We all know we should be aware of how much sugar we eat, but if you are someone who has a sweet tooth you’ll know that cutting down on sugar isn’t always simple. Here are some simple pointers to help you on your way to following a sugar free diet, or at least reducing how much sugar you eat.
If you have a bigger theme for your eating plan, such as following a vegetarian or vegan diet, or perhaps you are gluten free, then that will obviously be your main focus. It’s easy to overlook other elements in favour of maintaining the bigger picture so start to check labels and look for sugar in the list of ingredients. You may see it listed as glucose, sucrose, cane sugar, molasses, fructose – anything with an ‘ose’ at the end is a sugar.
The higher up the list an ingredient appears the more of it there is, so if there are any sugars listed amongst the ingredients, then they really should be towards the very end.
Origins don’t matter
Organic, fair trade, natural, farm fresh – all nice to have but if its sugar you want to avoid then where it comes from doesn’t make a difference in this situation. If the sugar in the recipe is organic or fair trade then it will still behave exactly the same way in the body as the cheapest refined white sugar.
What else is in it?
You might read that some sources of sweetness are great sources of this or that, which sounds alluring and makes them far more appealing. For example, both black strap molasses and palmyra jaggery (palm sugar) are often touted as being rich in minerals. Whilst this is true one doesn’t need or use very much of either to get sweetness and so mineral content is irrelevant. There are far more minerals in vegetables and nuts, so don’t be fooled into thinking you are helping your nutrient status by having something sugary.
What about honey?
There is a lot of talk about honey being natural, but when you think about it so are many sugars – they come from a field after all! People often say that honey is antibacterial and antiviral but in truth that is applicable if the honey is applied to burns and its contribution to gut bacteria is minimal because we don’t consume it in meaningful quantities. If you are looking to reduce or cut out sugar then be mindful of how much honey you have, it still counts, and has as much fructose (fruit sugar) in it as high-fructose corn syrup, the type that is commonly used to sweeten fizzy drinks in the US.
Is there anything I can eat to help cut sugar cravings?
We tend to crave carbohydrates such as sugar when levels of glucose in our blood are low. Glucose is created from the food groups, but it’s carbohydrates that are broken down to release their glucose most rapidly. Protein is slow to break down, as is fat, so eating small meals combining a little protein, fat and complex fibrous carbohydrates every time creates an even feed of glucose – a drip drip if you like. The result is reduced appetite and fewer sugar cravings.
Are there any supplements that can help sugar cravings?
Chromium, a trace mineral, is found in a few foods including broccoli, lettuce and oats and can help encourage the cells to absorb glucose more readily meaning that it helps us manage the glucose levels in the blood. In turn this might reduce sugar cravings, but eating small meals at regular intervals each with fibre, protein and a little fat helps too. Chromium is also found in the Vertese Multivitamin and Mineral, especially formulated for vegan and vegetarian diets.