Last week I watched a TV programme called Eat Well for Less. I was really hoping it would focus on healthy eating as a way to get people to be more mindful of what they eat ie. cut out the junk and unnecessary extras, waste less food and also help people choose cheaper options without forgoing quality and nutrition. It succeeded to some extent on the last point.
I was staggered to see this apparently average family consume 4 litres of high sugar orange juice very week. Not sure if they rely on BOGOFs but it is a product you often see in these.
Since when did orange juice become such a staple? As a child growing up in the 50s and 60s (yes I have got he grumpy old woman badge) juice came in tiny 50 ml glasses in the B and B’s of annual holidays or as tiny bottles of very sweet Britvic served in pubs! At home we had squash well diluted or Adams ale. Later as a 1980s holiday maker in Greece I remember the reps warning us off drinking the large cartons in a day as it could lead to upset stomachs- due to the acid I presume?
These days in hotels the juice is on tap and people fill large 200 plus ml glasses with impunity. In Boston a few years ago we had to keep saying no to hotel waiters as it seemed they topped it up all the time over breakfast and with a newly diagnosed type 2 diabetic in tow, it was off limits. None of them seemed to have any awareness of the sugar content in even a small glass (6 teaspoons) no idea about diabesity then.
More recently the fashion for smoothies has increased sugar from juice intake and now I am told there is a new must have gadget called the Nutribullet which juices up fruit, vegetable, nuts, seeds etc to make an allegedly more healthful drink. If you would not eat all this as a snack when whole, why do you need all its calories in one go?
Ask yourself do we really need all these new products?
What’s wrong with eating an actual orange or satsuma instead? That way you get the fibre from the fruit as well as some vitamin C which actually counts towards your 5 a day and takes longer to digest as well as damaging teeth less.
Hairy Dieters jerk chicken with home made low fat coleslaw and brown rice
In the UK we love our food porn, people spend a fortune on recipe books they probably rarely use and love TV programmes like The Great British Bake Off. Problem is most of these programmes and recipes are not very good for our waistlines, heart health or sugar and salt addictions. If eating out I am forever asking for the chef to not add any extra salt for instance (often with limited results)
During my 25 years as a food teacher I became very disenchanted with many of our TV chefs . Back in the 80s we watched and learned to broaden our horizons from the likes of Sarah Brown –in Vegetarian Kitchen. Inspirational chefs like Ken Hom and Madhur Jaffrey enabled me to get some skills in ethnic food preparation and I can even remember Gary Rhodes giving helpful hints on scone cutting. In the past we enjoyed the Galloping Gourmet and the antics of Keith Floyd. Moving on to the 1990s there was an explosion of what were now called ‘celebrity chefs ‘ and I soon became bored and switched off. I certainly rarely bought a cook book either. As the internet became more important, we would google for something we were interested in rather than buy a book which would sit on the shelf for decoration waiting for a rare read. I have been gifted cook books which I have hardly opened too. Cookery programmes have long passed into the realms of entertainment and competition . Twitter means they are a kind of spectator sport. Everyone has an opinion they can share.
Luckily we are starting to see a shift in focus and some of these now very well-known and affluent chefs are starting to think about the Nation’s Health, This started with Jamie Oliver and his school meals campaign followed by this efforts to get the locals cooking in Rotherham. He bit off a bit more than he could chew trying it in the USA too but all power to him for trying. More recently we have seen James Martin be the first chef in 21 failed attempts by other well-known faces to actually improve the Hospital food offering in Scarborough and the Royal Orthopaedic Hospital in Birmingham. The Hairy Bikers got a meals on wheels service going again In various places; then owned up to their own Obesity. They took on a 3 month challenge to do something about it by changing their own diets and taking up exercise. Now they have started the Hairy Bikers Diet Club in an effort to help more people change their lifestyle and still eat the sort of food many of us have come to enjoy. Yes they charge a monthly fee if you want to use their App and get more support than the recipe books but then Weight Watchers and Slimming world charge too. BUT This is where I think they have a good point – their meals are made with ingredients from scratch. There are no low fat (high sugar) special ‘diet ‘foods as far as I can see. Yes dear readers I actually bought the book and find that the curries and spicy recipes they suggest work very well indeed. Many of the other recipes are similar to those I have already adapted for our own new lifestyle but I have certainly picked up a few more ideas from them too. My only concern is adding sugar to things that don’t need it IMHO – including savoury meals. Not good in a house where we have turned back type 2 diabetes.
Hairy Dieters recipe for Marinating jerk chicken no added oil
I am hoping that we are going to see more of this in the near future, after all I don’t think it is rocket science to adapt recipes to make them healthier. So come on chefs- who will be next to help fight diabesity?
