fbpx

Many people understand why they need to cut sugar in their diet. But how do you do that when there’s sugar all around you? Like, literally everywhere you turn to buy food. And in foods you don’t even expect it to be in! (Hello, bread and burger buns.)

Recent research says that the average Australian eats about 60g of added sugar each day. That’s around 15 teaspoons. Holy moly. No wonder we need to cut sugar from our diet.

Honestly, it can be quite hard to tell how much you’re eating because food labels are designed to deceive. Sugar is often hidden under other names. There’s around 42 different ones currently in use. I’ve put some of them in a graphic you can save or Pin to refer to when you’re at the shops.

sugar hides in ‘healthy’ foods

Add to this that seemingly ‘healthy’ foods like muesli bars, bliss/protein balls and even crackers often have lots of sugars. Seriously, why do crackers need sugar? That makes them cookies in my mind (and my mouth/brain agrees!) Medjool dates have around 16g (4 tsp) of sugar EACH. No wonder they’re so tasty. When you think about how many are in all the ‘healthy’ Paleo bars and bliss balls that are trendy in the shops and cafes at the moment – eeekkk – so much sugar in each mouthful! And the serves are quite big.

The blood glucose roller coaster steals your energy

Eating or drinking sweet or sugary foods has a roller coaster effect on your blood glucose levels. Pushing them up really high, then they crash down low later on. (If you’d like to know more about this, then have a read of my blog about why breakfast makes a difference to how you feel in the afternoon.) This constant change in fuel for your cells messes with your overall energy levels, mood and ability to think clearly and concentrate. Ever eaten something so sweet your head has gone woozy?

Oh, and here’s a little fun fact, when you eat lots of sugar, your brain produces less of a protective, cognition enhancing chemical called Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF).

With less BDNF onboard, it’s harder to form memories, learn new things, or remember/access old memories. That is incredible! I think of all the sweet things my kids were given at school and I want to weep. I hope this fact alone will help lots of people want to cut sugar in their diet. What do you think?

 

here are my 5 quick/easy/simple ways to cut sugar in your diet:

1. skip dried fruits

Because the water’s taken out, it’s easier to eat a lot of fruit and thus sugar, when you snack on dried fruit. I mean, how easy is it to eat 6 or more prunes in one go. (BTW prunes have about 9g sugar each) Yes it is a natural sugar, but it’s still sugar, and puts you well over the daily goal of <4 teaspoons.

2. bye sweet drinks

The obvious ones here are soft drinks and juices, but many smoothies, flavoured milk drinks (hot or cold), & teas are hideously high in added sugars because of the ingredients and the portion sizes. Downsize, mix half soda water with soft drink if you must have one; or choose plain soda or mineral water.

 

3. avoid alcohol

Now alcohol isn’t necessarily sweetened, unless you drink with soft drinks. You can even buy low carb beer. But this doesn’t avoid that alcohol gets treated like sugar in your body, and impacts blood glucose levels similarly. It also strains your liver, impacting how it produces & stores glucose. Stick with government guidelines if you drink.

4. read & analyse the label

Lots of sauces, marinades and dressings are high in sugar. Check the label, if sugar or some form of it is in the first few ingredients – skip it and choose another or make your own. As a rough guide, try not to eat foods with more than 12g/100g of added sugar. This is still a lot, so eat only sparingly or occasionally.

5. does it need it?

If you’re a baker, pick recipes that are low in sugar already; or reduce by half, or even 1/4, the amount of sugar in there. Many recipes have almost as much sugar as flour! If you’re making something with sweet fruits like banana, or if you’re going to add sweet yoghurt, maple syrup or fruit on it at the end, do you need to add sugar too?

sweeteners to the rescue, right?

You might be thinking that using artificial or natural sweeteners might be an easy way to cut sugar in your diet. Sweet taste, no sugar, must be good, right? Um, no, sorry. Yeah, I know, it seems like I’m a killjoy. But it is what it is. And the truth about sweeteners (natural or artificial) is that they have a similar effect on your blood glucose levels as sugar. So they’re not going to be that useful in helping you cut sugar in your diet, because they’ll still leave your body craving the sweet stuff.

The best way to cut sugar in your diet

Is to lose the sweet taste. Yep. I mean it. Take out all the foods that are sweetened, even fruit for a period of time. Enjoy plenty of protein-rich foods and healthy fats in this time. Fat is where the flavour is, by the way.

When you reintroduce sweet foods, like fruits, you’ll be amazed at how flavoursome they are. How sweet they taste and how you didn’t taste them like that in the past when your palate was used to higher amounts of added sugars.

