Monday, 22 October 2012

Sugar : The Enemy?

Everyone (at least I think everyone) is aware that sugar doesn't do you any good. We all know, don't we, that it's empty calories , no nutrition food ... But that it tastes really good!
My eight year old ,Nat, says to me frequently " Mummy, if sugar is so bad for us then why do they make it taste so nice?". Good question.
There's no doubting that it tastes great, there's no doubting that refined sugar is extremely versatile and used in many, many processed foods now to enhance flavour; cheaply.
But eating lots of sugar comes at a price: a sharp rise and fall in blood sugar, regular headaches, IBS, teeth problems, eczema, psoriasis, reflux, indigestion, obesity, diabetes, constipation, diarrhoea... to name but a few health challenges that sugar can be heavily involved in.
It also promotes premature ageing of the skin by damaging collagen and elastin, the building blocks of skin. A sugar rich diet can make collagen brittle and dry leading to wrinkles and sagging, so if you're a smoker, a drinker, and a sunbather, beware!! (I admit to being all of these a good few years ago...)
I talk to my kids regularly about the 80/20 rule- if they eat good stuff 80% of the time, then they can eat sugary stuff the other 20% of the time- sounds good to me! But the challenge comes from 'hidden' sugar. Starting to look at the labels of the foods you're buying is a good start in making you aware of the huge number of products that contain sugar in its many guises: maltose, sucrose, maple syrup, golden syrup, erthyritol, fructose, white sugar, palm sugar, Demerara sugar, dextrose, high fructose corn syrup ( and anything else ending in 'ose').
So to cut back on sugar we need to watch foods other than the obvious; cereals, rice, pasta, cakes, biscuits, crackers and crispbreads, yoghurts (generally nothing more than liquid candy!) and alcohol.
Reducing highly refined products and substituting for more dense foods particularly proteins such as eggs, fish and chicken will help curb sugar cravings and leave you fuller for longer. If you go for six smaller meals throughout the day instead of three larger ones this can also help to
balance blood sugar keeping energy levels consistent thoughout the day.
I remember that 3-4pm energy 'slump' and how I'd grab the nearest fast food to pick me up and get me through my working day. Now I use foods such as nuts and seeds, alongside fruit, between meals, and my moods are way better!!
Apple and a handful of toasted almonds can taste yummy when you get used to it, as can a punnet of strawberries with some
sunflower seeds. Try it for a week and see how much better you feel.
I think the biggest deal with all of his is becoming more aware. Often we blindly feed food into our mouths without thinking for one moment of the consequences. Doing this occasionally is fine, but several times a day, every day of the week, month and year over many years will definitely take its toll in some way shape or form... Food for thought?
Check out my snack today ... Yum and nothing to upset blood sugar levels just antioxidants in the 100% chocolate and also in the green apple.

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