Most of us are aware of Australia’s scary sugar stats. The fact that we consume 14 teaspoons a day in comparison to the recommended six isn't new news, even if it is still alarming.
Yet for some, the idea of going sugar-free — or even just cutting down on sweet treats — isn’t appealing at all.
We get it. Not everyone wants (or needs) to cut down on sugar, but if you’ve ever found yourself using one of these excuses for steering clear of a sugar-free diet, you might be interested to know that there’s no truth behind these sugar-free myths.
It’s the oldest excuse in the book — and one we’ve all used at some point to justify an extra slice of the sweet stuff — but it actually couldn't be further from the truth. Reducing refined sugar from your diet isn't about reducing flavour and fun — quite the opposite, it’s about getting back to basics and knowing what’s in the food you’re eating and enjoying those good ol’ fashioned flavours even more because there are no hidden sugars messing with your weight goal, mood or skin.
In short: it’s not about sacrificing fun, it’s about finding a healthier alternative to sugar-rich foods, such as microwave meals, white flours, rice and bread and, of course, anything involving packet sugar. Where possible, pick home-cooked meals over ready meals, switch to wholemeal spelt flour, use spelt or barley to make risottos, add herbs and spices to make meals flavoursome and know that cakes are not off the table. No one’s ever accused these sugar-free chocolate brownies or this sugar-free spiced nectarine cake of being boring or bland.
Sure, some people can stop being a slave to sugar overnight. For the rest of us, giving up chocolate is one of the biggest hurdles (and hindrances) of a sugar-free life. If you fall into the latter category, it’s more realistic to switch to a healthier chocolate, with no added sugar, that you can still treat yourself to while considerably cutting down your sugar consumption. Because chocolate isn't actually the enemy — it contains heart healthy oleic acid and is a great source of magnesium — sugar is.
Well Naturally No Sugar Added Chocolate is the perfect example. Sweetened naturally with stevia, a plant-based sweetener that has no calories (unlike sugar), it’s free from artificial sweeteners and “secret sugars”, such as honey, agave syrup and fruit concentrate. The dark chocolate bars — we recommend the Mint Crisp and Almond Chip — are 99 percent sugar-free and packed with antioxidants, while the milk chocolate bars just got two new additions, Coconut Delight and Cacao Nibs, that feature 80 per cent less sugar than regular chocolate bars — the remaining sugars are naturally occurring, such as lactose. That’s 80 per cent less guilt, too.
With so much on our plates, it’s only natural to worry about any kind of energy loss, but realistically, how valid is this claim? Sugar, after all, is notorious for leaving you feeling fatigued and lethargic — after a quick initial energy spike — when your blood glucose levels drop below normal causing a sugar crash.
It's also worth noting that sugar can often emphasise symptoms of mental health issues, such as depression and anxiety. Refined sugar has been found to suppress a brain chemical known as BDNF, an essential hormone for brain function. BDNF protects the brain from neurodegenerative disease, acting as a natural anti-depressant. With research also finding links between low levels of BDNF and depression, going sugar-free can actually be seen as beneficial to both mood and energy levels.
Going sugar-free doesn’t have to mean waving goodbye to your social life. You can still enjoy dining out — without scaring off all your friends with sugar-free restaurant suggestions! The trick is to plan ahead. Most restaurants have their menus online, which means you can pick out suitable dishes before arriving. You can also call ahead to the restaurant to ask what menu items can be prepared sugar-free.
Having a small snack before heading out will take away any temptation when the pre-dinner bread-basket comes around and always ask for your dressings and sauces to be served on the side — surprisingly dressing sauces can often be filled with sugar. While some restaurants may offer sugar-free desserts, it can be a tricky course to cater for so either skip it entirely, or offer to bring your own dessert — such as a slice of this Chocolate Beet Cake — if you’re dining at a friend’s house, or treat it as a “cheat day” — even Miranda Kerr doesn't eat healthily the whole time. She adopts an 80/20 ratio which is a good balance to strive for.
Brought to you by Well Naturally