We’re being bombarded with people telling us to quit sugar at the moment, but how do we know what to believe?
Is the sugar in fruit bad?
No it’s the tiniest amounts and to be really blunt, the nutrients and fibre you get from eating a few pieces of fruit a day far outweighs a little bit of natural fruit sugar. The fructose you need to be avoiding, and the type that is the real star in all of the studies which have blacklisted fructose, is the type found in high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). This is a sweetener made from corn starch. Some of it’s glucose has been processed and turned into fructose. It’s really really sweet, which is why manufacturers use it in processed food, to make it extra tasty. It’s used in soft drinks, processed beverages, processed foods, cereals, and baked goods. It’s far more potent than the fructose you find in a piece of fruit. So we want to avoid High Fructose Corn Syrup, not raw fresh fruit.
Ok so is Milk sugar bad?
No! Apart from all the beautiful calcium, protein and vitamins you get in milk, drinking a cup of milk each day, a tub or yoghurt or a few coffees with milk really isn’t going to pile on the weight. That’s likely to be the slices you’re eating with your daily coffee, or the added teaspoons of sugar to sweeten. Your brain and nervous system needs natural carbs and sugars such as those found in fruit, veg and milk, to work properly. Added sugar .. not so much.
What about the natural sugars and carbs in veggies?
Look, if you were to choose potato every night rather than a bunch of colourful veggies such as broccoli, spinach and squash, you’re probably eating the wrong type of carbohydrate. But they are certainly a lot better than a bowl of refined white rice or pasta. Just don’t assume that potato’s are one of your daily serves of vegetables. Treat them more like a pasta or rice side filler and try not to serve them up every night.
Should we avoid ADDED sugar? Absolutely yes!!
Give your waist line, liver, cravings and hormones a break and avoid all added sugar. Try limiting the following sugars to just 6 teaspoons per day (4g=1 teaspoon) as per the world health organisation guidelines. So many links to increased risks of disease, weight gain and .. it makes you feel like crap. Eating too much sugar and increasing your insulin resistance as a result is the real driver for type 2 diabetes, obesity and a heap of other complications such as heart conditions.
So back to the 6 teaspoons a day. That’s sugar in ice creams, museli, cereals, smoothies, jam and honey toppings, baking, cookies, dried fruit, desserts, ‘healthy’ protein bars which are also packed with sugar, fruit juice, soft drinks, iced tea drinks, chocolate bars, choc squares, alcohol, banana bread, brekkie biscuits, pre packaged pasta sauces, ready made soups and EVERYTHING low fat .. Need I go on? In total .. 6 teaspoons!
If you struggle without a post dinner dessert, a couple of squares of dark chocolate over 70% is your friend and perhaps a little cup of greek yoghurt. Baby steps !
So lets summarise.
The fructose in fruit is not the enemy (all that amazing natural fibre!), nor the sugar in milk (calcium & other vitamins, protein), nor the natural sugars in vegetables, they are outweighed by all that fibre and all those vitamins and minerals. If you were to add up all those sugars, they pale in comparison to all the other hidden sugars you’re eating each day.
Follow these steps to minimise sugar in your diet
- Soft drinks: Sugar-sweetened beverages are awful, you should avoid these like the plague.
- Fruit juices: This may surprise you, but fruit juices actually contain the same amount of sugar as soft drinks!
- Candies and sweets: You should drastically limit your consumption of sweets.
- Baked goods: Cookies, cakes, etc. These tend to be very high in sugar and refined carbohydrates.
- Fruits canned in syrup: Choose fresh fruits instead.
- Low-Fat or Diet Foods: Foods that have had the fat removed from them are often very high in sugar.
- Dried fruits: Avoid dried fruits as much as possible.