Cutting down on the sweet stuff

So let’s talk about sugar. Yes, I know. All we seem to hear in the media lately is how sugar is the new enemy in the fight against ill health. But it tastes so good! What can we possibly do to resist it? And is it really that bad? The most common thing I hear is ‘but I don’t eat junk food so I don’t have any sugar.’ However, manufacturers are clever and they sneak sugar into pretty much EVERYTHING!

An easy way to find out more about sugar and why it’s so bad (and how much of it we are really eating) is to watch ‘That Sugar Film’ with Damon Gameau. It’s free on Amazon Prime if you have it. Scary stuff.

The World Health Organisation has recently announced that they are reducing the recommendations for how much sugar we consume each day.  Recent studies have shown that the average Brit eats too much sugar: up to 700g of the sweet stuff a week (what???) – that’s an average of 140 teaspoons per person.  The new guidelines state that added sugars shouldn’t make up more than 10% of the energy (calorie intake) you get from food and drink each day. That’s about 70g (17.5 teaspoons) for men and 50g (12.5 teaspoons) for women. This can be hard to work out, so rather that counting spoons take a look at how easy it is to add up to your daily amount:

  • Yeo Valley Family Farm 0% Fat Vanilla Yogurt (150g). Sugars: 5 teaspoons (20.9g)
  • Jordan’s Super Fruity Granola (45g serving which is about 4 tablespoons). Sugars: 2.75 teaspoons (9.9g). And let’s be honest – most of our servings are way bigger than this!
  • Tomato ketchup (1 tablespoon). Sugars: 1 teaspoon (5g).
  • Naked health bars (1 bar). Sugar: 4 teaspoons (15-20g).
  • Baked beans. 1/2 cup. Sugar: 2 teaspoons (10g).

See how easy it is to add up?

Compare this to a whole-food meal:

  • 1 piece salmon fillet – 0g
  • 1/2 avocado – 0.7g
  • 1 cup spinach leaves – 0.4g
  • 1 chopped tomato – 2.6g
  • 1/2 cucumber diced – 1.7g
  • 1/2 yellow pepper sliced – 3g
  • 30g feta cheese crumbled – 1g
  • 1/2 teaspoon olive oil with 1/2 teaspoon balsamic vinegar -1g
  • Total sugar – 10.3g however this meal contains a lot of fibre from the vegetables which will slow down the absorption of the sugar into the blood stream and won’t leave you craving more and more carbs after you’ve finished.

Many of us could do with eating less sugar, particularly added sugar. But many habits, especially ones we like, are so hard to kick.

The best way to kick the sugar is to remove it almost completely from your life. Like an enemy you wouldn’t invite into your house. Kick it out. Don’t let it visit and hang around on your couch. If every time you open the fridge or cupboard you have soft drinks, juices, chocolate, cookies, icecream there, it’s going to get eaten. So throw it away, give it away, give it to the dog (actually don’t, dogs get really sick if you give them chocolate and sweet stuff).

Fill your house with veggies, chop them up in big batches so they are easy to grab. Yes processed food is cheap, cheaper than healthy food sometimes. But you can get a kilogram of carrots for £1, 2 cucumbers for £1 and a punnet of blueberries for £2 which will last you a week of snacks. Add in some unsalted cashews and you’ve got some great healthy options.

The thing is, when you have only healthy food available, there’s only so much of it you can eat. You don’t get the same ‘high’ as eating sugary food. You can only eat so many carrot sticks before you feel like you’re turning into a rabbit. Which means you free up TIME and ENERGY to do other things. You’ve nourished your body and now you can move on to getting through your to-do-list. Which never seems to get finished. Ever…..

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