Sugar alternative for diabetics is possible
WHY SUGAR IS ADDICTIVE, WHY SUGAR IS SO BAD FOR YOU,HOW TO GIVE SUGAR UP
I know I did. And with more than 115 million tonnes of it produced worldwide each year, it seems I’m not the only one with a sweet tooth. So why do we love it so much?
Sugar – not so sweet
Sugar alternative for diabetics is possible
Sugar is perfectly designed to hook us in. It comes to us in the form of pretty pink cupcakes, fluffy marshmallows, light sponge cakes with jam in the middle and creamy chocolate. In fact, just about everything sugary looks and smells delicious. I was watching my baby cousin at his first birthday party the other day, when he got his first hit of sugar from his birthday cake. You could see his little face light up; he loved that sugar and he just wanted more. It was almost scary.
But, in reality, there’s nothing to love about refined sugar. It makes us put on weight, increases the size of our liver (a bad thing), makes us unwell and ages us inside and out, leaving us tired, fat and wrinkled. As well as being highly addictive, refined sugar drags valuable nutrients out of our body, and it’s the number-one reason why, for the first time in history, the children of this generation are predicted to die younger than their parents. This is happening because sugar is a big business with a massive marketing campaign behind it, so it’s able to target us from a very early age, making addicts of us all.
Why sugar is physically addictive
Sugar has a similar effect on the brain to pain-killing drugs like morphine and other opiates (such as heroin). These types of drugs produce an almost instant feeling of pleasure, calm and satisfaction, making them incredibly addictive. When the food manufacturers figured this out, they began producing foods full of sugar. Back in the 1950s, sugar would mainly be found in homemade cakes, but now it’s pumped into almost all processed foods, alcoholic and soft drinks, and even so-called ‘healthy’ foods (such as breakfast cereals) and foods aimed at children.
Many of us turn to something sugary for ‘energy’ – and technically, it is a form of energy. But it’s a bad type. So yes, you will get a quick burst after eating a chocolate bar, but about ten minutes after that you’ll feel even more tired than you were before. That’s because sugar quickly hits the bloodstream, creating a rapid rise in blood sugar (a ‘spike’). But, just as quickly, you then crash (due to insulin being produced from the pancreas), leaving you exhausted. A far better way of getting energy is to eat complex carbohydrates (low-GI fruits, berries), clean & lean proteins, vegetables, drink plenty of water and exercise regularly. If you do all these things, you won’t need to rely on something as toxic as sugar to keep you energised.
Studies also suggest that the ability to tell between sweet and bitter is hardwired into our DNA. It helped us to survive in cavemen times when we needed to know the difference between what was poisonous and what was safe to eat. We are also one of the only animals that cannot produce our own vitamin C – we need to get it from what we consume. And vitamin C is found mostly in things that are sweet. So it’s reasonable to assume that we’re hardwired to want food that is sweet and probably abundant in vitamin C (most vitamin-C rich fruits likes berries and oranges are very sweet). This wasn’t so much of a problem in the days when we had to hunt and gather our own food – cupcakes don’t grow on trees. These days, however, they’re everywhere and sugar is far more available and comes in far worse forms. After all, the natural sugar found in fruit is one thing but the processed rubbish found in sweets and cakes is something else altogether.
Why sugar is emotionally addictive
For most of us, when we were growing up, sugary foods were used as a ‘reward’ by our parents, grandparents and almost everybody else we knew as children. If we got good grades at school, we’d be given sweets on the way home, to say, ‘Well done’. When we stayed with our grandparents and behaved ourselves, we got cake (actually I got cake at my grandparents’ house, no matter what I did; I think it was their way of thanking my dad for being such a cheeky teenager – they’d send me home red eyed and screaming, having wet my pants and on the brink of a sugar-induced tantrum hurricane). When we felt sad because we’d scraped our knee, we were given sweets to cheer us up. And as for birthdays – we’d get a huge cake, drenched in sugar, to celebrate. So is it any wonder that by the time we reached our teens, we’d learnt to associate sugary foods with happy times and making ourselves feel better?
