Tony Ferguson
Health Matters

Healthy lifestyle

You’re Sweet Enough, so Ditch the Sugar!


It’s time to say, “see ya!” to sugar

Here’s how…  

If you’re anything like us, you’ve got a sweet tooth that just won’t quit and can’t get enough sweet treats!

Sugar cravings are very normal, as humans we’re programmed to like sweet tastes; and they keep us coming back for more. But this isn’t good news for our waistlines or health. Cutting down on sugar is one of the first things recommended at the start of any healthy living journey, and there’s a reason – it works!

Before you run away…

We’re not saying give it up completely – the horror! We’re just saying that even cutting your consumption in half, to start, could mean a big reward for your health, both in body and mind.

5 not so sweet facts about sugar…

1. It’s no joke that sugar is addictive. When you eat sugar, it triggers the release of feel-good chemicals in your brain which keeps you craving … and coming back for more.

2. Lots of sugar can lead to weight gain and make losing weight seemingly impossible. Sugar also makes us hungrier; it leads to a spike in blood sugar, followed by a drastic crash making us feel very hungry very quickly. The solution? We eat more which triggers the cycle again and adds to the weight gain.

3. Eating too much sugar is a major contributor to obesity, insulin resistance and diseases of lifestyle such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease etc.

4. It makes you feel good, but then not so good. Consistent overindulgence in sugar has a role to play in depression and anxiety. It can also affect mood in the short term, think of how you feel after crashing from a sugar rush, or how your mood is affected by withdrawal when you don’t give in to your cravings.

5. It’s sneaky! Apart from foods where we expect to find sugar, like sweets and desserts, sugar is also often hidden in unexpected places. Everyday things such as fruit juices, “fat-free” yoghurts, cereals and even savoury foods often contain added sugar!

In moderation, a small amount of sugar now and then won’t do us any harm. It’s having it in excess that’s the problem, and small bites throughout the day can have a big impact…

5 ways to start saying goodbye…

1. Check the labels of foods you buy for sneaky sugars. On the nutritional panel of foods, there should always be a line labelled “of which sugar”. Check this to see how many grams of sugar you’re about to get from a single serving of that food and whether this fits into your daily allowance.

2. Choose Sugar-Free. With increasing awareness about the effects of sugar, many food companies are providing sugar-free alternatives ranging from drinks, to candy and sweet treats, opt for these where you can.

3. Think 95 – 5A healthy diet keeps you feeling full, sustained and satisfied, not lurching from a sugar rush to crash. If your diet is healthy for 95% of the time, you’re well on the way to leaving cravings behind. That said, it’s important to be practical, after all, what’s life without having a treat now and then? Set aside time for one sweet treat a week. Alternatively, address major cravings with a small treat serve as they come up – that means you’re not going to feel deprived and binge later.

4. Ask, “Is this real?” Feelings of hunger and cravings for sweet treats are not always caused by physical hunger. Sometimes they’re linked to mood, for example: comfort food when we’re down; a celebration for doing something good; or simply a habit like that block of chocolate after dinner. If you’re in a situation like that, find an answer that isn’t food. Call a friend to talk through your problem, treat yourself with a manicure or bubble bath instead, or take note of your habit and replace it with a productive one.

5. Distract yourself and get a buddy on board. Instead of focusing on the fact that you don’t like your tea without sugar, use the opportunity to experiment with alternative warm beverages like herbal teas. If you’re craving your dessert after dinner, go for a walk instead. Of course, things are always easier to do together, so get a friend on board and help keep each other motivated.

The good news is that it does get easier; the less sweet stuff you have, the lower your sweet tolerance becomes. This means you’ll start to want sugary foods less, and when you do have them, you may find yourself needing less and less to satisfy the craving.