It’s surprising how many ‘hidden’ sugars we consume daily. From cereals, snack bars to even your morning juice – sugar has become a worldwide addiction and contributor to the rapidly growing rate of obesity.
While we do require some sugars for our cognitive system to function, it’s best to go for natural, unprocessed forms that can be easily absorbed by our bodies. See below for our top tips to identify and reduce your sugar intake
- Do you really need that sugar cube in your morning tea or coffee? Swap it out for cinnamon, nutmeg or freshly grated ginger to support your blood sugar levels. The aromas of these spices also act as stimulants and can elevate your mood levels - the perfect start to the day.
- Don’t be fooled by 'sugar-free' labels. More often than not, these items contain synthetic sweeteners such as aspartame, sucralose and saccharin, which taste sweet however don’t satisfy ‘sweet cravings’, messing with your brain often resulting in over-eating. Similarly, sugar alcohols are sweeteners that can’t be completely absorbed by our bodies (so don’t effect your blood sugar levels like other sweeteners) however do contain calories and can result in bloating, gas and diarrhoea. These include sorbitol, manitol, isomalt, maltitol and lactitol.
- Be aware of added sugars in foods such as yoghurts. Often advertised as ‘low-fat’ or ‘light’, sweetened yoghurts can consist of up to 5 spoons of sugar per serving. Various low fat products add extra sugars to compensate for the change in taste. Opt for the full fat version in a smaller portion. If you prefer your yoghurt sweet, try adding fresh fruit, natural nuts or seeds, or even a small quantity of raw, unprocessed honey.
- Many sauces also use wheat and sugars as fillers– pasta sauces, regular flavoured tomato/ barbeque sauces all contain sugars. Some suppliers have introduced stevia-based solutions substituting sugar with such natural sweeteners. Consider checking the ingredients on the label if you’re often using ready-made products and unsure.
- If you’re craving something sweet, or need a quick fix for a bit of energy, try fresh fruit with a few natural nuts or natural yoghurt – these types of unprocessed sugars and proteins will assist in keeping your blood sugar/ energy levels in check.
The safest and healthiest option for your body is to consume unprocessed foods made from scratch at home, or with minimal processing to avoid nasty fillers. Sugar is addictive; there’s no two ways about it. It changes our brain chemistry and can have devastating affects on our health if overeaten including weight gain, diabetes and significant tooth decay – which leads to even more health issues, such as gum and heart disease.