Avoid overripe fruits. The riper a fruit is the more sugar it contains, meaning the higher your chance of storing that sugar as fat. So the next time you’re choosing which piece of fruit to eat, don’t go for the softest because it contains the most sugar.
I had a client once who was hopelessly addicted to sugar. When she first came to see me, her diet was appalling. She had to eat something sugary every day, especially after meals or whenever she was stressed or sad. When I dug a little deeper, it turned out that her mother was seriously ill when she was very young and her father had to take care of her a lot when her mother was in and out of hospital. As a toddler, if she was upset or had trouble sleeping, her father would dip her dummy in some honey to soothe her. As a result, she always turned to sugar for comfort. The association she had between sugar and love was really deep and strong.
Many of us do exactly the same thing as this client: when we’re heartbroken, lonely, sad or stressed we turn to sugar to make us feel better, gorging on ice cream, cake or chocolate to cheer ourselves up. But guess what? Sugary foods don’t cheer us up. They make us fat, stressed, old-looking and ill. So the next time you go to eat something sugary because you’ve been dumped or you’ve had a bad day at work, stop and ask yourself: ‘Will this make my problems better or worse?’ Look past the pretty pink icing and see sugar for the fattening toxin that it is.
‘I used to be a huge sugar addict. I saw a chocolate bar in the afternoon as a break from work. I also loved a cupcake or some shortbread with my latte and some biscuits with a hot cup of tea. But James made me realise that it wasn’t the sugar I was enjoying, but the things I associated it with. In fact, when I thought about it, I felt worse after eating it. It made my stomach bloat and my energy levels plummet. When I stopped eating it, I felt lighter, slimmer and my skin glowed. Now I rarely touch the stuff, and I don’t miss it at all.’
Why sugar is so bad for you
Over the last fifty years, the Western world has doubled its consumption of processed sugar (the type found in biscuits, soft drinks and ice cream, for example) and, during this time, rates of obesity and heart disease have soared. Of course, sugar isn’t solely responsible – but it is largely to blame. If you think I’m being overly dramatic about it, Google ‘Harmful effects of processed sugar’ and you’ll get about six million links. Millions of people (especially in America and the UK, where processed sugar consumption is highest) are fat, unwell and living uncomfortably, getting by on all sorts of medications just to keep their overloaded bodies going.
In the autumn of 2009, the American Heart Association (AHA) released a statement urging people to cut back on processed sugar. They advised that women should have no more than six teaspoons a day, which is around 100 calories’ worth (and remember, this is the absolute most you should be having – ideally you shouldn’t really have any processed sugar at all, unless it comes from natural sources like fruit), yet the average American has 22 teaspoons a day! To give you an idea, just one can of diet drink contains around eight teaspoons of sugar; imagine how much sugar you’re eating if you add biscuits, cakes, sweets and everything else sugary on top of that.
In the last 20 years, sugar consumption in the US has increased from 11.7kg to 61.2kg per person per year! At the turn of the 19th century (1887–90), the average consumption was only 2.3kg per person per year.
What eating sugar can do to you
Sugar makes you fat: your body cannot process too much of it, so it gets stored as fat. Plus it also makes fat-burning even harder – if you’re eating sugar every day, all the gym sessions in the world won’t shift that excess flab.
As we’ve seen, sugar is also addictive, so once you start eating it, it’s very hard to stop. This is why you very rarely find a packet of half-finished biscuits. Stop the cycle by not starting it. Find comfort in other things – have a chamomile or a green tea or some blueberries with yogurt and nuts with cinammon (perfect!). Go for a brisk walk, have a deep bath, paint your nails, phone a friend – anything to distract your mind from having more sugar.
