“Are you still doing that Sugar-free thing?”
Is a question I get an awful lot. It doesn’t bother me or anything but I thought I’d write a post about it to clarify some things. It’s not something I like to talk about a lot simply because I don’t want to seem “preachy” about it. You eat want you want to eat. I’ll do the same. Yesterday we had friends round for pancakes and they brought their own toppings knowing that we probably wouldn’t have in what they would normally have. I was pleased. Pleased that they felt they could eat what they wanted to in front of us, and also that they did not expect us to have stuff in that we don’t eat. I would prefer they brought it and enjoyed their food than sat there thinking “this could do with some Nutella, how annoying that they only have this weird rice syrup. I don’t think we’ll be coming here again…”
I don’t judge. If you want to know more you can ask me… or today, you can read my blog. If you don’t want to know – stop reading.
So, some myth-busting about this sugar-free thing…
- I consume NO sugar
The WHO recently changed their guidelines on the amount of sugar we should consume to about six teaspoons per day. I aim for between six and nine. Some days I go over, other days I may go under. As I’m still learning how to cook and snack differently I expect I go over more than under but on average adults eat about 19 teaspoons per day these days so I have made a marked improvement! So, I eat sugar… Just not much. As little as I possibly can whilst still enjoying food and life, is my general aim.
2. It’s a fad diet
The question I’m being asked, “are you still…” implies this is a diet, like doing slimming world for a time to reach a target weight. Or the 500 diet where you only eat 500 calories two days a week – in other words you STARVE yourself. Miserable, who would stick with that forever? I’ve always said I’d never diet and I remain true to that statement. My motivation has never been nor never will be to lose weight. This is not something I’ll eventually get bored of/give up on/no longer have need for. Why? Because it’s a complete lifestyle change based on information. Scientific facts that I can’t unlearn. Sugar is addictive, it tells your brain you’re still hungry when you’re not, it leaves fatty deposits on your liver, fructose causes cancer cell growth, it messes with your hormones and can affect fertility, it causes type 2 diabetes which can lead to limb amputation, it affects your mood and energy as you get buzzy then crash, it causes weight gain and bloating, causes wrinkles and dull skin, tooth decay.
Feeling preached at? Well, it was your choice to read! I can’t forget this information and I felt unsettled by the way I was ramming leftover Christmas chocolate in my mouth like I couldn’t live without it. I read about the addictive nature of sugar and it made sense. I’ve failed at minor attempts to “eat better” because I was switching to healthy snacks that are laden with dried fruit – aka SUGAR. I was still drinking sugary drinks and one can of coke takes me over the daily allowance. I didn’t realise about all the hidden sugars in processed food. There is one teaspoon of sugar in a tablespoon of ketchup. I physically couldn’t stop myself eating the sweet stuff because my body craved it. No, it’s not just about self-control. Well, I wanted the control back. When I reduced my intake of sugar, I felt different. More energy, my teeth stopped hurting, my eczema improved, my periods are more regular and less painful, I feel more balanced, my skin and hair look healthier. How could I go back?
3. I don’t have cakes or puddings or anything nice
An important myth to bust is that fat is bad. This is what we’ve been told and it’s wrong. If there is no fat the flavour is replaced by sugar. Good fats are good for you and essential to satiate you. They are also TASTY! An important thing to say is that because sugar dulls your taste buds to things that aren’t sweet, when you reduce your intake foods that were once dull come to life! I find sweet potato unbelieving amazing now, it seems so sweet to me and so flavoursome. A lot of vegetables I really enjoy now and I used to say salad and soup weren’t really satisfying meals. Well, I don’t feel I’m eating them out of obligation now, I thoroughly enjoy them. I do make cakes and biscuits and puddings that are either sugar-free or low sugar. The other night we had chocolate fondue with our friends. It was a “treat” i.e. not to be had every day but the chocolate was 81% cocoa, so 19% sugar. Mixed with cream (lovely fat). If I had a quarter of the bar I had 1-2 teaspoons of sugar. A fair amount but I just need to manage that within my daily intake. Nothing is off limits. Except maybe milkybar which has one teaspoon of sugar per square… But truth is, I don’t want that stuff much. It doesn’t appeal at all, I feel nauseated thinking about eating it. One night of the month my husband has to take a trip to coop for Ben and Jerry’s. I’m sure you can guess what stage in the month that is and – oh well. Don’t mess with me and my ice cream habit then.
4. It’s just about sugar
No, it’s a whole different food approach. Cutting out as much processed as possible. JERF is my mantra – Just Eat Real Food. Like our grandparents used to. Meat, veg, and a piece of fruit for a sweet snack. Roast dinners (if they lack processed elements, too many carbs, and sugar-laden condiments) are one of the best meals ever – not just because they taste amazing but because it’s just meat and plenty of veg. I buy packet stuffing but make a white sauce. I pick my battles.
We eat more variety and delicious foods as a result.
Sorry the photos are terrible. I’ve made myself hungry now – and when I’m hungry, I EAT.
Enjoy your day!