I am currently a little more than halfway through Michael Moss’s fascinating book Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us. If you’re at all interested in food issues, this one is worth checking out.
The first third of the book – and the one part I’ve completely finished so far – deals with sugar. One of the concepts that Moss discusses is the “bliss point” for sugar. This is the point where the sugar level in a food is perfect for you. Take sugar out, and it won’t taste as good. Add more sugar, and it won’t taste as good. The bliss point is, well, blissful, and it varies from person to person. I can pretty much tell you, without even subjecting myself to any testing, that my bliss point is very, very high. I am the sort of person who will eat a sugar cube straight up, and then still want more.
I’m somewhat concerned about my gigantic sweet tooth, because I don’t believe sugar is all that good for you. If you’re eating it in moderation, that’s one thing. But given studies that show a link between drinking sugary beverages and diabetes, and added sugars and heart disease, for example, I’d rather not be eating it in excess. And yet, the truth is that I do. I know this for sure because some time ago I signed up for My Fitness Pal, a free app that tracks food and exercise. While I come in below the recommended amounts of fat and salt, I regularly consume two to three times my personal daily recommended allowance of sugar.
In fact, I generally consume my entire daily allowance of sugar with my first meal of the day – a bowl of cereal and a banana. Breakfast cereals are high in sugar. Plain milk is surprisingly high in sugar. And banana, being a fruit, has rather a lot of sugar. When you add it all up, my day is off to a really sweet start. But it’s not just my day that’s super-sugary – my kids are eating the same sorts of food that I do.
I’ve given up sugar before, and didn’t notice any particular difference in how I felt. But the truth is that I only gave up sugary treats, like candy, ice cream and baked goods. I didn’t stop eating fruit or all breakfast cereal. Knowing what I know now, after reading Salt Sugar Fat and tracking my own sugar consumption, it’s a pretty safe bet that I was still getting plenty of sugar in my diet. Probably more than I needed, in fact.
I’m not about to go completely sugar-free. I love carbs entirely too much for that. However, I really would rather not eat so much. I’d really rather that my kids didn’t eat so much. But I’m also torn. Our mornings are not exactly what you would call leisurely. Cereal or granola is just so easy. And my go-to easy alternative of sweetened yogurt with fruit is really high in sugar, as well. I know lots of people swear by smoothies, but smoothies gross me out, so I’m not going there, especially not early in the day. The only non-sugary breakfast my family regularly enjoys is scrambled eggs, but I just can’t see making those every day. And so, I’m facing a conundrum.
I’d like to reduce the amount of unintentional sugar I consume, but I’m not sure how to do it in a way that won’t make my mornings difficult. I’m hoping that you can help. Do you have any easy breakfast options that are low in sugar, and that your kids will happily eat? I need suggestions.
I’d also love to hear your thoughts on sugar. Are you concerned about how much you – and your kids – consume? Have you ever tried to give it up? I’d love to hear!