How Sugar Savvy Are You?
As far as I'm concerned when it comes to losing weight and staying healthy, sugar is the number one food to ditch completely. It's a known contributing factor to weight gain plus premature ageing, diabetes and cancer.
To cut out sugar, you really need to know your stuff. First cut out the obvious high sugar cakes, sweets and desserts. Plus high glycemic starches such as white breads, rice, pasta and potatoes. Then you need to become savvier as food labeling can be tricky. Sugar and its substitutes come in many different forms, often lurking in foods masquerading as ‘healthy’ such as soups, sauces, yogurts, snack bars, free-from foods, smoothies and juices.
To help spot sugar in its many guises here are my top tips to check food labels like a true Healthy Girl...
A Spoonful of Sugar
One teaspoon of sugar = 4.2g. Last year the World Health Organisation reduced their sugar RDA for women a maximum 6 teaspoons of sugar a day, and 9 for men. In my opinion, this is still high and would recommend reducing it further. You can so easily by eating a balanced diet of low glycemic foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables, grass fed meats, wild caught fish, organic eggs and some healthy fats such as avocados, olives and coconut oil.
When buying shop bought foods, check food labels for the teaspoons of sugar found in each serving. Look at the sugars section, often near total carbohydrates, to find the total amount in grams. Remember that one teaspoon of sugar = 4.2g. Divide the per-serving figure by 4.2 to calculate the number of teaspoons of sugar you would consume.
Then check the number of servings on the label and decide how much of the food you will eat. It’s often unusual to stick to just one serving. For example, if you’re likely to drink a whole bottle of juice, if the ‘servings per bottle’ is two, you must double the amount of sugar you're about to consume!
To calculate the percentage of sugar in a food, divide the amount of sugar by the total weight of the item, then multiply this number by 100. For example, if the amount of sugar in a snack bar is 45g and the total product is 100g, that product = 45% sugar, which is nearly half!
Dairy contains sugar in the form of lactose so do check their labels too. The first 4.7g per 100g is lactose, meaning anything above 4.7g would be added sugar. Beware of low-fat dairy products as many have sugar added to them in order to counter the loss of taste when the fat is removed!
Sugar disguised as ‘Healthy’
Sadly, just because a food looks or claims to be healthy, does not always mean it is. There can be alarming amounts of sugar found in many free-from, raw and organic products sold in supermarkets and health stores. Be on the look out for products containing agave that can be up to 90% fructose. Fructose is the unhealthy part of sugar that causes us to hold onto body fat and crave more sugar!
I believe the best approach is to cut out sugar completely, and eat naturally low glycaemic foods. This will stop sugar cravings after 2 - 3 days. If you do need a sweet hit, there is one alternative to sugar I do recommend called Stevia. It’s a natural plant based sweetener that doesn’t contain sugar of any kind or stimulate insulin or blood sugar levels, yet it has a naturally sweet taste.
Her are some of the alternative names for sugars and ‘alternative’ options to look for and avoid:
Pure cane sugar
Agave nectar and syrup
Pure maple syrup
Coconut palm nectar
Dates and date sugar
Fig or date paste
High fructose corn syrup