Do you find yourself craving yet another piece of chocolate, or a hot, sweet cup of tea? Maybe you heap more teaspoons of sugar into your food and drink than anyone else you know. These are all signs that you – like many of us – have a sweet tooth that you just can’t silence.
You might not even realise that you’re overindulging on your favourite sweets. In fact, a 2002 survey of children’s nutrition showed that most young New Zealanders were drinking most of their sugar.
So is sugar really that bad for you and what can you do to lower your intake? Well today we’re going to put our teaspoon into the sugar container, and dig down to uncover the important facts.
Is Sugar Really All That Bad?
The first thing that people wonder when it comes to sugar is whether or not it’s really as bad as the experts say.
When it comes to sugar, you can definitely have too much of a good thing. Diets high in sugar don’t just increase your waistline, they’re linked to serious conditions like type 2 diabetes and even heart disease.
Sugar intake can also be linked to depression, migraines and poor eyesight among other things. It might give you that natural high, but it’s also responsible for the crash you experience afterwards, making you tired, fatigued and lethargic.
This is really just the tip of the surface but let’s focus on solutions. Here are some tips for beating your sugar habit.
Track Down Your Sugar
The first step to cutting out excessive sugar is finding exactly where your extra intake is coming from. As we said, people actually drink more sugar than they realise, so this could be easier said than done. Make sure you read the labels of everything you buy and be particularly careful about the dangers of added sugar.
Once you find the source(s) of your sugar problem you can work on cutting them out.
Find Friendlier Alternatives
It’s not realistic to simply cut out your excess sugar; you need to replace it with something else. Track down some healthy snacks that you enjoy and consider replacing your sugary treats with them.
If you’ve found that you’re getting a lot of sugar from something you add to your meal, search for a less sugary replacement that doesn’t sacrifice on flavour.
Remember, you don’t need to replace the natural sugars you get from things like whole fruit and milk, and that leads us to our next point.
Don’t Try For a “Sugar Free” Diet
For many of us, the obvious answer to excessive sugar would be cut out the substance altogether. You should avoid falling into this trap for a few reasons. Firstly, attacking your sugar addiction all at once is more likely to be ineffective, causing you to fall back into old habits. More importantly though, sugar isn’t always a bad thing!
You should be able to enjoy sugar as part of a balanced diet. Moderation, healthy eating and exercise are the keys to success.
If you follow this advice, you should be well on your way to beating your sugar habit.
If you need more guidance and professional advice, consider speaking to a qualified nutritionist, like Auckland’s own Nikki Martin. Nikki is part of the team at The Olympic Pools & Fitness Centre and she can guide you on your health and nutrition journey.