With the gloomy statistics showing increases in diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease and Alzheimer’s to name a few, can we really have our cake and eat it?
Here’s a copy of the after dinner talk I gave at Global Wellness Day 2016. I felt for the audience as everyone was finishing off their desserts after a long day of fasting. The last thing they probably wanted was a pudding bashing session! I was very grateful to have such a gracious audience, who participated in a good humoured and lively discussion afterwards.
Here we are...
It’s an honour to be here and thank you for asking me to speak this evening.
I’ve been asked to share with you how we can have our cake and eat it. As a cake lover I couldn’t think of a better title for a talk!
As you may have been able to tell already I’m from the UK – and what does that matter? Well being brought up in England I learnt from an early age that many of the worlds problems can be solved over a cup of tea and piece of cake. With all the tea-shops and cafes in the UAE it seems we may have shared some of our habits.
So, with the gloomy statistics showing increases in diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease and Alzheimer’s to name a few, can we really have our cake and eat it?
I’m going to break this talk down into three sections - the good news, the bad news and then so we don’t all leave depressed, we’ll end on a high note…with some good news again…
THE GOOD NEWS
The GOOD news is that YES we can still enjoy some sweet treats.
In clinic I’m frequently asked how people can still have their cake, cookies or ice-cream and feel better. It is possible - within reason.
THE BAD NEWS
The BAD news is that side effects of sugar consumption are real. Sugar contributes to obesity, diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular disease, tooth decay, affects gut flora and has negative impacts on cognitive function.
Blood sugar levels being out of balance is so common people don’t generally know they are living with it – until they get diagnosed as pre-diabetic or with diabetes.
Is this you?
Do you have sweet food and feel great, with high energy levels, and then a couple of hours later as your blood sugar drops you feel tired or irritable and crave something sweet again. This leads to a yoyo effect. Moods and cravings going up and down, along with energy levels.
When our blood sugar is balanced our moods are relatively stable, we have quite even energy levels and we generally sleep well. In particular with children, they are more able to sit without twitching or being overly hyperactive.
Through Ramadan of course this is really important. We have long periods of time without food and blood sugar naturally drops. When we eat again, we want to replenish our energy stores as quickly as possible BUT we need to do this sensibly.
Most people in the room know that we should be focusing on good quality protein (this could be from plants or animals) and good quality, slow releasing carbohydrates, which includes brightly coloured fruits and vegetables. Of course that makes sense.
Yes, but what about the cake – I hear you ask!
THE GOOD NEWS - AND HOW TO ...
So back to the GOOD news. How can we have our cake and eat it?
Firstly, and this is really important, we need to reduce our sugar consumption overall, this includes sweet drinks. As we reduce the sugar consumption we reduce the ups and downs in energy and mood. For some people this will mean cutting down from 10 to 5 cans of fizzy or sugary drinks a day, or getting rid of them of good! For others it may mean cutting down from two biscuits to one a day. For some it may mean reducing portion sizes. Instead of eating puddings from a large bowl we have a small bowl. Or we downsize, so instead of having three scoops of ice-cream we’ll have one. If we habitually take something sweet every day maybe we’ll try only having something once a week.
Take home message is to REDUCE SUGAR INTAKE, REDUCE PORTION SIZE!
Secondly, we can upgrade the ingredients. Instead of using refined white flour, we can use flours which are more nutritious, and higher in fibre such as nut, chickpea or buckwheat flour. Instead of refined sugar we can use natural fruit such as apple puree or mashed banana. Instead of using palm oil (or buying products with palm oil) then we can use more natural products like butter or coconut oil.
For children, I love making herbal tea lollypops (popsicles), sneaking beetroot into brownies and carrots into ice-creams!
My taste testers are suspicious teenagers, so if things get past them I know they will be approved by most people!
Take home message is to UPGRADE INGREDIENTS – Not all cake is created equally.
Finally, we pay attention to what we are eating. When we have our cake, biscuit or chocolate, we stop, taste, appreciate and enjoy them. If we savour the taste and feel the sensations these foods give us we are less likely to grab more or feel unsatisfied or guilty.
Take home message is to PAY ATTENTION TO WHAT WE ARE EATING
So in summary, YES we can have our cake and eat it.
Most of us need to reduce the amount of sugar we have, and the portion sizes. We can upgrade the ingredients so they have some health benefits, and then when we do eat sweets, we stop and take time to appreciate them.
Thank you for your attention and enjoy the rest of your evening.
For more info. on food awareness and appreciation pop over to the “Strawberry Meditation” or “Chocolate Meditation”.
Both easily found under Categories > Meditation.