Do you have a sweet tooth? Do you like chocolate, ice cream, biscuits, cakes, desserts, pastries, confectionery, lollies and soft drinks? I bet you do. But be careful there! Food that contains high levels of sugar can be detrimental to your overall health and your body shape too. Even if you are avoiding these sweet treats and enjoy them occasionally, you can easily be tricked. You might be surprised to learn that only 25% of sugar we consume comes what we ourselves add to our food. The rest, an incredible 75%, comes in the packaged food we buy in the supermarket. That’s a shocker, isn’t it? Being sugar smart is means that you know what amount of sugar you should consume to maintenance healthy balanced diet.
Just imagine that you had a fruit yogurt for your breakfast – that’s up to 5 teaspoons of sugar. Then you had one can of soft drink with your lunch (that’s up to 10 teaspoons of sugar) and one Mars bar as an afternoon snack (that’s up to 8.5 teaspoons of sugar). So over the day, it equates to a whopping 23.5 teaspoons of sugar! And I’m not counting that one or two you added in your cup of coffee!
And it gets worse! There are also foods with a high amount of “hidden” sugar, such as salad dressings, savory biscuits, tomato sauce, baked beans, canned and packed soups, canned vegetables and fruits, breakfast cereals and fruit juices. Yes, we are just living on sugar!
Don’t get me wrong! I don’t say that sugar is bad. As humans, we all need sugar in our diet as a great source of energy. It helps us to survive! However, the problem is that we don’t live in the paleolithic era anymore and we don’t have to run or fight when we are in danger. The sugar is all around us. It’s everywhere. And it’s so easy to over consume it! According the World Health Organisation (WHO), the recommended daily intake of simple sugars should be between 0% – 10%. Unfortunately, with all of these processed supermarket foods and our cravings, we are far away from this recommendation. Not to mention that foods high in added sugars also fail to create a feeling of fullness and tend to lead us to overeating.
Do you still ask yourself why it’s not so good for us?
Food with a high level of refined sugar provides “empty calories” (or kilojoules) without providing other nutrients, such as vitamins, minerals and dietary fiber. It increases the risk of diabetes, obesity and heart disease. It causes tooth decay and increases stress.
Sugar also causes blood sugar to spike and plummet, which leads to mood swings, fatigue, headaches and cravings for more sugar. It’s a cycle of addiction in which every new hit of sugar makes you feel better temporarily but, a few hours later, results in more cravings and hunger.
Luckily, there is a way to feel better, healthier, emotionally balanced and stable.
1. READ THE LABELS
Always check the sugar content of the product you would like to eat. The term “Sugars” means simple sugars – the natural ones for example from fruit, milk or honey and added (refined) sugars. So if the product has a high sugar content and doesn’t contain fruit or milk in the ingredients list, it is likely to be high in added sugar. Sugar can be also hidden under different name such as: Sucrose, Glucose, Lactose, Fructose, Sorbitol, Mannitol, Corn syrup, Honey, Malt, Malt extract, Maltose, Rice extract, Molasses, Golden syrup and Invert sugar.
2. CHOOSE NATURAL SUGAR
If you feel like a sweet dessert, make a healthier choice and go for food with natural sugars such as fresh or dried fruit or honey. Amazing desserts can be dried dates with nut butter or fresh fruit salad with nuts and honey. Raw desserts have become very popular recently as a healthier version of desserts. They are added sugar, gluten and dairy free and taste so delicious.
3. GO FOR PROTEIN AND HEALTHY FATS
Protein and healthy fats stabilize your blood sugar level and keep you full. Choose savory snacks such as veggies stick with avocado or hummus or always protein when you have something sweet (e.g. fruit with natural yogurt and nuts). This helps you to avoid overeating later when your blood sugar level drops again.
4. MAKE HEALTHY SWAPS
Ditch soft drinks for good (they are not good for you at all) and drink plain cold water with fruit and mint. If you miss your fizzy drinks, choose soda water with berries or citrus fruit instead. It tastes great and it’s even more refreshing!
Swap your fruit yogurt for plain Greek unsweetened yogurt with fresh fruit such as berries, mango or banana and for chocolate flavor, add raw cacao powder and drizzle with honey. Yum! It tastes so much better than the processed version!
Instead of your breakfast cereals, choose rolled oats with fresh or dried fruits, nuts and drizzle of honey.
Make these healthy swaps easily and feel awesome. You can’t go wrong with wholesome, unprocessed food!
5. SAY NO TO FAKES
Don’t seek a sweet fix in diet sodas, sugar free candy or packets of fake sugar in your coffee. When you eat sweets, your body knows that sugar is coming and if it doesn’t get it, you will seek a sweet hit after. This means artificial sweeteners may actually increase your cravings for sugar and present a higher risk of cancer.
6. ADD MORE FLAVOR
Experiment and use vanilla beans, citrus zest, cacao powder, nutmeg, and ginger to add sweetness to your food without having to use sugar. Cinnamon is also amazing! It naturally helps to regulate the blood sugar level and control the appetite.
My tip: I love to sip cinnamon or cacao and chili tea after my lunch or dinner. They are naturally sweet and it’s so relaxing.