Sweet tastes are something we are, literally, born to enjoy. Breast milk is sweet; so is formula milk. By the time we are weaned, the taste for sweet foods is well established. Both breast and formula milks also contain fat and it’s this seductive combination of sugar and fat that is, I believe, the main problem.
Sugar, on its own, isn’t irresistible. You can carry out a taste test similar to the one for fat described earlier. Place a sugar bowl in front of you and see how much of the sugar you can eat, by itself, before having to admit defeat. It won’t be much. It’s just too sweet! Nobody gets fat through a weakness for confectionery that doesn’t contain fat – boiled sweets, for instance, or fruit pastilles.
We should try to reduce the amount of sugary foods that we eat for three main reasons:
1. The combination of fat and sugar in most sweet foods will make you eat even if you aren’t hungry. You will be inclined to eat puddings, desserts and snacks which literally ‘slip down’ before you have really noticed.
2. Sugar, in all its forms – white, brown, glucose, syrup, fructose – contains carbohydrate but little else. Even honey and molasses contain very few other nutrients: no vitamins, no minerals, but approximately 100 calories per 25 g (1 oz). So if you eat a lot of the high- sugar items at the expense of more nutritious foods, your diet may lack vital nutrients.
3. Simple sugars, with the exception of fructose (fruit sugar), are not so effective in curbing hunger as are the complex carbohydrates. They are more quickly absorbed into the bloodstream, so, at first, you will feel full. But, as the sugar is so rapidly dealt with, this blood-glucose level quickly sinks, leaving you feeling hungry again soon.
However, for sweet-toothers, all is not lost! Although, as with fat, experiments have shown it is possible to conquer a desire for sweet foods as quickly as it is to overcome a taste for fatty ones, you needn’t go cold turkey and face another ‘no sweet foods’ tyrannical diet. That won’t work for you.