In praise of fructose

Do you ever feel the need to write? A familiar tug at the back of your mind, asking for an outlet of literary expression? Ah, this urge has been nagging me for days. The start of February has left me restless. Writing grounds me.

Do you feel the same?

I have been doing a lot of reading about fructose. Honestly, I have been reading about fructose for over a year. Occupational hazard, having studied biochemistry at university and being abnormally interested in food writing. The current opinion seems to be that fructose should be consumed in very moderate quantities, such as two pieces of fruit a day. Regular table sugar, being sucrose, is half fructose. Obviously this has many implications for people fond of baked goods, sweet tea and the like.

Human bodies evidently lack an ‘off switch’ for fructose, unlike fat and regular sugar, predisposing our species to consuming far more than recommended. Excessive consumption obviously leads to storage of the energy as fat and other groovy things. Which I think is a rather elegant survival mechanism from ye olde times, when times were leaner and meaner. According to some hypotheses, if I had stumbled upon a hive of honey, or a tree full of bananas, I would have eaten until I could eat no more; apparently far past the point of satiation. What a beautiful thing, this in-built desire for sweetness working to save me during the meagre months.

Alas, these are no longer ye olde times, are they? And with so much praise for ‘quitting sugar’ currently emblazoned over the internet and on certain news shows I grew curious. How would ‘quitting sugar’ affect me?

So I have tried, twice or three times now, slowly and calmly to choose food that contains no, or minimal, fructose. Certainly, eating more meat, cheese and fat makes a change which at first is novel and enjoyable. When I did eat fruit, or sweets, I was far more aware of how hungry I still was afterwards.

But. Still. Quitting sugar doesn’t sit right with me.

This is not a knee-jerk reaction to the idea. I have been pondering the issue for months. I have simply come to the conclusion that I, Meg, do not feel the need to eliminate fructose from my life. I am lucky, in a way, because I have no love for sweet drinks. I actually prefer to drink my water as water, not cordial. I will always select a glass of wine over a cocktail, no matter how staid and prematurely aged it will make me look. I like my vino dry, thank you very much; riesling and moscato is not to my taste. I am quietly addicted to organic natural yoghurt, which I flavour with cinnamon (oh, so much cinnamon, as I have mentioned) and ground ginger. And give me dark chocolate over lollies any. day. of. the. week.

Although I wouldn’t have much to sacrifice by going ‘no sugar’, I still won’t. Cakes and biscuits and pastries and honey-laden delicacies are a deeply-ingrained part of my world. The cultures I have been raised in (and, indeed, most cultures) celebrate life events, either rightly or wrongly, with sugar. Served as such, sugar is steeped in generosity. It has been coveted throughout history. Nepalese and Syrian honey-hunters risked their lives to capture the flowing sweetness, scaling cliff faces for hives. Humans have mastered extraction of sugar from canes, fruits, beets and even ants. Sugar is a part of our universality.

Yes, all this praise for the self-same sweet substance that is allegedly more addictive than crack cocaine, the one that is blamed for widespread obesity and scorned for mood swings and energy roller coasters. To me, that’s ok. I am of the opinion that we have come a far way since ye olde times. Us lucky ones, mostly in developed nations, know that nourishment is never too far away, that we have no need to glut ourselves on sugar senselessly. We can consume it appropriately. Mindfully. Fully aware of the consequences. And fully aware of the joy, the history and the satisfaction sweetness can bring to our lives.

Happy writing, friends.



2 thoughts on “In praise of fructose

  1. I have fructose malabsorption syndrome which requires I go without a a whole load of fruit and veg, limit wheat and dairy, avoid honey, corn syrup, glucose, some dairy, soy etc etc. it’s quite a challenge, good luck with your endeavour. 🍰

    • Sandra, I am sorry to hear that. It must be very difficult for you to eliminate so many foods. Have you been following Sarah Wilson’s blog? It has a multitude of fructose-free recipes. However, I think you may have misinterpreted my post as I won’t be eliminating fructose from my diet.

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