Shake your sugar habit
Take back control and say no to the sweet stuff, says louise pyne
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.
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.
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