This week I want to spend some time giving my view on the complex issue of eating this delightful feel good food. A few years ago the media had a major issue with fat, telling us it was evil and avoid it at all cost. Now the coin seems to have flipped and they are more concerned with sugar. It can all get very confusing. Lets start at the beginning…
So what is sugar? Essentially sugar is a carbohydrate, there are three types of carbohydrates, starch (potatoes), fibre (fruit and veg) and sugars. All forms of carbohydrate are required in the diet. Starch supplies the body with a long term source of energy, fibre aids bowel movements and sugar is a quick source of energy. So if I am here telling you that sugar is necessary in your diet, well what is all the hype about? It is simple enough. We usually focus on the quantity of sugars we are eating and worry about trying to reduce it, but what I want to discuss is not just the quantity but the QUALITY of sugars we include in our diet.
Essentially I am saying remove the poor quality refined sugars from your diet, foods like; sweets, scones, cakes, buns, chocolate, white bread, white pasta etc. This sugar will do its job, it will give you a quick fix of energy. However in doing so it will spike the sugar levels in your blood. The pancreas will release insulin, insulin will regulate the amount of glucose or sugar in your blood. However when too much sugar is in the blood more insulin will be produced. Over time this will put pressure on your pancreas. Eventually leading to type II diabetes. So while you will feel energised for maybe an hour, your sugar levels will then drastically fall back down leaving you feeling hungry, sluggish and craving another sugar fix. So it the chocolate bar really worth it!?
Now lets talk good quality sweeteners. Everyone needs a sugar fix from time to time, most need it daily, myself included. So to help with those craving I am going to give you some healthier alternatives. Some of you won’t be convinced and that’s ok. For those of you who see that placing your body on this continuous sugar rollercoaster of highs and lows is going to hugely increase your risk of diabetes. You are the ones I am hopeful can be convinced. So where can we find natural sugars to give us our fix! Back to nature of course.
1. Fruit. Fruit contains the simple sugar called fructose. This is going to give you an amazing boost of energy. Juicy fruits like pineapple, oranges, pears, mangos are so sweet. You will feel energies and amazing after eating them.
Below is how I like to eat mine, with some natural greek yogurt and a drizzle of honey for extra sweetness.
2. Smoothies. So good and refreshing. You can find thousands of smoothie recipes online. Or just do what I do and throw whatever fruit you have and throw it into a blender, add some greek yogurt (protein), some chia seeds (healthy fats) even some oats (starch) and you have a complete balanced meal. If you are in need of a pick me up, I guarantee a fruity smoothie will do the trick.
3. Dried fruit. Ok so I know these are not for everyone. I never liked those wrinkly little raisins and remember always picking them out of my sugar laden scone (scones are not healthy, even the brown versions!). However as I stated in a post a while back try try and try again, it is working for me and I am slowly coming around to the wrinkly little raisin. Dried mango, banana etc are great for a natural sugar boost. My absolute go to in terms of dried fruit are dates. These are amazing. There are lots of different types and the best by a mile are the medjool dates. I promise you if you are avoiding refined sugar for long enough, these are like little balls of toffee!
Some of the snacks I carry around in my bag, dates always make the cut!
Dates are used in so many recipes instead of the addition of refined sugar. Below are some of my date energy bites.
4. Syrups. Honey, maple syrup, date syrup, agarve necter. These are all natural sweeteners. Make sure you are buying raw or local honey and be careful with the maple syrup you need to make sure it is the 100% version. These are all so sweet, can be used in a multitude of recipes. Added as a topping to snacks. They will give you that fix but leave you feeling great.
Your probably thinking is she serious! She thinks that I will get the same sugar fix from a pear as a mars bar. Ok well let’s be realistic, at first of course you won’t. But if you can detox your body from all the refined sugars in your diet. Eventually you will be craving that gooey date or the juice from that pineapple. How do I know? I know because I was that sugar monster, eating chocolate bars, scones, cakes daily. And now I have to hide the packet of dates from myself as I could eat the entire bag! If I can change, anyone can. One thing to bear in mind. If you are trying to lose weight just remember that some of these foods are still high in energy in the form of calories. But I am not here to restrict foods. I am simply trying to promote a natural or clean form of eating. Remember it is not just the quantity of what we eat that will determine our health it is the QUALITY.
Back to what I always say you don’t have to give up the cake forever. Just give your body the break it deserves. Allow your blood sugars to stay stabilised all day. Reduce your risk of diabetes in the future. Ensure the health of your kids, by teaching them that fruits are sweet. They will learn by example.
All of the below sweet treats are made from natural sweeteners . They are clean and nutritious treats and that will give you that sugar fix. This is to prove that there are no excuses there are always healthier versions of your favourite sweet treat.
The Wholesome Nut