We are born with a preference for sweet foods and sugar has played a vital role in our survival at times when food has been scarce. But in our sugar-coated world, our preference for sweet foods has led to excessive consumption.
But is sugar all bad – and is all sugar bad?
Fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts and whole grains contain simple sugars. When simple sugars are naturally found in whole food, they come with vitamins, minerals, protein, phytochemicals and fibre. The presence of fibre makes a significant difference because it slows down the absorption of sugar, which moderates its impact on blood sugar.
Natural sugar in whole food is good sugar. When any type of sugar is added to foods during processing, cooking or at the table, you consume calories without any nutrients or fibre. This type of sugar, called added sugar, is bad sugar. Bad sugars increase your risk of
gaining weight and of developing Type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Your body’s primary source of energy is glucose, so it’s important to get at least 130 grams of total carbohydrates in your daily diet, including 38 grams of fibre for men and 25 grams of fibre for women. Try to get all of your carbohydrates from whole grains, fruits, vegetables and beans. Remember that some healthy-sounding sweeteners, such as maple syrup, fruit nectar, brown sugar, molasses and honey are also added sugars.
The verdict: Whenever the urge for something sweet comes on, consume a naturally occurring simple sugar found in foods as a whole rather than adding ‘free sugars’ to it. The fibre, vitamins and minerals found in that food will add to your nutrition on the whole.
This is why at Happy Belly we are determined to cut out added sugars and use natural simple sugars found in the ingredients themselves.
Happy Belly advice:
1. Make sure you have healthy snacks, such as nuts and seeds, at hand. These are high in fat and protein, and so are useful for keeping hunger at bay. Try HB’s all new sugar-free Super Cereal
2. Craving chocolate? Enjoy small amounts of good quality dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa solids), which has a lower sugar content than milk or white chocolate.
3. Try adding some cinnamon to your morning coffee or sprinkling it over porridge. A sprinkle of cocoa can also go a long way in pleasing your sweet tooth.
4. Sugar alternatives such as stevia can be useful for sugar-free baking. Stevia is a natural sweetener derived from a plant. It is virtually calorie-free, does not affect blood sugar levels and does not cause tooth decay.
5. Often sugar cravings are a mental phenomenon based on the pleasure we get when we eat sugar. Distract yourself by taking a short walk, reading or listening to some music.