Living The Sweet Life?

Are you still scratching your head trying to work out how on earth you, and just about everyone else you know, are supposed to vastly reduce your sugar intake when the supermarkets, high street bakeries and trendy cafes etc. are still overwhelmingly full of maximum sugar, highly desirable goodies? Well, it definitely isn’t easy.

Shelves are packed with all the confectionary you could ever want but are we still having to scrutinize every product sleeve and label to determine what level of unhealthy it is for us?  It needs to be much easier than this to make our choices from a more balanced selection. We all want (and sometimes seriously need) treats. They lift us, they calm us, they make us happy and that’s a good thing – life would be far too dull and dutiful without them. But, here’s the big BUT.

However many TV programmes we see: informing us of just how bad/addictive/unhealthy high sugar foods are for us and even though they are brilliant at showing us where to look and how to spot when something has just way too much of the dreaded stuff it, have you tried putting all that useful knowledge into practice whilst actually shopping for food?  I have: it’s almost impossible.

So, the question is this: why are we still having to settle for a smattering of ” reduced sugar”  messages when in some cases manufactures are only managing to cut 40% of the sugar they use in a small, hardly noticeable (and really hard to find) range of our favourite sweety treats? The fact is that if you started out with a massive number and you only reduce it by 40% then it’s still a too big number!

Is this good enough? No!  It’s not. Why are food manufacturers not prioritising low sugar confectionary in the same way they have successfully showcased Vegan & Plant Based options, for example, or even the Free From Foods which are now so much more visible, easier to shop and more transparently labelled?  Surely from a health point of view ( let alone our right to be able to choose less addictive foods) it is essential that consumers have the clarity and accessibility to reduce their sugar intake – without missing out on the treats we all want and need.

And how in the name of all things good are you supposed to treat family members or friends to healthier choices whenever you want to celebrate? How many Low Sugar Birthday Cakes or cupcakes, treats etc. do you see that actually look special and appealing? It’s no wonder we are stuck in this “sugar trap”. The big boy, multi-million confectioners got rich on us (sugar was cheap and they used it by the lorry load) but hasn’t pay back time come? Of course sweeteners and sugar alternatives are more expensive but so are gluten and dairy free foods – we still need them.

Sure, we could all pretend that we are going to start baking from scratch, Pinterest is full of fabulous ideas, and using sugar free recipes is a lovely notion but we know it’s not sustainable and that, frankly, most people would rather be doing something else if only they could buy the healthier delights they want. For now, I personally feel that the only way we can start to turn the situation around is from a grass roots level and ask our local bakers, caterers, chocolatiers about low sugar options and hope they step up to the mark and create those choices for us.

I believe that with determination, effort and a lot of patience we small scale food producers can make a difference and with that I’m off back to the production development bit of my kitchen – we are working on low sugar cakes and are definitely getting there!  Can’t wait to see what the reaction is when we put them “out there” but at least we will know that we are playing our part in the move towards healthier living.