Monday, April 9, 2012

Let us drink to health...

DO you know what a Milo Volcano is? I didn't until I saw a chap order it at a stall I frequent a few days ago.

It is simply iced Milo in a tall glass, except that the drink is topped with several scoops of the chocolate-y powder heaped into a mound resembling a mini volcano. That gives the drink its name, I think.

How the 40-something chap could down it all in one sitting alarmed me, but my wife was not surprised. She said the man could have a high metabolic rate and the extra sugar probably did him no harm.

That incident reminded me of my first encounter with the three-layered tea.

I had seen the drink advertised at stalls and restaurants two years ago and decided to order it one hot afternoon. It was the first and last time I was to do so.

The iced tea, milk and gula apong (nipah palm sugar from Sarawak) presented in three layers in a tall glass turned out to be too sweet for me. Even after the ice cubes had melted, I had to pour half of it away and add water to dilute the remaining tea. In the end, I abandoned it. Seeing anyone order the drink these days gives me the jitters.

Another popular drink at the stalls is the teh lychee. Don't ask me who joined together this odd-couple of a beverage.

I suspect that taking it on regular basis, especially after a heavy lunch, will not only kill you, but also your employer. I cannot imagine anyone being able to stay awake after a washing down lunch with the teh lychee.

The tea usually comes with several lychee out of the can. To add the fragrance to the drink, lychee syrup from the can is added - in addition to the heaps of sugar that had already gone into the tea.

I once asked a beverage maker what had inspired this strange combination because lychees are traditionally rarely taken with tea. The man said he had seen it at a stall one day and decided to offer it at his as well. The response from his customers, he added, was sweetly encouraging.

Today, not only do you have teh lychee, there is also the Ribena lychee, and other mutations of the original.

The makers of these drinks have jumped on the bandwagon of offering a dizzying range of dangerously-sweet concoctions that are so popular that at some places, you have to take a number and queue up - just like in hospitals - for your sugar-laden treat.

If we are to eradicate lifestyle diseases, I think we might just stand a chance if we were to focus on the drinks as well as the food. Most of us can avoid oily, fat-saturated food, but how many of us can cut down on our drinks at the mandatory tea-times?

If the local authorities can grade food premises according to cleanliness, the health authorities can grade them based on the nutritional content of their offerings.

As for the drinks that are sold off the shelves, I think they should also carry health warnings - just like the cigarettes.

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