We Can Blame Sugar All We Like – But We're Only Creating More Problems For Ourselves
This week's 'Sugar Crash' documentary on RTÉ wasn't educational – it was the usual alarmist drivel we're used to seeing served up on this topic
You probably saw 'Sugar Crash' on RTE the other night. If you didn't, you probably heard all about it – and if you really must, you can watch it here.
According to the documentary, which was hosted by Dr Eva Orsmond (aka the scary one off Operation Transformation) added sugar is public enemy #1 – and we're going to die horrific premature deaths as a result of eating it in excess.
Fair enough. It's a story we've all gotten used to hearing, so it must be true, right?
The problem is way more than just sugar. And as such, the solution consists of way more than simplistic, drastic scare tactics.
With such extreme finger-pointing, extreme behaviours will follow, and the nation will try to eradicate all forms of refined sugar from their diet. And that will, in itself, cause its own inherent problems.
Chief among those problems is one we're starting to see already: people don't know how to eat any more because of such alarming messages confusing the hell out of us. People simply don't know what a balanced diet is any more, because we're constantly being sold the lie of a 'bogeyman' – and with it, the even bigger lie that there's a one-stop solution to all our nutritional problems.
An excess of sugar is part of the problem, sure. But it's not the sole cause of the problem. Did you know that the size of our crockery has also increased over the last 100 years?
Bigger crockery means bigger portions, means people eating more. But making a documentary attacking and slaying the crockery industry would just be boring, and certainly wouldn't constitute a sexy watch.
"We already spent the last four decades singling out fat, calling fat the bad guy, and going to extreme lengths to cut it out of our diet, only to eventually suffer the consequences of these drastic measures"
Sugar is not an addictive substance either; not in the true sense of the word.
If that were the case, sugar addicts would literally eat sugar by the spoon out of the bag. They don't, and so comparing sugar to physically or psychologically addictive drugs is stupid, alarmist, and misleading.
The thing is that when people eat an excess of sugar, they are usually taking in an excess of fat too – foods such as donuts, biscuits, pastries and ice-cream are high in both sugar AND fat.
But here's the other thing: we already spent the last four decades singling out fat, calling fat the bad guy, and going to extreme lengths to cut it out of our diet, only to eventually suffer the consequences of these drastic measures.
If fat is not to blame, then that only leaves poor sugar. Give it time, and we'll soon start to see the repercussions of the current scaremongering and the resulting extreme behaviours.
People want to be healthy, they truly do, but taking such drastic measures (such as avoiding sugar entirely) will lead to unhealthy behaviours; behaviours that will be incredibly hard to shake off once we've taken them on.
The consequences are already in effect, with high rates of disordered eating behaviours and even newly highlighted eating disorders such as orthorexia on the rise. The quest for the perfect diet is, in actual fact, far from healthy – as all it does is prevent people from having a healthy relationship with food.
Only once was moderation mentioned in the show last night and that poor chap was accused of propaganda and aligning himself with the sugar industry (or something equally as ridiculous).
The show wasn't educational – it was the usual alarmist drivel.
Whatever happened to the old-fashioned (unsexy) balanced diet?
Whatever happened to moderation?
Whatever happened to having some common fucking sense?
Create awareness. Not fear.