With our modern lives, it can be easy to go for food that has been prepared for us, packaged and portioned, and advertised as healthy, low fat or light. But how healthy are these options?
As we move away from the low fat diet trend, there’s an ever-increasing amount of information coming out about the impact of sugar consumption in our diets – we know now that excessive consumption of sugar is not only linked to weight gain and other health concerns that come with that (diabetes, heart disease, some cancers etc.), but it can also be an addiction, and elicit the same neurological response as cocaine and nicotine. Basically, the more you have it, the more you’re body wants it.
But it’s not all bad news. You can make healthy food choices which will help ensure you’re not getting too much sugar in your diet. Here are three tips to help reduce your sugar intake:
1. Stick to whole, natural and organic foods as much as possible – the less processed the food is, the better it is for you. This includes meat, seafood, vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds.
2. Avoid diet and fat free options - Often products which are marketed as diet or low fat products contain a surprising amount of sugar to improve the flavour after the fat is taken out. For example, select a natural pot set or Greek yoghurt instead of a diet yoghurt. The fats in the natural yoghurt are much better for you than the added sugar/artificial sugar in the diet version. Get to know your food labels – aim for less than 5g of sugar per 100g. 5g is roughly equivalent to one teaspoon of sugar (the equivalent amount of an average sugar sachet, or a sugar cube)
3. Beware of ‘healthy’ sugars and artificial sugar substitutes – products such as agave, molasses and maple syrup are often marketed as healthy options, yet at the end of the day they are still sugars and the body metabolises them as such. Artificial sugar substitutes, such as aspartame, while may help cut back on the calories, can be extremely harmful to the body. Excessive consumption of some of these sweeteners have been linked to some cancers, may lead to gastrointestinal distress, and often leave the body craving actual sugar.
We recommend cutting out processed sugar as much as possible from your diet. There should be enough natural sugars in the foods you already eat to ensure your body is getting an adequate amount of sugar. If you have a sweet tooth try some in season fruits with nut butter, or some dark chocolate. The less you have it, the less you crave it!