Sugar is making us fat

In a 2010 article, the Daily Telegraph reported that only 1 percent of English men and 2 percent of English women were classed as obese in the 1960s compared with 25.2 percent of men and 27.7 percent of men in 2010. At the end of the 1950s, the average man weighed 65kg and the average woman was 55kg, but 60 years later that had climbed to 83.6kg and 70.2kg.

According to an article in the Guardian newspaper, people are 20kg heavier on average than we were in the ’60s, and not because we’re eating more or exercising less, but because unwittingly we became sugar addicts. Here it is:

This article previews a four part BBC television series called The Men Who Made Us Fat which is well worth watching if you want to understand why I believe that going without sugar for August is worthwhile.

72,500kg of sugar

US artist Kara Walker created a 11m high and 24m long sphinx-like depiction of a black “mammy” out of white sugar in what used to be sugar factory in New York. Along with with sculptures of black children coated in molasses in various states of destruction and reddish-brown drippings staining the walls, the atmosphere would have been one which would have brought out the violence of both the sugar plantations and working conditions in a US sugar factory.

Sugar plantations in the Caribbean were the ultimate destination of many slave ships for almost three centuries, they were large scale monocultures which produced a highly profitable commodity. With sugar, it was possible to raise the calorific input of working people in Europe and the USA to make them more productive without proportionately increasing the amount of meat, fish, poultry and dairy products.

Read more about this project here

Chocolate remains on the menu

That I have a sweet tooth is well known by those who know me. I’ve always liked sweet things and I’ve been trying to work on this for a while, wanting to lose weight. Aside from dark chocolate, I eat biscuits or lollies only rarely.

Even though there is some 28% sugar in a 70% cocoa bar of chocolate, I won’t be giving up dark chocolate this month. That would be just too hard, and anyway it takes a me a week to eat a single bar of Valrhona Guanaja, my favourite.

Living without sugar

August is my month for living without sugar, which is not as easy as it sounds seeing as sugar is an ingredient in so many packaged and prepared foods. As a replacement habit for the month my intention is to eat a lot more fruit than I already do. That will be easy, as my intake of fruit could usefully go up.

How will I do? Subscribe to the RSS feed for the blog and find out.

Can you live without sugar? Perhaps you already do.

So that was a month without Sudoku

I did well this month. I lived without Sudoku, and noticed the effect that doing a puzzle (or two) a day was having on me, how I used them to distract myself from everything that I ought to be doing,

Will I go back and do them again? Yes, however more mindfully this time. And probably not as many as I used to do.

It’s good to be aware of our habits, and this month I have learned a lot about one of mine.

Do you have a habit that you use to distract yourself from what you really do need to do?

Well that month didn’t work

Not all months are going to work. My attempt to live without carbohydrates was a miserable failure. The fact of being on the road for two weeks put all thought of this aside. It really was a case of ‘fill the car’ then ‘fill up with food’ and go until the next stop.

Food as fuel. Not my normal way of thinking of it. An interesting month.

Having returned to earth from the 2,600km trip around the North Island what’s going to be my attitude towards refined carbohydrates. The jury is out on this one.

Can’t win ’em all.

Take three minutes, and do nothing

Follow these instructions.

Take the time you would have used reading one of these blog posts and do absolutely nothing.

By nothing, I mean nothing – no web browsing, no doodling, no walking about and leaving your phone alone.

The only exceptions to this instruction are paying attention to your breath as it enters and leaves your body, listening to the noises that come from whatever is happening around you, and mentally scanning your body for sensations such as tightness, and feelings.

Stop doing everything else.

There is nothing more important for you to do than simply sit still.

Stop doing.



Three minutes, you may wish to set a timer,

Living without refined carbohydrates

For June, my intention is to live without refined carbohydrates. How hard is that going to be?

In fact I eat very little in the way of refined carbohydrates, preferring wholemeal pasta, bread, and so on, but every now and then I’ll grab a packet of chippies. Especially if I pass a dairy that sells Proper Crisps – though I have to say that the quality isn’t the same since the factory was sold to new owners.

So this month, I’ll stop eating refined carbs completely.

As a replacement habit, I’m going to crunch on raw carrots and do some baking. It’s a good excuse to brush up my bread baking skills.

Are you a baker?