Sugar

Photography by Joluise

I grew up in an age where most mums (whether they worked or not) made almost everything from scratch and rarely bought processed food (excluding for baked beans and tinned spaghetti which we ate on toast on Saturdays!). It was also an age where it was rare to see overweight or obese people. I am talking about the 1970s.

We ate simple meals, often meat and three vegetables followed by dessert (fruit and ice-cream in summer and pudding in winter). Mum didn’t get hung up about the latest fads and without the internet or TV she wasn’t bombarded with misinformation.  

And we ate sugar.

Mum made cakes every Saturday and they all contained sugar. For dad she made fruit cake and for us kids, we often had cupcakes with yummy icing.

We always took a cup cake (or slice of cake) to school and had a biscuit (cookie) when we got home.  Whilst we were allow to eat cake, we weren’t encouraged to eat large or multiple slices as mum was determine to make the cake last all week. This wasn’t because it was bad for us, it was part of mum’s frugalness.

But most importantly, we were taught to eat in moderation. 

Life was much simpler.

Moving forward to 2014 — we have made our lives far too complicated.  One of the complications of the variety of food available at the supermarket we are completely spoilt and no longer no what is good for us and what isn't. And secondly, we are overwhelming with information about food. The mountain of food is not what we need and the mountain of information is often misleading. It’s confusing and unnecessary.

One moment we are told that chocolate is bad for us, then its coffee, fat and the latest is sugar. And this gets me to the point of this story!

There is nothing wrong with adding sugar when cooking from scratch— it won’t make us fat. 

All these books about “I quite sugar” are all missing the point. Sugar used correctly is fine, in moderation, one cup in a cake will not make you fat. However STOP buying processed foods that are laden with sugar (fats and all sorts of chemicals) and return to eating the old-fashion way like grandma once cooked. It really is that simple.

My mother use to make us puddings in winter, they contained sugar, not a lot, but enough to make them yummy. This isn’t bad for you – in fact we shouldn’t deny ourselves these simple and enjoyable pleasures. My message — stop following the latest trends and get back to the way our grandmothers cooked  simple and enjoyable and don’t feel guilty about adding sugar to a dessert – it won’t hurt you. It never did.

It all comes down to common-sense.
  • Cook from scratch
  • Eat real foods
  • Buy in-season
  • Eat in moderation
  • Eat a balanced diet (variety)
  • Don’t eat huge portions
  • Don’t go back for seconds
  • Don’t believe everything you read
  • Don’t eat half a cow per meal
  • Sugary snacks, lollies and fizzy drinks are for special occasions only — they aren’t for everyday/every week treats
  • Keep snacks simple and occasional (not continuous throughout the day)
  • Drink water, avoid fizzy drinks
  • Waste not (want not)

This is the way I was brought up – simple home cooked meals. Let’s get back to the way  our grandmothers cooked and stop getting hooked up to the latest fads.

No wonder everyone is stressed and exhausted. 

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Comments

  1. I so totally agree! The key is in healthy choices and moderation. Thanks for sharing! Hugs, Terri

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    1. I think we have lost the skill of eating in moderation :((

      Thanks for stopping by:))))

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  2. Exactly the way I was brought up too, and the way I brought my children up....My dad had a cake shop....yet...none of us were overweight....it is do-able.....ofcourse, our children as well as us, played outside nearly all day, we did not sit inside with an electronic gadget to play with...One thing I abhor and that is to see littlies playing with their "gadgets" in church even....surely they can do without for that period of time?

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    1. Quite right - children use to play far more out doors that they do today - I can remember going off and playing for hours in summer and returning for dinner. My mother didn't seem to get stressed about it. As for electronic devises, I think parents are as bad as their children these days. In fact there was a story on the news last week about parents taking their children out e.g. to the park and then standing around playing with their phones and ignoring their children. Children are no longer taught to sit still these days.

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    2. PS, you have just given me an idea for another story!! Thanks heaps.

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  3. This is a difficult one, Jo, because white sugar really isn't good for people at all. And that's what most people use. If people ate crystalised sugar that hadn't been bleached etc - meaning the sugar cane has had the juice extracted and simply had the liquid evaporated (causing crystalisation to occur), perhaps it wouldn't be so bad for our bodies because it would be basically how God created it (retaining all nutrition). White sugar and probably most other sugars produced by modern processing have had all (or at least MOST) nutrition stripped from it! And it IS addictive - research has been done that shows that our brains and bodies get a "buzz" from sugar.

    I agree that occasional use of sugar isn't that terrible - especially if it is raw sugar... But I personally think a *better* way to sweeten food is with honey - honey is special to God, it was part of the way God described a land of promise and blessing, and we know that it contains far more nutrition, contains natural antibiotic properties, antiseptic properties, can act as a antihistamine, as well as being a lower GI than sugar, and containing antioxidants.
    The Scriptures speak of honey 56 times - and some of the mentions are particularly interesting, such as Psalm 81:16 where it speaks of God satisfying the people with honey if they had obeyed Him (honey is satisfying - unlike sugar that people crave more and more of!), and Proverbs 24:13 tells us that honey should be eaten "because it is good"! :) :) :) Isaiah tells us to eat "butter and honey" (yum - did you know that butter and honey beaten together with cacao or cocoa makes a super delicious icing/frosting??) The Scriptures also speak of honey as being something wafers could be made with (indicating they probably cooked with it, not just eating it raw). Honey in the Bible was also valuable - you read of it being given as a gift!