Sugar leaches your body of vitamin B: any mental, physical or emotional stress drains vitamin B from your body – as does sugar – which causes exhaustion. If you add sugar on to the end of a stressed-out day, you’re getting a double whammy of vitamin B depletion. Vitamin B keeps your metabolism healthy, boosts your energy levels, keeps skin, hair and nails healthy and keeps your immunity strong.
Burning body fat has a lot to do with controlling your insulin levels. But sugar spikes raise your insulin levels, leading to faster fat storage and this is the real reason why so many of us in the Western world are either overweight or obese. Sugar, not fat, is making us fatter. In a healthy, slim person, 40 per cent of the sugar they eat is converted straight to fat; in an overweight person, up to 60 per cent is converted straight to fat and stored right around their hips, stomach and thighs. Think about it: up to 60 per cent of that cupcake is heading straight for your tummy, hips and thighs, where it will remain for a very long time.
Sugar lowers energy levels: processed sugar causes a huge and damaging increase in your blood-sugar levels, giving you a quick burst of energy, which is soon followed by a long, hard crash, leaving you tired, hungry and, eventually, fat.
Sugar wears out your organs: it forces your internal organs to cope with changes in your body chemistry which means that your kidneys and pancreas can become worn out long before you stop needing them. Hence the increase in late-onset diabetes.
Too much sugar depletes vitamin and mineral stores in the body, which may impact on the immune system. So you become ill more frequently and for longer.
It’s time to get real and remember that sugar is a nuclear fat bomb exploding all over your body. If you eat it every day, you’ll always struggle to lose weight and you’ll never have a flat tummy.
The worst offenders
- White refined sugar – the stuff you get in packets and stir into your tea or cake mixtures.
- Fruit juices – most commercial fruit juice is basically sugared water with all the fibre extracted and very little vitamin and mineral content. It is best either to have a small glass of freshly squeezed juice or, better still, a piece of whole fruit.
- Bad carbs – white, non-organic pasta, bread, cereals and cereal bars are the worst offenders. Even seemingly healthy brown carbs (like wholemeal bread) contain sugar.
- Alcohol – it’s literally all sugar.
- Cakes, sweets, biscuits, ice cream – need I say more?
- So-called ‘low-fat foods’ – such as diet yogurts, most breakfast cereals (more on these here), health bars, muffins and energy drinks, are all packed with sugar to give them flavour. A common trick of the food manufacturer is to label a food as being ‘low fat’ when there was no fat in there to begin with. This is most common with breakfast cereals (again, see more on why you should never eat these here).
- Any ingredient ending in ‘ose’ – sugar is often hidden in words ending with ‘ose’ (sucrose, maltose, lactose, dextrose and fructose, for example). Another common name is ‘syrup’, the very worst being ‘high-fructose corn syrup’ (HFCS) – one of the cheapest sweeteners around, it boosts fat-storing hormones, while a recent study at the University of Pennsylvania in America found that it also increases the hunger hormone; it’s found in sweets, cereal bars, fruit drinks, ketchup, mayonnaise, pasta sauce and even salad dressing, so always read the labels.
- Anything that lists sugar – in any of its guises – in the first three ingredients.
- You basically need to steer clear of any sweeteners, especially the artificial ones which are made of toxic chemicals. Remember that most packaged foods contain sweeteners along with other additives that you really want to avoid if you want a slim waist. Learn to read labels and avoid anything fake or toxic looking.
- As a rough guide, here are some of the things you should be looking out for:
- If you are having a real tough time quitting the habit and you need a little sweetness just to get through the day, I would recommend stevia. It’s a herb that’s 200 times sweeter than sugar. Another natural source of sweetness is xylitol, which you can buy in granulated form (so it’s good for adding to hot drinks) and it releases energy slowly.
SUGAR IN FRUIT
The best form of sugar is raw fruit. So the next time you have a sweet craving, eat some in-season thin-skinned fruit, such as berries, apples, pears, cherries or green grapes. Always make sure you eat these with protein and/or fat to slow down the speed at which the sugar hits your bloodstream.