I did not know whether to cheer or sigh at this week’s news in the UK that obesity experts are now launching a campaign to put pressure on the government and industry to cut the sugar content of food and drinks by up to 30%. ( see @Actiononsugar on twitter ) I could hardly believe it when on BBC breakfast this morning Louise Minchin expressed her amazement that 300g Heinz tomato soup contains 4 teaspoons of sugar. (My food of choice incidentally when feeling poorly as was childhood comfort food) Clearly she was never in a Food class taught by me or my colleagues over the last 30 years. I am amazed that more people do not seem to realise how much sugar they are eating
Indeed healthy eating has been on the curriculum for many years and I recall stacking up the sugar cubes with the bottles of cola and sauces as well as breakfast cereals- the ones aimed at children being the worst offenders. 36% sugar in one chocolate flavour cereal when the class collected the packets. Then there were the pies and canned foods students might not have realised were sugary. We even tried to dissolve a tooth in cola once!
Later on in the age of nutritional software we challenged classes to produce snack bars that were less sugary and fatty than many of the premium commercial ones. Yes we succeed too with fruit and nut flapjack, scones and the like. We went on company websites like Starbucks and saw for ourselves the calories from sugar (and fat) in those coffees so many people love tocarry around and from the mega double chocolate chip muffins. Sadly not everyone stopped buying them though and not just as a rare treat but regularly.
For my entire teaching career Professors like Philip James have been advising us to change our habits and develop more awareness. It must be so frustrating for them. Apparently Industry believes we all read and understand food labels and balance our diets by eating less ! so sugar does not need to be targeted…
Plums and greek yogurt
Dr Aseem Malhotra cardiologist and science director of the new group has highlighted the link between sugar consumption and diabetes (type 2) whether we are overweight or not. As a partner of someone who has turned back the tide on type 2 I can assure you that reducing sugar content in his daily diet as well as alcohol (sugary) has played a large part in this. #Diabesity can be reversed
Everywhere I go children are snacking on sugary products popping into the bakery for doughnuts and cakes on the way to school, some of those fruit flavoured packed lunch strips and ‘Childrens yogurts’ make me want to weep for their future health.
Our most recent builders never stopped to eat but they got through a half a kilo of sugar in their tea and coffee in 4 days….
Maybe this time industry will take some responsibility and allow us to control our sugar intake better.
As I am currently disenchanted with the big boy local supermarkets (yes that means you Sainsburys , Tesco and Morrisions) I decided to respond to a catalogue that came with The Sunday Times (yes that middle class missive we can spend hours reading at the weekend rather than doing chores or getting out for a walk) The catalogue was for all things Lidl…the store we loved to hate when it proposed building a tin can monstrosity in our previous Surrey surburbia. I was also tempted by some biscuits I had eaten at a coffee morning recently … They came from the local branch and were very good indeed; as well as encouraged by others who said the fresh produce was good quality and value.
So off I trekked to the Newhaven Industrial Estate with my list of pickles (thought they would be good being a European brand) and Christmas goodies based on marzipan and ginger as seen in the catalogue.
My first challenge was to find a pound coin for the trolley then undeterred I set off to check out the aisles. Mysterious brands of tea coffee etc but no porridge oats -clearly not popular in Europe.
As had been suggested the fresh veggies were very reasonable but not as much choice as I am used to and some things prepacked in bigger sizes than I wanted , but did buy a nice big swede for £1 which is probably half the price of Sainsburys. Butter, cheese and milk all seemed cheaper , bacon was a no go as not marked British so I could only assume this was not the High welfare I wanted. Also bought some large jars of passata which Sainsburys simply does not stock despite my moaning tweets.
However the stars of the store were the Christmas goodies, mini stollens, ginger cookies dipped in chocolate and a whole range of pickles at very good prices. I also bought a big pack of uncooked frozen Greenland prawns so I am all set for some Christmas love now. Incidentally if we were keen on vension I would buy the controversial reindeer steaks too!
Nearly fell at the last fence on checkout when I discovered you have to pay cash or debit card- no credit cards allowed here. Probably a good thing meaning customers can only buy what they can really afford.
Will I go again- yes when I run out of pickles but sadly they do not have the range of things I want to eat such as whole wheat pasta, ryvita and nut milks ( nor Persil non bio for my sensitive skinned partner!)
In the meantime I will spread my custom and love around the butcher, fishmonger and Co-op which are within walking distance and drive to the nearest farm stall / visit Sainsbury’s a couple of times a month. I am fortunate that I have time to go to this trouble, it would be so much easier to get it all from one place.