly virtuous beverage is under attack from the 'Sugar Police' in the latest headlines - but why?
Sugar can often feel very addictive, and many believe it is. When we eat sugar, dopamine is released, the 'reward' brain chemical. Sugar essentially hijacks the brains reward system, which hard wires us to want to eat sugar again and again. The more of it we have, the more we need to get the same rewarding feeling.
The sugar-less trend seems like it might have long running implications on the way we sell, shop and eat. Things that were once put onto our health barometer, we're now advised to stay clear of. Yogurt, fruit, cereal and so forth are most certainly off the menu. Advised that cereals were the healthy option to start of our day, the healthiest at present, has to be cartoned egg whites.
One in 10 parents in Britain believe that drinking cola counts towards their five recommended portions of fruit and veg. Not only that, one in 10 of those surveyed also believed that chips contributed to the five-a-day health campaign, while one in five thought that fruit-flavoured sweets counted towards this target.
I always thought education alone could solve diet-related health crises. Given the right information, people make informed, healthy decisions, right? But what if truly effective solutions require more than just education? What if they require government intervention? My conversation with Dr. Schmidt nudged me to consider this possibility.
Carbohydrates tend to increase our hunger due to the insulin-stimulating effect of blood sugar. Also our ability to binge on them is much higher than on fatty foods. How much pure butter could you eat compared with an unlimited supply of cakes, ice cream, chips, chocolates etc? Is this where we are going wrong?
Imagine going to a doctor in Sweden. You are overweight or perhaps borderline diabetic and you are worried and want to know what to do.
Everyone knows fruit is healthy, but surely not all fruit is created equal. From a nutritional perspective, when deciding which fruits to eat, we should favor those with more of the good stuff and less of the questionable stuff. The good stuff is vitamins, antioxidants, and phytonutrients. The questionable stuff is sugar.
IMAGINE you find your children watching a TV programme that portrays smoking, drinking and drug-taking as normal everyday behaviour. What will your reaction be?
Britain - nay the world is on the verge of demonising vital, healthy foods that kids need in their diets. Fruit, fruit juice and milk are not the enemy when it comes to the sugar debate. If we're not careful Mum's are going miss the point altogether and will dump these nutrient packed foods in the bin along with the cola, sweets and chocolate. ..
The enduring struggle to curb degenerative diseases through improved nutrition has reached a critical juncture. Knowledge that sugar, not saturated fat, promotes these diseases is spreading widely. Nutrition-oriented communities mustn't squander this rare historical opportunity. The Paleo and Vegan communities should act strategically, intelligently, and decisively.
It seems that supermarkets have a big role to play when it comes to helping people make better choices. Simple strategies, such as removing chocolate and sweets from checkouts and prompting the sale of fruit and veg, is a start. But can we apply similar ideas throughout the whole store?
Stop thinking that the next new diet fad is the Holy Grail and start making small lifestyle changes. Boring and sensible, perhaps, but it works and you can stop obsessing about food and get on with your life.