Is chocolate the first thing you reach for when you are stressed out and emotional?
You might just be a sugar junkie.
There is nothing wrong with enjoying the odd sweet treat every now and again (the MNB team are certainly guilty). But those of us with a sweet tooth can often overdo it, and rely too heavily on sugary food to curb that craving, to give us an energy boost, or even to improve our mood. Let’s be honest, it may seem like a good idea, but very soon those cravings will return, accompanied by lethargy, moodiness, and to top it off, you will be back right where you started – wanting more sugar.
The Low Down On Sugar…
Now, don’t get me wrong, not all sugars are ‘bad’, in fact, sugar is critical for adequate metabolic function, to prevent stress on the body, and to avoid the depletion of critical cellular components. But as you may know, sugar comes in a wide variety of foods – from natural plant based foods such as fruits, grains and starchy vegetables, to animal foods such as cheese and milk, as well as processed and refined foods such as cakes, biscuits, and chocolate. It is the processed and refined sources that we should be avoiding.
So why should we avoid refined sugar?
Any sugar that is unrecognisable from its natural form should be avoided. Conventional sugar is generally processed through extreme heat treatments, chemical purification, and bleaching. Even brown sugar should be avoided, as it is generally white, refined sugar that has either had molasses added back into it to make it brown, or is artificially coloured. The end product of this sugar is therefore, nutrient-empty, calorie dense and chemical laden.
Refined sugars are extremely easily digested and absorbed straight into our blood stream, causing elevated blood glucose levels. High blood glucose levels put a massive strain on our organs and body’s systems, causing wear and tear, ageing our bodies and decreasing its functional ability. Not only this, but excess sugar consumption has been associated with contributing to weight gain, compromising immunity and tooth decay, among other consequences.
The amount of foods containing sugar is crazy town. If your food is packaged, it is likely to contain added sugar. This includes ready-made sauce and salad dressing, bread, breakfast cereal, muesli bars, potato crisps…the list goes on.
When you sit back and think about what you eat on a typical day, you may be surprised at how much sugar you are actually consuming.
For example, muesli for breakfast, fruit for morning tea, a salad sandwich with cheese and sauce for lunch, crackers and dip for afternoon tea, cheesy tuna pasta for dinner, and ice cream for dessert – all of these things contain sugar. You can see how easy it is to consume a ton of sugar, and just how quickly it adds up.
Here at MNB, we don’t believe in “demonising” foods, as we see the benefit in eating all foods sensibly, and prefer to swap highly processed and refined foods with their ‘real’ and ‘whole’ food counterparts.
Hashtag your photos #MOVEOVERSUGAR up until August 28th, 2013 and we will collate the best for Round 1 of our Move Nourish Believe ‘Move Over Sugar’ E-Book.
For some of you, the Move Over Sugar Challenge may mean cutting out all refined sugar and processed foods from your diet. Others, who wish to take it a step further, may want to reduce their consumption of sugars from all food sources.
7 steps that can help you eliminate refined & processed sources of sugar…
No more white, brown or raw packets of sugar, muesli bars, cereals, biscuits, cakes, crackers or dips. If you are unsure, read every single ingredient. Discard anything that contains some form of refined sugar (including glucose, fructose, maltose, dextrose, invert sugar, lactose, agave nectar, malt syrup, syrup). This removes any temptation. Processed sugar includes any artificial sources of sweetness such as diet soft drinks, xylitol and aspartame. These guys will keep you addicted to the ‘sugar high’, leave you wanting more sweetness, and do not nourish or satiate you like natural forms of sugar do.
2. Play swapsies.
Swap those refined sources of sugar, for natural ones. Honey, rapadura and coconut sugar, fresh dates and fresh fruit will become your best friends. These guys are high in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, and not laden with chemicals.
3. Experiment with making your own treats using natural forms of sugar.
Put a healthy spin on your favourite sweat treats, and substitute the sugar for natural alternatives. Do you LOVE muesli bars? Can’t live without chocolate cake? Find a good recipe and make your own version. They will not only have any hidden nasties, but they will sustain you for longer and be a source of nourishment. MNB has lots of natural sugar recipes such as the raw carrot cake, Anzac cookies, sensibliss balls and strawberry apple crumble (perfect to warm up your winter).
4. Have regular meals packed full with protein, healthy fats and veggies.
These meals will sustain you, maintain stable blood glucose levels, keep you feeling satiated for longer, and prevent you from reaching for the cookie jar.
5. Be prepared.
Plan your meals, particularly your lunches, so you are not forced to eat out or choose unhealthy, sugary choices.
6. Be organised.
Always have fresh fruit and nuts handy for when you get peckish between meals.
7. Spice things up.
Use spices to give the ‘illusion’ that a food is sweeter than it really is – try vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg and cardamom.
If you’re interesting in kicking sugar to the curb, join us on the Move Over Sugar journey. The key things to remember are to go easy on yourself, take it slow and be reasonable. This isn’t about deprivation; it’s about making smarter food choices and cutting back on the unnecessary nasties that are entering your body. For you advanced sporty sisters who want to take it to the next level (reduce sugar from ALL food sources) check in next week, as I will be providing you with some helpful tips on going ‘cold turkey’ and ways to combat cravings.
Don’t forget to #moveoversugar to show us what recipes you come up with!