A bitter-sweet relationship?
I was asked yesterday whether I felt sweets, chocolates and fizzy pop should simply be banned, and if just removing the problem would be a better, and more cost-effective, way of dealing with the problems surrounding excessive consumption of the 'white stuff'. Expecting me to reply in the affirmative, they were quite surprised when I answered with a resounding 'no'.
Sugar is not a poison! Sugar is not the enemy!
Banning sugar will not instantly solve our health problems. Sure, it might help the nation towards a slimmer waistline but, in my opinion, there is a far greater problem, a far greater threat to our health as a nation and a far bigger time bomb waiting to explode. It is called responsibility (or lack thereof).
Don't get me wrong - I believe that the government, food and drink companies and their regulatory bodies have a role to play. Of course they do. They, however, also have the same issue to consider, which should be at the root of decision making – responsibility. In fact we all need to take a little more responsibility - the only exception being those who are too young, or those who are unable, for whatever reason, to realise what this is.
Embrace personal responsibility!
The recent murmurings of those asking for a tax on junk food, or a ban on sugary sweets, scare me. Why? Because it represents the further removal of responsibility and choice from individuals who, right now, need educating to wake up, look at what they are doing to themselves and, most of all, to start taking some responsibility for what they put into their bodies.
I see person after person on a relentless self-sabotage mission in terms of nutrition. There are many complex reasons for this and just telling someone to ‘eat less and move more’, however true it might be, simply does not work! There are often many layers which need peeling back in order to get to the core of why an individual over or under-eats. One common step on the road to recovery and healing, however, revolves around personal responsibility.
We have our bodies. They might not be perfect and they might not work brilliantly all of the time (or even most of the time!), but they belong to us and we have a responsibility to do all that we can to look after them. This stops with us. No-one else will do it for us. Surely this need to embrace personal responsibility should be championed in the fight against ill health caused by obesity and excess body fat.
BEWARE! Dieting is NOT a sure-fire way of taking responsibility…
As a society we love dieting.We love having a plan to follow. We love taking a pill or a shake or a meal-replacement bar, because it removes a degree of responsibility for actually making decisions. Diets have their place if they provide a helpful, safe and positive forum in which an individual can be educated about their eating habits and how these can be improved for better health.
The problem, however, arises when diets enable an individual to drop a stone in a short period of time, only to then go and put it all back on again (and more), usually by consuming foods that are high in sugar and fat. This is not a good diet and doing this repeatedly will damage your health. Instead, take some responsibility for your health and do it correctly. Yes, it is hard work and can seem relentless at times but, if you do it properly, you won't ever have to do it again. That's the bottom line.
Do you value yourself?
Many people struggle with taking responsibility for their own health because they don’t value themselves enough. So you see, this is a far greater problem than it appeared at the outset. Just as telling someone to eat less and move more is ineffectual, telling someone to ‘love themselves’ also doesn't work. Telling someone to value themselves, however, is far more effective. Whilst it may take time, if you can value yourself enough to choose a better and healthier sandwich for lunch, or if you can value yourself enough to make the time to eat breakfast, then you are on the right track.
But where does all this tie in with SUGAR?
Well, it all comes down to choice. Every time you put something in your mouth, you are making a choice. It is your responsibility to try your hardest to make sure it's a good choice.
If we all started to appreciate and value our bodies a little more, and take responsibility for nourishing ourselves in the best way that we can, then the country would be a healthier (and dare I say it, 'happier') place. So yes, by all means go and enjoy some sugar as a treat - who doesn’t love a sweet, sticky dessert, some good quality chocolate, or an ice cream in the summer? We all do - myself included. Do it, however, within the context of a great, healthy diet. If you are making good choices on a daily basis, a little sugar will not hurt.
So remember - responsibility for your health ultimately lies with you!
Value yourself enough to take control of your health by looking at what you are putting into your body, owning your choices, deciding your future - and enjoying a little chocolate along the way!