2 healthy tips for the year ahead

This afternoon I briefly covered these two tips on the John Masterson Saturday brunch show on KCLR96fm. Here they are in more detail.

Tip 1 – “Ditch the sugar habit!”
Sugar is the new tobacco, it’s highly addictive and I’d recommend it as the number one food to reduce in 2014. Most of the people I see in my nutrition clinic have cravings for sugar. There is more and more evidence coming out about sugar sweetened foods being linked to obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease. It can even lower your immune system by up to 50%. So if you get lots of colds and flu, watch this space!

How much sugar do we consume?
A typical person consumes 12 teaspoons of sugar a day and some adults have as many as 46!* The maximum intake recommended by the World Health Organisation is 10 and last month they indicated that this maybe lowered to 5 teaspoons a day. So we really need to become aware of the types of foods that have high amounts of sugar.

Where is it found?
Processed foods e.g. cereals, canned foods, microwaved foods, drinks, cakes, sweets, chocolate bars and even foods labelled as healthy!
So if you have cereal for breakfast check out the food label. Approx 4g sugar = 1 teaspoon.
– A 30g serving of of frosties has 4 teaspoons of sugar.
– Some nutri-grain cereal bars have 4.5 teaspoons.
A healthier option might be to go for porridge, shredded wheat, wheatabix, oatabix or sugar free muesli with some berries for added sweetness and a sprinkle of cinnamon. If you really need a bit of sweetness add just 1 teaspoon of sugar and then eventually replace with 1 teaspoon of honey.
– Even some zero fat yoghurts can have 5 teaspoons of sugar.
– Hot drinking chocolate can have 6 teaspoons.
– You might be surprised how much sugar is in these drinks – a small carton of Ribena and Capri Sun 200ml pouches have 5 teaspoons!

What can I take to help reduce sugar cravings?
If you do have sugar cravings – two tips to help reduce them are to 1) add a teaspoon of cinnamon to your low sugar cereal or porridge or 2) take a mineral supplement called “chromium”. They both help to bring glucose into your cells so that it’s not left floating around in the blood causing blood sugar levels to rise.

Also follow a blood sugar balancing diet that a Nutritional Therapist can talk you through during a consultation.

Did you know?
Fructose, a sugar found in small quantities in fruit, is sweeter than glucose and often added to processed foods in the form of high fructose corn syrup, which is the worst offender! It is easily converted to fat in our liver. Large amounts impair our ability to control our weight.
High fructose corn syrup is much cheaper to produce than standard sugar so food manufacturers are adding it our foods. Keep an eye on those food labels!

The problem is that sugar is tasty and desirable and we eat lots of eat quickly. It doesn’t fill us up and the more we eat the more our blood sugars rise, the more they rise the lower they drop which leads to a dip in energy levels so you crave more to give you the energy lift. It’s like you’re on a blood sugar roller coaster.

Eating too much sugar can switch off a hormone called leptin that sends a message from our gut to our brain to say that we are full. So we end up eating more than we should and gain weight.

Tip 2 – “Go Green

Aim to include more green leafy and cruciferous vegetables in your diet. Aim for at least 2 servings a day. E.g. Broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, spinach, kale, bok choy, alfalfa sprouts. I’m a big fan of Kale, it’s nutritious, filling and very easy to cook. What seems like boring green veg can be made tastier by adding spices and natural flavours. Check out a nice Kale salad recipe on my facebook page “Discover Nutrition Kilkenny”. Or you might be converted to a lover of brussel sprouts if you try out the “Chinese brussel sprouts” recipe on my blog at discovernutrition.ie

Health benefits
Green vegetables are full of magnesium that provides energy to our cells, they also have calcium and iron. They are rich in chlorophyll that helps cleanse and detoxify the body.

They are alkalising and can help counter the over-acidity of many processed foods, sugar and alcohol. A body that is very acidic encourages disease. Good to have lots of greens in your diet at this time of year, especially after the Christmas when we’ve indulged in lots of acidic foods like sugar and alcohol and caffeine.

Green juice option
If you really can’t face eating green foods then you could try having them in a juice. I have a great “Body cleanse” juice – perfect for this time of year on my blog at discovernutrition.ie

It includes some fruit to add a bit of sweetness so perfect for the first time juicer. You can also add a teaspoon of a powdered super food like Spirulina (one of the most nutrient rich foods, high in protein and iron), Chlorella, barley grass or wheat grass to give that extra boost. These powdered super foods can be found in your local health store.

Wishing you a happy and healthy year ahead!

*US-UK Campaign group “Action on Sugar” study

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