We were in Vizag as part of the ShikshaDaan Yatra and we stayed at a really nice hotel called Green Park. The breakfast spread was lavish and they had cut fruits as well as the fresh fruit juice. I asked the server whether there was sugar in the fruit juice and he beamed to say “yes ma’am”. His face fell when I asked him if we could get fresh juice without added sugar :). I love muesli even though it confuses the body … but I couldn’t eat muesli even for a single day at the hotel because it was also mixed with loads of sugar and milk. Then we spoke to the restaurant manager and suggested that he could keep the sugar bowl right next to the fruit juice station and the muesli rather than adding it and what he said just blew me off – “ma’am guests tell us to add sugar and keep otherwise, they feel they have to do the extra work of adding sugar. There are very few guests who have asked for sugar free juice!!”. We are truly addicted to sugar, the new God.
There are advertisements showing how sugar helps a mother be the best mother to her child … really?? The worst thing that we can do to a child, is to load it with white sugar. Fruits have natural sugar which comes with its own processing agent – thats how nature has made the fruits, but artificially produced sugar is truly dangerous. The earliest know sugar was produced in India from sugarcane juice that was sun dried or heated in open pots to solidify it. Then the refining and processing of sugar started to happen in the West and the white sugar as we know it came into existence about 150 years back. The refined white sugar is what quickly became God. Sugar is omnipresent, its in everything that you pick off a store’s shelf. Don’t believe me? Just read the label – all kinds of bread has sugar, biscuits have sugar, cookies have sugar, soft drinks have sugar, preserves, jams and sauces have sugar, toothpaste has sugar, everything that you touch in a departmental store has sugar or the even more dangerous thing – a sugar substitute.
Just read about the American breakfast that is truly a dessert – Its time we call American Breakfast what it really is – Dessert. And India, the land with 200 options for breakfast is aping America in their breakfast habits too. Look where it had led us – we have become the diabetic capital of the world, and consequently heart disease. People having heart attacks at 40 and check their pantry … good chances that it is filled with sugary food. People who exercise religiously, die on the treadmill due to stress and I suspect the stress is also fuelled by sugar. Childhood obesity is on the rise and when we were at the Green Park hotel in Vizag, we saw three young children – all obese and all gorging on sugary muffins and sugary fruit juice!! I know obesity is also because of low activity levels but 70% of obesity is because of the food we eat. White sugar is just empty calories and sugar substitutes are chemicals whose side effects haven’t been understood fully. White sugar in moderation is no problem but moderation is difficult in these times because anything that is bought from a store has sugar – the inexpensive preserver of food.
I read somewhere that the sugar lobby blamed fat for obesity and happily contributed to people’s obesity while the fats battled it out trying to find a place in people’s diet. The human body needs fats, sugar, carbs, protein, vitamins, minerals and water … but in moderation and from natural sources. With all the food industrialisation and a generation hooked on comfort, we have forgotten “natural” sources of food.
We have been off sugar for the past year and a half – not completely but consciously avoiding food or drink that is heavily loaded with sugar. While it hasn’t had a dramatic impact on our weight, what it certainly has done is reduced the number of anger episodes I have had and cleared the skin rash (probably eczema) that Krishnan has had on his leg for a long time. Sugar crept into our lives even when we were very conscious of its terrible side effects – Dr. Vijaya Venkat had always told us to stay away from sugar and dairy. We started using honey for tea but when we wanted to drink coffee, sugar seemed to be the only alternative till we found out that coffee tastes even better with jaggery!!
Just like all the Gods of the past haven’t helped mankind to stay sane, this new God also doesn’t help you stay healthy or sane. Diabetes is not hereditary, its a lifestyle disease. My grandparents did not have diabetes, but some of my aunts and uncles got diabetes because of their lifestyle and food habits. Don’t believe in the new fangled wisdom about food that serves the interests of different lobbies – sugar, dairy etc. Watch what happens to your body when you eat a lot of sugar or a lot of cheese etc and if you dont have the patience then just speak to a friend who has diabetes or is overly obese. Find out what he/she eats everyday and you will get your answers.
Buddha spoke of the middle path – tread the middle path of moderation when it comes to food and keep the sugar bottle in your prayer room, not the kitchen.