Having said that, fruit – though packed with goodness – is still high in sugar, so don’t eat too much of it. Yes, we all need ‘five a day’ (i.e. five portions of fruit and vegetables a day), but the majority of this should come from vegetables. Go easy on fruit for a few weeks, and you’ll be amazed at the difference it makes to your waistline, energy levels and how much you bloat. Berries are the best fruit of all, so eat more of those than any other fruit.
WHAT ABOUT HONEY?
Raw honey, pure maple syrup, brown rice syrup, molasses (which are packed full of calcium, iron, B vitamins and potassium), manuka honey (which is full of antioxidants), barley malt, stevia, xylotol and agave are all OK in moderation. But the key word here is ‘moderation’. Like fruit, these things have their benefits – and they’re certainly better for you than the processed sugar you find in sweets – but they should still only form a small part of your diet.
The darker the fruit, the better. Dark fruits tend to have very thin skin, so they need to produce more antioxidants to protect themselves from the sun.
HOW TO GIVE UP SUGAR
You really need to give sugar up if you want to be Clean & Lean. All the other things – like coffee – can be reintroduced But sugar? It’s so nasty, so toxic and so utterly bad for you that it’s better to just ditch it altogether. And here’s how:
Ask yourself this – how is giving yourself early wrinkles, a bloated stomach and fat around your middle a ‘reward’? See sugar for what it is – a nasty toxin that’s dyed a pretty colour to lure you in, and which then makes you fat and unwell. Reward yourself with something else instead, like a beauty treatment or a new book.
Eat plenty of chromium
Chromium helps to control your blood-sugar levels and banish sugar cravings. Good sources include eggs, molasses, liver, kidney, wholegrains, nuts, mushrooms and asparagus. It should not be eaten in large quantities if you are diabetic.
Supplement your diet with glutamine
Glutamine is an amino acid that squashes sugar cravings. It can be found in most health-food shops; take one tablespoon in a small glass of water whenever you get a sugar craving.
Include dark meat proteins in your diet
Sugar cravings often come from a lack of protein in your diet. Try eating darker meats, such as chicken legs, beef and lamb. Dark meats contain more purines which have more satisfying nutrients than lighter meats, like chicken breasts or fish, so will help to prevent sugar cravings. In fact, if you’re having a sugar craving, try having a slice of chicken or some nuts to banish the urge for sugar.
Take Clean & Lean supplements
Clean & Lean Body Brilliance supplements are packed with super greens, chromium plus cinnamon, which helps regulate your blood-sugar levels, boosting energy levels in turn and reducing sugar cravings throughout the day. Clean & Lean fish oil Omega Brilliance contains essential fatty acids, which are important for optimal health and can help reduce cravings for sugar, as your body is full of good fats.
All the advice in this book is easy to follow and will leave you looking and feeling strong and healthy.
How to eat sugar
If you feel you absolutely must have sugar, there are some rules you should stick to that will help with damage limitation:
- 1- Always eat sugar at the end of a meal (never before). By eating your protein first (remember – you must eat some protein with every meal), you leave less room for cravings, plus this prevents blood-sugar peaks and crashes.
- 2- Eat good sugar – as good as possible. That means raw, in-season, thin-skinned fruits (see above) or some really good-quality honey – though not too much. Once you start cutting back on sugar, you’ll be amazed at how quickly you lose the taste for it, and when you do have some you’ll need a lot less than you did before.
- 3- Never, ever eat sugar on its own (and this includes fruit and honey) – always eat with some protein and ‘good fat’ (try a handful of nuts or natural yogurt). This is because protein and fat slow the rate at which sugar floods into your bloodstream and if sugar hits your bloodstream quickly – as it would after a huge cupcake, for example – you’ll feel quickly high, then very quickly low. The slower it hits your blood, the less of a rush you’ll get, which means less of a slump.
