There’s a lot of hype about quitting sugar out there at the moment. The popular book ‘I Quit Sugar’ by Sarah Wilson, offers an 8 week plan to ditch sugar in the diet for renewed health. But what exactly is sugar?
In I Quit Sugar, sugar removal is based on fructose, a sugar identified as ‘bad’ in the work of David Gillepsi in his book Sweet Poison. Studies have identified that a high intake of fructose can have detrimental affect on health. Not only is eating fructose thought to make you eat more, but your body can easily convert it straight into fat. Studies have also shown that fructose may be linked to dementia, cancer, infertility, ageing and immune problems.
But before we get carried away and strip all fructose from the diet, including fruit, we need to take the results of these studies in context. There is no real evidence that an everyday intake of fructose, such as that contained in a couple of pieces of fruit, will cause harm. There are however many studies linking a high intake of fructose, such as that contained in high fructose corn syrup and soft drinks, to some serious health detriments.
I have to admit, I am a bit of a Nazi when it comes to sugar – I believe that refined sugar is a huge part of the reason why chronic diseases have shot through the roof. I’m a big promoter that foods with added sugar should be avoided and that we should avoid other refined carbohydrates like white bread, pasta and baked goods.
Sarah Wilson mentions in her book that fruit should not be demonized. I agree with this comment – fruit has a unique array of fibre and nutrients that are different to veggies and I think that they are a vital part of the diet. The trick with fruit is that you don’t want to be eating too much – 2 serves a day is plenty otherwise you are getting in too much sugar. It has to be whole fruit though – the fibre in fruit helps your body to break it down more slowly, avoiding spikes in blood sugar. Fruit juice should be avoided as this provides a concentrated source of sugar that goes straight into your bloodstream.
Here’s the food you want to steer clear of to keep your sugar intake to a minimum:
- Commercial cereal
- Muesli with added sweeteners
- Sweetened yoghurt
- Soft drinks
- Fruit juice
- Muesli bars
- Baked beans and tinned spaghetti
- Frozen meals
And if you’re cooking yourself, here are some refined sugar alternatives that you can use:
- Raw honey
- Maple syrup (natural)
So, what’s the verdict? Keep added sugar to a minimum and don’t overdo it on the fruit and you’ll be fine. If you are a sugar addict, it might be worthwhile trying the I Quit Sugar program, which has some great recipes. You could also check in with your naturopath, as sugar cravings are your body’s way of telling you that something is wrong (often originally caused by sugar in the first place).