Bookmarks–September 20, 2022

In this edition of Bookmarks: cutting sugar and booze, a look at whether food sensitivity tests are legitimate, and the fascinating history of curry. 

Have your cake and eat it: how to cut down on sugar

I bookmarked this article back in the spring and never got around to sharing it. I have a terrible sweet tooth and have really struggled in my attempts to cut back on sugar, especially when feeling overtired or stressed. I love this writer’s idea of “cultivating a new relationship with sugar.” That is, control cravings and consumption while still enjoying a dessert once in a while. 

“It’s the craving rather than the calories that I’m trying to control. That reflexive urge to reach for sugar as comfort. Identifying the situations that lead to stress sugar binges and doing what I can to mitigate them has helped not only to limit how much sugar I consume, but also to lose weight and improve my mental health…I’m not expecting it to be an easy path. Untangling decades of habits never is. But making a few small changes has helped me to live a healthier life…” The Guardian

More than 6 drinks a week leads to higher health risks, new report suggests — especially for women

From sugar, mentioned above, we move to alcohol. A recent report in Canada outlined the health risks of drinking alcohol while also suggesting new guidelines for consumption. The new, healthier limits are down considerably from what was recommended just over a decade ago, in part because the purported health benefits of alcohol–widely believed then–have been disproven. 

“They found that health risks are negligible or low with two or fewer glasses of wine per week. If the number of drinks goes up to somewhere between three and six standard drinks a week, the risk of health issues is moderate…But having more than six glasses of wine or ciders per week makes the risk of health issues ‘increasingly high.’” CBC

Just add water – or Coke Zero: why it’s OK to dilute strong red wine

If, after reading reports like the one above, you are interested in moderating your alcohol consumption, this writer has an idea. She is speaking specifically of red wines, many of which have a higher alcohol by volume than they used to. Her answer? Dilution with water or even sugar-free cola. It’s a good option for people who still want to enjoy wine occasionally, but with less alcohol per glass. It can also apply to whites, going back to the spritzer trend of wine mixed with soda water and, of course, spirits, by using less booze and more mixer and ice per drink.   

“When I first started drinking alcohol rather longer ago than I care to remember, most red wines were around 12-13%. Now, though, it’s hard to find one under 14%, and many are 14.5%, which, given the leeway in labelling in some countries, could easily mean 14.8%. So I had some sympathy with a friend who recently bewailed the fact that he couldn’t find a red he enjoyed at an alcohol level with which he felt comfortable.” The Guardian

These tests tell you which foods to avoid. Do they work?

I had never heard of food sensitivity tests before, although I’m not surprised they exist. People are very conscious of potential sensitivities to foods like wheat and dairy, so it follows that someone would invent a test to exploit their concerns. I’m also not surprised to hear that they do not appear to work. 

“‘There isn’t anything in your hair that would tell you anything about your sensitivity to food,’ Dr. Kelso said. And the antibodies measured in the IgG tests are produced as part of the immune system’s normal response to foods; they haven’t been shown to correlate with symptoms or intolerances, Dr. Stukus said. ‘It’s really just a reflection of what you’ve eaten.’ Similarly, the way blood cells in a test tube interact with food extracts, as in the Alcat and MRT tests, is likely different from how they encounter them in the body, Dr. Kelso said. None of these tests have been subjected to the kind of high quality clinical trials necessary to validate their usefulness for patients…”  New York Times

The real story of curry

A brief history of curry, with references to books that explore the origins and complexities of this spice mix in more detail. I just pre-ordered The Philosophy of Curry. Really looking forward to reading it!

“Much of the confusion, of course, comes down to the fact that the word curry was used by an imperialist power, Britain, to describe an array of dishes made by many different communities in another culture. It’s been a controversial term, too, weighted with the heft of a brutal and extractive colonial rule.” Food & Wine

Books image: ID 141398627 © EnkaParmur |

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