Refined sugar, inspired by Nigel Latta – part 2

Nigel Latta’s documentary (the episode on sugar) has really got me going.

My big questions (and I’ll share answers as I find them) are:

1) Can I substitute sugar in my baking and feel healthier and happier about it? If so, what sugar? Maple syrup? Dextrose?

2) Is the allowed daily dosage of sugar 9 teaspoons? Does this include all sugars even those in whole fruit?
Does this teaspooned allowance change depending on my height, age, gender, activity level and number of hours I’m awake?
Does this teaspooned level change for children?

NB: I did find Julianne’s Paleo and Zone Nutrition article answered leftover questions.
Gary (who was interviewed on ‘Latta’s’ doco) has a blog site NZ Sugar Free, with further information.

3) This ‘sugar doco’ addresses hidden sugars and how much sugar we are unintentionally consuming. What about those of us who are consciously consuming sugar? Why do we crave it? Why are we addicted?

It was clear to me, I need to:

READ labels.
Stop trusting corporations to hold our health in their best interests.
NB: Watch this doco
on corporations called The Corporation. If you think Latta’s Sugar blew your mind this will blow your universe.

This invitation is not only about refined sugar. My body is my temple. Question what I want to put into my body?

Read labels.
Artificial sweetners, colours or flavours?
Numbers in general?

The next big thing he highlighted for me is:
Cook from scratch.
Make tomato pasta sauce rather than trusting Dolmio’s recipe.
Craft risotto, rather than buying packeted.
Home-bake muesli.
Minimise plastic and home-make muesli bars with your tamariki.
Cook real food.
Do the whole 30 challenge and learn how dependent we have become on processed foods.
Be aware of foods that come in appealing, convenient, lunch-box friendly packaging able to eat immediately e.g. rice crackers, bread, spreads, yogurt.

The conversations the sugar episode didn’t initiate were:

Why (as relates to question 3 above)?
Why do many of us ‘crave’ sweet food?

As a Mum of 3 children under 5 years I get intrigued (to say it politely) to witness conversations around food in regard to children.

  1. I’m fascinated that some adults still use pudding as a reward or a bribe for children to eat vegetables or finish their dinner.
  2. I’m interested, in a world where obesity is rife, that some adults ‘strongly encourage’ children to finish their meal (rather than encouraging children to listen to their bodies and trust when it’s time to stop eating).
  3. I wonder how many parents applaud their children for trying any new flavour be it hokey pokey ice-cream, casserole, wasabi or beetroot?
  4. It’s alarming to me how many adults talk about their offspring being terrible, shocking (bad eaters) whilst these infants/children are right there standing beneath, beside them. Positive thinking? ‘Labelling’ people cements behaviour? Relating to behaviour or choices in a bi-linear way rather than ever-evolving, able to shift at any moment, flexible reality?
  5. Or the fact some adults think it helpful? or appropriate? or kind? to comment on how well ‘our’ children eat – you’re a good little eater aren’t you. Eating is something to be good at? Something to be proud of? Eating a lot is something to strive for?
  6. It’s a little perplexing that some adults proudly want to see a child’s distended belly after eating, as if this is the gauge of ‘desired food intake’.
  7. I ponder as to why, when a child is given ‘sometimes’ food, why many of us tall people remark “Lucky”. As if sweet food is the ultimate of all flavours. Something rare and beautiful to seek out. Something far from abundant or boring.
  8. I consider why do many of us inflate the sugary experience, into ‘treat’ ( as according to ‘a source of a special delight or pleasure’) status. Why not is cheese a treat? Kumara? Yogurt? Fresh fish?
  9. I wonder is food such a serious business? If we’re going to say yes to ice-cream why not eat it at breakfast? Can we be playful and curious with all aspects of life?
  10. I’m remembering my childhood visiting extending family. Had I been good? Would I like to choose a lolly from the colourful lolly jar i.e. this becomes a learned habit = when I’m good I get rewarded with sweet food.In case I’m not being clear, have we as caregivers constructed the false image that when we as children are ‘awarded’ ‘sweet’ it is the ultimate flavour, something to aspire to. That I am lucky to be given sweet food, as if it a luxury item, or something far from abundant (the irony), and that if I try hard, or I’m a good girl or a good boy (which equals do what the adults say), I’ll be rewarded with this treat, this pleasurable experience

I once talked with the eating disorders helpline (after being concerned about a friend’s dramatic weight loss).
They explained eating disorders were a way for a person to ‘exert some control over their life’, in response to other aspects of a person’s life being ‘undesirable’ ‘stressful’ ‘out of control’.

The notion that food provides a means for someone to feel empowered intrigues me.

How many of us had little or no control of what, when, how we ate as children?

