You really would have to be living under a rock for the last few years to have avoided all the recent hype and controversy surrounding sugar! Put very simply, sugar is energy. (Ever watched a child after they’ve downed some fizzy cola?!) Sugar is like a petrol that fuels our body, and as such, it is actually quite important to us. It is our main source of energy. So then, what’s the problem with sugar?!
Well, the main issue is with the type of sugar and the sheer amount of it we are eating. Think for a moment about the amount of sugar you eat, or rather how much you think you eat. Because I can almost guarantee you are eating more than you think! (Click here to watch my video chat about sugar) The World Health Organisation recommends that we consume a maximum of about 25g (roughly 6 teaspoons) of ‘added sugar’ per day. ‘Added sugar’ means sugar that has been added to food either by you or by the food manufacturer. It also includes fruit juices (not whole fruits) and sugar substitutes such as honey, syrups, etc.
Sugar is a major topic in health and it is something I will talk about a lot. But for starters, here are 5 tips to get you thinking about cutting down on the amount of sugar you are eating:
1 – Cut down gradually
One of the biggest challenges I face when working with people is changing their “all or nothing” mindset and approach to food, diet and health. This mindset has led to a number of people undergoing drastic sugar-detoxes. I’m not against them, I generally feel that everyone should be free to explore different options and do what is best for them. Having said that, I do find that most people respond better to a gradual reduction in sugar consumption. No one does karma quite as well as our bodies and if you take a slow and steady approach and are kind to your body, it will be kind back to you!
2 – Don’t drink your sugar
The first place I always encourage people to look at when it comes to their sugar consumption is their drinks. I’m talking about fizzy drinks, energy drinks, cordials, sugary tea/coffee and fruit juices. Most 500ml bottles of fizzy drinks contain about 13 teaspoons of sugar! That’s more than double your recommended daily intake…in one drink! We consume enough sugar in our food, we really don’t need it in our drinks. Our bodies thrive on water. (Click here for my tips on drinking more water)
3 – Reign in the sweet treats
We are all aware that some of the most sugar-laden foods are things like sweets, biscuits, chocolate and cakes. Like I always say, I don’t expect anyone to completely give up the treats that they love. But I know that I got to a point where I would chow down a half a packet of biscuits or a whole chocolate bar without even realising I had done it. I was just eating them mindlessly, not even really enjoying them. Try to recognise if you are doing this and avoid eating these foods purely out of habit (see Tip 4). Eat them less often, so you can enjoy eating them when you do!
4 – Have healthy snacks to hand
I’m sure you’ve heard before that you should never go food shopping on an empty stomach, right? Well that’s because we tend to make VERY bad decisions when we’re hungry! If you always have healthy snacks at the ready, such as fruit, vegetable sticks, nuts, seeds, plain yoghurt, then you will be much less likely to snack on sugary junk foods.
5 – Keep it real
With all the hype around sugar at the moment, I’ve noticed more and more people turning to “diet” and “sugar-free” drinks and foods, which usually contain artificial sweeteners. This is NOT the solution to the sugar epidemic! Artificial sweeteners are not actually food, so they don’t really belong in our diet. Apart from that, all artificial sweeteners do is reinforce our love of sweet things, making our taste buds and bodies crave them even more!
So there’s my top 5 tips to get you started with cutting down on sugar. There will be many more tips to come! Just remember, eat less sugar, cos you’re sweet enough already!