Sugar, where are you?

Glass full of sugar cubes – unhealthy diet concept

Fair to say we now have a reasonably good understanding of how sugar can impact our health and general wellbeing.  These days, rather than avoiding all sugar at all costs, it’s about moderation.  “Great,” we think, “I’ll just keep tabs on my sugar intake.  Easy.” 

Well, not quite so – today we’re talking about added sugar, which lurks in a fair few of those “healthy choices” we’ve been making.  Experts are beginning to agree that added sugars aren’t much good for us, and we’d do well to cut them from our diet.  Why?  Think increased insulin, greater inflammation and faster cellular aging (basically, we get older, faster). 

Consuming less sugar throughout the day helps to balance blood sugar and stabilise appetite and mood — so, let’s take a closer look at some of the most secretive offenders.

SMOOTHIES
Where’s it hiding?  It’s pretty much everywhere, with many store-bought smoothies containing added sugar to sweeten them up.  They also tend to contain a lot of fruit, which is great, but be sure you’re not over-consuming and inviting a sugar high!

MADE better:  Simply, use an unsweetened milk or coconut water to blend your smoothies – bananas are an obvious one, but frozen cauliflower is also a great way to get a creamy texture.  Throw in a handful of fresh or frozen spinach or kale, and plus a few healthy fats in the form of seeds, nuts or avocado.  Top it off with fresh herbs or spices like fresh mint or ginger for an extra nutrition boost!

BOTTLED TEA
Where’s it hiding?  We are big tea lovers here at MADE HQ, but be careful of the bottled/canned teas that are popping up more and more.  Why?  They’re packed full of added sugar – more than 20g in a single serving!

MADE better:  Your best option is to brew your teas at home and store in the fridge.  Try add a squeeze of lemon or a few frozen raspberries to your brew for a hint of natural sweetness.

ICED COFFEE
Where’s it hiding?  Lookout!  Cafes have a knack for adding extra sugar to iced coffees (don’t get us wrong, they taste amazing!).  For example, a “lightly sweetened” large, black ice coffee, scarily contains 30g of sugar!  We won’t scare you with the other ones… you know what we’re getting at; an easy way to blow your daily sugar intake!

MADE better:  When you order, just be clear that you’re not looking for a sweet coffee.  If you find it too bitter, slowly decrease sugar levels with maybe one-less pump of syrup (if you’re a flavoured coffee lover).  If you’re feeling up to it, skip the flavours and you’ll cut the sugars by more than half!  Milk does contain some naturally occurring sugar from its lactose content, but this isn’t one to worry about.

SPORTS DRINKS
Where’s it hiding?  If you’re into exercise or sports, these can be a pretty welcome relief at the end of a training session or event.  They’re a great source of electrolytes and the sugar is a fast-acting source of energy and is part of the hydration equation.  But, be careful!  If you’re not exercising, they tend to contain copious amounts of unrequired sugar (read:  weight gain).

MADE better:  If you’re looking to hydrate for regular activity, stick to good old H2O.  This is the gold standard for hydration, and you can’t go past it.  Foods like watermelon and cucumber can also hydrate you effectively, and have the extra benefit of natural vitamins and minerals.  Coconut water is also a natural source of electrolytes and sugars.  Just be sure to check the label!

SAUCES & OTHER CONDIMENTS
Where’s it hiding?  This probably isn’t a surprise to anyone, but sauces often fall off the radar as we just don’t associate them with sweetness.  Tomato sauces, BBQ sauces and the like all contain added sugar – so don’t be fooled!

MADE better:  Keep an eye on the sugar levels in the sauces you choose.  Try alternatives like mustard for a bit of variety.  If you’re really enthusiastic, look up recipes for making your own sauces so you have full control over the sugar levels.  It’s also worth mentioning here that our Fresh Start MADE meals don’t contain any refined sugars, either – for something really easy breezy this summer! 

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