A spoonful of sugar, maybe shouldn’t help the medicine go down!
10th October 2016
In the run up to Healthy City Week 2016, we'll be showcasing innovative ideas and highlighting key topics to explore wellbeing that doesn't cost the earth.
In the third of the series, we are focusing on food and health. Traci Lewis, a freelance sustainable food consultant, shares her experience on 31 days without sugar.
All my working life I’ve supported and promoted healthy, fresh and organic food, so it seems ridiculous I wasn’t making the link between bloating and bad skin and a summer of Devonshire cream teas, crisps and sugary drinks. However, it highlights how easy it is to get into bad habits and it doesn’t take long for the effects to show (I was even about to visit the doctor, in case something more sinister was lurking behind these symptoms).
The UK's Sugar Addiction
While the usual health risks from sugar such as diabetes and obesity are well known, the source of many sugars and the side effects of over-consumption such as skin ageing are less known.
Sugar is in just about everything, and not just the obvious added sugars – but all the hidden ones as well - of which there are many. In fact, sugar consumption is at an all-time high, with some scientists and nutritionists recommending it be regulated the same way tobacco and alcohol are. Recently Jamie Oliver stated that:
“The UK has one of the highest obesity rates among developed countries, and it’s getting worse. By 2050, over 35% of boys and 20% of girls aged 6 to 10 are expected to be obese. The estimated obesity-related cost to the NHS is over £6bn.”
The 31 day Sugar Detox
‘The Sugar Detox – Lose weight, feel great and look years younger’ book sets out to educate, inform and hopefully help change your diet and lifestyle. I kick-started the 31 day diet with a ‘3-Day Sugar Fix’ which consists of no dairy, fruit, wheat, starches or added sugars - including alcohol – for the initial ‘cold turkey.’ Some fruit, dairy and high-fibre carbs are reintroduced over the 31-day plan, however starchy carbohydrates like bread, rice or pasta are surprisingly a major contribution to sugar addiction and so are replaced by good carbs that are full of fibre, come from vegetables and can help lower your blood sugar. So the diet mainly consists of lean, low-fat protein options and plenty of vegetables, salad and nuts.
So where to shop
On my first shopping trip I visited the fresh veg aisle, chillers for meat or veg protein, then off to find the eggs and a pack of Ryvita, making the majority of the supermarket's pre-packaged goods surplus to requirements - more like a farm shop then! Of course in Bristol we are spoilt with wholefood shops and food initiatives.
Food cooperatives such as the Real Economy and community hubs like Buzz Lockleaze help provide access to fresh and local produce at a fair price. Scoopaway and Harvest – with their bins of nuts and pulses - and wide selection of veggie and vegan proteins such as tofu and burgers. Also The Better Food Company in St Werburghs, Whiteladies Road, and now on Wapping Wharf, and my favourite store on the walk home from work Radford Mill Farm shop in Picton Street, with a great selection of wholefoods. Also Source Food Hall & Café in St Nicks market do a range of fresh local food. There are also lots of great local organic veg boxes which deliver to your home, ensuring you get a regular fresh supply of seasonal veg produced in and around Bristol; Community Farm, Leigh Court Farm and new local food online delivery company fresh-range – who host a range of local suppliers.
And the Results
I lost weight, my skin is much smoother and hasn’t been having breakouts. My digestion - which has been playing me up for years - is calmer and more regular. Also my mind is definitely feeling clearer, in fact last week I had to complete four different funding bids, and felt the benefit of more clarity and mental stamina. But probably the biggest surprise has been the disappearance of monthly PMT, spots and period pain, amazing! No-one has ever told me sugar might cause that? If it’s true for others too, this should be common knowledge!
How can you find out more?
The agri-food industry makes huge amounts of money from sugary and processed foods and spends billions of
pounds each year to ensure we stay hooked. However, it seems clear to me that a fresh, healthy diet is key to a good life and to do that we need to change our eating and shopping habits, in ways which supports local and organic food producers. Bristol is a pioneering city for this with the Good Food Charter and Plan which asks you to imagine ‘A city where good food is visible and celebrated in every corner and where everyone has access to fresh, seasonal, local, organic and fairly traded food that is tasty, healthy and affordable, no matter where they live. It's efforts were recognised this year when it was awarded a Silver Sustainable Food City Award – only the second city in the country – the next step is to ‘Go for Gold’ which means many more people growing, buying and eating local food. If you would like to find out more about Bristol’s local food scene, then sign up to the Bristol Food Network newsletter.
Interested in learning more about food, cooking and addressing your food habits, head to these events during Healthy City Week...
- Bristol Loves Bugs! The human microbiome in health and disease with University of Bristol, Portland Centre for Integrative Medicine and guest speaker Professor Tim Spector
2.30–5pm City Hall Booking now open, book online.
- Sat 15th - Freedom from Sugar (2-3pm) & Managing Diabetes (3-4pm)
at the Healthy Active & Green Living Day at Wellspring healthy Living Centre. Free, drop-in (more info here)
- Sun 16th - One day detox with Bristol Health and Nutrition 10.30am–5.30pm Wild Goose Space £25 discount rate, quote Healthy City Week
- Sun 16th - Family Cooking Day with Food Cycle 11am–4pm Phoenix Café, All Saint’s Street. Free, drop-in
- Mon 17th - Beating Sugar Cravings with Dr Rebecca Hiscutt 9.30–10.30am in the Healthy City Week Hub at Triodos Bank. Free, drop-in
- Mon 17th - Why Vegan Diets Work with Veronika Powell 12.30–1.30pm in the Healthy City Week Hub at Triodos Bank. Free, drop-in & bring your own lunch.
- Tues 18th - Bristol Health & Nutrition presents Mood food for calm and vitality
11am–12.30pm Wellspring Healthy Living Centre. Free, drop-in
- Tues 18th - Raw foods for busy people with Anna Middleton 6–7pm Amarelle Showroom. Free, drop-in
- Wed 19th - Happy Breakfast Café 8–9.30am Avonmouth Community Centre. Free, drop-in
- Wed 19th - Super Power Your Kids 10.30–12noon Windmill Hill City Farm. Free, drop-in
- Thurs 20th - The Lockleaze Banquet 5–7pm | Buzz Lockleaze Café. Free, drop-in
- Thurs 20th & Sat 22nd - Flexitarian Restaurant Award Food Trail 6.30pm Group discount tour, book online and check website for departure point, times & maps
- Thurs 20th - Free Cooking Workshop, 6-8pm Filwood Community Centre