The dreaded ‘S’ word. People these days are almost scared to talk about it. People are on crazy “sugar free” diets and everything now a days, but why has an ingredient got so much stick? As it is sugar awareness week, I wanted to chat to you all about some myths and confusion in both the sugar and sugar free world.
I’m a RD2B and yep, I eat sugar! But I have some little tips and tricks I do to make sure I can enjoy yummy foods AND keep within my daily recommendations for intake of sugar.
So let’s do some myth busting!
Once thought to be the magic way of cramming in your five-a-day, fruit juice has now become a forbidden purchase of the weekly food shop. Thing is with fruit juice is that it is good for you, but little and often. I usually start the day with a coffee and 150ml of OJ. Whilst yes, it is primarily sugar, it is also packed with vitamins (yep, the C one especially!) and is a good source of hydration, especially first thing in the morning. If you drink this daily, make sure your glass is small and try to drink with a straw to avoid any dental issues in the future.
Bananas (well, fruit in general)
Like OJ, we’ve demonised fruit because “it’s high in sugar”. Well, it does have sugar but it is still one of the healthiest options out there for you! Fruit contains a sugar called fructose, different to sucrose and other types of sugar that are added into things such as chocolate bars and cereals. Whilst yes, macro wise all sugars are the same, the sugar in fruit isn’t as of a high quantity as people think. Fruit is made up of lots of water and vitamins and minerals that you wouldn’t be able to get from a pack of biscuits, that’s for sure! Try aim for 2 portions of your five a day to be fruit, and the other 3 be from veg or salad!
Lil calorie free tabs of joy in my opinion! The Food Safety Authority has approved the used of many artificial sweeteners including aspartame and sucralose, and large scale studies from the National Cancer Institute and Cancer Research UK have concluded that sweeteners DO NOT cause cancer. As a Dietitian, sweeteners are often recommended for replacement of sugar, where hidden calories may be causing weight gain or poor diabetic control.
Sugar Free Beverages
Right, so now we’ve had a lil chat about sweeteners, let’s talk about Coke. I know soooo many people tell me, “oh no, diet versions are worse for you than the full sugar ones” and well, it’s not really true. As mentioned, there is no link to cancers and toxicity with sweeteners, as in contrast, too much sugar is associated with weight gain, diabetes and poor dental hygiene, especially in children. It’s best to keep fizzy beverages as a treat, as they’re not really good nutritionally. Coke does contain both caffeine (not good before bed) and phosphoric acid what has been linked to increasing your risk of osteoporosis (weak bones) later in life, but that doesn’t mean that you give them up completely – soft drinks in moderation are fine and totally scrummy! I am a sucker for coke, and often opt for Coca Cola Zero because it tastes SO much like the original, full sugar version. You’re also saving yourself 139 locals PER CAN!!!! Make the change for the better!!
So my top tips? Switch to sugar free (obviously if you are unable to have sweeteners due to health reasons, then just try not to add sugar to things as much!), eat both fruit and veg when getting in your five a day and enjoy your food! Don’t feel guilty if sometimes you do eat sugar, because our body needs it (in small quantities) too!
Emma is a Registered Dietitian and Registered Associate Nutritionist based in Cheshire, England. Emma works in community healthcare and writes freelance alongside her work: topics including Dietetic life, nutrition, mental health and lifestyle. Emma also writes and photographs recipes for the platform, as well as being the author of the ‘Mummy and Me’ series for SR Nutrition. Emma’s Food Stories is PR friendly brand.