Hey Sugar, I’m sorry but its just not working out…. It’s not me, It’s you!
In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, this weeks Blog focuses on the most dangerous and toxic of relationships that we all face in modern society…. Our relationship with the refined carbohydrate that is… Sugar.
It is a well- recognized public health concern that Americans consume far more than the recommended sugar allowance each day. This is largely down to the sneaky hidden sugars found in foods we would least expect.
Rather than focusing on the negative consequences of consuming too much sugar, this article will provide simple tips for removing sugar from your diet. A snapshot of some of the information that can be found in the LKN 21-day Sugar Detox Challenge.
1. Knowledge is Power, BE Educated
What is Sugar? This can often get confusing. Especially, as carbohydrates get a bad rep in the media these days. Carbohydrates are required as the body’s source of energy.
Sugar IS a form of carbohydrate, but as we know…. Not all carbohydrates are created equally.
Sugar is considered a simple carbohydrate - this means when we eat it, we absorb it rapidly causing a spike in our blood sugar levels. As the sugar levels drop we experience a sugar crash, this causes us to crave more sugary foods to feel that high again. It’s a vicious cycle!
Natural sugars are those that occur naturally in foods such as milk (lactose) and fruit (fructose). Added Sugars are those nasty things that are found in many food products today. These are generally added during processing and preparation of food. Added sugars contain no nutrients required by the body. They do however contain CALORIES and excess calories contribute to weight gain. It is well recognized globally, that sugar participates in a major way to the current obesity epidemic in the USA and worldwide.
2. EAT Fruit, Don’t Drink It!
A common misconception when people reduce the sugar content of their diet is that they must also cut out fruit. This is not true! Fruit contains sugar; however, it also contains fiber.
Fiber slows down our digestion and absorption of foods. Therefore, eating fruit does not cause the same sugar spike in our blood as does candy/ cakes/ chocolate/ soft drinks etc.
So, what about smoothies?
These are generally a blend of lots of fruit into liquid form. By doing so, the fiber is removed and thus one of the best and most nutritious parts of the fruit is removed! The sugars in smoothies are absorbed rapidly - thus acting similarly to processed sugars in the diet. Generally, after we drink a smoothie we still crave an actual food product that we can chew and eat, so be mindful when ordering smoothies, wouldn't you rather eat 3-4 pieces of fruit throughout the day than have it blended into a drink?
3. Learn to Read Food Labels
There are over 60 names for sugar that can be found in packaged foods! This makes it hard to cut sugar out of our diets as it is practically found everywhere, without us even knowing.
Learn to check the labels of all food products as often it is found in foods that we would least expect. Generally, words that end in “ose” refer to sugar related products, so don’t be fooled! Look out for words like dextrose/ maltose… and the biggest culprit’s of all… sucrose, glucose and fructose.
Legally in the United States, food labels now must include “added sugars” on nutrition labels. This is the most important part to focus on. See below the daily sugar recommendations. We are all guilty of consuming a lot more than this!
4. Healthy Snacks Are KEY
Maintaining steady blood sugar levels throughout the day is the key to preventing those sugar cravings from creeping in. When we get too hungry and blood sugar levels drop, hormones that regulate hunger and satiety, tell the body it is time to eat, NOW! Usually at this stage we grab for the nearest, most convenient snack, usually these convenient snacks are not the healthiest option and are loaded with added sugars.
Foods such as healthy snack bars, energy bars and granola bars are often the most misleading and contain nearly as much sugar as a regular candy bar. Aim to carry a piece of fruit with you, unsalted nuts, or a low fat Greek yogurt. The worst decisions are often made regarding food when we get HANGRY! So always be prepared.
The LKN 21-day Sugar Detox Challenge contains meal plans for each day of the week and healthy snack options to ensure those sugar cravings don’t creep in.
5. Toss the Table Sugar
Remove sugar from the table, often habit causes us to add it to foods more so than cravings! Try replacing the sugar in meals with herbs, spices, or natural extracts such as vanilla or almond.
Add flavor to water with mint, lemons, limes, or strawberries as an alternative to soft drinks. Try adding cinnamon and nutmeg to your oatmeal or morning coffee, and you may find you no longer need the sugar. Add fruit to meals, this contains natural sugars as discussed above, so it will add sweetness and fiber to a meal without the unnecessary calories.
Be mindful if you are adding sugar, and of exactly how much you are adding! Remember, every gram of sugar contains 4 calories. The average American person consumes more than 80 grams of sugar per day - almost 20 teaspoons EVERY day, this is adding over 300 extra calories to a person’s diet and putting them at huge risk for obesity and associated diseases such as Type 2 Diabetes.
There you have it, five SIMPLE tips to help you break your love affair with sugar once and for all! Understand sugar and where it can be found. Making simple changes to your daily lifestyle is what matters the most. By successfully breaking up with sugar, you will inevitably increase your energy levels and reduce the negative feelings associated with sugar such as weight gain, uncomfortable bloating, flatulence, poor concentration, brain fog, and bad sleeping habits .
Always be aware of sugar, read labels, develop new habits, and focus on being mindful about your food choices. Choosing whole, non-processed foods are the key to successfully leaving sugar in the past. Let’s finally break up with sugar this Valentines Day, and focus on the relationships that really count 😉. LKN's next Sugar Detox Challenge is starting on March 5th.