Where opinions matter – it’s time to get serious about eating

WHEN will humankind get serious about proper eating?

We are eating ourselves to disease and death. And health costs have become too high for the world to digest.

Aren’t you sick of hearing about the latest diet fad? And celebrities on diets?

The human race is being undermined by serious and life-taking diseases with our full knowledge of the causes and damaging effects of bad food and sugary drinks.

The other day, as has happened many times, I was served coffee with a sugar satchel. I don’t use it and I didn’t ask for it. The sugar was served to everyone as a convenience for the café.

“Added-sugar is the single worst ingredient in the modern diet,” says my doctor.

So, isn’t it time for the Western world to start the moderation process and rein-in sugar, beginning with manufacturing, political will, community involvement and education?

We could begin lowering sugar content in alcoholic and soft drinks, cakes, biscuits, breakfast cereals and treats. Just for starters.

We’ve become accustomed to today’s sweetness levels, weaned on it shortly after birth:  “Let’s give little Johnny a treat. He’s been so good.”

Having a kids’ party? Roll out the soft drinks, bring out the world’s biggest birthday cake. Big enough for everyone to also take some home. With a bag of lollies.

Talk about overload. But sugar levels could be lowered over time with a concentrated community effort.

If only we applied the same energy, commitment and billions of dollars that we pour every year into fad diets, loopy foods and the whole so-called get-fit industry.

Just like smoking, drugs and excessive drinking, we know the dangers of poor diet.

Added sugars contain no essential nutrients, no proteins, no essential fats, vitamins or minerals.

Sugar provides easily-digestible energy for the bad bacteria in the mouth. It rots the teeth.

Excess sugar can lead to fatty liver, insulin resistance, progress to type II diabetes and can contribute to cancer. Sugar is a leading contributor to obesity in adults and children. In children, daily sugar-sweetened beverages are associated with a 60 per cent increased risk of obesity.

How responsible are we truly being for our children and future generations? What can be done to aid weight loss?

Looking at eating patterns, a study of 60,000 Japanese showed the rate of ingestion (how fast we eat) and the time when we eat have a big impact on weight loss.

Compiled over six years, the results show the improved effects on eating slowly. The brain takes 20 minutes from the start of a meal to signal satiety.

The theory is that by eating very fast, people outrun their body’s ability to register satiety.

Skipping breakfast, by the way, made no difference to weight gain, according to the study.

People eating at normal speed were 29 per cent less likely to be obese, rising to 42 per cent for those eating slowly.

A US study showed that slow eaters drank more water than fast eaters, indicating that drinking more water may be a key to eating less.

Adelaide endocrinologist Gary Wittert often advises patients to drink a full glass of water before a meal to distend the stomach.

It all helps. And it all makes sense. Humans don’t need fad diets or eating plans that often can’t be followed long-term anyway. Or don’t fit in with normal social lives.

It ain’t rocket science. Eating proper food, unprocessed and not out of a box is the key, says Professor Wittert.

Don’t each much after 7-8 pm and let at least 10 hours elapse before eating again, he suggests.

Eating at relatively fixed times is also better suited to the body.

People are not all the same but we all have a common goal to improve our health. The human race depends on it.

Cutting down on sugar would be a worthy start, don’t you think?

Give us your opinion.

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Journalist, commentator, broadcaster and author. Lee, columnist for Have a Go News has reported for The Australian Financial Review, The Australian, The West Australian, Sunday Times, Albany Advertiser, Melbourne Herald, Launceston Examiner, Business News and national magazines. Lee has covered federal politics, industrial relations and national affairs. A public speaker, newspaper columnist and author of two books, Lee co-hosted 6PR’s current affairs radio. He also co-founded a stable of national business newsletters. Lee is former communications manager for a non-profit, mental health carers’ organisation.