Out Damn Sugar! Out I Say!

Sugar is the new evil. What a revelation! Every day there is a press article revealing some new disease, some new side-effect or some new and sinister ill that sugar has wrought. Yet who in the world could not, by now, know that sugar is not good for you, makes you fat, rots your teeth, gives you diabetes etc?

Just as everyone is aware that burgers, chips and pizza should be consumed in moderation, so we know it is the same for sugary products. Strangely, though, knowing these things is not enough. You have to care that sugar and fat are unhealthy to do anything about them, too.

Eradicating sugary and fatty foods from your life is tedious beyond belief. You have to watch others consuming slabs of cake, portions of chips, ice creams or creamy desserts whilst sipping black coffees or nibbling on a lettuce leaf. You have to sustain this regime for what seems years. You may not ever slip from a religious observance of ‘no sugar, no fat’.

It is never enough to undertake vast amounts of exercise; to run miles each day, leap around aerobically, swim, dance and lift weights. Sugar will still be bad. It will, at best, rot your teeth.

As a child I was not denied sugar, neither was I obese, although during my teens I did have so many teeth filled [with lethal amalgam consisting of, amongst other substances, mercury] I was like a walking barometer and you could almost tell when a storm was coming by staring into my open mouth. The fillings were not a result of decay. No, they were the outcome of a rush of enthusiasm by my national health dentist who was, at that time, paid handsomely for each filling he could complete, regardless of need. That this is now needing to be expensively addressed has been described in a previous post.

My mother’s problem with her very young children was not how to keep them on the straight and narrow of dietary goodness. It was how to feed us enough of anything. We were like a small clutch of baby birds reaching our beaks to the sky and squawking, ‘feed us!’

My father grew a lot of vegetables in our sprawling garden. There were hens at the end of it, obligingly providing eggs; [unlucky ones, on occasions would also provide the Sunday roast]. The odds and ends of discarded fruit from my uncle’s market greengrocer stall provided us with treats, although we were never allowed to consume a banana without an accompanying slice of bread and butter. We were always given a ‘pudding’-usually something carb-laden such as rice pudding [we fought over the toffee-like skin that clung to the sides of the dish], suet apple pudding or jam roly-poly. These starch fests were to fill us up. We were not chubby children.

So what went wrong? I can only guess at the answer, but I’d say affluence is the culprit, along with too many options, but you can’t turn the clock back, nor would you want to; so it’s back to coffee and lettuce leaves…

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Confession of a Hypocrite

                Anyone who has followed Anecdotage since the start will know what my opinions are on the National Health Service. It was a wonderful concept and is a precious resource to be preserved at all costs. I still think this. But after eight months of crippling heel pain and having followed all instructions as to exercise [no impact, stretch the Achilles, roll the instep, bottle of ice] and having exhausted all the options the NHS can offer [ultrasound and steroid jabs], I am now faced with waiting yet another 6 weeks to see a specialist or going against my principles and seeing someone privately.

                I wouldn’t be doing this but for the facts that: a] I have yet to see the same GP twice regarding the problem, b] I have had to return to the GP surgery despite the physio’s recommendation for referral and c] The latest locum doctor-a young man called Sergei, handed me some sheets printed from a website with information I had ingested many months ago at the start of my own research and d] He concluded this brief consultation by shrugging his shoulders, indicating in no uncertain terms that he is unable, unwilling and uninterested in the difficulty.

                Of course I do understand that the condition is not life threatening. It is neither high profile [as, for instance, cancer] nor unusual. It is, however debilitating, painful, miserable, quality-of-life depriving and impacts hugely on overall fitness. If you are unable to exercise over a prolonged period you become unfit. Does it not make sense to enable people to exercise and thus keep themselves as healthy as possible?

                In a similar, parallel action I succumbed to my long-held, shallow, frivolous desire for whiter teeth by setting up an appointment with my own National Health dentist. Motivated by an approaching wedding, I was unaware that a certain amount of time would be needed to complete this cosmetic treatment, so waited one week for an assessment appointment to be told there was not enough time!

                I rang a local private practice. ‘Of course!’ affirmed the receptionist immediately-‘and we have a special offer for April!’ Result! My appointment was next day. I sank into a soft, leather armchair and watched TV until called. I was offered tea [rejected due to having clean teeth]. The dentist took photos-‘Yes-there is still time!’ BUT [of course there is a ‘but’] you will need this, this and this done before the process can begin’. This, this and this, naturally, cost stadium proportions of money. Still-there is TV on the ceiling above my head where I lie in the chair, Robert [the smiley dentist] and Lara [the smiley nurse] are friendly and reassuring. ‘Bread’ plays quietly in the background. It’s just as well it is comfortable, given that I will be spending almost as much time there as at home next week, that is, except for the sessions at Physiotherapy having my heel pummelled.

                So there! My principles are compromised. What is a health hypocrite to do these days?               

 

Agony in the Waiting Room

                I arrived a little too early for my annual dental check up, not out of enthusiasm for the ordeal to come, but an over estimation of the time I’d take to get there. This is not a disaster, as the waiting room offers a range of magazines for every taste and from almost as many eras. The table is awash with a range of periodicals -from ‘The Oldie’ and ‘Saga’ to ‘Good Housekeeping’ and ‘Woman’s Weekly’. Take ‘Hello’ magazine, for instance. It makes no difference to me whether the edition is February 2014 or July 2003. I’m still none the wiser who most of the featured celebrities are, or in which field they have achieved their notoriety. Of course I do recognise the more prominent members of the British royal family and I am aware of such tabloid royals as the Beckhams, but most of the names and the faces are a complete mystery. So it is with a sense of the surreal that I read the caption-‘Chianti Cosmetique’s bump makes a debut at the Innuendo fragrance awards party’ or ‘Krayde and Melliflua Lamprey’s engagement party at Legoland Windsor’ or ‘Lady Hermione Drake-Smatterborn settles into her new home following her split from husband Basil’.

                I wonder what it is that creates this appetite for pictures and news about ‘slebs’ and/or royalty, when their lives, actually, are not of any interest at all. Like us, they have encounters, they form relationships [albeit brief in many cases], they buy homes, they marry, they divorce, they have babies, they ‘find happiness’ again, they party, they holiday, cavort, pose in expensive outfits in exotic locations and presumably on the proceeds of the sales of the magazines.

                A cursory delve into who some of the unknowns might be generally reveals that they are known for being married to someone famous, or that they are born into a famous/rich/royal family. In other words they are not known for anything they may have achieved, but by the tenuous thread that is as an appendage dangling off the end of a ‘famous’ person. This is irritating. Not only have they benefitted from marrying/being born to a [vaguely] known person but they are then able to rake in more dosh by appearing in the magazine in this lightweight capacity, not having actually done anything themselves.

                It was a mistake to arrive early for my appointment. I then had a wait of 35 minutes while the dentist dealt with someone else’s complications. Grim! I was left to occupy myself with photos of the Ponsonby-Smythes’ garden party of summer 2010 and Victoria Beckham’s shopping trip to New York. And after all this torture, what a relief to be invited in to sit in the chair and have my teeth prodded, my gums scraped and my tongue mummified. This time next year, when I return for my annual prod I will either ensure a more accurate arrival time or take along my Kindle!