Sugar

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Ok, so we’ve looked at the foods we should eat more of, but what of the foods we should eat less of?

There really aren’t that many. However, sugar is probably one of the foods we should try to restrict. Again, this is one of those foods where less is more.

Sugar comes in a number of guises – white sugar, honey, molasses, treacle, dextrose, fructose, maltose, brown sugar, dark brown sugar, corn syrup – and the list goes on.

This deliciously sweet carbohydrate is used in so many foods; it defies imagination – from the obvious, such as lollies, soft drinks and cakes, to the completely obscure – breadrolls, sauces and dressings.

In some cases, sugar is a necessary ingredient to maintain the integrity of the food. In others, it is simply added to tantalise your tastebuds into coming back for more.

A little sugar is ok. A little sugar is a teaspoon or two a day. Much more than that is doing nothing more than adding calories to your waistline.

We get all the carbohydrate we need for energy from foods such as wholegrain cereal products (rice, wholegrain breads, oats, etc), legumes, beans, dairy and fruit. We don’t need to add extra processed, highly refined sugar to get anything other than dental caries.

Unfortunately, most of us eat far more sugar, in one form or another, than is necessary. So, how do you reduce it?

Firstly, decide how you want to take your sugar. Are you a chocoholic? Maybe a ‘sugar in your tea’ kinda girl? Or perhaps you are a man who is addicted to his cola? Pick the sugary food you cannot live without (or pick a few different ones, remembering you can only have 1-2 teaspoons of any each day)

Secondly, aim to cut out every other type of obviously sugary food in your diet except this one. Throw out the biscuits, chuck the sugar in the bin, keep the honey only for those winter remedies, finish the jam and don’t buy more. Leave the lollies at the supermarket, avoid the sugary cereal aisle and remember the wholefoods advice on dairy foods – avoid the flavoured ones.

Now you are ready for your sugar “less” diet. Fill your diet with the wholefoods discussed last week, but allow yourself 1-2 teaspoons of sugar, in the form you wish to eat it.

Now that is limiting your:

  • chocolate intake to a square or two a day. Note: the higher the % cocoa solids in the chocolate the less sugar. So a 70% cocoa solids chocolate, is lower in sugar than a milk chocolate.
  • a glass of soft drink to 50mls a day.
  • one to two teaspoons of jam or honey on your toast a day.
  • two cups of tea a day with one teaspoon of sugar in each.

An example menu would look like this (if you chose 1 square of chocolate and 1 tsp of honey as your daily sugar intake)

Breakfast: 

Grapefruit

Wholegrain toast with sliced tomato and cheese

Tea (no sugar)

Lunch:

Tortilla wrap with ham, salad and mayo*

Fresh fruit salad and plain greek yoghurt

Chai tea with 1 tsp of honey

Dinner:     

lasagna* and salad

1 square of chocolate

Now, the tomato sauce used in the lasagna and mayonnaise do have sugar in them. However, you can choose lower sugar versions of these. At this stage, we are just trying to lower the amount of added sugar in our diets, rather than every skerrick of it. You can aim for that later!

It takes about two weeks for your taste buds to adapt. They will tease and torture you into thinking you cannot bear another day without extra sugar, but after a few weeks, they will enjoy the new flavours and stop hounding you.

You can do this! Let me know how it goes.

Until next week, Ciao.

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