Navigating the sweet aisle's call can be a momentous challenge.
Navigating the sweet aisle's call can be a momentous challenge. JILL CHEN

Beware the seductive call of sugar

SAILING the high seas is risky, and steering your shopping cart through the supermarket in modern life can be dangerous, too.

Before Google Maps, sailors navigated through safe waters using handwritten drawings developed from painful experience.

Maps were highlighted with areas to avoid at all costs, lest they be shipwrecked.

Apparently sailors passing through particular waters would hear sea sirens calling.

The songs of these mythical beings offered what lonely sailors yearned for.

All they had to do, the voices insisted, was turn the rudder towards the shore.

But it was all a ruse; there was no reward, no welcoming women, and their boats would be dashed to splinters on the rocks.

We know now that these seductive voices didn't actually exist. But there are times, sailing through the supermarket, we can feel just like those sailors.

Alluring calls come from confectionery and soft drinks.

Entire aisles and even the checkouts are stacked high with sweet temptations.

These products promise temporary happiness: consume them and your brain will reward you with feelings of joy, even elation.

What their labels don't carry is a warning of the retribution following if you indulge - like sudden mood swings towards crankiness as the sugar high dissipates, energy slumps and, in the long term, development of lifestyle diseases like diabetes, obesity and chronic inflammation.

Like those sailors, your modern brain, lonely for comfort and assailed by a multitude of stressors would really like a dose of the consolation sugar offers.

So it will generate rationalisations why you really should respond and turn your shopping cart down those aisles.

(Cue whiny internal voice): "You deserve a treat, surely, after all your hard work” or "the grandkids would really like a special something when they visit.”

Even your hip pocket might try to engage you, suggesting that to be frugal, you should buy what's on special and stow it for future celebrations. Your rational mind knows it's baloney, but nevertheless, the yearning persists.

Alas, unlike those sailors of times past you can't wear a blindfold or ear plugs to block out the temptation.

You may need to just recognise the trap inherent in the calls from that sweet food and keep sailing your supermarket cart smoothly past temptation.



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