Our nutritionist and tutor Anita Lemon gives us the low down.
Sugar, fast becoming a 4 letter word!
Is it so bad? Are all sugars equal? How can you cut your intake and what’s the low down on natural sugars?
In this feature our resident and expert nutritionist reveals all.
Sugar – do we need it?
Bad news folks – our bodies simply don’t need the white stuff. It serves no nutritional value and this simply put means you’re eating empty calories, and it’s everywhere.
If you’re keen to break the habit the easiest way of going about it is to eat ‘clean.’ Eat as nature intended as you can’t really go wrong. Yes, there’s natural sugar in these foods but it’s not really going to cause you any harm and eating a rainbow of fruit and vegetables provides many health benefits from all the varied vitamins, minerals and nutrients.
The sugar in our processed foods however, that’s a different story.
In my day job I work with students looking to qualify in fitness instructing, nutrition and personal training. In a recent nutrition class I put them to the test. I challenged them to write down as many foods they could think of that are jam packed with sugar. They started in earnest, cakes, biscuits, sweets, can drinks all topped the list. But how easily forgotten are the soups, ketchups, cereals and bars, dressings, so called energy drinks, ready means and the vast array of ‘diet’ foods.
The only sure fire way to find out if the food you are buying contains sugar is to check the label – look at the nutritional info and the ingredients. Sugar comes with many disguises – pay particular attention to anything ending in ‘ose’.
Sure fire ways to reduce your sugar intake
1 – Slowly does it
Going cold turkey isn’t for the faint hearted and in my experience for the vast majority leads to failure. Sugar withdrawal in the way can lead to mood swings, cravings, migraines and lethargy just to name a few!
First cut your intake by half – you won’t notice any major impact this way and the health benefits are huge. If you usually have 2 sugars in your tea have 1, if you eat 2 biscuits in the evening have 1, if you add ketchup to your dinner halve the amount. Then leave it a week and guess what halve the quantity once more. The final step roughly 2 weeks down the line is to reduce some of the foods one at a time. So, in the example above I might choose to omit the ketchup then after a few days the biscuit and then the sugar in my tea.
2 – Ditch the halo
Exercise and nutrition is all about balance. There’s no harm in the odd treat and if you consume sugar occasionally in this way you won’t suffer the dependencies and cravings regular consumption brings. So yes you can choose that dessert on the special night out.
3 – Seek out natural alternatives
Great examples include fruit, manuka honey, fruit teas and dried fruit.
It’s as simple as it sounds. No special diets, no vast expense and no complicated techniques.
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