- 4-Overleaf is my ‘Bad, Better and Best’ guide on how to clean out bad, processed sugars from your diet and replace them with less toxic ones. If you fancy something in the ‘Bad’ column, pick the one in the ‘Better’ column instead. Or, for a body like Elle’s, go for the one in the ‘Best’ column!
|White sugar – your body can’t process much sugar, so the rest gets stored as fat. It also depletes your body’s vitamin and mineral stores and leaves you feeling exhausted||Brown sugar – contains molasses, which provide some minerals such as calcium, iron and magnesium||Manuka honey – full of antioxidants, so a much better way to satisfy your sweet tooth, but only in moderation|
|Chocolate-coated biscuits – full of sugar, wheat and gluten which can cause inflammation||Dark chocolate – a tasty source of antioxidants||Organic dark chocolate – the darker the chocolate the better|
|Sweets – nothing but sugar and preservatives||Dried fruit – natural sugars rather than highly processed sugar||Whole piece of fruit plus a handful of almonds – again, protein with sugar helps prevent a sugar crash|
|Breakfast cereal – generally high in sugar and low in nutrients and keeps your body craving more sugar||Wheat-free (oat-based) muesli – oats are a slow-release source of carbohydrate with lots of fibre||Super Breakfast (see recipes)|
|Tinned fruit salad – high in sodium that can cause water retention||Thick-skinned fruit salad (bananas, oranges and watermelon) – fresh fruit contains vital vitamins and minerals, but you lose some of these by peeling off the skin||Thin-skinned fruit salad with mixed seeds – thin, dark-skinned fruits are antioxidant-rich and, as you eat the skin, you don’t lose any of the benefits|
|Low-fat yogurt – generally higher in sugar and with fewer nutrients than the full-fat option||Organic, full-fat yogurt – rich in conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) that helps burn body fat||Organic kefir – a fermented milk that is super rich in probiotics, which help improve digestion|
|Ice lolly – purely sugar and chemicals||Fruit juice – refreshing, a good vitamin fix, but a lot of sugar, too||Fresh, organic fruit – less sugar and rich in fibre to help regulate blood sugar levels|
|Shop-bought cake – packed with sugar and full of preservatives to prolong its shelf-life||Fresh cake from a bakery – still unhealthy, but at least it will be fresh and made with fresh ingredients||Homemade cake – made with fruit as the sweetener and no white sugar – a much cleaner way to enjoy a treat|
|Biscuits – full of salt, sugar and unhealthy fats||Oatcakes with peanut butter – the oatcakes keep you full and the peanut butter provides essential protein||Rice cakes with organic nut butter – the perfect blend of proteins, carbohydrates and healthy fats|
|Ice cream – milk held together with tons of sugar; most people can’t digest dairy properly this lowers your ability to burn fat||Organic ice cream – contains fewer toxins and is free from hormones and antibiotics||Natural, full-fat organic yogurt with pecans – contains a lot less sugar and the fat and protein helps fill you up|
|Muesli/granola bar – stuck together with sugar; don’t be fooled by their healthy image||Homemade flaked granola – less sugar, fewer preservatives and made with Clean & Lean ingredients||Porridge with organic nuts and seeds – low-GI, full of fibre and omega 3’s|
|Milk chocolate bar or packet of sweets – this is a convenient pocket-sized fat bomb||Dark chocolate – less sugar and has a higher antioxidant content||Organic dark chocolate with hazelnuts – fewer toxins and contains healthy fat and fibre to help keep you feeling full|
|Croissant – zero fibre and soaked in bad fats; probably the worst breakfast ever unless you have a donut with a cigarette – that’s the worst!||Muffin from a health-food shop – contains more fibre but is still full of sugar and wheat||Homemade muffin made with Clean & Lean ingredients – rich in fibre|