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Five ways to ditch your sweet tooth

David Contarini

It makes sense that our hunter and gatherer heritage, and the ‘gene expression’ which comes with it, was never designed to tolerate large quantities of sugar per day. In fact, no population has ever required it for survival.

There is no doubt the globalisation of chronic diseases including diabetes, heart disease and the new kid on the block – non-alcoholic liver disease – are in some ways linked to this high consumption, although this may never be 100 percent proven.

These diseases are the metabolic consequences of our love affair with sugar and, without a disciplined effort to reduce consumption, our health outcomes both individually and as a population will continue to suffer.

That said, here are my top five tips to eliminate or drastically reduce your sugar dependency.

  1. Gradually reduce the amount of sugar added to your everyday food, such as coffee, tea, breakfast cereals and baked foods. The aim is for your taste buds to tolerate a reduction in food sweetness over time. In my experience, cold turkey will not work – a gradual reduction is the key. Be patient and I guarantee your appetite for sugar will reduce.
  2. Monitor the amount of sugar in packaged, tinned and bottled food and beverages. Avoid anything with sugar levels over 5g – 8g per 100g or higher.This will be a challenge, as many foods including beverages will fail this test. Remember, there are more than 50 names for sugar and food manufacturers are very good at making ‘natural cane sugar’ sound as pure as the driven snow.
  3. Don’t drink sugar. Consuming soft drinks, fruit juice, cordial, energy drinks, flavoured mineral water, flavoured milk and flavoured teas is akin to emptying 12-14 teaspoons of sugar in a bowl and spooning it straight into your mouth. Eliminating these beverages from your diet is also the fastest way to substantially lower your sugar intake. Swap them with good ol’ water or milk.
  4. The jury is still out on the degree of adverse health implications associated with artificial sugar. Your intake will depend on what you believe and whether you have had any prior side effects from its intake. I just can’t see how consuming this stuff can benefit our health in any way. If you require a helping hand, Stevia may be a better option – at least it comes from a plant and not from a laboratory.
  5. Begin to swap foods high in sugar with morenatural foods so that the overall nutrient value of your diet improves. Try eggs instead of breakfast cereals, water instead of soft drinks, bake your own muesli bars (the kids will love it), make your own spaghetti sauces and eat Greek yoghurt instead of the flavoured varieties.

David Contarini is a passionate health advocate and the creator of the 50FIT Program.

 

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