I am not the type of person to quit sugar. It wasn’t long ago I labelled people who lived a sugar-free life as ‘hippies’ or ‘extremists’. I believed that all foods were needed in moderation, and quitting sugar was the equivalent of yo-yo dieting.
The truth is that I have been overweight and yo-yo dieting the majority of my life. When I wasn’t dieting I ate a low fat diet to control weight gain. I had been brainwashed by the food companies, and had no idea that my low-fat diet was actually keeping me fat!
I had been brainwashed by the food companies, and had no idea that my low-fat diet was actually keeping me fat!
I convinced myself it was genetics. I couldn’t loose the excess weight because I was big boned and had a slow metabolism.
A couple of months ago I visited my doctor for back pain. I had nerve damage to my lower back. One of his suggestions was low impact exercise daily, such as walking; and to cut back on sugar.
I didn’t have sugar in my coffee and didn’t drink soft drink. I rarely ate chocolate or sweets and ate a low-fat diet. I didn’t understand where I could cut sugar from my diet.
Still, I had a feeling I needed to investigate it further. I was recommended to read ‘That Sugar Book’. Suddenly the penny dropped. Low-fat equals high sugar content. In order to preserve the taste of low-fat foods, food manufacturers pack them full of sugar.
According to ‘Sugar Science’, sugars are hiding in 74% of packaged foods. Within our modern food chain, sugar is hidden in plain sight, most of us unaware we are consuming so much of this poison.
Within our modern food chain, sugar is hidden in plain sight, most of us unaware we are consuming so much of this poison.
Where Sugars Are Hidden
Sugar’s come in various forms and masquerade under many different names. By reading the ingredients list, we may not realise that sugar is in a product. Some common names sugar hides under are:
• Agave Nectar
• Golden Syrup
• Corn Syrup
• Grape Sugar
• Rice Syrup
• Fruit Juice
This is just a few examples. Sadly, food manufacturers use over 61 different names for sugar to try and hide how much sugar is in their products.
Many products that are promoted as healthy foods are very high in sugar. These include low-fat yoghurts, cereals, fruit juices, sauces and marinades, low fat packaged soups, dried fruit and granola bars just to name a few.
How Much Sugar Should We Be Consuming?
The World Health Organisation recommends a maximum of six teaspoons of sugar per day.
When I first started interpreting the data on food packages, I found it difficult to calculate how many teaspoons of sugar were in each product. The nutritional data is normally in grams and broken down into various metrics.
As a rule of thumb, every 4 grams of sugar equals a teaspoon. When reading the packaging, look at the number of grams per serve and divide by 4. This will tell you how many teaspoons of sugar you will be consuming per serve.
The trick is to be realistic about the serving size. Food manufacturers tend to be very conservative about serving sizes, so you may need to double, or even triple the number of grams per serve to match what you consume.
For example, this jar of pasta sauce contains 7.5g of sugar per serve. That is under two teaspoons of sugar which is o.k. However, the serving size is 115g and the manufacturer says that each jar contains 5 serves.
I know from experience that this jar will feed my husband and I with a little bit over. For us, each jar contains 2.5 serves. This makes each serve 15g of sugar which is just under four teaspoons. Now it doesn’t seem like such a healthy option!
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Side Effects Of A High Sugar Lifestyle
For me, a high sugar lifestyle has kept me overweight and contributed to nerve damage in my back. Being overweight for the past 20 years has contributed to other health issues such as knee problems, self-esteem issues and weight-related conditions during pregnancy.
I have been lucky. There are many other health impacts a of a high sugar diet, such as:
• Insulin Resistance
• Liver Failure
• Pancreatic Cancer
• Kidney Disease
• High Blood Pressure
• Heart Disease
• Increased risk of cognitive decline such as Alzheimer’s
What Can You Eat When You Quit Sugar?
What Can You Eat When You Quit Sugar?
The simple answer is that I now eat like our grandparents and great-grandparents did.
When I shop, I stay on the outskirts of the store and avoid the grocery section as much as possible. I fill my trolley with lots of vegetables, some fruit, meat, nuts, cheeses, eggs and wholemeal or sourdough bread.
I spend more time in the kitchen and make our foods from scratch. For example, I make my own pasta sauces, salad dressings, tomato sauce, mayonnaise, hummus and sugar free treats (such as coconut raspberry balls or savoury muffins).
I am not a great cook and it often feels like a chore. However, you don’t need to be a contestant on ‘Master Chef’ to whip up a sugar-free menu. If I can do it, so can you! I try and cook in batches so that it doesn’t feel like I spend hours in the kitchen each day. This lessens the burden and makes it less of a chore.
You don’t need to be a contestant on Master Chef to whip up a sugar- free menu. If I can do it, so can you!
Since embarking on sugar-free living, I enjoy preparing my meals from scratch knowing that I am cooking nutritious foods. I get great satisfaction from creating a healthy dinner that my family devours and loves!
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Verdict On Quitting Sugar
It was much easier than I anticipated.
In truth, when I was eating a low fat diet I felt I was depriving myself more. With a no sugar diet, I get to enjoy many foods I used to avoid such as nuts, avocado’s eggs, and bacon.
My taste buds quickly adjusted. On the rare occasion I try something with added sugar, I find it too sweet to enjoy. I now enjoy the natural sweetness in vegetables such as carrots and tomatoes.
My family also adapted quicker than expected. My three year old daughter hardly remembers the old foods she used to eat. She looks forward to her daily apple and considers that a sweet treat! My husband was very sceptical at the beginning but he is now coming around. Recently he has gone from two sugars in his coffee to none!
As for my weight loss. I have no idea what I weigh! I decided not to focus on losing weight as this is a lifestyle change and not a diet. I figure if I keep eating clean and participate in gentle exercise daily, my body will respond accordingly.
As a side effect, I have more energy, my skin is clearer and I am sleeping better.
Are you thinking of going sugar-free? I would love to hear from you. Together we can help and support each other.