Why should we be sticking to a low sugar diet? A study released by the Human Sciences Research Council has revealed that the average South African eats 25kg of sugar a year – that’s just over double the recommended amount.
Free sugar – added to foods by manufacturers, plus sugar naturally present in honey, syrups, and fruit juices, should account for no more than 5% of our total energy consumption; that’s no more than 30g (6tsp) a day.
Is there ‘good’ sugar?
The recommendation to reduce sugar focuses on sugar that has been added to food, rather than that which occurs naturally as part of the structure of food.
Although things like maple syrup, honey, and coconut sugar are marketed as ‘healthy alternatives’ to sugar, the truth is that the body treats these foods just like regular sugar and releases insulin to regulate your blood sugar levels. Too much sugar in the system causes a cycle of energy spikes and dips, in addition to a host of other health problems.
The low sugar diet
Our two-week low sugar diet menu is designed to eliminate all empty kilojoules and added sugars from your diet. The focus is on fresh, unprocessed foods that are high-protein and provide slow-release, healthy carbohydrates to help balance blood-sugar levels and minimise sugar cravings.
- No sugar in tea or coffee or added to foods like cereal – the aim is to recalibrate your palate so, if you can, don’t use sweeteners, either.
- No sweetened drinks like cola – even sugar-free versions are super sweet, so avoid them, as the aim is to retrain your palate.
- No alcohol – a 150ml glass of off-dry wine contains 5g sugar, and it all adds up!
- Scrutinise labels on all packaged foods to check for added sugar. Look at the ingredients list carefully. Just because something is labelled as having less sugar, it doesn’t mean it’s low in sugar!
- Be extra vigilant with low-fat products, as they often contain more sugar than their full-fat counterparts.
- Drink 200ml flavoured water before each meal and each snack. Keep a jug in the fridge flavoured with, for example:
2 strawberries sliced, 1 spring fresh basil, and 2 slices lemon
2 sprigs fresh mint and 5 slices cucumber, 2 slices fresh orange and 2 cubes watermelon