It’s too hard to quit sugar

Sugar. It’s bandied around all the time these days in the media – it’s evil, it’s addictive, and it’s poison. You’re nothing but a lazy ignoramus if you don’t watch your sugar intake – or so the message is inferred.

But God it tastes good – too good, in fact. And I’m struggling to give it up. Completely. Yes – even down to that official, healthy guideline level of four standard teaspoons per day. Only four teaspoons. Man, that’s hard.

As we all know, there’s sugar in almost everything we buy – from yoghurt, to biscuits to deli ham. Even fruit contains fructose – natural sugar which in concentrated forms can be as equally harmful. And you would be an ignoramus if you didn’t know that chocolate and takeaway contain lots of sugar. Many of us these days have become sugar-conscious, or try to be, and the message is slowly getting through that sugar causes health problems such as obesity, diabetes, insomnia and heart disease. A good communique, I’d say. And finally.

But as a modern-day woman, can I live pre-15th century? Someone living on their own little sugar-free island surrounded by a sea of sweet, saccharine sharks that seem to circle everywhere I look? From 7-11s to supermarkets to shopping centres, that sweet poison can be hard to completely resist.

I’ve already eliminated the sugar in my coffee and tea, and I no longer take muesli bars or pastries to work. My breakfasts now consist of wholemeal toast and avocado (or something blandly similar), and my dinners rarely contain any shop-bought sauce accompaniments. I’ve tried. Really tried. And I’ve even lost weight in the process. Yay! But my gripe, or weakness rather, is that as a busy working mum – a typical woman who in this day and age also likes to have some down-time and socialise – lowering my sugar intake to that four teaspoons per day limit, is sometimes just not doable.

And I question whether I should even try to aim for that perfection, anyway?

I can’t do it – I’m simply far too busy to make all my food from scratch and consistently prepare vibrant pyramid-balanced meals. Opportunity costs dictate that it makes more sense for me to work an extra shift to earn that coloured dough that keeps a roof over my head, rather than making my own messy, kitchen dough that sticks on the roof above my head. So admittedly, I do occasionally buy those pre-made supermarket lasagnas, or sweet and sour pork kebabs, on my way home from work. It’s convenient, it’s sometimes cheaper, and it tastes nice. And besides, watching an episode of Jack Irish vs cleaning up multiple pans and dishes – well… give me Guy Pearce any day.

I think treating yourself occasionally is important in having a balanced life. And isn’t having a little bit of fun to temper out life’s stresses another message constantly bandied around the media these days? I simply cannot – will not – deny myself something that gives my dopamine level a spike every now and then. I think I deserve it. So when I visit a friend and she bakes me a cake – I’m not going to say no to a slice. If I celebrate my birthday in the city – those velvety, syrupy cocktails will slide approvingly down my throat. And if I’m taking the kids out for a family day, we will stop for an ice-cream. Even if that means going over the daily four teaspoon mark.

I’m in my 40s now, and I try my best to be health conscious. But I’m also conscious of the fact that those few extra sugar molecules sometimes floating around my system don’t mean that I’m a lazy ignoramus. They just mean that I’m a normal, busy woman living in a typical, 21st century Western society.


Image attribution – Pixabay: kaboompics