I am giving up sugar forever and will never eat as much as a raisin for the rest of my life – ever!
Am I the only one that has dabbled in this way of thinking? Is it just me or have you Googled “How to give up sugar” at 1am after a night of over doing it on the ‘oul sucra? Maybe I’m on my own, but I’m pretty sure this will resonate with one or two of you.
Are you completely confused about the sugar – v – fat war that is currently raging? It’s everywhere isn’t it?! If you feel overwhelmed and confused about sugar and how to eat healthily do not worry you are totally normal. I think if we can understand the whole thing a little better it will make clean eating a lot easier for you. Knowledge is power right? With the right information you can make the healthy choice, or not, but at least you’ll know what you are doing.
Let’s try to make the whole thing a little clearer.
First of all, fad diets aren’t my thing so I won’t be harping on about how to rid your body of this awful thing called sugar. I truly believe EVERYTHING IN MODERATION. Know what you are putting into your body and make the right choices for you.
What is sugar? I promise won’t go all nerdy & scientific-y on you here…
Refined sugar, which is the sugar we all know and love so much, isn’t all bad. It is made up of 50% Glucose and 50% Fructose. This is important to know because both of these sugars react very differently in the body when broken down.
Glucose is basically broken down carbs. It can be used by every cell in the body.
Fructose is natural sugar we usually find in fruits. And no, FRUIT IS NOT BAD FOR YOU! Let me explain…
Fructose is not a problem if eaten in moderation and in the form of fruit and veg or as a refuel after training. The real issue lies in the amount we eat. Fructose can only be stored in the liver in significant amounts so what happens to the fructose when the liver is full? Well, the liver overloads and fructose turns into FAT.
Imagine doing this time and time and time again? Well many do and experts believe that excess fructose is the key element in illnesses such as type 2 diabetes, obesity, depression and even cancer.
Let me repeat FRUIT IS NOT BAD FOR YOU, the harmful effects of fructose are caused by a diet with excess calories and too many added sugars.
What does this mean for you?
Without trying to scare you, sugar is an addictive substance and we need to be on our toes with it. If you’re thinking your granny never worried about this back in the day you’re right, sugar was part of life back then but the truth is people didn’t overeat like we do now. Food was generally made from scratch with very little of the yuckiness involved in processed foods. People also moved a lot more so whatever excess there may have been was used and obesity wasn’t as much an issue as it now is.
Sugar has been shown to shift self-control mechanisms in the brain, and make you to eat more of it so I highly recommend working on your addiction even if its only a small one. Take a look at your diet, assess your sugar intake and do your best to reduce it. We could all do with a break from sugar now and then.
How do I reduce sugar in my diet I hear you ask…
- Reduce your intake of fizzy drinks – replace it with sparkling water sweetened with fresh fruit & herbs e.g. cucumber slices and mint or blueberries and lime.
- Get your sugar from fresh fruit and vegetables. Avoid canned, syrupy fruit.
- If you are eating fruit add some fats to slow down the release of the fructose – e.g. apple and almonds, add chia seeds if you are making a fruit smoothie.
- Alcohol counts. It is loaded with sugar so when you are watching your sugar levels you really need to hold back a little with the vino.
- Low Fat foods tend to be high in sugar. The fat is removed but sugar is added for taste. This is very common in dairy foods, so go for full fat and natural where possible.
- Make sauces from scratch. Most readymade sauces e.g. bolognaise, ketchup and even some tinned tomatoes contain a high levels of sugar, so where here possible make your sauces from scratch. The Happy Pear and The Little Green Spoon have great sauce recipes.
- Avoid sugar cubes – can’t really say much more about that. I would go for raw honey instead.
- Opt for non-concentrated fruit juice, the rest are almost as bad as fizzy drinks. Not the best way to start your day! Ideally eat or juice fresh fruit.
- Sweets, cakes and biscuits are very high in refined sugar – but you don’t need me to tell you that! Limit your intake and if this is tough for you replace with lower sugar versions like dark chocolate, dried fruit and natural bars like Nakd.
Learn how to read food labels, this will really help.
- Less than 6% of sugars per 100g / 100mls considered low in sugar
- Between 6 – 22% is middling and yep, you guessed it, over 22% is high.
So mull over that over a cup of herbal and a …. celery stick…I’m joking! Try not to be overwhelmed by it, understand it, look at how you eat and just make small changes. Gradually it will make a difference. It’s simply about replacing one habit with another. Cold turkey works for some but generally we need to ease ourselves into these changes. I swear by fresh fruit, 70-85% dark chocolate and raw bars when I am craving something sweet. And sometimes I just have that chocolate biscuit cake and that’s totally fine and fabulous too!
Have a great week!