How many of use food as a way to ‘rebel’, to ‘be wild’ or to be ‘self-authoritative’ just as many of us use other addictive substances and activities e.g. alcohol, tobacco and other drugs?

I reflect that my double square of chocolate consumed behind the pantry door is not only an energy pick me up round 3pm but also something I get to do ‘for myself’. A moment of I. A moment of choice. A moment in an otherwise ‘self-less’ day of caring for other people and addressing their very frequent loud needs and desires. A moment of relaxation. A moment of ‘reward’.

Yes I do believe people feel they ‘deserve’ a sweet treat. That they can reward themselves with chocolate, or baking, ‘fattening food’, or ‘bad food’. There’s something in that contrast of pleasure and pain. If sweet = pleasure to people, is it that we want sweet/pleasure because we perceive the preceding moments in our life to be that of pain, or at least not pleasurable. The intensity and stress of the consumerist, marketed to, fast-paced, multi-tasking, fragmented (in relation to interacting with email, facebook, text, phonecalls AND real people), high-achieving, hyper-analytical yet ‘isolated’ living conditions of this age. Could these conditions be considered ‘painful’, therefore we look to food and other pleasurable experiences to balance or suspend or distract this discomfort?

Or is it that we just enjoy pleasurable experience. And we want more. We want to indulge.
Side note: Perhaps the ultimate indulgence is attaining presence. To being present to the wonder, beauty and ‘juste’ of each moment, even if it is full of suffering. To rejoice in simply being alive. Really. Cos really in any instance, death could take us. Death.

The tragic reality of the  insatiable truth of desire. I’ll just have 2 more pieces of this green and blacks and I’ll be satistfied. Yet, surprisingly, I want another 2 squares after dinner once the kids are asleep – to go with my hot drink. Yes, this reminds me of that circus performer who rejected my chocolate offering, by remarking once she gets the taste of chocolate in her mouth, she simply wants more. If she doesn’t start, she doesn’t need to stop.

Kristin Borchardt, Yoga Teacher delight, commented she is happy to participate in cake when it’s with a friend, sitting down, alongside conversation. But, if she finds herself reaching for cake from a paper bag on the passenger seat at the lights, she feels – something’s amiss here lady.  I understand this. 4 year old and I enjoyed a rare ‘treat’ when we ceremoniously visited a cafe and had a fluffy, and something sweet. I loved every morsel of my jam injected chocolate lamington with puddles of yogurt cream. A mother daughter date. Food sat us together. Stopped time. Gathered talking. Was something and somewhere we could be just two. Away from Mother of 3 and sister to 2.

Food paints beyond the bodily experience.

Hmm. I feel frenzied by this topic. The more I dwell the deeper I get. Next stop cake made with honey just as bad as it’s tasteless counterpart caster sugar?


  1. We have found a bunch of small, plastic airtight containers very helpful in moving away from convenient packaged lunch-box items.
    Homemade hummus, plain yoghurt (proper, cultured stuff, not milk-with-thickener) with or without fruit puree, dips, pestos, salads etc all make a whole-food lunchbox more appealing.
    Likewise, I recently made the big investment in proper metal vacuum flasks, so soup and leftovers such as baked beans or casseroles can be piping hot at lunchtime.

    We also try to minimise over-processed carbs such as white flour or white rice, so pasta and crackers are a treat food in our house these days!
    Treat foods also include things like blue cheese and salami – not just sugary stuff.

    After a serious sugar crack-down, I’ve now returned to baking once a week (once its gone, it’s gone, so we know its a treat!) and try to choose recipes that have good nutritional value, rather than angst too much over the sugar content.Banana, bran and blueberry muffins, for eg (quite low in sugar anyway) or slices made with oats, seeds and nuts (tend to be sugary, but lots of fibre and nutrients too – at least there’s no high fructose corn syrup!!)

    We also love Green & Black’s organic dark chocolate – 85% cacao – not quite up with raw, but still relatively low in sugar and crap and more affordable!

    I enjoyed your musings on the conversations about food/young children. I’ve also noticed these tendencies and pondered upon them – I do wonder if those who see being a ‘good’ eater as a desirable personality trait were themselves taught this nonsense because they were ‘not good eaters’!

    Kia Ora

    1. Really enjoyed reading your ideas. I’m reading a bit about Weston A. Price and looking on Mark Sisson’s website too. I have been experimenting with honey, maple syrup, rapadura sugar and coconut sugar but found some conflicting information about these on the nz sugar free website which was advocating glucose or dextrose instead. Gary mentions the body converts fructose to fat – I have more reading to so and more understanding to garner. Did you see my post on eczema and our 2 year old’s birthday party? Interesting about the rice crackers too – this is something I’d like to cut back on (for the plastic alone). Kia Ora for your words

I love reading your comments, kia ora for taking the time to share your thoughts

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