To celebrate Sugar Awareness Week from 12th–18th November, our latest QluHealth blog post outlined some of the main risks of a diet which are packed full of refined sugar – particularly the way that it disrupts the balance of blood sugar levels, leading to more serious health concerns.
Despite the adverse effects of sugar, it’s very common to crave a sweet pick-me-up to keep us going when we’re feeling low, and there’s no denying that sugar can have some short-term benefits on our productivity when consumed in moderation. A life completely free from sweet treats doesn’t bear thinking about (particularly as we enter the festive period and mince pies and advent calendars hit the shelves), so let us guide you through the top three benefits of sugar – and some of our favourite sweet alternatives.
To minimise calories and reduce the risk of weight gain and Type 2 diabetes, swap a calorific chocolate or cereal bar for a bunch of grapes, small bowl of greek yoghurt with mixed berries and honey, or apple slices dipped in delicious low-fat peanut butter.
In a 9–5 working environment, it can often be hard to concentrate after lunch, as many of us fall into the dreaded, drowsy late-afternoon slump. This happens because the energy you have stored up in your body’s reserves is used to digest the sandwich or pasta salad you had on your break. To prevent snoozing at your screen, a small sweet snack at about 3pm can be a good way of getting glucose levels up for a quick burst of energy so you can finish your daily to-do list. To minimise calories and reduce the risk of weight gain and Type 2 diabetes, swap a calorific chocolate or cereal bar for a bunch of grapes, small bowl of greek yoghurt with mixed berries and honey, or apple slices dipped in delicious low-fat peanut butter. As long as you have all of these examples in moderation, they should perk you up without the after-effect of a horrendously steep sugar crash.
Lift your spirits with a small piece of low-sugar dark chocolate when necessary – this is healthier than the typical milk chocolate you find bursting with dairy and added sugars.
If you’ve ever questioned why reaching for the cookie jar instantly boosts your mood, it’s essentially because it has been scientifically proven that sugar increases endorphins which make you feel positive. Don’t forget that too much of a good thing can be harmful though – in small doses, we’re sure that sugar will put a smile on your face, but be aware that a more extreme sugar intake has been linked to poor long-term mental health and depression in a study carried out by UCL last year. To avoid this, lift your spirits with a small piece of low-sugar dark chocolate when necessary – this is healthier than the typical milk chocolate you find bursting with dairy and added sugars because it is richer in nutrients like cocoa flavanols which have been linked to reducing blood pressure.
The best way to reduce excess sugar from your diet without spoiling your fun is by favouring more nutritious alternatives which still taste great.
Along with the science of positive endorphins, much of the appeal of sugary snacks comes down to the fact that we enjoy the taste of them, plus the social element of baking for friends or having a slice of cake at a coffee catch-up. Therefore, the best way to reduce excess sugar from your diet without spoiling your fun is by favouring more nutritious alternatives which still taste great. For example, choose dried mango over boiled sweets for that mid-day boost, and naturally sweet berries for your breakfast cereal instead of sugar. If you’re able to satisfy your sweet tooth with products that contain minimum amounts of sugar but still taste amazing, you’ll continue to love what you eat while keeping those pesky sugar cravings under control. Why not try natural sweeteners like coconut sugar, which helps the body absorb various vitamins, or honey, which enhances the flavour of tea, smoothies and salad dressing and contains antioxidants that may reduce your risk of heart disease and cancer? And, if you’re hoping to cut calories from your meals, erythritol is a calorie-free artificial sweetener, around 75 percent as sweet as sugar itself. Check out our heavenly Vanilla Cupcake Day recipe which uses erythritol as a substitute on our QluHealth Instagram for the ultimate, nutritious dessert.
Don’t forget that Sugar Awareness Week’s aim isn’t to scare people away from all sweet things – it’s to educate and inform you of the risks and alternatives so you’re able to make the changes necessary to your own diet in order to live a healthier, happier life. Now that you have the information at your fingertips, get this process underway with our NutriQlu DNA test to help you understand your unique genetic relationship to food and tolerance to sugar, so you can start eating better today.
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