I decided to give up sugar for Lent. Not for religious reasons, I'm not even Catholic! But I have found that it is much easier giving up a bad habit when other people are trying to do the same.
There is less of the Mrs Doyle-type "aaahhhh, go wan, just have a little bit. You will won't you" that goes on which can derail your commitment.
I gave up sugar in my tea and coffee for Lent years ago, and have never gone back. The Lenten period of 42 days (not the commonly accepted 40 days), is just long enough to break a habit.
According to psychologists, it takes 21 impulses to make a habit but twice as long to break it. People keep on banging on about "everything in moderation".
Well, guess what? We don't have a clue what moderation is, otherwise our behinds wouldn't be widening by the minute and our children wouldn't be heading towards Type 2 diabetes. So what are we doing about it?
Action on Sugar in the UK
My decision happened to coincide with the anti-sugar campaign kicking off again in the UK. The British government is halving the recommended maximum allowance of sugar from 10pc of your daily calories to just 5pc.
Plus it is trying to pressurise manufacturers of high sugar, processed foods, such as chocolate bars, to produce smaller sizes. This is all in an effort to stem the epidemic of obesity and lifestyle diseases such as Type 2 diabetes and heart disease. There has even been talk of taxing high sugar foods to make them less accessible.
The idea that sugar, rather than fat, causes obesity and diabetes is becoming more widespread.
As a result, more medical professionals, such as the group Action on Sugar which is made up of doctors, researchers and medical experts, are all recommending drastically reducing sugar intake.
Policy in the US
Last month, the US Food and Drug Administration released proposed changes to the Nutrition Facts label, including the addition of "added sugars." While there is no minimum requirement for added sugar in our diet, there is a recommended daily allowance, which many of us exceed.
Policy makers are hoping that by highlighting the added sugar in foods, consumers will have the tools to make healthier choices for themselves and their families.
All sugars are not created equal
The word "natural" has become one of those words that can lead to confusion when looking at food labels. But, when it comes to sugar, the difference is simple. Natural sugars are found in fruit (fructose), and milk and yoghurt (lactose) without any additional processing, and come with the benefits of the whole foods that contain them.
Added sugars are natural sugars that have been processed and added to food items. While your body processes added and natural sugars in the same way, the difference comes from how the two forms of sugar are consumed.
Health & Living