Thursday, July 6, 2006

A spoonful of sugar...

...makes the blood sugar level go up. Been thinking lots about our diet lately. Hubby boo and the girls are such sugar fiends. I am too, and have been all my life, but have been aware of the implications of a high sugar diet and cut down on soft drinks a few years ago, especially after having my first kiddie. Still, I am addicted to chocolate and desserts.

So how do you explain to someone that the food they grew up on, or are growing up on, is potentially killing them? Forget about bad teeth, the long-term consequences of a high sugar diet are really, really scary!

In fact, being the conspiracy theorist that I am, my first thought on reading about the sugar shortage is that the government has hidden all the sugar because it's easier to do than trying to explain to a rabid, sugar-starved multitude that it's bad for them. Malaysians are addicted, and they seem to have attached a psychological, emotional value on sweet foods and the comfort that it brings. Does anyone else realise just how sweet our food is? Even fish is covered in sugar and sold in packets. Why?

I feel that kids and sugar-addicted adults are being conned, kind of like how looking cool is what cigarette manufacturers use to sell their product (yeah, I am a smoker, and that is the reason I got hooked, to look and feel cool and adult. However, now I am hooked because I am chemically addicted to this legal drug). In the same way, all kinds of crappy food with no nutritional value is being fed to people who eat it because it is coated or saturated with sugar.

Does anyone know how to read the label on the food packaging? If you don't you should learn pronto. You may already be aware that the ingredients are listed from most to least. So, the label might read: sugar, wheat protein, water, flavouring, milk - and this is likely to be the list on the back of a "healthy" milk/yogurt drink. This means that there is more sugar and water than milk. Watch what you're drinking!!!!

Sometimes the label is misleading. It looks like there's lots of different ingredients, but be careful that they are just different variations of the same ingredients, eg: sugar, cocoa, water, corn syrup, molasses, sucrose, fructose. Everything except the cocoa and the water are types of sugar.

The more I take care to choose carefully what I buy off the shelf, the more I realise there is very little that is in itself healthy to eat. Unless I grow my own veg garden, I don't know what has been sprayed on my food or what is in the ground it was grown on. But even if I were to grow my own garden, I have no control over the pollutants in the air, water and ground.

So my feeling is to eat moderately and not like the little piglet that I can be. And to stay away from highly processed foods that have no nutritional value nor fibre. Drinks loads of water and exercise (one sure fire way to keep the blood sugar level down).

So as I slowly nibble on my expensive sugar free biscuits (for diabetics) and sip water with lemon juice, I wonder at the state of our psyche today. Now that I am taking a step back and really taking care what I eat, all I can see in the people around me is how huge a need for taste sensation there is. Unless it's heavily salted, sugared or spiced, the whinging and the face-pulling won't stop. I sometimes feel that everyone around me is kind of in a hellish psychological need for stimulation. I don't feel people being very grounded when it comes to their basic needs and resisting their urges to over-satisfy them. It's like everyone is hungry all the time and can't control themselves, something that de-humanises them. Being human is about having control. The lack of control all around me is pretty scary, and it isn't life-threatening or anythhing, but it just speaks of the potential horrors to come - physical deterioration, and a kind of moral tinge too, from my point of view. After all, if you can't deny your body something bad, what happens when you are faced with the choice to deny your soul comething bad?

It may seem that I am over-thinking things, but I think the way you are in one small part of your life is exactly the way you are in any part of your life. So, lassitude in self-discipline will reverberate throughout your life. It seems to me that there is a parallel between the general Malaysian weakness for comforting sweetness even in what should be savoury foods, and the general Malaysian weakness for the easy way of doing things (whether through utter rejection of responsibility or sideways avoidance being responsible for oneself).

I know it is a generalisation and there are exceptions to the rule. But just on the basis of those generalisations, it feels like there is a legitimate comparison to be made.

So, though hubby boo is all for a change in diet, his deeply ingrained habits and expectations about food are hard to effect change on. As for the girls, the eldest is responding much better than the youngest, who thinks I am the devil. However I notice they are much calmer, although the initial withdrawal symptoms were nightmarish - loads of crying and unreasonableness from the youngest.

If anyone took the time and steeled themselves against their expectation of the worst, they would find that steamed broccolli tastes really good without salt or sauce. Olive oil and lemon juice are just fine. But even on its own, you realise it has its own sweetness and you feel you are really tasting nature, god's gift.

What a tirade! I am sounding judgmental but a little bit of knowledge goes a long way. If people were willing to listen or even to take the initiative to look for it, the solution for probably many of their health problems is right in front of them.

Anyway, now I look at a beautiful red capsicum and think of how lovely it would be to finely slice it and have it for lunch! With chopped onions, and dried herbs sprinkled over it and a long cool drink of water and some homemade bread, it seems like a feast. And because of the nature of its digestion, I feel fuller longer. That's why, when I have the urge to eat even though I feel full, I realise the need is psychological - and sometimes I give in to it or I reach for the water!

No I haven't turned into a health freak and I am not stirring wheat germ into my coffee or anything like that. Like I said, moderation....

Moderately yours
(and almost smoke free)


Min Chan said...

Way to go! Re labels on packaging. You realise that when the packaging says low fat, it means there still is fat? 2% as opposed to 30%???

If we think too much about it, we'll not eat anything. Soy and corn are genetically-modified. Tomatoes and leafy veg have been sprayed with pesticide to ward off worms.

Yes, moderation is the key. Try eating lots of fruit. You'll ward off sugar craving.

mamasan said...

The best soy is the edamame - whole beans (although we don't know the conditions in which they were grown then treated before coming to the table).

Table sugar that is unrefined (brown crystals as opposed to white powdery stuff) takes longer to digest than other types of sugar (even the white stuff, actually). Not to say it is healthier for teeth of body, but in terms of raising your blood sugar levels, it takes longer to do so than fruit juice or stuff with corn syrup in it (amazingly fast absorption).

So a little sugar is ok if you are active and are using the energy up. But if every drink you take has sucrose, corn syrup, fructose etc in it, and you sit around all day, then expect trouble, dudes.


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