Sugar – Not As Sweet As We Think
Now that the myth that fat makes you fat has been put to bed by industry experts we can all focus on the real culprit…sugar!
According to The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) two thirds of the UK population are obese or overweight. The statistics are scary and the health implications are even worse, so if sugar is so bad for us why is in added to so many food products?
The answer is simple and is sadly all down to money. Added sugars help extend the shelf life of foods like bread, breakfast cereals and tinned fruit and vegetables plus it helps disguise the blander taste of foods that have had the fat removed and rebranded as ‘low fat’ options. Because of this, many foods we think of as wholesome – like yoghurt, cereal bars, low-fat snacks and fruit-flavoured water may actually contain much more sugar than we think
Here are my top tips for cutting down on your sugar intake;
1. Eat Real Food
It sounds obvious but the only way to know for sure that you are not consuming foods with added sugar in them is to eat ‘real’ food. This means food which is not processed, so start by filling your fridge with fresh vegetables, fruit, lean meats, fish and eggs. Cooking from scratch ensures the only sugars you are consuming are natural sugars from fructose which is found in fruits and vegetables. For those who are not keen on being tied to the kitchen look at a meal delivery service like BodyChef who provide freshly made meals delivered straight to your door, all calorie counted for you, no mess, no waste and low sugar options available.
2. Get Smart
There are 4 grams of sugar in 1 teaspoon. Read ingredients labels to find out how much sugar has been added to the food you are eating. NHS guidelines in the UK suggest no more than 30 grams of sugar per day in our diet but did you know there can be up to 6 teaspoons (24 grams) of sugar in just one bowl of ‘healthy’ breakfast cereal? Just because you are not sprinkling sugar on your food it does not mean you are not consuming any, so work out where your hidden sugars are coming from and remember, sugar can be called many things so watch out for the following, they are all sugars! Glucose, sucrose, maltose, corn syrup, honey, hydrolysed starch, invert sugar, fructose & molasses.
3. Watch your drinks
Fizzy drinks like are filled with added sugar (a 500ml bottle of cola contains the equivalent of 13 teaspoons of sugar) but alarmingly flavoured waters can have large amounts of added sugar as well. Flavoured water now accounts for 30 per cent of all bottled water sales in the UK with some leading brands containing 9 teaspoons of added sugar in a 440ml bottle. Don’t be fooled by the pictures of fruit on the bottle and when in doubt stick to plain filtered water, ideally at least 2 liters per day.
4. Use natural alternatives
If you use sugar in your hot drinks try swapping to Stevia, a plant based sweetener or Xylitol. Made from the Silver Birch tree Xylitol has a very low glycaemic index (GI) meaning it won’t spike your blood sugar levels like refined sugar and has the added bonus of having 40% less calories in than sugar. If you are a syrup or honey fan then try switching to Yacon syrup. With only one third of the calorific content of sugar, Yacon syrup is made from the root of a South American plant and has a glycaemic index of just 1 whereas granulated sugar ranks at around 60.
5. Ditch the fake
When looking to lower your sugar intake don’t be tempted to go for zero sugar options as these are regularly sweetened with artificial sweeteners which some studies suggest may damage your health and in the long term lead to weight gain. Limit your intake of acesulfame K, aspartame, saccharin, sorbitol and sucralose. Instead get your sugars from natural sources like fruits and vegetables and check the ingredients of products which are branded ‘naturally sweetened’ or ‘contains no added sugars’.
6. Stay Natural
Unhealthy carbs loaded with sugar can cause blood sugar to rise rapidly and then drop quickly, leaving you hungry. To minimize this rapid rise and fall, pair protein, healthy fats, and fiber with your meal, all of which can slow down the release of blood sugar in your body and keep you full for longer. Focus on fats like avocados, nuts, seeds and heart-healthy oils like olive oil, walnut oil, and coconut oil. Still craving sugar? Add 1tsp of cinnamon to your daily diet to help regulate blood sugar levels and stop that afternoon biscuit craving!