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Book review: For Goodness Sake Let’s Talk Sugar

A new book written by a dietitian takes a sensible approach to a often controversial subject: sugar.

 Yvonne Webb has led a varied professional life as an academic, culinary dietitian, author, nutritionist/physiologist, researcher and consultant. She is a Slow Food disciple and gourmand and was at one time Leader of Slow Food Brisbane. Concern with the obesity epidemic and the amount of myth, fake news and marketing surrounding this problem led to this book. Nowadays, Yvonne has retired to the suburbs, cultivates an edible garden and gives talks to community groups.

Yvonne’s new book For Goodness Sake Let’s Talk Sugar in Food Intake and Weight Control is a comprehensive reference written for consumers with an interest in nutrition and health but contains a lot of scientific content so would also be of interest to health professionals and educators. The images and photos are basic, but it is comprehensive, written with confidence and reflects a lifetime of experience and knowledge.

Chapter headings:

  • Why another book on sugar?
  • Why do we like it sweet?
  • It’s all sugar!
  • Teasing your taste buds: non-nutritive sugars
  • Sugar, Life, Energy
  • What happens to the sugar you eat
  • The kingdom of carbohydrates
  • Resistant starch? Resistant to what?
  • Talking about insulin
  • Understanding food labels
  • What are those RDIs on food labels?
  • Avoiding the marketing traps: guide to wise sugar shopping
  • Eating well with sugar
  • Still got questions?
  • Recipes for life

The book’s main focus is on weight control, but Yvonne leaves no stone unturned in telling a larger story about food, health and wellbeing. For example, the fact that glucose is fundamental energy for our bodies that has been made from the sun by plants, and sugars are naturally occurring in many foods. She also says sugars are sugars and there is little point substituting honey for cane sugar as their building blocks are the same. She debunks the myth that sugar is toxic and instead recommends ‘eating well with sugar’; that is, about eating simply, choosing nutritious foods, and being mindful of serving size. She weaves a larger global sustainability narrative into the story that is so important in this age of climate change, such as eating mostly plants, avoiding highly processed foods and excessive packaging, eating seasonally and managing leftovers to reduce waste.

As a culinary dietitian there are recipes and foodie-snaps taken on her travels which helps to balance the scientific information. There are good explanations of the functional role sugars plays in food and cooking. As a gourmand there is lots in the book about the importance of taste and enjoyment, and how we can train our taste buds to enjoy healthier foods with less salt and added sugar. She reminds us that the way we eat, ideally with others, is also important.

This book takes a science-backed, common sense approach to food and health from paddock to plate but doesn’t overlook the influence of marketing and misinformation in leading us astray from a healthy balanced diet. As you might expect from a dietitian, this book takes a controversial subject, translates the science and crafts it into sensible, practical advice.

The book can be purchased online from Austin Macauley Publishers.

 

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