Sugar. The sweet taste that keeps us coming back for more. And more. And more. And just when we think we’ve had enough, we pop one more top deck chocolate block in our mouths. And then another. I’m sure we’ve all thought about trying to eat a little less sugar, but it just doesn’t seem like the easiest (or happiest) path. It’s just so gosh darn delicious! But it’s actually that it’s just highly addictive, seriously, and reducing the amount of sugar in your diet might do more than just shift a few kilos and make you feel like a (seriously sad) kid who can’t eat cake at a birthday party. You might find that you have more energy, can concentrate better, sleep better, and you might just find yourself feeling a little happier, in spite of your sugar-free existence, as you start to enjoy food a whole lot more! If you’re willing to give it a bash, here’s how:
Check the label
As a good habit, start by reading the nutritional labels on the food you buy, and specifically look at the sugar content. And try not to collapse in the supermarket aisle when you see just how much sugar is in your favourite box of Cheerios. The World Health Organisation recommends reducing our daily sugar intake to roughly 6-12 teaspoons. So let’s work it out. Look at the ‘per serve’ column on the label (not the ‘per 100g’ column). Divide that quantity by 4 (1 teaspoon is about 4 grams of sugar) to get the rough number of teaspoons. And then, if you tend to eat more than the ‘per serving’ amount, make sure to double or triple that. You’ll soon realise it’s pretty easy to eat 6-12 teaspoons of sugar (and more) just for breakfast. As a general rule, we recommend choosing products with only 3-5g of sugar per 100g.
Ditch the processed stuff
Well, after checking the label, you’ll realise you have to. Many products on our supermarket shelves are jam-packed with added sugar. Tomato sauce, mayonnaise, bread, tinned veg, crackers, cereal, rusks, fruit juice, low-fat yoghurt, ready-made meals, tonic water…Before you throw in the towel, look at this as an opportunity to visit more farmers’ markets, find new recipes and cook more creatively. Not sold? Just give it 2-3 weeks, see it as an experiment, and who knows, you might start to feel the difference.
It’s important to find foods that make up for what you feel you’re missing out on. Here’s some ideas to keep the sugar cravings at bay:
- Choose sweet veggie options, like carrot sticks, or roasted sweet potato. Cook double, and have a little extra after supper, instead of something sugary.
- Nut butters are super indulgent and full of healthy fats that’ll satisfy your cravings and keep you fuller for longer
- Kombucha is a great substitute for fizzy drinks – you can make your own, if you’re ambitious, or buy store-bought (just remember to check the label!)
- Sprinkle some cinnamon onto your yoghurt, oats, or even your veggies. This sweet spice adds extra flavour, and is super healthy too.
- Fry some halloumi. There’s just something about the salty, fatty goodness that cures any craving.
It’s easy for our brains to tell us that we should be healthier, that we must eat less sugar, that we should exercise more, but real change only happens when our hearts are convinced. One way, is to look at a healthy lifestyle change as a gentle experiment, “I’m just trying this out, if I don’t like it I’ll stop”. And don’t start your experiment with limp salad. Yes, salad is healthy, but so too is roast chicken and sweet potatoes, or a deliciously thick double cream yoghurt, or a spoonful of macadamia nut butter – yum! If you’re excited, the journey will be just that little bit easier.
If you’d like more information, recipes or even inspiration, I Quit Sugar is a good place to start.
Here at The Munching Mongoose we believe in living a healthier life, which is why our boxes include a selection of organic, locally-grown fruits and veggies, full-cream milk, free-range eggs, freshly baked bread, and handmade cheese. Our boxes are free from pesticides, hormones, antibiotics or preservatives, and we keep the added sugar to a minimum. We also include a weekly surprise product, made by a local artisan, which sometimes contains a little bit of sugar, but always a whole lot of awesome! We are always super excited about what’s in our boxes, and we hope they excite you too! If you’d like to give us a try, click here, or pop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.