At Chiropractic Balance we look at the four pillars to overall health (Structure, Well being, Exercise and Nutrition) as they all influence the balance of our body. Often you will hear us talk to you about reducing sugar in your diet. This article explains a why sugar isn’t so sweet for you and easy tips on how to reduce sugar intake in your diet.
There are two types of sugar; naturally occurring sugars and added sugars. The latter is the one to watch out for, which is added to common processed food and drinks. Added sugars include white sugar, brown sugar, sweeteners and high fructose corn syrup. In other words anything that has gone through intensive processing, so that it no longer resembles its original state.
Sugar, other than offering empty calories, causes your blood sugar levels to spike which can make you feel hungrier and reach for more sugar and thus creating an acidic environment in your body. Ultimately, decreasing your sugar intake can help you lose weight, have better control over your blood sugar levels and reduce your risk of developing chronic diseases.
Sugar can be addictive and giving it up can induce short-term side effects that usually subside within a few days or week.
Here are some tips to help you reduce the sugar intake in your diet:
- Avoid processed foods.
Processed foods are full of sugar, trans fats, chemicals and preservatives that give it flavor and a longer shelf life. They have also had a lot of their nutrients removed during manufacturing. After time these chemicals build up in the body causing you to feel sluggish. When you eat whole foods, you’re consuming the food in its natural state with all of the vitamins, minerals and nutrients. Whole foods include fresh fruit and vegetables, whole grains, bean, legumes and nuts and seeds.
2. Check labels
Food packaging that is labeled ‘low fat’ or ‘less fat’ are usually high in sugar. When purchasing food products check the ingredient list on the back of the item, if sugar is listed as one of the first four ingredients it is best to avoid that product as it is likely that it is high in sugar. When checking food packaging avoid any products that contain high fructose corn syrup, fructose, rice/corn/malt/golden/palm syrup, corn sweetener, dextrose, maltose and sucrose, these are common sugar aliases.
3. Regulate blood sugar levels
Regulating blood sugar levels is essential for good health, to maintain a healthy weight and to lower the risk of diseases such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease. A lot of the food we consume is converted into blood sugar, which is used by the body for energy. When blood sugar levels drop it can cause fatigue and sugar cravings. By having regular meals the diet is more likely to be balanced and controlled which helps you avoid any blood sugar spikes.
Often when someone is craving sugar it is their body’s way of telling them that they are dehydrated. Staying properly hydrated throughout the day helps with your alertness, controlling appetite, and keeps symptoms such as fatigue and headaches at bay. Drink 2 litres of purified water a day so you can have more energy and feel less tempted to reach for sugary food and beverages. If you are trying to cut down on fizzy drinks, swap them for sparkling water and add lemon, mint leaves, strawberry or cucumber to your drink bottle.
5. Apple Cider Vinegar
Begin your day off with a glass of warm water and a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar. Apple cider vinegar delays gastric emptying time which means it makes you feel full for longer. It also slows down the release of sugar from foods into the blood stream, which helps to regulate blood sugar levels and helps avoid any blood sugar level spikes. When your blood sugar levels are balanced you are less likely to crave sugar.
6. Don’t skip breakfast
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, it provides you with the energy and nutrients that lead to increased concentration and makes it less likely for you to have sugar cravings. Avoid cereals that are high in sugar as these will only spike your blood sugar levels, instead choose whole foods that are going to nourish your body. Breakfast should include a healthy source of protein and plenty of fibre, this combination will help satisfy your hunger and will keep you feeling full until lunch time.
7. Quit snacking on sugar
Prepare all your meals in advance and always have healthy snacks on hand so you don’t find yourself snacking on high sugar foods throughout the day. This will also ensure you know exactly what you are eating. Healthy snack options include raw vegetables with hummus, nuts and seeds, sliced apple with nut butter and hard-boiled eggs.
See our Chirobalance recipe blog for some healthy, sugar free treats.
Sugar cravings can be a response to a low mood so it is important to exercise regularly. This will help boost your endorphin and serotonin levels, which are our feel good hormones. These will give you a natural mood boosting effect, making it less likely for you to crave sugar.