We all know sugar is bad for us, and yet most of us are addicted to it. Soft drinks, cookies, cakes, chocolate, you name it. But sugar is not just in the obvious sweets we consume. The secret lies in hidden sugar. It’s everywhere…
A long time ago, food corporations have found the formula to make us all addicted. Processed food, pasta, rice, bread, flavoured yogurt and especially morning cereals are all serial killers. These everyday products include just about the right amount of sugar to make it attractive enough to keep us wanting more, but not too much to make us reject it. These markets players had paid scientists to publish research results claiming there is no direct relationship between sugar and obesity. The same pattern we’ve seen back in the seventies with tobacco companies. We obviously cannot trust them!
Why is sugar such a bad thing though? apart from contributing to weight gain, obesity, diabetes, heart disease, cancer and tooth decay… Sugar causes glucose levels to spike and plummet. Unstable blood sugar can leave you experiencing mood swings, fatigue, and headaches. It also contributes to cravings, which begins the cycle of false hunger. In addition, your immune function can be affected by sugar, meaning it can interfere with the way your body fights disease. More so, researchers say sugar accelerates aging! It can mess with your skin by contributing to wrinkles by causing the skin to lose elasticity and lead to premature aging… On the other end of the scale, let’s not forget about our little ones – studies show that sugar affects cognition in children. By reducing the amount of sugar in their lunches and breakfasts, their academic ranking is likely to increase. Sugar is an empty calorie, meaning it lacks any nutritional value. At the same time, it takes the place of important nutrients. People who consume the most sugar have the lowest intakes of essential nutrients – especially vitamins and calcium. The trade-off is particularly dangerous for children and teens, who simultaneously consume the most sugar and need the most nutrients.
So, I came across this no-sugar diet. Personally, I don’t need to lose weight, well maybe just a little… But my main driver was my low energy levels. I just feel so drained most of the time, tired in the morning, exhausted in the evening, fueled by caffeine and sugar to get me going on the short-term, without even realizing how it impacts my body on the long-term. I then declared October as a Low-Suger Month. Why isn’t it No-Suger at all? I just think that if we take it to the extreme it’s going to be too hard to make it sustainable. The main goal of this experiment is to change habits, reduce the glucose levels in my blood, and hopefully become more energetic. The concept of reducing the overall sugar consumption must be a sensible thing to do for the long-term well being.
Two weeks into this experiment I feel pretty great. The first week, though, was very challenging. Standing in front of the pantry cupboard after dinner, looking around for a chocolate snack to satisfy my addicted body out of habit, required some persistent self-control day after day, until that need faded away after a few days. Small piece of fruit can do a better and healthier job. Getting rid of sugar in my coffee was a blessing – I can enjoy good coffee way more now. Experts say the daily limit should be 6 teaspoons (25 grams) of sugar for women and 9 teaspoons (37 grams) for men, while the average American consumes a lot more – around 17 teaspoons (68 grams) of added sugar per day.
So here’s a list of 7 things you could do to reduce your sugar consumption level and become Sugar-Free:
- No Sugar-Filled Drinks – Sodas, energy drinks and fruit drinks contain added sugar. Water is the source of life – It’s free and has zero calories.
- Avoid Desserts and Chocolate – most of them don’t have any nutritional value. They are loaded with sugar, which causes blood sugar spikes and can leave you feeling tired, hungry and craving for more sugar. Fresh fruit contains fibre, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
- Avoid Sauces – ketchup, barbecue sauce and sweet chilli sauce are common in most kitchens. However, most people aren’t aware of their shocking sugar content. Some other options to flavour your food are fresh herbs and spices, vinegar and pesto.
- Eat Whole Foods – whole foods have not been processed or refined. They are also free of additives and other artificial substances. Go natural, go organic, avoid processed food.
- Check for Sugar on Labels – spot hidden sweeteners when you’re reading nutrition facts and ingredient labels on any packed food. Sugar is everywhere – 80% of the products in your local supermarket would have some level of sugar in them.
- Be Careful With So-Called “Healthy” Processed Snack Foods – granola bars, protein bars and dried fruit can contain as much, if not more, sugar than their unhealthy rivals, such as chocolate bars. Choose nuts and fruit instead.
- Avoid Sugar-Filled Breakfast Foods – Breakfast cereals are among the worst when it comes to added sugar. Check the labels and you’ll find the amount of sugar is anywhere between 20% to 50% of the whole pack. Crazy! Low-sugar breakfast options include hot oatmeal, natural yogurt, eggs and avocado.
So give that a go for a month – challenge yourself – and see how you go. It can change your life!
Looking for more inspiration? watch the following trailer. Then the whole movie.
Resources for further reading: