Over the last decade or so there has been a lot of discussion and debate over the dangers of too much sugar. Much compelling evidence has shown how eating too much of the sweet stuff can be bad for our health, and this research is hard to ignore. For people who want to live healthy lives but can't deny their sweet tooth, this can be a tricky problem to manage!
Today we are going to share our top tips for living a healthy life when you also love to indulge on sweet treats! But before we get to this, let's take a look at some of the facts about sugar.
Arguably the two biggest problems with consuming too much sugar are first of all that doing so can lead to weight gain, and secondly it can also cause decay of the teeth.
The type of sugar that we are talking about here is known as 'free sugars'. These are the sugars that are added to food and drink products (either at home or by the manufcturer), and also the sugars that occur naturally in some products, such as honey, agave syrup, golden syrup, vegetable juices, and smoothies. Although the sugars in the latter of these products is naturally occuring, it still counts as a free sugar. It is important to note at this point that the type of sugar found in fruits, vegetables, and milk does not qualify as a free sugar.
It is generally recommended that sugar does not account for more than 5% of total calorie consumption each day. This equates to approximately 30g of sugar for adults, 24g for children between the ages of seven and ten, and 19g for children aged four to six. Children under the age of six should avoid foods and drinks that are sweetened with sugar.
To put all of this information into perspective, let's consider that the average can of cola contains more sugar than an adult should consume in one day!
Sugar Free Drinks
Drinks with added sugar are one of the easiest ways to consume too much of the sweet stuff. It is impossible to look at a drink and see all of the sugar contained inside, so it is much easier to ignore. However, the amount of added sugar in drinks can be enourmous and therefore damaging to health over time.
Water will of course be the most natural option for a sugar free drink, but it often isn't as satisfying or desirable as something sweet. Opting for diet versions of your favourite fizzy drinks can help you to cut back on sugar, as can opting for sugar free squashes and juices.
Adding sugar to hot drinks is a common reason that total sugar consumption for each day adds up quickly. Switching to a natural sweetener is a good idea. Alternatively you may try gradually lowering the amount of sugar that you add to your tea or coffee over time. Your taste buds will soon adapt and you'll be well on your way to going sugar free!
There are so many delicious ways to sweeten your foods that are much healthier than choosing free sugars. Some of the best choices are:
- Blackstrap molasses
- Pure maple syrup
- Coconut sugar
Although these products may not be as cost effective as refined sugar products, they are certainly a healthier choice!
A Word on Labels
Being able to understand the information on food labels is one of the best ways to stay in control of your diet. Knowing what the nutrition label is telling you will help you to make informed decisions about the food and drink that you choose to buy and consume.
When it comes to sugar, you should look out for the 'of what sugars' part of your food label to see how much sugar this product contains. However, free sugars may also be present in addition to this figure, so keep an eye out for that too!
A simple way to reduce your sugar intake is to choose a diet that is high in natural whole foods, such as a plant-based diet. When you eat according to the guidelines of this kind of diet, then you will be cutting out packaged and processed foods - those that are the biggest culprits when it comes to high amounts of added sugar!
Many of the foods that can be eaten in their whole, raw form are actually quite sweet, such as mangoes, apples, dates, pears, lychees, strawberries, blueberries, and much more!
Living Without Sugar
If you would like more information on why it's important to cut down on your sugar intake, and to learn how to live without sugar, then check out our previous blog post on this topic! In this previous post we explore topics such as weight gain, dental health, and making the switch to a healthier diet!