Sweet tooth hazards
Sweet or savoury? What kind of tastes do you like? If like me, you have a sweet tooth, you probably can't resist eating cakes, biscuits or chocolate and will sweeten your tea or coffee with spoonfuls of sugar - delicious! But the taste makes it very easy to ignore the warnings that too much of the white stuff is bad for our health.
Consuming sugar is an addiction - the more we eat, the more we want. Today's processed food, like ready meals, is laced with the stuff and many fizzy drinks contain seven teaspoons of sugar in just one can. In the UK, statistics show that sugar consumption is at its highest level in history and the government is trying to get the food industry to cut the amount of sugar in popular products like chocolate bars by 20% by 2020.
Of course, sugary food tastes nice, it can help lift our mood, and the glucose in it can give us an energy boost. But there are dangers too: a high-sugar diet is linked to obesity, and being overweight can increase the risk of getting type 2 diabetes. With these warning signs, I have considered changing my diet by replacing sugary snacks with fruit and savoury biscuits - but that's boring, I need my sugar fix!
I'm not alone. BBC journalist Radhika Shanghani, has gone one step further. Encouraged by some celebrities and nutritionists promoting a 'zero tolerance' approach to sugar, she gave it up altogether, thinking it would make her healthier. Initially she says, "My first fortnight involves mood swings worse than puberty. I have agonising headaches and feel permanently hungover." These symptoms disappeared but she still found food shopping hard as she was stressing about buying the right things.
Her experiment wasn't a success. She eventually sought advice from Susan Jebb, professor of diet and population health at Oxford University who said: "Lots of people enjoy sugar and gain pleasure from it, so one has to find a balance between enjoyment and eating the right amount."
There are health benefits of cutting down sugar such as improving dental care and reducing weight gain, but there's no need to be obsessive about it. Eating some sugar as part of a balanced diet is fine and exercising will help burn it off. So rather than dealing with your sugar cravings by cutting it out of your diet altogether, why not work on your willpower and learn to say 'no' to a second serving of chocolate fudge cheesecake.
Type 2 diabetes