Are you a sugar addict? (I know I am!) Too much sugar is in top 3 reasons why we gain unwanted weight. What are simple ways to start controlling (and by controlling I mean reducing) your sugar intake and thus to avoid the fatty consequences of everyday sugar overdose?
Realize how much sugar you eat (and drink)
Sugar isn’t only the white (or brown) crystal powder we use to sweeten our tea or coffee. In fact, many products we eat and drink contain substances which, chemically speaking, are sugars. The most popular sugars are:
- glucose, and fructose (monosaccharides – simple sugars) – simple chemical structure makes them easily and quickly turned by our body into energetic load which, unfortunately, easily stores as fatty tissue if not spent for activity.
- lactose, sucrose, and maltose (disaccharides – complex sugars) – are chemically complex, so our body needs more time to decompose them in metabolic processes. Additionally, complex sugars like company of various minerals and vitamins, which is why basically they are more beneficial for our health.
What contains simple sugars?
- – table sugar
- – white flour and thus white bread
- – fruit and fruit juice
- – chocolate and candy
- – milk
- – soda
But note that: natural products, like fruit and milk contain also natural vitamins and minerals which we won’t find in processed products like juice box, candy and soda. Processed food contains refined sugar which is no more than sweet taste and empty calories.
What contains complex sugars?
- – whole grain cereals
- – legumes: beans, peas, lentils
- – whole wheat pasta
- – spinach
- – broccoli
The simplest advice would be: reduce simple sugars, and substitute them with complex sugars when possible.
Make sure what you buy and eat
Read the labels – that’s the next step to realizing how much sugar you eat and drink every day. Avoid added sugars in processed food. What you have to know is that sugar won’t be always labeled as sugar (actually rarely will be). It’s both amazing and horrifying how many different names sugar can have. The long list can be found here.
Make quality choices
If you desperately need to sweeten your tea or coffee, use honey. It’s natural and actually a little bit sweeter than table sugar (see why). Honey contains lots of minerals and vitamins plus it’s antiseptic so it increases our natural immunity. It has more calories than table sugar, but as it’s sweeter you’ll need less of it than sugar to make your tea equally sweet.
Buying pasta, bread, or cereal look for “100% whole grain” products. This way you substitute simple sugars with the complex ones, which is healthier and more beneficial if you’re watching your weight.
Choose natural products over the processed ones. Make juice at home by squeezing fresh and aromatic fruit instead of buying artificially sweetened juice in the box. Don’t fall for sweetened soda, even when the label says it’s ‘diet” – it contains refined sugar or artificial sweeteners in one form or another (remember about the numerous nicknames sugar goes under).
It’s not only about quality, but also about quantity
No one says you should quit chocolate forever. But make sure you don’t overdose sugars, especially if you’re not engaging in regular physical activity. The more energy you spend, the more carbohydrates you need.
It’s also about cutting things in half – at least in half: again, if you desperately need sugar in your tea or coffee (I know I do), try to use half of what you’re using now. Believe it or not, you’ll finally get used to one tea spoon instead of two, a half instead of one, and so on.
Avoid eating sweets alone. Share a box of cookies or a chocolate bar with someone – preferably more than one person: it seems more beneficial both in terms of naturally reducing sugar intake and expanding your social relations, at the same time.
Quantity, quality and: timing!
If you’re eating sugar, it’s good to do it directly before a decent dose of physical activity: a workout session, running, hiking etc. The energy immediately obtained from carbohydrates will give you a boost during workout and won’t be stored as fatty tissue.
That would be it for starters! Limiting sugar maybe a real challenge, so take it reasonable little steps for a long-term effect. That’s what exactly what I’m going to do – starting today.