It’s no secret that we all consume 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 also found in honey and syrups and many fruit concentrates and juices.
The naturally occurring ones found in fruit and milk are not included in this guideline.
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.
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!
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.
This continued when I left uni and after having children. In fact during my pregnancy I gained 4st in extra weight.
We now 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. This is usually fish and chips. I enjoy cooking and all the meals I make take no longer than 30 minutes to cook therefore it is not a challenge. Most of the time it’s actually cheaper.
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.
- Prepare the house by removing all the sugary snacks and treats. We have a small box that we keep a few chocolate biscuits in and we are now all very good at only allowing ourselves to have one a day if any. I tried removing it altogether but it proved too difficult and became our compromise.
- Plan your meals for the week and only shop for the ingredients needed for these meals.
- Limit 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). Wholegrain pasta and spaghetti went unnoticed but rice we tend to have basmati as the brown rice was a no no with the girls.
- Eat plenty of vegetables and fresh fruit. 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. Because the body does not need to digest it to use for energy it acts on the blood sugar immediately.
- Choose yogurt that has no added sugar and do not be afraid to eat full fat dairy products as they are less likely to have added sugar. There are very few yogurts with out added sugar so try making your own with natural yogurt added to fresh fruit.
- 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)
I still have bad days and am certainly not completely sugar free but making small changes to the whole families diet slowly by talking to them about the “why” and encouraging them to eat less sugar.
Good luck if you decide to join me.