Thursday 13 June, 2019
Sugar has been a hot topic in recent years, with many low sugar or no sugar fad diets being promoted. But, is cutting out sugar wise?
What is sugar?
Sugar is the base form of carbohydrate which plays an important role in the body to ensure we have adequate energy to live, move, exercise and breathe (pretty important functions). There are many forms of ‘simple’ sugars, these include:
- Glucose e.g. in fruit, some vegetables, honey
- Fructose e.g. in fruit and honey
- Sucrose e.g. in table sugar
- Lactose e.g. in milk (excluding milks made from non-animal sources) and milk products such as yoghurt, and breast milk
- Maltose e.g. malted grains like malted barley, often added to foods/sweet products in the same manner as table sugar
We also have ‘complex’ carbohydrates which are composed of multiple simple sugars that form chains. This structure means the molecule is harder to break down and is digested slower. Examples of complex carbohydrates include wholegrains, rice, potatoes, beans and legumes.
What is added sugar?
As the name suggests, this is sugar that has been added to products, primarily to enhance taste. Sugar is often not only added to dessert foods like biscuits, cakes, donuts but also foods like sauces, marinades and breakfast cereals. This added sugar is unnecessary for our bodies and provides no additional nutritional value to the food.
Is cutting out sugar healthy?
Completely cutting out sugar is difficult to do as so many foods naturally contain sugar or carbohydrates including fruits, vegetables, milk, yoghurt, beans, legumes, rice, pasta, grains and cereals. This leaves you with very few foods to consume which can be restrictive and boring!
Cutting out sugar can result in low energy levels and a lack of concentration. This is because sugar and carbohydrates are the body and brains preferred fuel source and without this fuel, our body looks for other fuel sources which are not broken down and used as efficiently.
Is including sugar healthy?
Yes! Sugar can be part of a healthy and balanced diet. This means you are including whole foods like fruit, vegetables, grains, dairy, beans and legumes, all of which provide you with a myriad of nutrients as well as the carbohydrate and sugar needed to fuel your body.
However, as mentioned there is no benefit of consuming sugar that is added to foods to enhance taste. That doesn’t mean you have to completely cut these foods out but be mindful of where added sugars can be found. Here are some tips to reduce added sugar intake:
- Reduce the number of biscuits you eat throughout the day. If you typically eat 3 biscuits, try cutting that back to 2, then try cutting it back to 1. The same goes for any other type of sweet food. The key is to slowly reduce your intake over a few weeks, rather than quit cold turkey.
- Stop and think about why you’re eating the extra sweet foods. Are you actually hungry? Are you bored? Is there absolutely nothing else in the house to eat? Once you work out why you might be eating sweet foods unnecessarily, you could use another task to distract yourself. For example, go for a quick walk around the house, do five jumping jacks, or do a quick sudoku.
- Keep fruit in a fruit bowl where it is easy to see in your kitchen. If you find yourself feeling hungry, seeing some fruit in front of you as you walk into the kitchen can be a helpful reminder for you to choose the fruit over the lamington.
- If you’re someone who likes to bake, try to reduce the amount of sugar you add in the recipe. Instead of putting in 1 cup of sugar, try 1/2 a cup!
- Swap sprinkling sugar over your Weet-Bix for fresh fruit. Not only will you be benefiting from the vitamins and minerals found in fruit, but they can help you feel fuller due to the fibre content, and it will help you reach your recommended fruit serves for the day. Banana, blueberries, and raspberries are delicious options or any seasonal fruit.
Get in touch to learn more about sugar myths and facts or any other nutrition related information.
Fuel Your Life is a nation-wide Dietetic company focusing on Veteran health and nutrition. We have specific Veteran nutrition programs which are bulk-billed for Gold and White card holders and offer in clinic or home visits. Areas we can assist with include weight management, type-2 diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure or cholesterol, irritable bowel syndrome and irritable bowel disease, sports nutrition, mental health and pain management.
Danielle Rodger, Accredited Practising Dietitian,
Business Development Officer, Area Manager (Adelaide) Fuel Your Life
Ph: 0490 542 715