Sunday, October 22, 2006

The Cake Project: Now it really starts

by Suw on October 22, 2006

If there's a single undesirable side-effect of contentment within a relationship, it's the expansion of one's midriff. A year ago, when Kevin and I had started dating, I was a bit thinner than I am now, but a year of eating out and him cooking me crepes on a Sunday morning and overall general happiness has resulted in, shall we say, a slight enlargement of certain measurements.
And whilst there are several undesirable side-effects to travelling as much as I have this year, (which, yes, I know is not as much as some but it's still more than others), the worst is that I lost control of my diet. If you're a long-term reader, you'll know that I'm hypoglycemic and that a couple of years back I put myself on a six-meals-a-day-regime and it really helped. Well, all that's slipped. I'm back to drinking very sugary drinks, eating highly refined white bread, and generally doing things that I know are bad for me.
The result is that over the last year or two, more people have come to understand from first hand experience what I mean when I say that when I'm feeling a bit low on sugar, I get “militantly hungry”. Kevin has developed a knack of spotting when I need food long before I get that far, but still, it's not good.
So I'm back to where I was in June 2004, looking at ways to make me change my diet. My biggest weakness is, as it always has been, Coke and other sugary things. Now, giving up anything is not, of course, a physical challenge so much as it is a psychological one, and that's why I've been gathering stats. I know what changes I need to make, I just need the motivation to make them.
One day, when I was idly reading the nutritional information printed on the side of a 500ml bottle of Coke (and there's an oxymoron if ever I saw one… 'nutrition' and 'Coke' in the same sentence) and I realised that if you totted it all up, there's 53g of sugar in it. Now, I used to do a lot of baking in my childhood, and I know you can bake a cake with 100g of sugar… so that's just over half a cake's worth of sugar in a drink I can polish off within a few minutes.
Now, I don't mind the idea of eating cake, but I know cake is sugary so I don't eat all that much of it. Same way I don't eat lots of biscuits and rarely, if ever, eat sweets. I mean, a packet of Fruit Polos is something like 96% sugar… I hate to think what the other 4% is. So I can easily see that cakes and biscuits and sweets are sugary and it's really easy for me not to eat them.
It's harder with fruit juices, because part of my brain tells me that they're made of fruit so they must be 'good for me'. I've become a big fan lately of Cranberry juice, and Cranberry and Blackcurrent juice. I can down a whole litre of that stuff in no time. But it turns out that despite being a fruit juice, the sugar content is astronomical, with one box of Cranberry and Blackcurrent containing 126g of sugar. That's one and a quarter cakes. And I can drink that in a morning, easily.
When you compare amounts of sugar per 100ml, from drink to drink, you see that there's not much variation. Lucozade Original predictably comes out worst, because it's a drink that's supposed to be packed with sugar – it's an 'energy' drink after all. Schwepps Lemonade comes out best, with only 4g/100ml. Lucozade Sport looks like it does better than the Schwepps Lemonade, but it's deceptive – it has only 3.5g/100ml of “sugar”, but it has a bunch of other carbs in it, bringing the total carbs per 100ml to 6.4g.
Anyway, here's a pretty graph to illustrate:
Sugar Content per 100ml
Now, when you start thinking less about absolute comparisons and start visualising the amount of sugar in each container in terms of how many cakes it would bake, you can start to really understand how much sugar you are consuming.
Cakes per Drink
There be lots of sugar in them there 'innocent' Innocent Pure Fruit Smoothies (* figure is for the pineapple, bananas & coconut variety).
So, it's time to stop. Every time I look at a can of Coke, I will see half a cake. Every time I stare down a nice box of tart Cranberry, I will see a whole cake. Cake is my yardstick of choice – I can resist cake. And if I can resist cake, I can resist Coke.
You see where I'm going with this.
I pledge to stop drinking sugary drinks for three months, but only if 25 other people will too. Sign up before 22 November, just in time for the challenging Christmas period, and we'll help each other through. Trust me, it'll be worth it – I know from experience that just stopping drinking sugary drinks does make me feel better and I'm sure I can't be the only one who'd benefit.
So I'm up for it. Are you?

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