Do we need a sugar tax?
Feb 17 in General
Do we need a sugar tax? I don’t think so but then as a baker and cake decorator I use an awful lot of sugar every day! I think what is needed is education, a bit of self discipline and for us all to start taking responsibility for our own health! With Action on Sugar announcing today that they have tested 131 hot drinks from various food establishments and that one third of them contained as much sugar as a can of Coca Cola and the worst ones having the equivalent of 20 teaspoons of sugar, is it any wonder we are all getting fat? Check out the BBC article on this story here
Excess sugar consumption is obviously bad for us, but the celebration cakes that I make are not meant for every day consumption, they are a treat to be shared with friends and family on a special occasion.
I am not convinced that sugar is the only culprit responsible for the obesity epidemic, I think it could be excess carbohydrate in general that is to blame. When we eat starchy carbohydrate such as bread, potatoes, pasta, rice, etc, it gets converted into glucose (a form of sugar!) and absorbed into the bloodstream to raise blood sugar and in the process, it makes us feel satisfied. For a long time we have been told that a healthy balanced meal should include a certain amount of carbohydrate, (a third or a quarter depending on where you get the information from). I am not convinced that this is correct and it seems like many in the medical profession are now coming round to the idea that too much carbohydrate is not good for us and that fat isn’t the demon we all thought it was. I don’t normally agree with “faddy” diets, but the recent paleo diet seems to make a lot of sense to me. I try to imagine what humans would have eaten when they lived as hunter gatherers, before we discovered farming. They would have eaten vegetables, nuts and fruit in season, and game, fish, and shellfish, and maybe eggs at certain times of the year. They would never have found enough grain to make a loaf of bread or enough wild rice to make up a whole meal. They might have dug up a few roots of certain plants that they knew were good to eat, but they were unlikely to have potatoes n any quantity. They might have eaten honey occasionally or tapped a tree for its sweet sap. In our modern world it would be difficult to live like hunter gatherers but I do think we could learn something from this and it could help us make our modern diet a bit healthier.
The Pima Indians living in Arizona have a really high incidence of type 2 diabetes presumably caused by the fact that they have had to abandon their hunter gatherer lifestyle and now eat a lot of carbohydrate and this coupled with a more sedentary lifestyle has caused their health to deteriorate so that in 2005 38% of them were suffering from Type 2 Diabetes. There are lots of studies and articles about this available on the internet. Check out one of them here http://wholehealthsource.blogspot.co.uk/2008/05/lessons-from-pima-indians.html
I have been experimenting with low sugar and paleo recipes. We have friend who eats a paleo diet to help her with a thyroid problem (she says it helps) so I have been able to test out some of the recipes on her! I have made fairly acceptable paleo “bread” which she enjoys. Lately I have been experimenting with sugar free cakes. This presents quite a problem because sugar is integral to the structure of a cake so it has been difficult to make a cake with a texture that I find acceptable. However, I did recently come up with quite a good cake using a combination of two artificial sweeteners, the cake tasted okay and the texture on the day it was baked was good too. However, by the next day it was like a brick! Sugar doesn’t just sweeten a cake, it helps to keep it moist and it is also what stops it from going mouldy quickly too, which is the other problem with sugar free or low sugar cakes. I could add a preservative to solve the mould problem, but that seems to defeat the object of trying to bake a healthier cake!
So I will continue in my quest to bake a sugar free cake but I think I might have to settle for a low sugar cake (more on this soon).