A Sugar Craving Society…so where did it all start?

To cut a long story short, in the 1970′s an American physiologist Ancel Keys wrongly campaigned that fat was causing obesity. The food industry began moving towards low fat foods and this was backed by the US government. This removal of fat from foods basically meant that our sugar consumption increased because without fat, food doesn’t taste great, and so sugar was added to these foods to make up for the loss of taste.

Sugar became a staple ingredient to be hidden in most packaged and pre-prepared foods such as sauces, cereals, yoghurts and breads to name a few. The biggest increase of sugar in the diet came from fizzy drinks, fruit juices and confectionary.

However, whilst fat was removed from many foods and a low fat craze was born, rates of obesity in the US did not decrease, no one bothered to question really until recent years, and now we are seeing more and more research emerging to show that fat is not and never was the problem, but sugar is.

So, to help get YOU off the sugar addiction train I’ve come up with 12 simple tips to help you cut out sugar and move into 2015 a healthier (and slimmer) better you and put you in control of your health. Making these tips a way of life can really make a significant difference to how you feel, look and perform. There is no reason why you cannot achieve a sugar free, or majority sugar free lifestyle, using healthy alternatives to satisfy the occasional craving for something sweet.

Here are your 12 easy tips, start implementing these now!

1) Set your intention

First and foremost first make the decision to cut out sugar for 21 days, write this down, mark the first day in your calendar and consciously remember this decision every day along with why you are doing it, for example it may be because you want to lose weight, you may know that quitting sugar will transform your health and appearance, whatever the reason, write it down and remind yourself constantly of your goal. You may want to set a motivating calendar note in your smart phone to repeat daily for 21 days to remind yourself daily of this decision and ensure you don’t veer off track, its just 21 days. Setting your intentions and goals is all important in succeeding.

2) Don’t buy fat free or low fat!

Fat free labeled products contain sugar, as mentioned at the start of this blog, sugar is added when fat is stripped out, to make up for the loss of taste. Furthermore when fat is removed so are the nutrients, remember fat is not the enemy, sugar is! Go for full fat products instead and enjoy.

3) Don’t be fooled by so called ‘healthy’ Yoghurts

I’ve touched on this already but here it is again. Fat free yogurts, flavoured yoghurts, ‘friendly bacteria’ yoghurts and yoghurt drinks are full of sugar, do not be fooled by these they are not healthy! Most of them can have as much sugar as a bar of chocolate if not more. Go for full fat natural yogurt and add cinnamon and a handful of low sugar fruit such as blueberries if needed. some sweetness.

4) Don’t buy Processed Foods

Probably one of the biggest changes to make to your lifestyle with regards to significantly cutting. Near enough every packaged and pre prepared food contains hidden sugars. Some examples are pasta sauces, Chinese style sauces, condiments like ketchup, mayonnaise, mint sauce, chutneys etc, cereals, microwave meals, low fat/fat free yoghurts, and dairy products, concentrated fruit juices, and many many others! Making your own sauces is actually far cheaper and can be very quick, once you’re in the habit of doing it, you won’t even think twice, it’ll just become second nature, which brings me to my next tip.

5) Make Your Own Pasta Sauce

I always make my own sauce which I use with buckwheat or brown rice pasta. Just sauté some chopped onions and garlic with some fresh herbs e.g. oregano and parsley, add a teaspoon of tomato puree then add fresh tomatoes. I usually use baby plum ones as these are lovely and sweet and juicy but you can use any fresh tomatoes, once softened mash them with a potato masher utensil. Add some fresh black pepper and sea salt to taste and simmer. This takes a maximum of 10 minutes but the longer you can simmer the better taste wise.

6) Choose Whole, Fresh Fruit Over Juice, Dehydrated, or Other Fruit Products

Juice, fruit roll-ups, and dehydrated fruit taste great, of course: they’re almost pure sugar! Added to this is the fact that all or most of the fiber is gone. Treat your body to the natural benefits of fruit and eat it fresh and whole. Choose berries, cherries, grapefruit, lemon, and limes over apples, bananas, and other fruit; the former are higher in glucose and lower in fructose and tend to have a lower overall content.

