How to Cut Down on Sugar the Easy Way
It is common knowledge that too much sugar in our diet is bad for our health and prevents weight loss. However, despite knowing this, many of us are still consuming sugar on a daily basis.
Even if we want to cut down, it can be difficult to do this because sugar comes in many guises and disguises and it can take some determined detective work to figure it out.
Sugar includes glucose, lactose (milk sugar), sucrose (table sugar), fructose (fruit sugar), maltose (rice malt and honey), maple syrup, corn syrup, palm sugar and brown sugar. Alcohol is also a form of sugar!
Regardless of what it is called, all of these sugars can pose problems to your health and weight.
Without putting too fine a point on it, sugar:
- can lead to diabetes
- is thought to ‘feed’ cancer
- increases the chance of falling victim to kidney, liver and coronary heart disease
- can trigger food allergies
- can cause Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) in children
- causes tooth decay
- can lead to chronic fatigue syndrome
- contributes to osteoporosis
- interferes with the effective absorption of protein
- makes you fat!
With all of these adverse effects, it’s surprising it hasn’t been banned.
Unfortunately the only good thing about sugar is that it tastes good and for a brief time makes us feel good.
However, our cravings for the taste of sugar are nothing to do with fullness of the stomach or our body’s actual requirement for sugar.
The good news is that it is possible to achieve a metabolic balance in our body through consistently eating a balance of nutrients, as part of a healthy diet, and this will stop sugar cravings.
Thankfully we do not have to give up the sweetness of sugar to be healthy; we just need to replace it with better alternatives. Don’t be tempted to use “artificial sweeteners. These are not the answer to sugar replacement and instead bring about a whole new set of problems.
Artificial sweeteners tell your taste buds that you’ve eaten some ‘sweet stuff’ which makes the brain think it is about to receive nutrition. Then, when the artificial sweeteners reach the small intestine, the receptors there find no nutrition. A message goes back to the brain to say it’s been ‘tricked’ and so the part of your brain that triggers satiety sends a message to keep eating because it needs nutrition to help process the artificial ‘fake’ food and run your body!
So, the end result is that you keep eating and over time you become fat! And this is not to mention the damage some sweeteners can do to your brain and nervous system.
However, help is at hand and there are some great natural sweetening options to try:
- Honey – preferably unprocessed, unfiltered honey; the type that still has chunks of bees wax in it. But any honey is good.
- Fruit –use in-season fruit or dried fruits to sweeten foods.
- Root vegetables – using properly cooked root vegetables you can add a great natural sweetness to salads, bakes and grills. Try sweet potato, parsnips, carrots or beetroot.
- Xylitol – a natural substance found in fibrous fruit and vegetables that regularly occurs in glucose metabolism. Much less insulin is released into the body using it compared with other sugars so it has a lower Glycaemic Index (GI) value.
- Stevia – a herb and is many times sweeter than sugar. It also helps to balance blood sugar levels and is ideal when you want to wean yourself off sweet tea and coffee and desserts.
So, cutting down on your sugar consumption can be achieved with a little bit of effort. The following guidelines will help you to navigate through the maze of information out there and lead you towards a healthier lifestyle:
- Read labels: Instead of sugar being labelled as sugar, food manufacturers try to disguise it with a host of other less well-known names. You might see sucrose, maltose, dextrose, fructose … These are all types of sugar but these names are used to try to make you think otherwise. The “-ose” at the end of a word is an indicator that the food contains sugar so avoid these if you want to lose weight fast!
- Use natural sugar alternatives: Choose from the list we have included earlier but remember they can still be very calorific if consumed in excess.
- Avoid sweet drinks: This includes lemonades, sodas and fruit juices that are not actually freshly juiced but made from concentrate.
- Combine sweet foods with ‘good’ fats and proteins: Eating your naturally sweet choices alongside unsaturated fats and/or lean proteins will slow the release of the sugar and keep your blood glucose levels more stable. So, try eating fruit with raw nuts as part of your healthy eating plan.
- Plan ahead: If you prepare your meals and snacks in advance and eat at regular intervals you will reduce your reliance on sugar to see you through your day. Try to eat every two to three hours for maximum blood sugar stability.
- Diet and exercise: This combination is by far the best for weight loss and fat loss. Regular exercise will burn off any excess sugar in your diet and lessen the adverse effects.
You will find that cutting down on sugar will help you to feel revitalised and more energetic in the short term and in the long term it could save your life!