..so eat less sugar!

We are programmed to love sweetness. Glucose is the preferred source of energy for our body and brain cells, and sweetness is our very first taste after we are born, in the form of lactose, or milk sugar.

To be our healthiest, despite the low-carb fads, we need regular intake of healthy sugars and carbohydrates in their natural unrefined, unprocessed state. In being our unhealthiest, refined sugar plays a huge role, and is implicated in many diseases including type 2 diabetes, obesity, heart disease and cancer. Over consumption on a daily basis results in hyperactivity, ADHD, poor concentration, anxiety, lack of energy and poor sleep.

Excess refined sugar is so damaging to our short and longer-term health, that it is referred to as a ‘white-poison’ and deemed more dangerous, and more addictive on a global basis, than cocaine!

Refined sugar, under it’s many guises (white sugar, brown sugar, beet sugar, cane sugar, sucrose, high fructose corn syrup or HFCS) is hidden in all types of foods. The worst offenders are fizzy drinks, confectionery items, baked goods, cereals, jams, ice-cream and yogurt. It is also hidden in sauces, salad dressings, canned foods, ready-made meals – basically anything that comes in a package will contain refined sugar in some form.  If you think it’s wise to replace sugar with artificial ones, think again – aspartame, saccharin, nutrasweet, splenda and others are chemicals, which bring their own problems when regularly consumed, and therefore have no place in any diet.

In a nutshell, the best way to cut sugar from your diet is to focus on eating the healthiest, most natural, wholesome foods that are available. Easier said than done, I know. Here is a list of some strategies that will help to break a ‘sugar addiction’;

1. Start the day with a healthy breakfast consisting of quality protein and fibre – eggs on wholegrain toast, oatmeal (rolled oats, not instant or flavoured) with nuts, seeds, and fresh or a little chopped dried fruit.

2. Increasing whole foods over all in your diet provides lots of healthy fibre – this keeps you satisfied for longer, thereby reducing hunger pangs between meals. This means you are less like to grab a quick sugary snack.

3. Keep healthy snacks at hand for in-between meals – consume some protein or healthy fat as they take longer to digest. Ideal snacks are fresh fruit with Greek or natural yogurt, homemade trail-mix, crudités and hummus, nut butters spread on fruit or nutritious, homemade crackers. For Healthy Snacking Ideas, download my free guide by clicking the photo below:

4. Cut out all fizzy and sweetened drinks (energy drinks, sweetened tea and coffee drinks). Experiment with your own flavoured water (add lemon or orange slices, berries, ginger, cucumber strips, passion fruit, herbs) and the many herbal and green teas available. Dilute fresh fruit juices; these are high in sugars (although natural) and fibre has been removed; therefore they are too readily absorbed, quickly raising blood glucose levels.

5. Learn how to understand nutrition labels and check the sugar source. Any item that is high in refined sugars should be left on the shelf. On the label, ingredients are listed from highest to lowest by volume, and sugar is often concealed under one of its many terms.

6. For sweetness, enjoy pickings from the wide range of fresh fruits. Freeze grapes, blueberries, sliced bananas, oranges etc for snacks; these are great added to natural yogurt, topped with nuts and seeds. Alternatively blend frozen fruits, and add natural yogurt if desired, for a healthy sorbet or ice-cream. Dried fruits are also great to satisfy a sweet tooth, however take care not to over consume, as these are a concentrated source of natural sugar.

7. Replacing refined complex carbohydrates (white flours, white pasta, white rice) with their healthier whole grain version will help curb sugar cravings. Refined carbs are stripped of their fibre, minerals and vitamins and are digested quickly, resulting in an unwanted spike in glucose. After the spike comes a dip, and you crave more sugar. Complex carbs do not cause such spikes and dips.

8. Adopt exercise as your ‘natural high’. Sugar is addictive, and can provide a short-term ‘pick me up’. Then comes the slump, with a craving for more sugar. It’s an addictive cycle. Exercise naturally makes you feel good for hours afterwards, and is so beneficial to your better health overall.

9. When baking and making desserts, use natural healthy sweeteners in place of refined sugars – soaked dried fruits, mashed banana, desiccated coconut and applesauce. A second option is to use less sugar than the recipe calls for, along with substituting with a suitable raw unrefined sweetener.

10. Experiment with spices e.g. cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves – while being naturally wonderfully sweet, each has it’s own medicinal properties. For example, cinnamon is reported to actually lower blood glucose levels and is helpful in reducing cholesterol.

Reducing the amount of refined sugar in your diet, whatever level you currently consume, can only benefit your health now and in the future. Decide what approach works best for you – one step at a time, or a ‘cold-turkey’ approach. The immediate benefits alone are more energy, better focus, better skin, and a slimmer waist. What more of an incentive do you need?

 

To our health!

Liza Rowan

Holistic Nutritionist

When not not busy in my favourite role as mother to my two boys,  I dedicate my time to educate, motivate and inspire us all to lead healthier, happier lives. This involves hosting Nutrition courses (in-class and online), corporate wellness talks, workshops and when I have time, private consultations.

 You can follow me on one or more of the following channels:

 

Sign up to get your FREE Healthy Snacking Guide!

Here to help you snack healthier is Liza’s Healthy Snacking Guide! You might have one or two snacks a day so with the 50+ healthy snack ideas in this guide, it’s like you’re set for the whole month!

 

In this free guide, you will:

– understand what triggers mindless eating

– have positive, realistic action you can take right away

– have useful, practical nutrition tips

– have 50+ delicious healthy snack ideas

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