Let’s talk about sugar and find out what you can do to kick your sugar habit and get your life back on track. Sugar is a carbohydrate found naturally in many foods from lactose in milk to the fructose in fruit and honey. In fact, we need some sugar in our diets to supply energy to fuel our muscles and keep our brains active.
The problem comes in where children and adults are consuming TOO MUCH sugar. Many processed foods have added sugar which supplies energy in the form of calories and very little else. A high intake of sugar causes our blood sugar levels to shoot up, giving us that feel-good ‘high’ followed by a crashing which leaves us tired, irritable and craving more sugary foods. It’s a vicious cycle that may be contributing to our weight problems as well as health concerns like diabetes and heart disease.
Foods high in added sugar: cakes, biscuits, sweets, frozen desserts, fruit drinks, fizzy drinks, alcoholic drinks, chocolates, savoury foods.
Making a few adjustments to your diet can help you cut down on unnecessary sugar consumption:
- Reduce the sugar you add to hot drinks. Do this gradually to give your taste buds time to adjust. Try adding a sprinkle of cinnamon to cappuccino or hot chocolate, cinnamon adds flavour without the sweetness.
- Be wary of ‘sugar-free’ foods. These often contain synthetic sweeteners like sucralose, saccharin and aspartame. Although these taste sweet, they don’t help curb a sweet tooth so they tend to send confusing messages to the brain, which can lead to over-eating.
- Balance your carb intake with lean protein like fish and chicken- protein foods slow stomach emptying, which helps manage cravings.
- Swap white bread, rice and pasta for wholegrain versions like oats, whole-wheat breads, brown rice, quinoa and pasta.
- Reduce the sugar in recipes and add spices to boost flavour and taste.
- For a pick me up, have a piece of whole fruit with a handful of nuts or a small tub of plain yogurt.