Franman and I watched a great movie recently called “Hungry for Change”. I had watched it and bought the book last year but it didn’t really sink in. This time it really hit a nerve with both of us. We watched it and immediately afterwards we both said “we eat too much sugar”.
I’m not talking about adding sugar to your coffee or munching down on a Mars bar for lunch. We all know that these items contain sugar. It’s the hidden sugar that is even more dangerous in my opinion. The sugar in your pasta sauces, breads, salads, ketchup and all the other food items you think are good options. If your food is packaged or processed it is likely to contain added sugar. For example: muesli for breakfast, fruit for morning tea, a salad sandwich with cheese and sauce for lunch, crackers and dip for afternoon tea, cheesy tuna pasta for dinner, and ice cream for dessert – all of these things contain sugar. You can see how easy it is to consume a ton of sugar, and just how quickly it adds up.
So yeah, we want to reduce the amount of added sugar in our diet. Mainly, the refined sugar in foods. Refined sugars are extremely easily digested and absorbed straight into our blood stream which causes elevated blood glucose levels. High blood glucose levels put a massive strain on our organs and our internal systems, causing wear and tear, ageing our bodies and decreasing its functional ability. Sugar seems to be the root cause of most health issues. Diabetes, obesity, tooth decay, mood swings…..I bet it even killed JR.
To give you an idea of sugar in foods, have a look at the following. They all really surprised me also as they are all seemingly “normal foods”……..not exactly Kale, but not ‘treats’ either! Like these chobani yoghurts which I could genuinely live on. They have 5 teaspoons of sugar in one serving. That’s 20g of sugar!! Now I know why I love them so much!
A large freshly squeezed medium fruit juice typically contains 11 teaspoons of sugar.
So we’re really trying to make an effort to clean up the hidden sugar in our diet. In fairness, we eat very little processed foods so we’re not terrible. But looking at the labels of condiments, breads, yoghurts etc that we eat regularly we definitely get way more than we realised. Just to point out, we’re not doing this to lose weight. We’re happy to eat treats and sweets. I run a lot and calories are not an issue. It’s about the quality of the food we eat. What we want to do is focus on eating 80/20 – Splurging occasionally is not going to have much of an impact on health in the long term if you already have a great diet. And I am happy to eat highly caloric foods if they are nutrient dense.
- Working out how much sugar is in your food or drink can be confusing but you can find out how much total sugar is in a product by looking for the ‘carbohydrates (of which sugars)’ figure. More than 15g of total sugars per 100g means it has a high sugar content, 5g of total sugars or less per 100g means it has low sugar content. So you can use this as a guide.
- Why do food manufacturers add sugar to foods? The movie talks in depth about this but in a nutshell it’s to get you hooked so you will buy more. Sugar tastes good and is addictive. It’s a bit of a no-brainer really!
“Some of the largest companies are now using brain scans to study how we react neurologically to certain foods, especially to sugar. They’ve discovered that the brain lights up for sugar the same way it does for cocaine”
Michael Moss, Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us
So how many grams of sugar should we have in a day? According to the American Heart association, adult women should have no more than 24 grams and adult men no more than 36 grams of added sugar in an entire day. So with 20g in one tub my chobani has to go!
If you are looking to read more about this and want a nutritionists or doctors opinion – as opposed to a girl who watched a movie – there are some great online resources. I Quit Sugar is an Australian book and program and is really popular here. I am not sure if I would ever be able to cut it out entirely like she suggests. Nor would I want to; since giving up alcohol I need something! But reducing my intake wherever I can is definitely an easy step.
Replacements are going to be the key for the next while. Finding healthy versions food to have as an occasional treat. So this effect we threw out all the Irish Mars Bars that have been lingering in our cupboard for far too long and I made a raw, vegan chocolate slice. Which is sooooo good!! Even “don’t bother making healthy desserts, they’re not worth the chew” Franman liked it.
And for once in my life a dessert actually satisfied me. You know when people say “one square of chocolate is enough for me” I always think they are lying. Whilst I am eating one piece of chocolate I am thinking about what I’ll pick for my next bite.
This does contain a lot of sugar in the dates, but that’s it. And the quality and benefits of the ingredients, in my opinion, are a far better option that those of a Mars Bar.
Raw Chocolate Slice
- 2 cups walnuts
- 2 – 2 1/2 cups dates, pitted
- 1 cup raw cacao (not cocoa powder)
- 1 cup raw unsalted almonds, roughly chopped
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
- Place walnuts in a food processor and blend until finely ground
- Add the cacao and salt. Pulse to combine.
- Add the dates, one at a time as the mixer is still on. You want it to end up like cake crumbs. If the mixture does not hold together add more dates.
- Mix the walnut mix with the almonds in a large bowl. Press into a lined cake tin. Place in freezer of fridge until ready to serve.
- They are way easier to cut when cold. Store in an airtight container.