Cutting down on the sweet stuff

We all know that too much refined sugar is bad for us but it's not always realistic or sustainable to cut it out completely

If going cold turkey is a step too far, here's our Resident Naturopath, Sue's tips on how to reduce your intake of the white stuff.

"Like many children growing up; a main staple in my daily diet was a rather well known brand of baked beans. For special occasions a small tin of spaghetti hoops or alphabetti spaghetti would be mixed in with the beans to create a delicious savoury treat. Savoury or so I thought!

We now know that our much loved childhood favourites of baked beans, tomato ketchup and peanut butter were all laden with sugar. Baked beans – 6 tsps sugar, tomato ketchup 25% sugar, peanut butter 4.4g per 20g. Our palettes were registering savoury but the truth was our mothers were unwittingly feeding us too much sugar.  Fast track to 2017 and the government alongside strong media attention is hell bent on letting us know the consequences of consuming too much of this devil food.  And quite rightly so given that our hospital beds are clogged with complications from late on-set diabetes, all controllable with diet and lifestyle modifications.

Here’s what you can do to consume less of the white stuff...

First of all decide how you are going to manage this because we all know that as soon as you deny yourself something it becomes the elephant in the room. For example you might allow yourself a couple of squares of dark chocolate rather than cutting chocolate out completely. You are swapping sugar laden milk chocolate for the healthier option thus avoiding that feeling of denial. Another tact is to consider only enjoying sugar as a rare treat. In my case as a child I was only allowed sweets on a Friday and that feeling of anticipation as the next Friday came around was wonderful.

Cutting back on sugar helps reset hunger hormones. When we eat sugar laden food or white carbohydrates that quickly convert to sugar we are left feeling hungry soon afterwards. Think of that time you just ate fruit or white toast for breakfast. By ensuring we always have a protein source at each meal we feel fuller for longer and our desire for sweetness or carbohydrates is curbed. A couple of poached eggs with salmon and spinach , an omelette or protein smoothie for breakfast will ensure you keep going for longer without the need for a sweet fix.

Sweeteners too are not all equal. Try to avoid the artificial sweetener Aspartame. Research papers indicate this substance breaks down into formaldehyde and may be responsible for nervous system disorders if consumed over many years. Diet coke addicts consuming up to 2 litres a day are addicted to the aspartame and would be better advised to drink the sugar laden full fat coke as a treat. Good alternatives are honey, maple syrup, apple sauce (for cakes) and Xylitol which despite the name is naturally sourced from the birch rich tree. Xylitol looks and tastes like sugar, but has fewer calories and doesn’t raise blood sugar levels. Several studies suggest that it can improve dental health and have various other important benefits.

Finally, become a label reader and get savvy on the sugar content of foods. Ideally, always aim to cook from scratch so that you know exactly what is going into your body."