The Truth about Sugar

Our lot at Cross Productions experienced the third instalment of sports injury management company Function Jigsaw’s Fit for Industry programme.

The workplace programme acts as an employee initiative as 12 forty-five minute talks are delivered by a health expert and 12 twenty-five minute massages for each member of staff is delivered over a period of 12 weeks or months.

The third talk delivered by Debbie Bliss, the woman who taught herself to walk and talk again after a debilitating illness turned her from a marathon runner to a paraplegic, was named ‘The Truth about Sugar’. Along with heaps of interesting facts, using a chart system (the Glycaemic Index), Debbie showed us examples of different foods that affect our bodies’ blood glucose levels.

The Glycaemic Index numbers carbohydrates of foods from 0 to 100 showing a scale of how much they raise our blood sugar (aka glucose levels). If a food has a high number it means it is absorbed and digested quickly and metabolised swiftly causing a high fluctuation in blood sugar. Low numbered foods produce a smaller rise and fall in glucose levels associating them with long-term health and reducing the risk of developing illnesses such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease and helping to lose weight.

Foods that are considered low are numbered 55 and below, medium 56-69, and high are 70 and above.

The average person, according to the Government, can healthily consume seven teaspoons of sugar per day. But just one chocolate bar is around 15 teaspoons itself. So, for the interactive part of our talk, Debbie had us take the ‘sugar test’. Where we were each given a bag of sugar and a teaspoon and had to guess how many were in certain foods. Visually, this made us more aware and conscientious the next time we ate certain sweet foods.

To help us watch out for the glycaemic index of our everyday foods, Debbie gave each of us a pocket-sized card to keep with us reminding us what is considered high, medium and low sugars, fats, saturates and salt. For sugar, a high amount per 100g is over 15g. Medium per 100g is 5-15g. Low per 100g is below 5g.

Drinks are also taken into account. Did you know Lucozade Pink Lemonade (500ml), for example, has 17 tsp in it?! One teaspoon is equal to around 4g. So 17 tsp is around 68g of sugar! Be wise when choosing what your drink for your next meal deal!

Our sugar expert also introduced us to the Sugar Smart app (which was like an episode of Supermarket Sweep when we had a play with it) that actually informs you of the sugar content in each packet as well as per 100g of whatever you’ve scanned. It tells you clearly how much sugar is in the scanned food represented by sugar cubes. One sugar cube = one teaspoon. A few of us have really gotten a bit addicted to this app as it’s so quick, easy and interesting to learn about how much sugar manufacturers fill foods with to make us want more of it.

After yet another eye-opening talk, the girls got to work on our aches and pains, and moans and groans as we filled in a quick form telling them what bothers our bodies. Between us, we had our shoulders, right arm, both knees and neck sorted out with massage and tips and exercises to try at home to help us through our injuries. We may not be the athletes they’re used to working with but clearly office jobs are just as hazardous to our health!

Look out for ‘The Truth about Calories’ coming soon.