As Halloween (yay Halloween) approaches, I have noticed how supermarkets are filling their shelves with candy, chocolate, toffee apples and more even candy. Which lead me to thinking, why haven’t I written about sugar yet?! Better late than never I suppose. Oh and when I say sugar, I’m not talking about sugar found in fruit (that is NOT bad for you).
Sugar is the absolute devil, the end. Alright, I’ll expand a little bit more on that. But I do mean it when I say sugar is evil. It’s so addictive, so tasty, so available and SO bad for us all. But what do I mean when I say it’s so available? Basically, it’s everywhere, including: fizzy drinks, flavoured water, alcohol, fruit juice, squash, junk food, tinned food, fast food, already made food and frozen food. You might be thinking to yourself, well no, it’s not… I am eating rice for lunch and there’s no sugar in there…you are mistaken my friend!
So much for trusty Uncle Ben!
Well that’s okay you might say, because I don’t eat rice for lunch. That’s fine, but I bet you didn’t expect to find sugar in rice, because rice is healthy right? Plus I can see on the packaging it says wholegrain which means it’s even healthier right? So, how about the following food items, I bet you’re not expecting to see sugar in half of these. Here are a selection of foods I have taken from the kitchen cupboard, just standard every day items.
Some of you may have been surprised about what you have seen, I admittedly was not expecting to find sugar in rice, nor in the seasoning, because let’s face it, it’s just herbs and herbs don’t need to be added to sugar – but hey, that’s the food industry. They want to keep their food on the shelf for as long as possible in order to maximise profit.
Why am I giving sugar a hard time? Well, quite frankly it’s SO bad for our health and this is a health and wellbeing blog so it’s my job to inform you of what’s good and bad so that you can live a very happy and healthy lifestyle, after all, who else is going to tell you!?
- 4 calories for every 1 GRAM of sugar, not teaspoon, gram.
- Has has a negative effect on obesity.
- Is an addictive substance that is linked with the reward system in our brain, therefore your brain will tell you it wants more and more and releases the feel good hormones when received – Think of a smoker and their relationship with cigarettes.
- It has a negative relationship with our hormones and nervous system.
- Sugar tricks obese people into thinking they’ve not received sugar (it blocks their leptin) and they do not get that ‘sugar high’ that their brain is craving and therefore it will want even more.
- Leads to high blood sugar levels.
- which leads to insulin resistance.
- and this leads to type 2 diabetes.
- Type 2 diabetes leads to Heart Disease.
- Heart disease leads to… you know what it leads to.
So you can tell yourself, right that’s fine I’m not going to eat sugar ever again and in order to ensure this, i’ll start reading the labels. But it occurred to me the other day, I don’t actually know how to visualise grams, do you? So when you or I go to the supermarket and we read the label and we find out that theres 19 grams of sugar in 1 triangle of Toblerone (Yikes) what are we going to do? I probably would say, oh that seems quite a lot – without knowing how much 19 grams even is. BUT, what if the food industry changed the tables to represent sugar in teaspoons (light bulb moment). We all know the size of a teaspoon and could therefore understand what 10 teaspoons of sugar looks like. It sounds rather helpful, but of course that probably wouldn’t happen because they want us to continue to buy the sugary products so they can continue with their profits (just a conspiracy i’m throwing out there).
In the UK, we are advised to not consume more than 30grams of sugar a day, which sounds like a nice round figure, but most people actually go WAY above that amount, including myself when I want to treat myself. For example, say I had 5 teas or coffees in a day at university with a teaspoon of sugar and decided to munch on a triangle of Toblerone during my lecture (yes I have done that) that’s 39grams of sugar alone, without adding sugar throughout the day from breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks and other drinks.
My 10 take home messages for you are:
- Just make yourself aware that sugar is literally in most food products, even if you think it’s not, there probably is.
- Think of ways to limit your sugar, I started by cutting out sugar in my cups of tea, I now have no sugar and don’t like tea with sugar anymore, your body will adapt. I also don’t buy chocolate to keep in the house so if I want chocolate I have to find a shop, which results in me being lazy and not ending up with chocolate!
- Save sweets and treats for one day a week/special occasions.
- Don’t have dessert after your meal unless it’s for special occasions/once a week
- Read labels in things you buy, for example if something says 22g per 100g and what you’re buying is 500g, that’s a lot isn’t it.
- Cut out fizzy drinks, they make you bloated anyway!
- Limit your alcohol intake where you can, you can make a difference now before the Christmas celebrations commence!
- Try not to add sugar to your food where possible, i.e on top of your breakfast and opt for fresh fruit instead.
- Make sure you have plenty of fibre in your diet (fruit, veg…)
- Exercise regularly to keep your insides healthy.
If you’d like to read more about sugar there are really good sources online and I have recently read this book that my friend lent to me. I found it so interesting coming from the health industry so I would advise this to others with a similar background, it is a book written for the ‘general public’, however I would say that if you are not familiar with health terminology you may find this a difficult read but nonetheless you may find this beneficial.
As I always say, it’s all about balance
© 2016 Naomi Laws. All rights reserved.