Sugar Facts & Healthy Tips
Updated: Feb 16
We all love the sweet taste of cakes, doughnuts and chocolates, but little do we realise what it's doing to our body. When we talk about sugar being harmful, it doesn't refer to the sweet strawberries or mangos you absolutely love, it is the processed and artificial sugar that you consume on a daily basis.
Processed sugar gives you high calories empty of any nutritional value, and it's nutritional content that your body craves. Artificial sweeteners, on the other hand, give you zero or low calories with a bunch of chemicals your body cannot recognise and doesn't know what to do with, so it wisely wraps them up in fat to keep them away from your organs.
Good, bad or ugly?
People still find themselves wondering just how bad sugar can be. Here is a fact: sugar is highly addictive, just as much cocaine! Your brain enjoys the dopamine release sugar brings, which is exactly the same thing drugs do. And like drugs, the more sugar you eat, the more you need because the brain gets used to it and demands more of it to get the same 'happiness' effect.
But although your brain may experience a quick fix of sugar high, what are the real effects of high sugar intake? Well, the correlation between high sugar consumption and obesity and diabetes has been scientifically proven. And with weight gain you are at higher risk of suffering other illnesses such as heart disease and even certain types of cancer. Just let me point out here that cancer cells feed and grow on glucose, that's sugar!
So how can you overcome sugar addiction? As with any addiction, you go cold turkey. But of course, you still want to enjoy the sweetness life has to offer, right? Well, there are many ways you can still have a sweet treat that is good for you and your body.
And you know, when you introduce a new flavour to your taste buds, it only takes 10 days to get used to it and like it. So let's have a look at the alternative options you have.
Fizzy drinks and your daily coffee/tea are the most mindless way you can consume sugar because they are perceived as drinks and not sugar. However, they are also the ones with the most incredible concentration of sugar. Here you are some drink alternatives:
Water: nature's #1 thirst quencher.
Herbal or fruit teas: perfect in cold winter nights (chai is my favourite).
Sparkling water with fresh lemon or lime - your very own homemade soda.
Tea and coffee: just keep it unsweetened.
Fruit smoothies: add bananas to get that sweetness!
If you were forced to eat fruit as a child, you may have resistance to add them to your shopping list. But you are not a child anymore and the variety of fruit available all year around goes beyond the apple you had put in your lunch box.
Fruit is truly nature’s candy and the healthiest way to satisfy sweet cravings. And mixing them with protein and healthy fats, such as nuts or nut butter (which digest slowly), will keep you fuller for longer. Although if you want to lose weight, watch it with the nuts! Of course, you can always make your own fruit cocktail!
Greek yogurt with fruit - ideal mix of probiotics and vitamins to promote healthy digestion.
Apple or banana with nut butter - this even sounds like a naughty treat! It's satisfying and gives you loads of energy.
Baked apples or pears with cinnamon - a winter winner anytime.
Starting your day with commercial cereals or pancakes or waffles paddling in a pool of syrup, is only going to leave you craving sugar all day and hunger will call your door before sooner than expected. You can give these alternatives a go:
Hot oatmeal - add fruits like banana and blueberries to sweeten it. This is a fiber powerhouse of slow digestion that will keep you feeling full for longer.
Greek yogurt - add fruit and nuts to have a complete and nutritious breakfast that includes all food groups.
Avocado: yes, it's a fruit! Ditch the butter spread and have avocado on toast with scrambled eggs for a complete breakfast.
Sugar and weight loss
Cutting down sugar, is the number one health hack you can adopt to keep your body happy. Of course, whether just cutting sugar is enough for weight loss depends on the type of eater you are. A sugar addict who otherwise eats healthily but is all day snacking on chocolate bars, jam donuts, and biscuits, will definitely experience weight loss as a consequence of eliminating sugar intake.
If you want to find out what type of eater you are,
take my Type of Eater Quiz
and receive personalised tips based on your results.
On the other hand, someone who only adds a tea spoon of sugar to their daily cuppa and feasts on pizza and chips everyday, can happily continue to enjoy their tea/coffee with sugar as their weight issue is due to a high fat intake. So it's not that sugar has to be completely eliminated, but it has to be put into perspective in terms of health and also weight loss.
The more complex issue with sugar is that, even if you don't use sugar as such, sugar is hidden in all processed foods. Food manufacturers know how addictive sugar is and they add it to their products to keep you coming back for more! Quite a clever marketing technique to fill their pockets at your health's expense. Just imagine they advertised alcohol as 'once you pop, you can't stop' - it wouldn't be allowed.
You are in control and you can always retrain your taste buds to go sugar free. Remember it only takes 10 days to get used to a new flavour (sugarless in this case). So give it a go because it's your brain that is addicted to sugar, not your body, your body actually hates it!