Sugar is ingrained in our society. From a very young age sugar is given as treats, rewards or for comfort. Remember being upset as a child? Chances are you were offered a sugary snack to make you feel better. Or were you given a sugary treat after a particularly good school report?

As a mum of three I know how easy it is to do this (let’s face it, bribery works!) so it’s not surprising that in my clinic work as a nutritional therapist I see these habits still evident in adults trying to cut the sugar in later life.  I’m often hearing ‘oh I had a bad day so I reached for the chocolate/ ice-cream/sweets (*delete as appropriate) …’ or ‘I was celebrating..’ sound familiar? It may be time to retrain your brain and find new rewards.

Do you have a problem with sugar? Take our quick quiz to find out!

  • Do you often feel an initial high and then sluggish/ tired after eating sugar?
  • Do you often feel you need a sugary snack or drink to get through the day?
  • Do you eat sugary foods or drinks throughout the day e.g. sweets, biscuits, cakes or fizzy drinks?
  • Would you feel anxious if you couldn’t have anything sugary for a day?
  • Do you often get symptoms of low blood sugar e.g. dizzy, poor concentration, headache?

If you answered yes to any of these questions you may have an issue with blood sugar imbalance.  

Blood sugar imbalance

Most of us experience symptoms of blood sugar imbalance occasionally, you feel tired, dizzy, have zero energy and your body and brain are screaming for sugar. So you reach for something sweet and immediately you feel better, but it doesn’t last and you soon experience another crash. It’s a vicious circle. This is because when blood glucose rises too rapidly (e.g from a sugary drink) too much insulin is produced and too much glucose is removed from the blood resulting in the low blood sugar symptoms we all recognise.

You may benefit from taking some chromium. This hero mineral helps the body process glucose and reduces sugar cravings. If you take it in the morning with breakfast it can help fight the afternoon energy slump, stabilising your mood and energy and stopping you raiding the biscuit tin!

So what’s so bad about sugar anyway?

Any excess sugar in the body not used for energy is stored as fat, so weight gain results. Many different types of cancer are linked to obesity. Nutritionists also believe that excess sugar in the diet contributes to many other chronic health conditions such as, skin breakouts, tooth decay and type 2 diabetes.

Giving up your reliance on sugar could leave you healthier, happier, lighter and with more energy so what’s to lose?  

Sugar is a simple carbohydrate which comes in many forms and is sometimes hard to recognise. When looking at labels it’s important to know when the manufacture is trying to sneak some added sugar in without you noticing! Look out for:

Brown rice syrup, fructose, corn syrup, dextrose, glucose, malt sugar, malt syrup, sucrose, treacle, lactose, dextran, golden syrup, barley malt, caramel, cane juice, mannitol, ethyl maltol and  maltose!

What are the alternatives?

Avoiding sugar doesn’t mean you can’t have tasty treats. I often use fruit to add sweetness such as , dates and figs. These make good replacements in puddings and treats such as my power balls.

Elizabeth’s Power Balls

These power balls are great as an afternoon pick me up or even grab a couple if you don’t have time for a proper breakfast.

Makes roughly 15 balls preparation time 15 minutes.

Mix 4 tablespoons of your favourite sugar free chunky nut butter I often use a mixture of peanut almond and cashew.

Add 2 tablespoons of dark coco powder

10 chopped dates

2 dessert spoon Higher Nature Organic Sprouted Flax seeds

Shredded unsweetened shredded Coconut   

Mix all the ingredients apart from the coconut in a large bowl. Form the mixture into balls roughly the size of Ping-Pong balls with your hands.  

Pour the coconut in to a small bowl and roll the balls one at a time in the coconut so that the outside is covered.

Keep in an airtight container.

Xylitol

Xylitol is a natural, tooth friendly sugar replacement which looks and tastes just like sugar but has 40% less calories and has a much lower glycaemic index. The glycaemic index (GI) is a measure of how quickly carbohydrate raise blood glucose levels, this means Xylitol won’t cause such an impact on blood glucose like sugar does. 

Xylitol can be used as a sugar replacement in baking, tea/coffee added to cereal etc. just like regular sugar. 

 

Simple Blueberry and Apple cake with Xylitol:

Cooking time 45minutes

Prep time 10 minutes

A hit with even the fussiest kids, my blueberry and apple cake is a lovely teatime treat.

200g unsalted soft butter

100g white flour

100g almond flour (or ground almonds)

3 large eggs

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon of cinnamon

200g xylitol

1 ½ apples grated

Blueberries to go on top (either defrosted or fresh.)

Mix all ingredients (except the blueberries) together in a large bowl and pour into a greased cake tin.

Cook in a preheated oven (180C) for approx. 45 minutes (insert a knife into the middle and it will come out clean if cooked).

Cover the cake with blueberries.

 

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