Some people may need to gradually cut sugar out, others might just do it all in one go. Do what works for you, but I promise that if you do it, and stick with it. You’ll enjoy whole foods a whole lot more and you’ll feel better. You’ll have more energy. Less brain fog. More able to focus and concentrate on what you’re doing.

glucose is an inflammatory molecule

Glucose is a large, spiky molecule. It floats around in your bloodstream, and when you’re blood glucose levels are in a good range, that’s ok, it doesn’t do much damage. But when there’s lots of glucose in your bloodstream, it can get crowded in your arteries. That’s when the trouble starts. That spiky glucose molecule causes micro damage in your arteries. It triggers your immune system to break out the inflammatory response. This can be good, and help fix up the problem, but in your arteries it can also result in cholesterol being deposited on the artery wall.

Yeah, that’s confusing, isn’t it? We’ve been told for so long that fat was the problem, along with your blood cholesterol levels. But really, high carb/sugar diets and high blood glucose levels are a bigger risk to your artery’s health. It can feel really confusing right now to know what to eat for optimal health. Truth is, we’re all unique individuals, and our dietary needs will differ. But I can tell you with 100% confidence that everybody does better on a diet that’s low in added sugars. Cross my heart and all.

Helping you understand what to eat

Part of my job is to help people like you understand what foods are supporting your body’s health, and what foods are hindering your health, energy and vitality. There’s loads of information floating around on the internet. But none of it is tailored just for you, your lifestyle, budget and commitments.

I offer 1:1 consults, where I love helping Mums to feel more like they did before they had kids – energetic and enthusiastic – using practical, easy-to-follow advice about food, moving their body, lifestyle. I use herbal and nutritional medicine to help reduce symptoms and get you going on the path to wellness.

If you’re ready to feel more energetic and enthusiastic, take the first step and book your free 15-minute discovery call to find out how I can support your to reach your health goals. Be sure to make a batch of my low sugar bliss balls to munch on while we chat!

 

Low Sugar, Date-free Bliss Balls

This recipe was born when I was craving a sweet treat, that wasn’t super sweet! I find regular bliss balls that are rich in dates too high in sugar for my body. I think they’ll satisfy your bliss ball craving, while helping you cut sugar in your diet.

My kids love the choc-orange one. This did surprise me a bit because these balls are not 1/10th the sweetness of regular balls!

I made mine in a Thermomix, but this recipe should work in any food processor or high-speed blender. You may need to mill the nuts a little before you add the other ingredients. Experiment and let me know what works for you and your machine.

INGREDIENTS for choc-orange

  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • Zest and juice from 1 orange
  • 300g (2 cups) macadamia nuts
  • 100g (1 cup) desiccated coconut (plus extra for rolling)
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp cacao powder
  • Pinch of sea salt

INGREDIENTS for Lemon-Vanilla

  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • Zest and juice from 1 lemon
  • 300g (2 cups) macadamias
  • 100g (1 cup) desiccated coconut (plus extra for rolling)
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • 1 tbs coconut flour (optional)

method (for both flavours)

  1. Place the chia seeds and 2-3 tbsp of orange/lemon juice in a bowl. Stir and set aside for 10 minutes. Stir again if needed to make sure juice is absorbed and mixture is like a gel.
  2. Put the macadamias, coconut, cacao powder/coconut flour and vanilla essence, zest, chia mixture and salt in to a food processor or high-powered blender. Process until nuts are finely chopped and well combined. Don’t process too long or the oils will be released from the nuts and the mix will be runny and hard to work with.
  3. Put some desiccated coconut on a plate, ready to roll the balls in.
  4. Roll spoonfuls of the mix into balls, so they’re the size of a walnut.
  5. Put each ball in the coconut on the plate you prepared earlier and move around so they’re coated evenly.
  6. Store balls in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week, or the freezer for up to a month.

NOTES:

  • I haven’t tried this recipe with all seeds. I used a blend of half macadamias, half sunflower seeds. You could try all sunflower seeds and let me know how it goes!
  • Other options for the nuts include cashews.
  • You may like to use a few dates in the mix while you wean yourself away from the sweet taste you’re used to. If you add extra maple syrup it will make the mix too wet.

I’d love to know what you think of my bliss balls. I love the slight bitterness of the choc-orange, and the tang of the lemon in the lemon-vanilla balls. Please let me know if you make it, what combo you made it with and any tweaks or changes you made based on what nuts and machine you’re using.