Is it time to give Sugar the flick?
There is so much information about giving up sugar and it’s a fantastic thing to do for your health. My family has been living ‘low sugar’ for a long time now and its definitely one of the best things we have ever done for our health. Our kids still have some sugar but we talk a lot about other choices and give them some freedom now that they are older and they also recognise not feeling well after eating too many sugary foods and drink. Thankfully my daughter and I don’t have a sweet tooth so it’s not so much of an issue for us, but the boys in our house really struggle with sugary treats around. We still have Easter eggs, a donut or cake here and there but we recognise that these are ‘occasional’ things.
So why am I talking about giving up sugar or low sugar diets? Well sugar is one of the most inflammatory foods (unless you are allergic to something) you can actually consume! Sugar raises your inflammatory response and keeps it raised for hours – so if you are constantly eating sugary foods you are constantly in a state of low grade inflammatory response! Doesn’t sound great does it? Its just like having your body constantly put out fires everywhere – eventually your system gets stressed or starts attacking itself. Why give your body more work to do by being in a constant state of low grade inflammation? Left unchecked, this can lead to all sorts of diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and many other inflammatory related diseases. Not too mention the effect elevated inflammation levels can have on your hormones, gut health and weight.
Here are some top tips if you are thinking about reducing your sugar consumption:
- Don’t have temptation in the house! If you have a weak spot for chocolate or sugary treats – make a pact with your family to stop buying them!
- What will be your new snacks or treats? You need to decide what you can replace those ‘treats’ something else. We used to have sugary chocolate in the house all the time. During the day now we have veggie sticks with hommus dip and we purchase dark chocolate (much lower sugar content) and if we have some after dinner it’s a very small amount. I have modified a lot of cake and biscuit recipes for my kids with a lot less sugar so they still feel like they are getting something sweet. There are literally thousands of sugar free or low sugar recipes on the net. It just takes a little more planning and effort
- See Sugar for what it really is: Stop looking at sweet things as a reward or treat and see them for what they are – making you put on weight, being empty calories and bad for your families health – they won’t seem so appealing anymore!
- Ditch the sugary soda and processed juices! If there is one thing you can do today that will have IMMEDIATE health benefits is to give up sugary fizzy drinks. They have so much sugar, no nutritional benefit, terrible for your oral health and will have a huge impact on reducing the sugar in your diet. Many processed fruit juices on the market have just as much sugar as soda’s so take a look at the labels. If you are using caffeinated sodas regularly you may need to reduce these gradually if you have some caffeine withdrawl. Why not try some herbal teas, mineral water or lemon water. We just love our soda machine – when we feel like we need a bit of a ‘pick me up’ where we used to go for a cola can we now grab some soda with a bit of lemon or even a bit of Jamu makes a delicious healthy soda. I’m going to talk more about sugar replacements in another blog.
- Understand where the hidden sugar is: even though my daughter isn’t a sweet tooth she LOVES barbeque sauce – this stuff has SO much sugar and we talk to her about literally pouring a sugar bowl over her food. She is trying to have less and I have found some lower sugar options.
- Understand this takes time: Reducing or quitting sugar isn’t something you can always do overnight If you find it too difficult to give everything up at once reduce some items every week and gradually your taste buds will change. I literally can’t eat a lot of sweet foods now as I am just so used to not eating much sugar. We also cook really hearty meals and have found that over the past couple of years we are snacking much less, because we are full from our meals which also means we are less tempted by sugary snacks that have a short term ‘pick me up’ effect and leave you in a cycle of constant snacking.
- Don’t give up: everyone slips up, we still eat chocolate and the occasional donut – but most of the time now our lives aren’t ruled by constant snacking and unhealthy foods – stick it out – its worth your families health!
Good luck – let us know how you go – its so worth even just reducing your sugar intake.