We all know that consuming large quantities of sugar has a negative effect on our body and can lead to weight gain, lowered immune function and tooth loss. But, if that wasn’t a good enough reason to ditch the white stuff, did you know that it can also lead to premature aging too? When sugar molecules hit your blood stream they attach themselves to proteins such as elastin and collagen and cause them to break down quicker. Hello lines and wrinkles.
So, if you would like to clean up your diet and cut your sugar intake, here are my top 5 tips to get you started:
1. Become A Label Detective
You probably don’t realise just how much sugar you consume in a day and you might be shocked if you worked it out. The majority of packaged foods have sneaky added sugar hiding in them, but they can be tricky to recognise as they are not always in the foods you would expect. For example, a 35g packet of fajita seasoning mix can contain up to 19g of sugar!
Next time you are in the supermarket take a look at some labels and watch out for any ingredients ending in ‘ose’ such as sucrose, dextrose, fructose or the word ‘syrup’. The nutritional information table will also show you the amount of sugar in grams that the item contains.
2. Be Prepared
How many times have you set good intentions by eating a fabulous healthy breakfast and lunch and then given into your cravings at 3pm because the only thing you could lay your hands on was a chocolate bar?
If you don’t already have some in your kitchen cupboards, go out and buy a selection of different sized small plastic containers and food bags. At the start of each week you can fill some up with a selection of nuts for example so that they are ready to pop into your handbag or desk drawer. Vegetable sticks such as carrots, cucumber, celery or peppers are super quick and easy to chop up the night before and keep in the refrigerator.
3. Balance Your Blood Sugar
The reason that many of us feel the energy crash mid-afternoon is because our blood sugar levels have been heightened by something we have had at lunchtime and have then dropped back down dramatically. By eating foods such as healthy fats and proteins we can stabilise these levels and sustain them so that we don’t experience the extreme highs and lows.
Eggs are a fantastic source of protein and are so versatile. Try scrambled or poached for breakfast or a couple of hard boiled eggs in your salad or as a snack. The rise in the popularity of the Avocado is no surprise as it is one of the best sources of healthy fat available. I love mine blended into a smoothie for breakfast.
4.Turn Your Mindset Around
Cutting out sugar is not about dieting. Yes, undoubtedly you will lose some weight as sugar is highly calorific but it’s more about a way of eating that brings about a mindfulness and awareness of what you are fueling your body with. It shouldn’t be about what you can’t have or what you are ‘not allowed’ to have so start to direct your thoughts to what you can have instead. For example, if you’ve always thought the smell of your colleague’s ginger tea was amazing, swap your sweet latte and give it a try.
5. Team Up
Life experiences have told us that working as part of a team and having support makes tackling anything easier. Find a like-minded group online or talk to friends, family and colleagues about what you are doing and join forces with others who genuinely have the same goals. I say genuinely because the friend who flits from one diet to another constantly is not going to be as interested in helping you two months down the road when she’s given up.