My name is Jaimee and I am a sugar addict….
Sugar facts! We are all consuming far too much sugar and it is far too accessible and affordable but it is making us fat!
The World health (WHO) organisation guidelines state that we should not be consuming more than 5% of our dietary needs in free sugars. Free sugars (fructose and glucose) are the ones added to the foods we eat and found in honey and syrups and many fruit concentrates and juices. Natural occurring ones are found in fruit and milk.
The current recommendations for an adult are less than 30g (7 sugar cubes), less than 19g (5 sugar cubes) for 4-6yr olds and less than 24g (6 cubes) for 7-10yr olds.
To give you an idea of what this looks like an average can of fizzy drink and a large glass of apple juice each contain 9 cubes of sugar.
Sugar is not just in the foods you’d expect. It is also added to bread, baked beans, ketchup, sauces and cereals including those you’d not expect like bran flakes and weetabix. Low fat foods usually have added sugars to replace the lack of flavour from the fat that has been removed. Processed foods largely contain sugar including simple starches like “white” flour, pasta and rice.
I have always been a massive Carb eater…I Lived on pasta at uni and rarely ate any meat or vegetables. Everything I ate was low fat and cheap but not good for my health. I Gained weight and quite honestly felt crap. I love bread, especially thick white with loads of butter. I would eat bran flakes thinking they were a healthier option (I will do a blog on breakfast cereals soon). This continued when I left uni and after having children. In fact during my pregnancy I gained 4st in extra weight. I have no idea how heavy I was just before giving birth but I was huge and it wasn’t all baby. My girls have become massive pasta eaters too until I discovered “clean eating” just over a year ago. Basically when we refer to eating clean the most basic way to do it is to not eat any processed foods and in its most natural form. I’m not and never have been strict with this. I follow this rule the majority of the time and have made it flexible to my own personal lifestyle otherwise you’re setting yourself up for fail. We eat home cooked meals and we have one night a week two if we are being really naughty where we pick a meal for treat night. Quite often this is pizza and we love to make our own. I enjoy it and it makes me feel good therefore it is not a challenge. The rest of the family are good when in my company but working on them making better choices when I’m not around too.
My youngest has been known to opt for a healthy option when dining out with her nanny “because mummy would like me to have something healthy”. They are learning to understand what is healthy and what isn’t and it hasn’t been through bullying. Just drip feeding it to them.
I went on to do a nutrition course in the hope of better understanding why nutrition is so important to our health. I felt like I still had so much to learn from the nutrition world. My own personal lifestyle had improved so much in the time I had been doing it but I didn’t feel like it was enough for me. I was still binging every weekend on sweets and chocolate. I would then spend the rest of the weekend feeling totally sick and annoyed with myself that I had undone all my hard work. I felt like a slob!
I made the decision to cut as much refined sugar from my diet a few months a go after lots of research into why everyone is so obsessed with the low carb diet. I wanted to know why and understand the reason behind it, not just do it. The carbohydrates we eat are converted into sugars which leads me into the point of this blog…
Sugar is addictive and as we all know bad for you! Here is why…
Glucose raises our blood sugar and supplies our bodies with energy. Glucose is converted from the starches found in carbohydrates. For our blood sugar to return to normal the pancreas releases insulin and carries the glucose to the cells for energy. Any extra is stored in the fat cells. If glucose is constantly high the liver can’t cope and doesn’t work efficiently which is where type II diabetes can occur. The rise in blood sugar gives you a sugar high but as the body works to lower your blood sugar your body crashes making you want more.
Fructose which is the sweet tasting stuff, occurs naturally in fruit and syrups like agave, honey, and is added to processed foods as mentioned earlier. In small amounts the body can manage the fructose but in a concentrated form found in fruit juices and agave syrup for example the body can not use it for energy because it can not process it quickly enough. It is therefore converted into fatty acids and stored in the liver as FAT!
Cutting out or cutting back on sugar doesn’t need to be as drastic or scary as it sounds. Follow my steps to success and you will soon see the difference it makes to your health. Hopefully you should have increased energy, better mood, no cravings, weight loss and clear skin in no time.
- Start by cutting out the obvious added sugar!
- Make all your meals from scratch. No ready meals or processed foods. This doesn’t need to be restaurant style food you can knock up an easy tomato sauce to add to your home made bolognaise and wholewheat pasta in no time. See my recipe for spaghetti a la mummy in my Spaghetti a la mummy blog.
- Prepare the house and plan your meals.
- Cut out white rice, white flour, white pasta and white bread and go for the wholegrain alternatives in moderation (they can still have a negative effect if too much is consumed)
- Avoid honey and agave syrup as much as possible. Use as an occasional treat. It’s far too easy to find a recipe for a sweet “clean” treat but even these need to be consumed in moderation. My Coconut caramel bars are a great treat but still contain natural sugars. You won’t manage a whole one anyway so they last a while.
- Eating fruits with a fat i.e. cheese or nut butter helps to counteract the effects on your blood sugar levels and is also a lower carb alternative for a low carb eater like me.
- Eat plenty of vegetables and fresh fruit (I tend to stick with fruits low in sugar such as berries). When you turn your fruit into juice and smoothies although ok in moderation they have now become a more concentrated choice and therefore a higher sugar content.
- Eat full fat yogurts, milk and butter not margarine (don’t be scared to eat fat its not the enemy sugar is!)
- Use a variety of herbs and spices to flavour your food
- Drink plenty of water
- Eat things containing less than 3-6g sugar per 100g or 100mls (with dairy the first 4.7g/100mls is lactose anything on top of this is added sugar)
- Start eating a small square of dark chocolate for your fix and you will soon notice how sweet the other stuff is.
- Coconut oil can be great for a sweet fix and stops cravings and can be used in sweet and savoury recipes. It is good for regulating your blood sugar too. I love the stuff.
I am still early on in my journey so have much more to learn. I still have bad days and am certainly not completely sugar free just yet but I know a life with out it will not be as bad as I once thought.
I am making small changes to the whole families diet slowly by talking to them about the “why” and will continue to blog about our journey as a family to a healthier lifestyle.
Good luck if you decide to join me.
- Please note: All views in this blog are my own interpretation of the information I have gathered.