Too much of the sweet energy
How do you manage to give up sugar?
From jam for breakfast to ice cream in the afternoon and chocolate at night: sweets accompany many people throughout the day. They often eat more than is good for them. But how unhealthy is sugar really, and how can you give it up?
Sugar does not have the best reputation, and yet many cannot leave it alone. It may be worth considering reducing your sugar intake. How do you do it? But right from the start: “Sugar is basically a building material that we need,” says Antonia Stahl, nutritionist at Falkensee.
Sugar is one of the carbohydrates. The body needs the simple sugar glucose, for example, to keep the brain, muscle cells, and other processes running. First of all, sugar is neither good nor bad, but simply an energy provider for the body.
It gets a little more complicated with everything commonly meant by sugar, says Stahl. Because sugar is not just sugar. There is refined sugar, for example, which is obtained from sugar beets and further processed. And there are sugars that are found naturally in food.
Multiple sugars are healthier
There are also differences in the shape of the sugar molecules. The types of sugar glucose (dextrose) and fructose (fruit sugar) are called simple sugars. They are found in fruit, but also in honey. Classic table sugar, also known by the name sucrose, is also a simple sugar.
All of these sugars are short-chain carbohydrates, making them readily available to the body. This means that the blood sugar level rises rapidly, resulting in a high release of insulin. However, there are also differences between simple sugars: fructose is significantly sweeter than glucose and causes blood sugar to rise slightly less quickly.
And then there are the polysaccharides, which consist of various sugar molecules. They are more difficult for the body to eliminate and therefore tend to be a bit healthier, as nutritionist Stahl explains. However: Multi-sugars don’t really please a sweet tooth. Because they are found, for example, in vegetables or whole grain products, which do not necessarily satisfy our cravings for sweets.
Industrial sugar: high in calories but low in nutrients
So sugar comes in many forms: However, the body doesn’t need the typical industrial sugar found in products, says Antonia Stahl. Carbohydrates from vegetables, fruits and whole grain products, for example, are completely sufficient for the body to generate energy.
Sugar should represent a maximum of ten percent of the total energy intake per day, explains Silke Restemeyer of the German Society for Nutrition (DGE). With an energy contribution of 2000 calories, that is, a maximum of 50 grams of sugar.
This ten percent maximum includes all added sugars, but also the sugar found in honey or fruit juices. Sugar from fruits and natural yogurt is not included. “For a balanced diet, you should eat at least three servings of vegetables and two servings of fruit every day,” Restemeyer says.
The big problem: If you eat a lot of sweets, you’re crowding out other foods on your menu that provide important nutrients. It’s also best to avoid sugary drinks, as they contain little in the way of nutrients but lots of unnecessary calories.
Barbecue sauce also pays on the sugar bill
A piece of chocolate is not a problem with a balanced diet, says nutrition expert Restemeyer. However, according to nutritionist Stahl, it becomes critical if you consume large amounts of added sugar every day. This increases the risk of obesity, diabetes and tooth decay.
However, eliminating refined sugar is a bit more complicated than eliminating sweets. Because sugar is often added to cheese, sausage, and yogurt for flavor, as Stahl explains. Frozen pizzas, barbecue sauces or potato salad from the supermarket also often contain considerable amounts of sugar, says nutritionist Restemeyer of the DGE.
Withdraw in small increments
Of course, the best option is natural, unprocessed food. Especially at first it is anything but easy to do without sugar. Stahl advises starting small. The first step is to develop an awareness of your blood sugar levels by reading the nutrient charts while you shop. If processed products have a maximum of five grams of sugar per 100 grams, they are suitable for a low-sugar diet.
You can start by setting one low-sugar meal a day. A healthy breakfast, like oatmeal with milk and fruit instead of chocolate muesli, is a good start to the day and a change in diet. If you have the first meal under control, you can change another to without sugar, recommends nutritionist Stahl. Over time, this reduces the desire for sugar.
sugar is sugar
If you fancy something sweet, you should opt for healthy snacks: vegetable sticks instead of chocolate bars, natural yogurt with fresh fruit instead of vanilla pudding. It becomes easier if you consider the following: In addition to sugar, you often do without additives and have a longer-lasting feeling of satiety, says Silke Restemeyer.
And when it comes to beverages, does it make sense to use a sugar-free soda with sweetener? Sweeteners like aspartame are not sugar, they do not cause cavities and they have few calories. But: In large amounts, they can have a laxative effect, says Restemeyer. And: they are not helpful when it comes to stopping eating sweets. So a water with fresh lemon and mint is better.
If you’re having a hard time giving up sweets, you can sweeten your yogurt with a teaspoon of honey or agave syrup, at least initially, says Stahl. However, the nutritionist emphasizes: “This unrefined sugar is still sugar that should only be enjoyed in moderation.”