Consuming sugar is a regular part of many people’s day, whether it be indulging in that triple chocolate candy bar or simply adding a teaspoon of sugar to your morning coffee. Not many people realise how detrimental regular sugar consumption can be to their diet, so I want to tell you a little about sugar and how to easily cut some of it out of your diet.
Sugar is sucrose, a molecule comprised of 12 atoms of carbon, 22 atoms of hydrogen and 11 atoms of oxygen. Simply speaking, it is a carbohydrate that is produced naturally in plants such as sugar cane and sugar beets. More specifically, sucrose is comprised of two simpler sugars (fructose and glucose), which are stuck together.
One of the reasons sugar is so detrimental to your health is because it contains no essential nutrients - literally none! No healthy fats, no protein, no enzymes, no vitamins, just empty calories that are quickly digested by the body and usually result in a blood sugar spike. It is also bad for your teeth because it provides easily digestible energy for the bad bacteria in your mouth. Now that I have scared you enough and you are seriously questioning how you are going to live without your weekly chocolate fix - don’t freak out! Cutting sugar out of your diet cold turkey probably won’t work because sugar is addictive and you are most likely going to end up binging. Here are a few easy ways to slowly make changes in your diet and cut sugar out for good.
Check The Label
Sugar isn’t only added to the obvious things such as chocolate, cake and cookies. It is also added to things such as sauces, crackers, condiments and salad dressings. If you are actively trying to cut sugar out of your life staying away from the sweets isn’t enough. Make sure to check all your labels and if something like tomato sauce has sugar in the ingredients list near the top, stay away from it. This is because ingredients are always listed in order of how much is contained in the product.
Learn The Names
Speaking of checking labels, it is good to be aware that sugar will not always be listed as ‘sugar’. It hides under many sneaky names that sound nothing like sugar, including high fructose corn syrup, molasses, dried cane syrup, sucrose and brown rice syrup. These can all be listed separately on ingredients lists, so if your food item contains more than one of these alternative names and they are listed close to the top of the ingredients list, then what you are eating may not be as healthy as you think.
Don’t Cut It All At Once
Like I mentioned before, if you go cold turkey you will probably fail very quickly as it isn’t very realistic for most people. Start to cut back slowly. This could be as simple as reducing your 2 teaspoons of sugar in your coffee to 1, then half, then none. If you are a chocolate lover, try to slowly start eating more dark chocolate, gradually increasing the percentage of cacao as you go.
When you are feeling hungry, instead of reaching for the muffin or chocolate bar, fill yourself with something more substantial that won’t spike your blood sugar levels. Protein is the perfect pick as it slows the release of blood sugar in your body and keeps you feeling fuller for longer. It also helps to curb sugar cravings. My favourite forms of protein are tuna, turkey breast, eggs and grilled salmon. If you are really feeling something sweet, reach for a piece of fruit instead, the natural sugars in fruit aren’t the same as refined ones. In saying this, I recommend that you stick to two servings of fruit a day. Once you start to cut back on sugar, your body won’t crave it anymore and it will become easier to stay away from it.
Don’t Fake It
While it may be tempting to swap to “0 calorie” artificial sugars in your soft drinks, lollies and yoghurts, this isn’t any better than eating real sugar. They mess up your taste for sweet things because they don’t contain any calories and nutrition and the body isn’t used to this. This may potentially lead to extra weight gain and/or a number of other side effects. The best thing to drink is water and if you want to give it some flavour add chopped up fruits and berries.
As you can see it is pretty easy to cut sugar out of your life, you just have to be mindful about it. There is no need to deprive yourself because you will become miserable and want what you can’t have. Take it slow, cut out little bits at a time and don’t forget to treat yourself on the occasion. I have been loving eating raw desserts lately which are great because they only contain natural sugars found in fruits.Kayla xx