SUGAR. We reward ourselves with it via naughty treats and guilty pleasures after a particularly stressful day, to celebrate happy occasions and often for any reason we can lay our hands-on, just because.
There is a lot of research that says that sugar could be as addictive as drugs such as cocaine or heroin, and it can have similar detrimental effects on the brain. ‘On the outside, sugar seems pretty harmless, but on the inside, it’s killing us’, says Cassie Bjork, RD, LD (founder of Healthy Simple Life). She also states that ‘sugar can be even more addicting than cocaine’, and ‘it leads to compulsive behaviour, weight gain, headaches, hormonal imbalances and more’.
The best way to avoid added hidden sugars is to make you own homemade food and to avoid packaged items and ready meals. Often seemingly healthy foods such as muesli bars, yoghurt, certain ‘healthy’ drinks and ready meals labelled ‘healthy’ or ‘low fat’ can be packed with hidden sugars. Labels can be extremely misleading and hard to navigate.
So when it comes to cutting down on the white stuff, even just 1 or 2 swaps a day can really make a difference to how much sugar you are eating. Here are some easy swaps you can try:
- Swap flavoured yoghurt (particularly low fat products) for plain or Greek yogurt with fresh fruit, cinnamon, nuts and seeds added.
- Ditch processed fruit juices and soft drinks (such as sugar ladened fizzy pop), and replace with either plain or sparkling water, or water infused with natural goodness such as strawberries, cucumber and blueberries.
- Pastries, biscuits, cakes and sugary muffins can be changed for slices of apple dipped into nut butter (such as almond butter), or cottage cheese.
- Try ditching ice cream in favour of plain yogurt or gut friendly kefir with berries on top.
- Swap bought pasta sauce for pesto or homemade sauces such as ratatouille made with fresh tomatoes.
- Swap bought salad dressing (particularly low fat products) for homemade salad dressing. Try olive oil, lemon, salt and pepper, with a dash of apple cider vinegar, it’s delicious!
- Try substituting tomato ketchup for delicious and easy homemade tomato salsa, and bought mayo for homemade mayo or alioli.
- Trade packaged breakfast cereals such as cornflakes, coco pops and instant porridge for old fashioned rolled oats, or try roasting your own cereal and add nuts, seeds and berries.
A few little changes can go a long way to help to improve your health. Try it!