Guest blog: Let's not obsess
As a Sugar Free advocate and general promoter of good health and nutrition I recently found myself taking part in a conversation with a friend who had a very valid point. I say ‘taking part in’ because it was less a two-way conversation and more a monologue on my friend’s part, but I attempted to join in where I could.
It was in a restaurant after a delicious meal, and we were all full up and tired after a busy day. My friend’s 18 month old had just picked up an almost empty bottle of Coke and taken a sip, and my husband had instinctively said to the toddler “Don’t drink that, it’s not good” even though he had just happily polished off a bottle himself.
The friend said “Why not? We drink it, we mustn’t obsess.”
What a fantastic point. If we, as adults, are willing to drink a bottle of Coke with a meal then who are we to instruct anyone else, child or otherwise, on what we should do and why?
I am now 18 months 'sugar free' myself - by that I mean that I eat no sweet foods whether sweetened with sugar, honey, syrup or dried fruits. I started my journey in October 2014 and have felt innumerable health benefits since, some that have really surprised me. So drinking a can of Coke is something that I would never now do, even as an alcoholic mixer.
My friend continued to make some excellent points. “Why,” she said, “is everyone seemingly so overly obsessed with health and nutrition yet obesity and diabetes is on the rise? Why will the media report to us one day that we must eat one green apple a day then the following week insist that we eat no more than one green apple a month? There’s too much information out there.”
“It’s really boring,” she continued “we are diverting back to what our grandparents did. It’s nothing new.” She seemed pretty miffed about it.
It certainly isn’t anything new. However, this particular friend is a JERFer. She Just Eats Real Food. She doesn’t know she’s a JERFer because, like me, she has always been around food that has been cooked from scratch. It’s the norm. Granted, she does eat some processed foods and does indulge in sugary desserts, but on the whole she has a healthy diet. She’s not aware that there’s an entire online movement that promotes eating real food – a year ago I didn’t either. She probably thinks there shouldn’t be one, and if she does then she’s right. There shouldn’t.
But there is and the reason is that there’s a group of people out there who have either forgotten how to healthily feed themselves using basic ingredients or who were not aware in the first place that our meals should be made from fresh produce. Some people have only ever eaten processed, packaged foods and they’re the people who benefit most from learning about JERF or any other healthy eating movement. They want to learn about food, and that’s great.
Personally I am happy to embrace and promote any healthy eating idea or movement because I think some people could do with just the tiniest amount of encouragement or inspiration to make the smallest change and that change could have a snowballing or long lasting effect on their general health and wellbeing.
If we look at it in the simplest terms – somebody cutting out just one spoon of sugar in their coffee a day will drink 365 spoons less over the course of a year. A phenomenal amount.
So if that spark of encouragement or inspiration is a photo of my lunch on Instagram then great. If it’s a tweet I write or a link I share then fantastic. If it’s a meal by Jamie Oliver, a snack from the Body Coach or a workout from Davina McCall then all the better. Let’s not over obsess – instead let’s celebrate food, health and life.
LondonHealthMum is an ex stay-at-home working mum in North London promoting a healthy, active, sugar free lifestyle.