Well & Good
So Sarah Wilson has quit sugar for life. Bully for her. Whatevs. Like, who cares.
OPINION: Actually, rather a lot of people do. The Australian journalist's book detailing her sugar-free journey is currently sitting at number one on the food and drink books bestseller list.
Apparently 180,000 people have undertaken her eight-week sugar elimination programme. She reckons sugar is an addiction. It can make you fat. It can make you sick.
Her book makes me sick. Angry sick.
Not barf sick, although the other day I did feel like puking. I'd eaten some Griffin's Chocolate Fingers. The packet said a serving was three biscuits and this equalled 380 kilojoules. And that there were 10-and-a-half servings per packet. I ate the lot. All 4060 kilojoules.
I wasn't out of control; I ate with great intent and immense pleasure, delicately biting each end off and then sucking up cold milk through it until each "slender, crispy, chocolate treat" crumbled in my mouth.
Wilson would say my antagonistic reaction to her decision to give up sugar is because in holding up a mirror, she has reflected back my "own uncomfortable, guilt-laden and very attached relationship to sugar".
So what, I say. My discomfort after eating 30ish chocolate fingers was short-lived.
I did have to undo my jeans, but I skipped dinner to compensate for my calorie overload and the next day I ate blueberries and coconut yoghurt for breakfast with a sprinkling of LSA; raw beetroot and carrot salad with tamari nuts for lunch; a tuna steak smeared in homemade parsley and almond pesto with a rocket and broccolini salad for dinner; and a plate of kiwiberries and peacherines for dessert.
And my guilt was near non-existent.
I concluded long ago that, while someone using their degree in medicine to remove cataracts and restore sight to a subsistence farmer in Vanuatu is good, and multinational companies contributing to the decimation of life-giving rain forests through their very attached relationship to palm oil is bad, there is no such thing as good food or bad food. It is merely a question of perspective.
Sugar is just the latest victim in a long line of culinary criminals. Yes, it can make you fat, but so can watching back to back episodes of Homeland for days on end and eating half a cow, both of which could potentially be quite fun.
For fun, Wilson apparently mixes together two tablespoons of coconut oil and half a teaspoon of raw cocoa powder, which she pops in the freezer for 10 minutes: "The chocolate aspect really gives me a lift."
In fairness, Wilson's book, I Quit Sugar for Life, is just hopping on the bandwagon.
Every other day there are headlines exposing sugar as the white devil. And if it's not sugar, it's gluten. And if it's not gluten, it's dairy.
The shelves of Whitcoulls are groaning with the burden of such life-changing books: Gluten Free Every Day (apparently it shows how gluten-free cooking can bring joy and satisfaction to anyone's kitchen and palate); Raw Food/Real Food (apparently the authors have made a noble effort to play with textures and be creative with uncooked food items); Skinny Bitch in the Kitch (apparently this vegan recipe book is a no-holds-barred war against meat, dairy and simple carbohydrates).
Wilson reckoned she was fed up with the highs and lows of sugar. (The Guardian recently ran an article that brilliantly and succinctly evinced there is not a drop of scientific proof that sugar makes kids, or anyone for that matter, hyperactive.)
She reckoned she was tired of her sweet-tooth cravings. I have a sweet tooth. I also have a fat tooth, a stodge tooth and a sodium chloride tooth. If I were to follow Wilson's lead, rather than reaching for the nearest tub of salted caramel ice cream or bag of spring onion ripple cut chips, I could instead satisfy my urges with an avocado and coconut water popsicle, or a bowl of nutritional yeast popcorn.
Eating like this is a full-time job. It requires serious research, shopping, and cooking. And you will talk about it a lot, to everyone. To anyone. Because it will fill your head.
I am not overweight, but I have been at times, and I work hard not to ever be that way again. I do a lot of exercise, and what I mostly eat is pretty wholesome.
Yet I refuse to ban anything from my diet (with the exception of meat, but that's for ethical reasons).
A friend who has long battled with her weight recently told me she had cut out gluten in an attempt to slim down. Why, I asked. I don't know, she said, it just seemed like a good idea.
I know my friend, and I know she moves as little as possible - partly because it's uncomfortable, partly
because she is instinctively sedentary.
I also know she has a large muffin and milky coffee most days for morning tea. And yet for some reason, gluten is considered the culprit.
Last night I was feeling sorry for myself. So last night I ate five slices of fresh and supple Molenberg, smeared with butter, a scraping of Marmite and plenty of Eta's finest Ready Salted.
God it was good.
- Sunday Star Times
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