My father, a heavy smoker all his life, has eight, yes eight sweeteners in his tea. He says it's because he can't taste them otherwise. I sipped his sweetener with tea on top and gagged my way to the sink because it was so awful. Do smokers need more sugar and salt because they've destroyed their taste buds and nasal passages? In the case of my father I think the words 'nuked to ****' might be a better way to describe his taste bud wasteland.
You've heard the term empty calories? That's what sugar is; calories without any benefit at all. In fact it causes obesity, diabetes, hormonal imbalances, migraines, headaches, IBS, fatty liver disease, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
Salt, meanwhile, is sodium and eating too much causes kidney stones, osteoporosis, heart disease, high blood pressure, stomach cancer and stroke. More recent research believes it contributes to autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis too.
Mostly because it tastes good and we are slaves to our appetites. We add it to our foods and make bad choices (biscuit anyone?). Plus the food industry dumps it in our pre-packaged foods like no-one's business. Profit before the nation's health - that's the ticket.
The WHO believes we should cut down to 25g of sugar and 6g of salt a day, but that's difficult given we don't know much about our food. Even tomato ketchup is full of salt and sugar. The more there is, the more we like the taste. Which leads us seamlessly onto...
Nicotine alters the brain function of smokers, which means they don't experience taste the same way, and a lack of oxygen in their mouth dulls taste. Smoking also interferes with their sense of smell. You know how when you have a blocked-nose you can't taste your curry? Smoking has the same effect.
Ex-smokers report that food rapidly tastes better after they quit. Experts say that once the brain is free of nicotine, it begins to notice flavours and tastes. So smokers may well compensate for a lack of taste by piling on the sugar and salt so they can enjoy mealtimes.
Smoking prevents your body absorbing calcium, vitamin D and vitamin C amongst others. It also restricts arteries, which can lead to fatty deposit build-ups, and a potential stroke or heart attack.
So you smokers - that's a double whammy of cancer-causing, looks-destroying tar inhalation, and heart attack-inducing, stroke-prompting sugar and salt overload. You must feel a bit queasy.
Just because Stoptober has ended for this year, it doesn't mean you can forget about giving up!
The effects of smoking on your health are devastating, but I know it's not that easy to quit. It's not just the physical addiction that's hard to beat, but the routine and enjoyment. Professionals know this and that's why there are some excellent products and techniques out there to help you.
Really you have nothing to lose. Imagine how good a Dilwar Tandoori Rogan Josh will be with your taste buds functioning the way they should! Tempted?