It’s about time that the amount of sugar we eat is highlighted, but I think the exchange in Prime Minister’s Questions when Keith Vaz MP challenged David Cameron to give up sugar for a day trivialises the matter.
A day is nothing as I found out 18 months ago when I decided to give up taking sugar in tea. At 53 I can’t pack away food and not put on weight as I did 20 years ago, and have become increasingly choosy about what I eat so that now processed food plays little part in my diet.
How much sugar did I take in my tea? I weighed out a spoonful: 5 grammes. I drink six mugs of tea per day, on average, and worked out that’s 5g x 6 x 365 for a year. That totals 10,960 grammes or nearly 11 kilos per year, just in tea.
I was horrified by the mental image of 11 1kg bags of sugar going into my tea and then my digestive system.
I gave up sugar in my tea immediately. That is not to say that I don’t think about adding sugar on occasion, but then I see those 11 bags.
I haven’t given up everything sweet and still enjoy occasional treats, but try to have a sense of perspective. I don’t think anybody wants a diet they find inedible and I am lucky in that my wife and I enjoy cooking meals from scratch so that we have considerable control over the ingredients we eat.
If we’re travelling, we avoid service stations or fast food outlets and take our own gourmet picnics. There’s no better quality.
Is it difficult? Not really. Effective meal planning is the key and many good, basic ingredients are not expensive.
I would like to see Keith Vaz and David Cameron reviewing their sugar intake and letting us know how much they consume and, if they need to reduce it, how they they will do this permanently. Like me, they can use kitchen scales to work out how many bags of sugar represent a year’s sugar consumption. That would be more powerful than one day without sugary or fizzy drinks.