Hidden sugar in food is a big deal at the moment, but I’m not just blindly jumping on the band wagon with this one. Excess sugar can lead to weight gain, diabetes and rotting teeth (to name a few) and, despite some experts claiming otherwise, it leads my kids into one foul mood when they come down off a sugar high. So, as a first step towards our new healthier lifestyle, I set about dramatically reducing the amount of processed sugar available in our house. After a couple of weeks of binge eating (more about that later) the only sugary snack options left are those that I have baked and frozen so I know exactly what’s in them (because I have no will power at all and this way I have to really want that snack to wait for it to defrost). There is now tonnes more space in the pantry and the kids are eating more fruit when they get hungry between meals.
Now I’m not one of those kill joy Mum’s. I allow my kids to be given Easter eggs, they are allowed to have lollies and cake at birthday parties and if their 90 year old Great Grandparents want to spoil them with icecream after breakfast at Christmas time then so be it, the bond they form with their Great Grandparents as they giggle over eating desert at 7am is far more valuable than keeping them sugar free 100% of the time. All these occasional treats are ok because we know they are sugar laden and we can always balance that with good, healthy, sugar free meals… except when the ingredients that go into those meals have hidden sugar.
While watching Jamie Oliver’s documentary Sugar Rush I was genuinely shocked at the amount of sugar some food items contain. It wasn’t the soft drinks and ‘fruit juices’ that shocked me, I thought those were an obvious one, but the savoury foods that you wouldn’t necessarily consider to be sugar laden. The documentary may have been hyped up being a celebrity thing (although I do admire the work of people like Jamie Oliver and Stephanie Alexander), but it got me flipping the packages of so many food items we buy and reading the ingredient labels. Check out the labels on some of the condiments in your fridge right now and I’ll bet most of them have added sugar. Something I found so very, very useful was being able to visualise the sugar content: 4 grams of sugar = 1 teaspoon. Now go back and read those packages again, a bit scary isn’t it!
Next step: eliminating packaged foods with a high sugar content. As I find ways to create family favourite meals without the excess sugar I’ll post about it and tag each post with “Sugar”.