Mindful consumption

Is sugar a drug?

There are those who would have you believe that it is as dangerous as crack cocaine. I have seen vitriolic online debates where people refer to it as a poison, and that they would rather feed rat poison to their child than sugar. I am sceptical. But I also know how powerful it is. I eat, we in this family, eat far more sugar than we need or is good for us. And when we’re sick it seems to be the only thing we’re capable of eating.

A friend is suggesting that I give up sugar to help get better ………aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaraaaaaaaaaaaaaghhhhhhhhhhhhh
Cookies, cake, juice, dear friends I shall not forsake thee…

I am a sugar monster…
And it makes me happy.

I know, I know, that’s what the heroin addict thinks too despite the fact that they have no friends, their veins are collapsing and they’re about to die.

Her reasoning is very sound: “Sugar and caffeine over-stimulate your adrenal glands and you need more and more all the time to keep going, while your adrenal glands continue to drain of their energy.”

Sounds like me alright!
But I know a number of people who don’t do sugar. And I miss their company at cake eating afternoons and biscuit munching coffee mornings. Taking a melon to their house rather than a batch of freshly baked choc chip cookies just doesn’t cut it ( I do make VERY good cookies which soothe and sustain me in the making, the eating, and the sharing!)

A bit like tee totallers, non-wheat eaters and lactose intolerants,  they don’t seem very happy, it is all about what they CAN’T eat, especially in social situations which are angst filled on both sides… (I think I have just lost my entire readership there!! Stop, come back, I know YOU are happy with your choices, and I know they are infinitely more healthy than my diet, but I’m talking about MY observations here, which are obviously those of a deranged sugar addict, so are TOTALLY unreliable!) 

So here we are, New Years resolution time: mindful consumption this year. This is the year of “enough”! Not doing without. But not having it all either. I am quite good at having me cake and eating it! I do not do self-deprivation, however sensible, or potentially healthy it may be. “Moderation, Moderation, Moderation!” was my Grandmother’s watchword. So here’s to you Granny Lucy.

Over the years I have toyed with giving myself a healthy eating making over: low fat, macrobiotic, vegetarian, vegan, sugar free, even raw. I have had a lot of issues over the years with eating and over eating, binge eating, weight…

But no. For me the bottom line is food is so much about culture, about our history, about how we socialise. It is a pasttime that I love, that links back to my father and mother and grandmother, and the place I ate when I was five and the favourite dish I crave when I am sick, and the cookies that I share with my friend Leigh. THAT for me is what food is about, the whole eating experience. “Healthy” eating often seems to reject all of this, ignore your traditional knowledge, be-gone foul family gatherings, reject your mother’s culinary offerings it says, trust the experts, this book, the guru and anything in your local health food shop. Especially if it looks or tastes particularly weird!

I am stubborn, I admit it, and come from a line of stubborn, wonderful cooks, in a community of great cuisine. I choose to embrace that, engage with it, add my own garnish here, and reduce the cream by half there… but that is my food culture, which I feel when we “go alternative” can be one of the first things to be rejected. (Can I add here that my mother tried breaking from our food culture in my early years with lots of health food shop thingies which I feel has immunised me from embracing it whole heartedly, like many adult devotees can).

And you know what, if it makes me a bit heavier than I should be, or a bit sicker… then more fool me, but it also makes me richer and fuller in so many other ways. For me a rejection of all that food and sharing my culture of food would be very sad, and how we eat and what we eat together is what I treasure. A communion through eating together through creating meals of love according to that tradition which I do not desire to give up. Nor do I think I worthy to give up. It is a rich tradition of skills, values and love which I do not wish to overturn for all the brown rice and steamed greens in the world.

So I wish you (if you don’t hate me now, dear reader!) health. And health for me, little, awkward, won’t help herself out of a paper bag, me. For all of us health, and mindfulness in our consumption of all things.

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