By Sheryl Goh (guest contributor)
Sugar is what makes your food taste sweet. It can be found in almost every meal that you consume. The names of typical sugars end with –ose. For example, sucrose, fructose and lactose and glucose. Head on down to the supermarket and you will find that there are many types of sugar available for sale like your regular caster sugar, brown sugar, muscovado sugar and icing sugar.
The downside of sugar
Sugar sweetens food but when you eat more then you should, it can contribute to a whole lot of health problems. It can make you pile on the pounds, cause type 2 diabetes and raise your blood glucose levels. It does not contain any key nutrients, minerals, vitamins and fibre that are what your body needs to be healthy. So if your diet is rich in sugar and fats, your body is not getting what it needs to function properly.
Researchers at UC Davis fed 48 young adults a sugary but carefully controlled diet. In just two weeks, subjects who got 25% of their calories from either fructose or high-fructose corn syrup saw a jump in their cholesterol levels which increased the risk of heart disease.
Excess fructose causes the liver to get overloaded with it and then converts it into fat which gets into the bloodstream and creates “small dense LDL” (A type of LDL cholesterol that is considered to be an emerging risk factor for cardiovascular disease) – which forms plaque in the arteries.
Another study also found that eating a diet high in sugar hampers memory and learning. The study found that what you eat affects how you think. It alters your brain’s ability to learn and retain information.
So how can you reduce the amount of sugar you consume?
While it is near impossible to totally cut out sugar, here are five ways to cut sugar from your diet to help you embark on your journey to eating well.
1. Cut out flavoured drinks in your diet
(Photo: Keoni Cabral)
The sneakiest way sugar creeps into our body is by the liquid that we drink. As it is easily absorbed into our bodies, we hardly think much of downing a whole can of soda. Each can easily contain up to 40 grams of sugar which is equivalent to 10 teaspoons!
According to the Health Promotion Board, added sugar should contribute to no more than 10% of dietary energy. This translates to approximately 40-55 grams (8-11 teaspoons) daily. This limit includes sugar added to beverages as well as food such as cakes and candies which mean you would have consumed your recommended daily intake with just one drink.
2. Be wary of foods that claim to be fat free.
Often when manufacturers claim a product to be fat free, they often replace the fat with sugar to maintain its taste. Check the first three ingredients of the food label and if sugar is in there, chances are it is not as healthy as you think. A piece of fruit, although it contains fructose, is a much better choice.
3. Overhaul your kitchen
Just as you do a spring cleaning of your home to get rid of rubbish and junk that you don’t need, spring clean your pantry to get rid of anything that does not benefit your body. Go through what you have and toss out anything sweet that has not been eaten in a while. Get rid of the mentality that you are saving it for a special occasion. As they say, “out of sight, out of mind”. If you don’t see it, you won’t be tempted to eat it.
4. Incorporate more vegetables in your diet
This is very important. By eating more nutrient dense foods that are low on the Glycemic Index (GI), you will feel full longer and won’t have the urge to reach for a snack later in the day or at night.
5. Watch out for condiments that accompany your foods.
For example, sauces like tomato ketchup, BBQ sauce and many others are made using a large amount of sugar. They may not taste sweet and therefore might fool you into thinking that they do not contain much sugar but they do and you are better off making your own sauces if you really need to have them.
These are just five handy tips that will help your cut out the amount of sugar in your diet. How do you cut out sugar in your diet? How did you feel after reducing sugar consumption?
By guest contributor Sheryl Goh, freelance writer, long distance runner and avid Bikram Yoga practitioner. Via HealthMatters.sg, a Singapore Health and Fitness blog that aims to help you lose weight, keep fit, and live healthy. Click here to get our free guide “Eat Your Way to Health – Secrets of a Healthy Diet”.