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Sugar is a name given to sweet tasting, soluble Carbohydrate.  Many of which are found in foods we eat daily and provides a quick source of energy.

Sugar occurs naturally in some foods such as fruit, vegetables and dairy.  Other foods that contain sugar have it added during the manufacturing process and some of us add it to our food before we eat it.

Image Source: Laura Ockel (Unsplash)

There are 7 different types of sugars:

  • Fructose: found in fruit
  • Galactose: found in milk and dairy products
  • Glucose: found in honey, fruits and vegetables
  • Lactose: found in milk, made from glucose and galactose
  • Maltose: found in barley
  • Sucrose: made up of glucose and fructose and found in plants
  • Xylose: found in wood or straw
Image Source: Angello Lopez (Unsplash)

Sugar comes in different forms:  white, raw, brown, honey and corn syrup.  Brown and raw sugar contains slightly more minerals compared with white sugar.  However, the calorie count when consumed is similar.

Don’t be fooled into thinking that brown sugar is a healthier option, because it isn’t.

Are all Sugars bad for you?

Eating too much of anything is never recommended.  

Eating an excess of any foods that contain sugar can lead to weight gain, blood sugar levels rise, the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, depression, skin aging, acne, tooth decay and loss of energy.

Whilst refined sugar is a quick source of energy it does not contain nutrients such as vitamins and minerals that our body needs to function and repair itself.  

Some studies have suggested that sugar is addictive.  The more we eat the more we want.  

Refined sugars are everywhere and can be found hidden in many foods.  Some you may not expect to find it in. This is particularly true when it comes to processed foods.  Sugar acts as a preservative, and is added to many pre-packaged foods to help increase its shelf life. 

Image Source: Anastasia Zhenina (Unsplash)

The best way to help control your refined sugar intake is to prepare your own meals and avoid buying overly processed packaged and refined foods. 

Fresh whole foods are packed with their own beautiful flavours, nutritional value and often do not need any extra additives to improve its taste.

Try swapping refined processed sugars (Sucrose) for more natural types such as glucose that can be found in fruits, vegetables and honey. 

How can you replace refined sugars in your diet?

A moderate intake of sugar is perfectly acceptable combined with a healthy well balanced diet.  Sugar should make up no more than 10% of your total daily energy intake.  

Should you be consuming more than this, it is recommended to reduce the same, to help avoid long-term damage to your health.

Take baby steps to reduce your dependency on sugar. Over time your taste buds and cravings for refined sugars will reduce and you are likely to enjoy foods that are less sweet.

Here are some ideas:  

1. Eat natural, unflavoured Greek yoghurt instead of pre- flavoured varieties.  Add fresh fruit and or honey for sweetening, should you need it.

2. Replace the mayonnaise on your salad with olive oil, lemon juice and vinegar.

oatmeal with fruits
Image Source: Brooke Lark (Unsplash)

3. Replace your morning cereal with Oats or a smoothie that contains natural ingredients (no added sugar).

4. Drink freshly squeezed fruit and vegetable juices rather than soda’s and other flavoured drinks.

5. Drink herbal teas without sugar

coffee and sweet treats
Image Source: Jonathan Pielmayer (Unsplash)

6. Drink your coffee black

7. Make your own granola bars, and add a small amount of dried fruit for sweetness 

8. Eat nuts/seeds or a trail mix for a snack.

9. Freeze fruit for a cold icy snack in the summer.

bread with raspberry
Image Source: Jordan Mathieu (Unsplash)

10. Freeze yoghurt with fresh berries for a cold desert in summer.

11. Eat peanut butter or other whole nut spreads rather than Nutella or jams.

12. Eat dark chocolate rather than milk chocolate.  It has higher cocoa content and contains less sugar.

13. Reduce your intake of carbohydrates such as white rice, white breads and pasta.  Replace with wholemeal pasta and bread, brown rice and Quinoa.

14. Enhance foods with spices such as ginger; allspice, cinnamon, cardamom and nutmeg, all of which are all healing. Freshly grated spice takes the taste to another level.

15. Add extracts such as almond, vanilla, orange and or lemon.

16. Add freshly squeezed lemon or orange juice; lemon and orange rind is particularly good.

orange cake
Image Source: Honey Fangs (Unsplash)

17. Add less sugar than suggested by the recipe when baking sweet treats such as cakes and cookies.  You can add up to less than half. You are likely to not even notice the difference.

Read and compare the labels on food before purchasing. Avoid foods with high sugar levels.

Detox from sugar

For those of us who have developed a dependency on sugar, eliminating it is not always easy.  Like most addictions you will experience some withdraw symptoms.

Stopping cold turkey could be traumatic as both mental and physical symptoms can affect your ability to function.  It is recommended to eliminate refined, sugary foods out of your diet by gradually reducing its quantity over time.  Cut back by half initially and work towards eliminating it completely. This way the withdrawal symptoms are less likely to be impactful on your life.  You are more likely to succeed too!

Sugar detox can cause a number of emotional and mental symptoms. These include:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Changes in sleep patterns
  • Cognitive issues
  • Cravings

Physical symptoms can include:

  • Lightheadedness and dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Tingling
  • Fatigue

These are all signs that your body is withdrawing from its sugar dependency.  The good news is that these symptoms are not long lived. It is suggested that the average person will take approx 10 days to loose their sugar dependency.  The symptoms will fade and you are likely to feel more alive and less sluggish. Your mood and energy levels should be more constant, without the come down you used to experience when you consume more sugar. 

In time your need and or desire for sweet treats will decrease.

Don’t miss: 8 Simple Ways to Start Loving Your Body

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