How to Remove Sugar from Your Diet!
The American Heart Association advises women limit added sugars to 25 grams (about 6 teaspoons) a day and men to 37.5 grams (about 9 teaspoons) a day. Research also shows that people in Western countries are eating on average about 35 teaspoons of sugar a day! This is because it’s hidden in almost all the foods we buy from the supermarket, not straight out of the sugar bowl! We need to take a sensible approach to sugars in our diet.
It’s not possible to see added sugars in teaspoons on packaging during manufacturing, but the Nutrition Facts Label can help us to identify added sugars. Finding ingredients such as sugar, corn syrup, dextrose and honey (although honey is at least natural) near the top of an ingredient list should signal that there is a high amount of added sugar in the product.
Artificial sweeteners aren’t really a healthy long term solution to removing sugar either because of possible adverse health side effects. Stevia and Agave seem to be popular natural plant based sweeteners around right now. However Agave is very high in fructose. But heck, at the end of the day I would rather be eating small amounts of honey, maple syrup or Stevia to my natural foods in moderation as apposed to eating supermarket bought cookies and unhealthy health bars! Some common sense has to come into play. Moderation is key. Don’t forget too; homemade biscuits, slices and other recipes can be adapted by reducing sugar and substituting sugar for prunes, maple syrup or dates for example. So if you have the time, it is better to cook your own foods so you know what goes into it! Your recipes will be free of all those added sugars, additives and preservatives!
Check Nutritional Information on food labels for Total Carbohydrates as well as Sugars. Carbohydrates are the body’s main source of energy. Carbohydrates fall generally into two categories: sugars and starches. Sugar is a simple carbohydrate, and starches, which are complex carbohydrates, break down into blood sugar also known as glucose. Consuming too many carbohydrates quickly can spike blood sugar levels which may cause problems over time. Monitoring and maintaining carbohydrate intake is key to blood sugar control. Foods high in sugary carbohydrates include sugary beverages, desserts, dried fruits, sweets, candy, honey and high sugar fruits. Foods high in starchy carbohydrates include starchy vegetables, flour based foods including cereals, peas and beans to a lesser extent, and whole grains such as rice, barley, oats and quinoa. As many of these have high nutritional value, limit them and eat in moderation.
Lignans present in flaxseed, are known to improve the blood sugar levels in type 2 diabetics. Incorporating flaxseed into your meals may be beneficial for you. Ask your doctor or nutritionist. They are readily available from the supermarket.
Start by removing the obvious basic stuff – Remove biscuits, pastries, candy, chocolates and soft drinks from your pantry of fridge. Start shopping for more natural foods such as meats, dairy, vegetables, fruit and whole breads. Foods unadulterated by processing and manufacturing.
Stop buying hidden high sugar foods that “should” be good for you such as sugary “fruit” muesli, sugary fruit juices and canned fruit, sugary yoghurts and sugary health bars. Cereals can be loaded with sugars or have hidden “clusters” and “dried fruits” that are not natural but rather very sugary.
Look at the labels on foods in your pantry. Highly processed foods and condiments such as low fat mayonnaise, tomato ketchup, jam and Hoisin sauce. Some canned meats and soups can be high in sugars. Flavored “juices” and “drinks” are sugar offenders, so check labels.
“Listen” to your taste buds! If something tastes very sweet, it probably has lots of sugar, so investigate further and either eliminate it from your diet altogether, or if it’s natural, use in moderation.
Low fat foods usually have more sugar, so check these too. So think about high fibre, low sugar products but beware “lite” products as they usually have lots of sugar. Full cream milk, cream and butter, plus Greek yoghurt and cream cheese are good, eaten in moderation if watching your weight or fat intake of course.
Berries, peaches, pears and kiwi fruit are better for high fibre and lower in sugars than say grapes, bananas and pineapples. But any fresh fruit or vegetable has got to be better than any of the nasty alternatives. Just aim for eating only a few pieces of lower sugar fruits a day is okay.
Homemade salad dressings, such as with olive oil and apple cider vinegar are much better for you than bought brands. Same goes for homemade sauces. If you can make your own with natural ingredients, this is healthier and more nutritious! I regularly make Tzatziki with Greek yoghurt, a little minced garlic and cucumber.
Cut down or remove store bought sugar from cooking, instead substituting with naturally occurring sweet ingredients such as prunes, dates, natural fruit purees, maple syrup and honey. Although these are high is natural sugars, we tend to only use small amounts as a ratio in our meals. Use common sense…No more honey laden toast or pancakes though!
Eggs and Milks: Eggs have hardly any sugar raw; up to around 1g of sugar per 100g depending on how you eat them cooked. Coconut milk has 3.3g of sugar per 100g, cow’s milk 5g, and unsweetened almond milk under 1g. So keep these in your diet!
Think about breakfasts: Try an egg on toast, an omelette or a smoothie instead of sugary muffins or pancakes. Maybe some toast with organic peanut butter or cream cheese. Wean yourself off 2 sugars in your coffee or tea! I make up my own low sugar muesli.