    Anyway... that being said, a little raw sugar isn't going to damage our health, but I think it should be used very infrequently, and God's chosen sweetner used with more frequency.

    But.... that's just my opinion ;)

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    1. I think the difference is that we didn’t eat processed foods and what we did eat contained very little sugar compared to current levels. It’s the processed foods that’s the culprit in regards to addiction to sugar not home cooked foods. Eating sugar in a cake made at home won’t lead to an addicted at all and if eaten in moderation (eating a slice rather than several slices in one sitting) has always been fine. However a shop bought cake is quite a different story. Addiction has only come about because of how much sugar (corn syrup etc..) is now hidden in processed foods, lollies and fizzy drinks and sadly far too many children eating almost exclusively processed store bought food leading to major health problems.

      Whilst sugar is processed, I am not overly fussed by this partly because we eat it moderation. And whilst it has no goodness it is needed in some cooking e.g. jam making, pavlova, sponges etc... My children were brought up with sugar in home-cooked foods and they are neither addicted to it or overweight. I don’t mind honey in some things, but it doesn’t really work in certain baking. And in biblical times they weren’t cooking the range of things we cook to days. It has been said that the diet in the Tudor times was quite good and during the Second World War the English were much healthier – it all came down to sensible eating.

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    2. We ate some processed food when growing up - bread, frankfurters, tinned foods, 2-minute noodles, etc, and my mother only cooked with white flour (as far as I remember), which means really all those cakes and slices that were made with white sugar and white flour contained very little nutrition - at best, they were cheap fillers that made everyone feel good.
      I have heard of some people growing fat on home cooked foods - the key really is to eat things in moderation (rather than several slices in one sitting, like you said!!!)... And for me, another thing I think is important is to eat for nutrition as much as possible. Eating just because it tastes good (but is empty of nutrition) is pretty much giving in to lust rather than eating to be a good steward of the body and health God has given us, and in a way, eating just because something tastes good (and yet contains no nutrition) is like throwing money away too - especially if it is done frequently and not just for the odd treat. Eventually, a person who eats for taste and just to feel full (eg. a diet of modern processed food), while it might have seemed cheap at the time, in the long term will have cost more and will inevitably lead to health problems and cost a lot in medical bills!!!
      Cooking at home from scratch is different - and usually more nutritious (than processed food) to begin with. :)

      I've also learned to cut sugar/sweet ingredients back when I cook. Things that are cooked with the full recipe of sweetness are just TOO sweet! Yuck! I actually prefer to eat savoury foods the majority of the time anyway, but I do like sweetish things from time to time. I've actually found that when I use more natural sweeteners like honey, I desire even LESS sweet foods than before!

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    3. It's interesting to see that the English were so healthy during WWII - and also interesting to note that their foods were highly rationed (difficult to overindulge) and sugar was definitely rationed during that time - I'm not sure if most people today would know how to survive on such a small amount of food!! It would be interesting to try living on those rations for a few weeks and see how we found it!

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    4. Have you watched the documentary about the family who go back in time to World War 2 and their struggles with cooking on rations. It was tough but doable. The cookbooks from that time are very creative with very little and they were clever at making "mock" foods to replace food items they couldn't get their hands on. Many modern families would struggle today!

      Whilst I eat for nutrition - I don't always e.g. when I make a cheesecake for example and I make these primarily for enjoyment at a gathering of friends/family - and eating them knowing they aren't overly healthy but taste great. But in these sorts of settings one often only eats a small slice and shares the rest. Once again it comes back to moderation. Food should be both njoyable and taste great. We are more than just machines eating to remain healthy.

      I have a sweet tooth which means I need self control and that is one of our biggest problems - people lack self-control and eat too much.

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    5. Actually, yes! We have seen that. It was very interesting.

      I agree - we cook things like cheesecake and brownies and such on rare occasion, although sometimes I'll make it with totally good ingredients so we can eat it more frequently!!

      Yes, I/we need to exercise self-control too - it's a problem for most people and the cause of obesity epidemics, too - people can't control themselves and often the food they're eating is terrible and their body just can't do anything good with the food (or food-like products). I think a lot of issues in life come down to moderation, not just food and eating! :)

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  4. Amen! I agree with you. Cooking the way grandma did, or mom too in my case, would make us all healthier.

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    1. My mother also as I never knew my grandmothers on either side. My mum was a no-nonsense cook but made some very yummy meals without ever touching a processed tin/jar of anything. It really isn't that hard when you give it a go.

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  5. Just who baked the cakes on Saturday?? I'd like a correction there, for I remember doing the cakes from quite a young age onward, with little if no help from Mother who would be doing washing and stuff...
    I prefer the rawer sugar, it is healthier, and if you take Demerara sugar, and grind it fine, it works very well. though I still use some white sugar for say a coffee cake, or patty cakes. Really, most things can be made with half the recommended sugar, and if you did not tell, no-one complains. The real killer in modern food is the use of fructose in large quantities in almost all processed foods, from soup to biscuits.

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    1. And look at what a good cook your turned out. However I think I did my fair share!! I usually reduce the amount of sugar I use these days and you are quite right, you can hardly notice the differences. If I'm using an American recipe I will reduce the sugar by 3/4 as they often have 2 cups of sugar in a cake, whereas we would only have one. It takes me forever to get through a bag of sugar these days and I tend to use raw or brown sugar as I quite like the taste it makes. I also use coconut sugar as it has a very cameral taste.

      So many tinned foods now contain sugar - all hidden and people just don't think about it. And I won't mention breakfast cereals - a killer for sugar. I will stick to my porridge with no added sugar.

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