Shake your sugar habit

Take back con­trol and say no to the sweet stuff, says louise pyne

Women's Fitness (UK) - - Focus -

You might be sur­prised at the amount of sugar you con­sume on a daily ba­sis. It is hid­den in a whole range of foods – both sweet and savoury– and of­fers a one-way ticket to a big­ger waist­band, a cranky mood and plum­met­ing en­ergy lev­els. Even worse, sugar has been linked to a whole range of chronic con­di­tions in­clud­ing type 2 di­a­betes, joint pain and heart dis­ease. It is even proven to be as ad­dic­tive as cig­a­rettes or drugs – it ac­ti­vates the brain’s plea­sure cen­tre, re­leas­ing a rush of feel-good dopamine into your blood­stream. Eat­ing too much causes you to crave it more to get the same hit, which makes it even harder to quit the habit. The NHS rec­om­mends that sugar con­sti­tutes no more than five per cent of your calo­rie in­take (an amount that adds up to ap­prox­i­mately 30g) but re­search shows we con­sume more than dou­ble this. And if you’re look­ing to lean up or boost health, avoid­ing sugar is the eas­i­est way.

Wake-up call

Want to re­duce your sugar in­take? Re­think your eat­ing habits. Firstly, swap fizzy drinks for wa­ter in­fused with lemon or cu­cum­ber if you’re af­ter a re­fresh­ing thirstquencher. Next, start read­ing la­bels care­fully, look­ing out for re­fined sug­ars and sweet­en­ers on ev­ery­day prod­ucts. These might be la­belled as high fruc­tose corn syrup, dex­trose, su­crose and mal­tose. You’d be hor­ri­fied if you knew how much sugar is hid­den in take­aways and ready meals, so cook­ing at home re­ally is the best way to con­trol what’s in your food.

Not all forms of sugar are off lim­its, though. Nat­u­ral sugar found in fresh fruit comes with plenty of health ben­e­fits, and while the sugar con­tent in a piece of cake might be sim­i­lar to a fresh fruit salad, there’s no real com­par­i­son. Fruit is packed with vi­ta­mins, min­er­als and an­tiox­i­dants as well as fi­bre, which slows down the re­lease of glu­cose into your blood­stream. Cake? Pretty much de­void of any nu­tri­ents.

The plan

With all this in mind, we’ve created a no-sugar plan to set you on the road to well­ness. The aim is to give you a kick­start to­wards adopt­ing health­ier habits for life. It'll show you when and what to eat to keep blood sugar lev­els steady – this in­cludes ev­ery­thing from whole­grains to veg­eta­bles, lean pro­tein and good fats. Low GI fruit is also on the menu to avoid blood sugar ups and downs. You can ex­pect to quickly adapt to a re­fined sugar-free diet, and you’ll prob­a­bly ex­pe­ri­ence a dif­fer­ence af­ter just a cou­ple of days. You should feel more sat­is­fied af­ter meals, with greater en­ergy lev­els and more fo­cus. You’ll prob­a­bly feel less bloated and, af­ter the seven-day plan, you may even lose up to 2lbs.

The plan in­volves eat­ing three meals and two snacks per day to keep you fu­elled. Nutri­tious food will nur­ture your body from within, so you’ll nat­u­rally want to stop eat­ing when you feel full. The main idea is to elim­i­nate re­fined sug­ars from your diet for seven days, which is enough time to read­just taste­buds and dis­cover new ways to keep sat­is­fied with­out re­ly­ing on sugar.

It’s ab­so­lutely cru­cial to start read­ing la­bels care­fully. Look out for re­fined sug­ars and sweet­en­ers on ev­ery­day prod­ucts

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