Sugar is the all the buzz at the moment. And while we are constantly bombarded with stories in the media there is still a lot of confusion about what this means. There are two types of sugar; naturally occurring sugars and added sugars. It is added sugar that we need to watch out for, which is included in common processed food and drinks. So when we talk about reducing our sugar intake we aren’t talking about fruit (fructose) or milk (lactose), we are talking about the sugar the is added to food.
Sugary foods often don’t have much to offer in terms of nutrition and are often empty calories. (think sugary carbonated beverages). This means larger spikes in your blood sugar which can make you feel hungry and reaching for more sugar. Excess sugar can also create an acidic environment in your body. Ultimately, decreasing your addedvsugar intake can help you lose weight, have better control over your blood sugar levels and reduce your risk of developing chronic diseases.
Here is my tips on reducing your sugar intake:
Check labels: Sugar is often hidden in my foods in the supermarket. And some of these foods may not be what you would imagine such as tomato sauce, yoghurt (we are talking added sugar here), and even crackers. On top of this there is around 56 different names for sugar….Agave Nectar, Barley Malt Syrup, Beet Sugar, Brown Rice Syrup, Brown Sugar, Cane Crystals, Cane Sugar, Coconut Sugar, Coconut Palm Sugar, Corn sweetener, Corn syrup, Dehydrated Cane Juice, Dextrin, Dextrose,Evaporated Cane Juice, Fructose, Fruit juice concentrate, Glucose, High-fructose corn syrup, Honey, Invert sugar, Lactose, Maltodextrin, Malt syrup, Maltose, Maple syrup, Molasses, Palm Sugar, Raw Sugar, Rice Syrup, Saccharose, Sorghum or sorghum syrup, Sucrose, Syrup, Treacle, Turbinado Sugar, Xylose.
Up your vege intake: Everyone can benefit from increasing their vegetable intake. Vegetables are powerhouses for vitamins and minerals and fibre. The fibre in vegetables will help keep you fuel for longer and therefore less likely to reach for those sugary snacks between your meals. So add an extra vegetable or two into your meals.
Hydrate: Our thirst is often mis read for hunger. So next time you think you are hungry or craving sugar then reach for a glass of water first. Im not saying replace meals with water! But we need to constantly fuel our bodies with water, after all we are 80% water!
Eat Breakfast: Breakfast is the most important meal of the day and one that a lot of people struggle with. Breakfast is well and truly breaking-the-fast, so after around 12 hours of ‘fasting’ from dinner the night before its important to fuel your body with the right nutrients. These nutrients and energy will set you up for the day by providing you with what you need to concentrate and function efficiently. And here is the bonus…..it will make it less likely for those sugar cravings to sneak in. But it is important that you pass on those sugar laden cereals, cafe muffins and breakfast bars. Your breakfast should include a balance of protein, fibre (from vegetables or good wholegrain carbohydrate sources) and protein. This combination will help satisfy your hungry and help to keep you fuel to lunch time.
Exercise: I have many clients tell me that when they are on an ‘exercise buzz’ they are more likely to make healthy food choices. So why not make this your normal and make exercise part of your life. Make your goal to move everyday but remember you can not out exercise a bad diet! Plus daily exercise will help boost your endorphin and serotonin levels, which are our feel good hormones. These will give you a natural mood boosting effect, making it less likely for you to crave sugar.
Snack Smart: Snacking on sugar can often be a response to a low mood. A good trick is to have your snacks prepared and on hand. Good snack options include: raw nuts, vegetables and hummus or avocado dip, apple with peanut or almond butter, nut and seed balls or hard-boiled eggs.
Director / NZ Registered Nutritioinst