Thursday, January 19, 2012


...a word that I've used as a substitute expletive for many years, and apparently a fairly appropriate one really (Margaret uses 'fudge', there's a theme emerging here!) given some of the thinking around it and it's effect on us. (see this link here if you haven't watched it already).

Yep, we're back to Marion's talk at Summer Gathering again. She was saying how she made a conscious effort to 'give up sugar' over a year ago after doing all the research. Now I'm not entirely sure whether she meant entirely (like Ruth who can't eat it for medical reasons) or 'as much as is feasable' ie not to the extent of quizzing the waiting staff in restaurants etc.

I've always thought myself to be a fairly low consumer of sugar, but over the last few days I've been making a conscious effort to notice how much is in things that I eat. This is probably easier for me than many people as I cook so much of my food from scratch due to other dietary restrictions - there isn't that much processed food in my diet.

Having made a batch of Marion's sugar free fruit and chocolate slice to deal with my daily 'fix' of cocoa I thought I'd see if I could manage even a day of being sugar-free.

Well breakfast started off ok, porridge with sultanas, LSA (ground linseed, sunflower & almond) and rice milk (due to being out of soy, however all good as the soy is sugar sweetened!). But the toast... well my one small dessertspoon of blackstrap molasses per loaf that lasts me about a week is a far cry from the 1/2tsp per slice of cheap shop bought fluffy stuff, so whilst it is there it's fairly minimal. Margarine ok, Marmite - none! Due to the fact that I only eat the real British stuff and none of the nasty sugar laden Kiwi imitation. We just won't go into the food miles ok? A mug of green tea plus 4 lots of medication - hmm, two of which are based on sugar pills! Overall though not too bad.

Lunch - salad, from our garden I might add, avocado (grown locally), ewes milk chese (not quite so local...) and ryvita (definitely not even remotely local - but I was finishing off the pack ok?). I skipped the mayo and shop salad dressing (around 25% sugar!!!!!) and went for some local olive oil instead. Followed by a couple of squares of chocolate slice, mmmm. Pretty good!

Tea - baked potato and cauliflower cheese - seemed pretty safe with sesame seeds, tomatoes from the garden and a brush of olive oil on top to round it off nicely. But as we've no mustard powder (crucial ingredient in a cheese sauce!) in the house I used the shop bought mixed up stuff - and there it lurked, sugar. (there is way more cheese in my diet than usual at the moment due to having bought some in Auckland, and a type doesn't keep very well). Ho hum, round it off with a handful of fruit and nut mix whilst I wait for the kettle to boil and wait a minute, the cranberries in the mix have added sugar...

Verdict - this could be trickier than I thought! Whilst it was tiny amounts here and there I can see how it could easily add up pretty fast - and that was with me being extra conscious of what I consumed. And whilst chocolate slice is a pretty good substitute for Whittakers occassionally I'm not convinced it is a long term solution. Mind you 72% Dark Ghana isn't bad for sugar consumption really in the greater scheme of chocolate options. I'll see how many days I can go before I give in to either the chocolate of GF licorice in my drawer...

But do I really need to cut out/down my sugar consumption? Well possibly, I'll be keeping an eye out over the coming weeks to see just how much it adds up to, just how high is my 'low' sugar intake after all when I'm not actively trying to avoid it?

It is going to mean a lot more careful reading of labels again - something I haven't really done in a while, not since I got to learn the Anna-friendly brands of things in this country. I guess it is yet another step in being more food conscious, along with where does it come from (food miles, boycotts etc), who made it (boycotts again, especially Nestle... after about 25 years I'm not slipping up now!), how was it grown. How was it made and what with (beyond being vegetarian, wheat and dairy free!) is just another part of the chain. I guess the trick is still to weigh your options and accept the fact that short of being self sufficient it is going to be impossible to tick all the boxes all the time. Eat it as long as thou canst perhaps?

There is a book on my shelf that I've had for years (literally, I was still living in the UK!) and never quite got round to reading - 'Foodwise' by Wendy E. Cook (was married to Peter Cook as in 'and Dudley Moore'). I think this could be the year to actually read it and see what she adds to the melting pot of ideas.

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