7) Don’t use shop bought salad dressings

Pre prepared salad dressings hide so much sugar, especially things like Caesar dressing or thick vinaigrettes. Always make your own, it’s cheaper too. All you need is some extra virgin olive oil, apple cider vinegar or balsamic vinegar or fresh lemon juice, a pinch of sea salt and black pepper. You can add a pinch of honey if you need the sweetness or some mustard if you like it bitter. The ratio of oil to vinegar is 3 to 1. Other good oils to use are cold pressed walnut oil, avocado oil or hemp oil.

8) Allow yourself a % of sweetness

If you are someone who eats a lot of sugar daily, e.g. you are used to having dessert every day and or a bar of chocolate then start implementing all of these tips daily from now but allow yourself a small percentage of sweetness in the form of a small amounts of good quality honey and dark chocolate (at least 70% dark). So if you are used to having dessert daily try replacing this with a few squares of the dark chocolate or a full fat Greek yoghurt mixed with 1/2 tsp of honey and or some goji berries. You should also try warmed blueberries, cashew nut butter (as this is quite sweet but healthy) and stewed apples, (these are things you can always include). Then, start to be mindful as to whether you are feeling like you must have something sweet every day, if this is the case start to challenge yourself to at least 1 or 2 days away from any sweetness each week, this is a good way to gain back control, and know you are not a slave to the sugar addiction born out of the last 3 decades.

9) Don’t Keep Sweet Treats at Home

Ensure you home is a treat free zone, only stocking up on healthy alternatives for emergency cases such as honey and good quality dark chocolate. If the bad stuff is there it WILL get eaten, don’t allow it, then, once you have control of your sugar habit you can start to decide on what occasions you might allow yourself some sugar, outside of the house. If something you crave isn’t available to you and you have to go to efforts to go and get it you are far less likely to fail.

10) Be wary of sweeteners

Artificial sweeteners are not the alternative here, the BEST answer is to wean yourself of off sweetness in general, by following all these tips you can do just that. Most sweeteners, for example, aspartame, are just toxins that your liver does not need to add to its burden. Furthermore, they just retain our taste for sweet things, acting only as a plaster not a cure. The aim here is to not crave sugar OR sweetness. Research has shown1 that sweeteners still send a signal to the brain that you are eating sugar which releases the hormone insulin to into the blood to process the ‘sugar’, the more we secrete insulin the higher our risk of diabetes, so you can see now why sweeteners are not the answer, for more reasons than one.

11) Avoid Sugary Alcohol Drink Choices

If you like to enjoy a tipple and can’t quite manage to cut this out then stick to pure, and good quality spirits like gin and vodka, mixed with soda water and fresh lime. Stay away from cocktails! These will usually contain so much sugar. Good quality champagne, in moderation, is also a better choice. Fizzy drink mixers including tonic water, cordials, wines, and dark spirits should be avoided.

12) Stick to Water!

There really is no better thirst quencher than water, there is so much to be said for water but I’ll save that for another blog. Cutting out all other drinks will cut out so much sugar. Fruit juices, yes even freshly squeezed orange juice, fizzy drinks and squash, all contain lots of sugar. Start drinking 2 litres of water daily coupled with cutting all this sugar and you will be bounding around with energy you won’t want to look back. Try water (filtrered or bottled) with fresh lemon, fresh orange pieces or fresh lime to add some natural flavour, if you need it. Try ice cold soda water with the same fruit if you need something fizzy sometimes.

And a final note, the more healthy fats and good quality protein you start to include in your diet the less sugar and sugary foods you will crave, and the more satiated you will feel, and full of energy! Include a protein, good fat and complex carbohydrate source with every meal and snack. Examples are avocado with some mozarella cheese and baby tomatoes, tin of peppered mackerel on a slice of toasted rye bread with rocket and red onion, baked sweet potato wedges with a homemade turkey burger and spinach, gluten free oat cakes with hummus. The choices are endless, and tasty

Best wishes, FLNutrition