Is sugar bad for your health?
There is so much news about how bad sugar is for you.
Several experts have linked sugar to everything from weight gain, to serious diseases like cancer and heart disease. No one thinks that sugar is good for you and the average daily intake of sugar is recommended to be no more than 25g per day. However, the average Australian is consuming approx. 60g per day, which equates to a whopping 219kgs per year.
When an MRI scan of the brain is undertaken, it shows that your brain releases dopamine when you eat something sweet. Simply put, your body rewards you when you eat sugar, by making you feel good.
To start a refined sugar free diet will take a lot of motivation. There is refined sugar in a huge amount of the processed foods available on the market. If you need some help with motivation try watching “That Sugar Film”.
Some tips to kick that sugar habit
- Stop drinking soft drink and other sweetened drinks. An average can of soft drink contains 10 teaspoons of soft drink.
- Another obvious item to drop is lollies/candy. Even going for the sugar free options available can be dangerous, as some alternative ‘artificial’ sweeteners cause more harm to your body than sugar itself.
- Reduce the amount of packaged foods purchased, including organic packaged foods, which can still contain a high amount of sugar.
- Clean out your pantry! Keeping any packaged foods that contain high amounts of sugar will make them even harder to resist when those cravings kick in.
- Make your own snacks at home. Some great options include popping your own popcorn, protein/bliss balls, fruit (including smoothies and fruit salad) and eating vegetables as snacks (i.e. carrot or celery sticks with hommus, baking your own sweet potato chips and more!)
- Further to reducing packaged foods above, it is a great idea to avoid most breakfast cereals, which are usually full of sugar! Plain rolled oats are great, or there are some wonderful choices like the Celebrate Health Vanilla & Cinnamon cereal which is full of healthy ingredients including puffed quinoa, rice, chia seeds and is also sugar free!
- Some great breakfast ideas include: making your own muffins, or mini quiches; eggs on wholemeal toast, or eggs & bacon; yummy omelettes; smoothies and more!
Overall, it is important to ensure that you eat a diet that is full of lots of fresh fruit and vegetables and plenty of protein and good fats, which assist in keeping you feeling fuller for longer. You will be amazed at how much better you feel once you are consistently eating plenty of protein, fruit and vegetables. After a week or two, you will probably find that you also don’t crave sugar as much as you previously did.
It is recommended that you not only remove the highly processed and sugar-laden foods, but replace them with fresh food & protein rich sources. This will assist in helping your body to recover from the years of
Eating regular wholesome meals will help you to avoid eating those sugar filled treats.
How long should I be sugar free?
Challenge yourself to go completely sugar free for two weeks. You will find that after the two weeks you will have reset your taste buds and gained a lot of self control. After a few days of being sugar free your sugar cravings will reduce.
If you find it too hard to go completely sugar free, try adding a small amount of an unrefined sugar such as honey, pure maple syrup or coconut sugar to recipes/dishes as a ‘sugar replacement’. These sugars have minerals and vitamins intact, making them easier for your body to accept them. They are also less addictive than normal sugar, and some like coconut sugar don’t raise your blood sugar very much at all. Stevia is another good sugar free option as it too doesn’t raise blood sugar levels, is natural and is low in calories.
Part of the reason adults find it difficult to let go of sugar is because we have been addicted to it since we were children. If you have children try to start them off right with the right foods and a low-sugar diet.