Sugar is making big news these days. More and more research is finding that it is addictive, harmful, and one of the biggest health concerns of this generation. One of the major problems is that pretty much everything we eat is laden with processed sugars, and reducing its intake can be quite a challenge.
To begin with, it is important to understand the distinction between processed sugar and natural sugar. Many believe that natural sugar, such as that found in fruit and vegetables, is good for you. The fact is, sugar is sugar no matter where it is coming from. The distinction between processed and natural sugars is how it is absorbed.
Natural sugars go hand in hand with rich nutrition, which when consumed together, results in the regulated uptake and use of sugars. This means that when you drink fruit juice, or eat your vegetables, the sugars are slowly and naturally absorbed by the body, giving your systems time to use, regulate and assimilate it – posing little danger when enjoyed responsibly.
Although processed sugars are technically the same, they do not come hand in hand with the same natural nutritional content. This means that there is little to regulate the uptake of sugar, and it is absorbed too quickly for the body to handle, causing a spike in blood sugar levels – which is very bad for your health.
It is worth mentioning, that whilst these sugars may technically be the same. Many processed sugars used in everyday food go through a lot of industrial refinement, which can include chemicals and additives – something you want to avoid.
Understanding this distinction, that if you are eating sugar, it should be natural sugars, can help you make informed dietary decisions and cut processed sugars out of your life. The following are a few tips to help reduce your processed sugar intake, and put your wellbeing back on track.
Eating 3 regular, balanced meals a day will help maintain a healthy blood sugar level. Often, when meals are skipped, it can cause our blood sugar levels to drop, which is more likely to make us crave sweet, often processed, high sugar snacks. If you do get these cravings, try eating fruit, or something with honey. These natural sugars will ensure you blood sugar level doesn’t rise too rapidly.
Linking in with our first point, when you prepare a meal, use as many whole foods as possible. Whole foods are foods that are in their original form. The closer food is to its original form, the less processed sugars it is going to contain.
Artificial sweeteners are often manmade chemical compounds that are actually worse for you than sugar. To make things worse, they do not often help maintain a healthy blood sugar level and still leave you craving for sweet things.
Light exercise, such as yoga, or a quick jog can actually help you feel more energized, reducing the need to seek out sugar highs.
Although you want to avoid processed foods as much as possible, educating yourself about what is in them can help you make informed decisions. Read the packaging labels and nutritional information of your food before you buy it, so that you are aware of what you are eating. Knowledge is power, and the start to change.
Keep sugary snacks well hidden, or better yet, don’t buy them. If you can’t see them, or don’t have access to them, you are less likely to think about them.
Protein helps control blood sugar levels, reducing the need for sugar. Make sure that you are getting it from a healthy source.
Cereals, although often advertised as healthy, contain extremely high amounts of processed sugars. Try healthier alternatives such as homemade porridge, plain whole wheat cereal biscuits, or plain shredded whole grain pillows. If these are too bland for you, try spicing them up with natural sugars, such as honey or fruit. Although this is still sugar, it is going to be much better for you than the processed sugars contained in most cereals.
These are some of the biggest culprits when it comes to sugar. So many people drink sodas regularly without a second thought. The fact is, they are absolutely full of sugar. Switch them out for water and fruit juices. These juices will still have a degree of sugar in, but nowhere near as much, and they will come with essential nutrients that will help your body regulate its uptake.
One of the biggest obstacles most people face when trying to cut processed sugars out of their life is willpower. Cravings, and the ease with which sugar can be obtained, have made sugary treats very difficult to resist. If you are serious about reducing your sugar intake, then stretch that willpower a bit and get motivated. Stay strong, remember why you are cutting down, and you will have already won half the battle. If you need that little extra bit of motivation, we recommend you watch the 2014 documentary ‘Fed Up’ – an examination of the food industry, and how sugar has led to an obesity epidemic that will lead to our children living shorter lives than their parents for the first time in recent history.