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I hope you like it too!Read More
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There is no doubt that eating too much sugar is harmful to our health, especially when it is consumed from sources that don’t provide us with any nutritional benefit (like lollies, chocolate, soft drink, cakes etc). People who consume excessive amounts of added sugar in their diets (more than 5-10% of total energy) are more likely to be overweight, develop dental caries and may be at a greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
The extent to which sugar has been demonised over the past few years, however, is probably also having a detrimental effect on our health. Sugar is not “toxic” or “poison” and we definitely do not need to “quit sugar” entirely. There is no evidence that consuming a small amount of sugar each day causes poor health. This sensationalism and hype causes fear, and has probably triggered many regular people to go on a radical diet (that likely lasted just days, weeks or months, contributed to a poor relationship with food and caused initial weight loss followed by weight re-gain and self-loathing).
Maintaining a nutritious, healthy diet that will provide optimal health is all about balance (though that message is not going to sell books and make me an overnight millionaire). Demonising one particular nutrient will cause an increased intake of other nutrients. Very low sugar or carbohydrate diets are very high in fat. We know that these low carb high fat diets often lead to health gains in the short term, however they are very hard to continue long term. Most people get so sick of the taste of high fat foods and just crave carbs! We also don’t know if there are any health concerns in the long term (i.e. 10 or 20 years down the track). Will such a high intake of saturated fat cause heart troubles? Potentially.
The biggest gripe I have with this fear of sugar is the myth that low fat dairy is “full of sugar”. This is absolute nonsense!! Unflavoured low fat milk and yoghurt is simply regular milk and yoghurt that has had the fat removed – nothing else is added! Dairy contains the natural sugar lactose, which is low GI and perfectly healthy when consumed in reasonable amounts (unless you are lactose intolerant of course). The fat component of dairy does not contain lactose, so when this is removed, the leftover dairy is lower fat and has a slightly higher concentration of lactose – the result in terms of sugar content and health however is negligible. So from a nutrition perspective, low fat milk and yoghurt (unflavoured) is still the recommended choice.
My other gripe concerns the natural sugar “alternatives” like brown sugar, raw sugar, coconut sugar, rice malt syrup, honey, maple syrup, agave etc. All these sugars are natural, true, however they are still SUGAR! A recipe made with rice malt syrup instead of caster sugar is NOT SUGAR FREE. If it tastes good, sure have a serving, but remember it’s still a treat food and not a “health” food.
So in summary, no you don’t have to “quit” sugar. Though make sure you only consume small amounts and it is preferable to consume your sugar from nutritious foods that will provide other important nutrients like fruit and dairy. You do not have to eliminate added sugar from your diet, though if you do have a “treat” food, enjoy it, don’t feel guilty about it and try to stop when you feel satisfied (if you need help with this, check out my location details on the contact page to book an appointment).
Try my Balanced Banana Bread recipe that has a little bit of fat, a little bit of sugar, a bunch of good nutrition and a whole lot of flavour!
The purpose for including a blog on my website is to give my readers and clients an insight into how I live, eat and think as a dietitian. I believe there are misconceptions that dietitians are scary "food Nazis" or the "fun police" who frown upon your chocolate addiction, or belittle you for having McDonald's for dinner every Saturday night. In my experience, this couldn't be further from the truth. I myself am by no means perfect in what I choose to eat or how I exercise - and I wouldn't expect anyone else to be either. Though, if we make healthy choices most of the time, and learn to love ourselves again, we can reap all the benefits of good health, including the ability to satisfy those chocolate or Big Mac cravings without guilt. So come along with me on this journey and I'll show you how you can have your cake AND eat it too!
For my initial post, I thought it fitting to take a look at where I came from, because it is fair to say that my parents played a huge role in shaping the person and nutrition advocate I am today. I grew up in the gorgeous town of Red Hill on the Mornington Peninsula, Victoria, where the air is as fresh as it comes and the vineyards flourish all year round. Mum & Dad fueled my passion for nutrition from an early age, and there was without fail, fresh fruit and vegetables on our plates and in our lunchboxes every single day. We still had take away on Friday nights, cake on our birthdays, treats on the weekend and way too much chocolate at Easter so I never once felt deprived. Vegetables I hated were never forced down my throat. Mum patiently allowed me to refuse pumpkin throughout my childhood, and it wasn't until I was 18 years old that I tasted it again and realised how delicious it actually is! It's only now when I look back I realise how lucky I was to grow up with such a positive relationship with food.
Aside from family, my favourite part about my childhood home was (and still is) the garden. Mum and Dad have the most incredible veggie patch you will ever see! It's home to tomatoes, eggplant, pumpkin, zucchini, an abundance of herbs, chillies, capsicum, lettuce, spinach, an avocado tree, a lemon tree, an apple tree, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and so much more. The newest fruiting addition is an amazing passionfruit vine dropping 10+ passionfruits daily while in season. It's so inspiring and I can't wait to create my own masterpiece like theirs!
Thank you for reading my first blog post right to the end!