Sugar: A Nutritionist's Perspective
Sugar is Toxic?
I know there is a lot of hype surrounding sugar at the moment.
I know there is good reason for this: sugar has permeated almost everything we eat and the effects of so much sugar on how our bodies function and our general health is cause for much concern.
However, I also know that I will not be cutting sugars out of my diet. I am also not going to feel guilty about it.
The thing is that I don't see sugar as the enemy. I believe the main problems here are our reliance on processed food products and our food system.
We have been told constantly that we need to eat our vegetables. Everyone knows on some level that they should be eating lot's of fresh fruits and vegetables and wholefoods every day - but they don't.
96% of Australians are not eating enough vegetables - that statistic is from the latest Australian Health Survey. I believe we don't eat enough veggies because we are turning too often to processed foods for the bulk of our meals instead of eating mainly wholefoods. This means we are eating much more sugar, salt and preservatives than we realise.
We are also being told ceaselessly that sugar is toxic - and while cutting sugar from your diet is going to definitely have health benefits and you will probably lose weight - that is just not a sustainable solution for most people - and the feelings of guilt and shame that come when they "give in" and "fail" at cutting sugar is not supportive of a healthy relationship with food. And let's face it - you will be more likely to eat more of the sugary stuff when you tell yourself it is naughty.
A Wholefoods Solution
There are a bunch of little things we can do to both fuel our bodies more healthfully while at the same time contributing to a healthy and sustainable food system. Plus having a good relationship with food.
One is by shopping at farmers markets and buying things like breads and cereals there - they may have some sugar in them but more often than not they will have a heap less than your regular store bought cereal products AND you are supporting local producers.
Shopping at the farmers markets, farm gates and local independently owned grocers also mean you are not exposed to processed foods at the same scale as you would be walking through Woolies or Coles. If the option for processed foods isn't there then you have no reason to buy them - and may not even think about buying them! You might even get inspired by all the beautiful fresh vegetables to add more into your lunch or dinner that evening - win!
Another way to improve your diet without "cutting sugar" is to switch from packaged processed foods to eating fruit and vegetables, nuts and seeds instead - natures delicious and nutrient dense snacks. Combining good fats and protein will keep you fuller for longer also. Try different combinations and maybe you can create a healthy nutrient dense snack that is much more delicious than a store bought muffin.
EXAMPLE - I LOVE peanut butter and banana it is a great snack high in good fats and HEAPS of vitamins and minerals our bodies need to keep going.
And finally my last tip is: enjoy your food and don't feel guilty when you decide you really want a nutella doughnut! It is much more sustainable and healthful to focus on eating lots of vegetables and fruits and moving towards a wholefood diet - rather than cutting out sugar.
What are your thoughts on the sugar?