My addiction to sugar!
Its no secret over the years I have probably consumed more sugar than the average person… I love the stuff! Once I start I can not stop. There is no self control when I am presented with a load of sweet things.. how ever I have reduced my sugar in take so much over the last few months. In February I gave up sugar for the entire month Giving up sugar! 4 weeks on… for sugar free February.
I found I wasn’t really missing sugar at all after the challenge finished until I started having the odd day where I just thought sod it… it leaves you wanting more but feeling guilty at the same time. Its like a drug! I try not to be hard on myself. I mean the majority of the time I am so good with my food but perhaps at times swapping my sugar fix for too much food which can be equally as bad for you.
Finding a happy balance can be so hard. That is the point I am at… goal setting or challenge setting really helps me to stay focused. With careful planning I do not even crave it now its just when I have a celebration and there is cake… or when you go to someone else’s house and there is cake. Costa can be an interesting trip too… and never go to a shop hungry! My number 1 rule… better still do not take the sugar crazed kids either. They can easily go with out until they are in a shop and they want everything!
Why I went sugar free!
I made the decision to cut as much refined sugar from my diet after exploring nutrition and having the knowledge behind me to understand it more. I was on a quest to find out why the world was low carb crazed. I wanted to know the why? and understand the reason behind it, not just do it.
Why is sugar addictive?
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!
We need to reduce the sugar in our diets…
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 24g (6 cubes) for 7-10yr olds and less than 19g (5 sugar cubes) for 4-6yr olds
What does this look like?
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.
Although juice can be 1 of your 5 a day it is only 150mls… the glass above has 250mls. This is all you will get for 150mls!
Where is it?
Sugar is not just in the foods you’d expect. It is also added to bread, baked beans, ketchup, sauces, yogurt 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. You can read more about cereals and yogurt here… Whats in your Yogurt… and What are the best choices when choosing cereals?
What can I eat?
Not all sugar is bad for us. Sugars found in whole fruit & vegetables and milk are not classed as free sugars. There is no evidence that eating these sugars is bad for our health. In fact, we should be eating more fruit and vegetables. So the 6 teaspoons of sugar refers only to free sugars, and not the sugars we get from whole fruit & vegetables and milk. Fruit and sugar… Is it the same?
My top tips to success!
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 (5 a day hidden veggie ragu) to add to your home made bolognaise and wholewheat pasta in no time.
- 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 and Chocolate Fudge squares are a great treat but still contain sugars so still should not be eaten all the time.
- 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.
- If having smoothies add leafy green vegetables, protein and fats to lower the impact of the sugar absorption. Green smoothies…
- 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 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. Kids, sugar and healthy eating…are you ready to make some changes?