Ditch Sugar and start Yoga for 2019 for a feel good year and a healthy future
This time of year where there’s a deep desire to be snug and cosy, sugary snacks are the perfect remedy comfort food. Big jumpers and coats nicely hide away some of the wobbly parts we might usually be more aware of, and summer seems like ages away.
Even if we weren’t looking for it, sugar is literally everything you can eat, even in things like bread and pasta. Companies have historically added more and more sugar to get us hooked on the flavour and their products and in turn, global obesity rates are soaring.
Worryingly, ignoring recommendations about sugar consumption in the long term, makes you a candidate for a whole set of potential problems, including obesity, tooth decay, heart disease, blindness, type 2 diabetes, cancer, liver problems, kidney disease and hypertension. In fact, Diabetes UK predict that almost 12 Million of us are currently at increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes!
So what happens to our body when we eat too much sugar?
After consuming too much sugar, our blood sugar (energy) levels go sky high with a mass of the insulin released into the blood stream – giving us a real kick of energy. Unfortunately its short lived and followed by a crashing hangover of low moods, fatigue, irregular heartbeat, headaches and feeling dizzy followed by…yep – more sweet food cravings!
The type of sugar used in many products, known as fructose, actually increases hunger and blocks the leptin hormone that lets us know when we’re full up, which leads to excessive consumption.
How much is too much?
According to the World Health Organisation, the average adult should not be consuming more than around 25g per day or 6 teaspoons. That’s about 5% of your daily calorie intake.
So we do need sugar to function properly. An organ located behind your stomach called the pancreas, releases a hormone called insulin into the bloodstream, distributing it throughout the body. This helps control how the body uses carbohydrates, which is important because carbohydrates from certain foods are used by the body to create a type of sugar called glucose. Glucose is the main energy source used by our cells.
If we don’t enough glucose for our cells to use as their fuel, they don’t work properly!
So sugar is good… In a way?
Like almost everything in life, moderation is the key and whilst sugar is not the sole cause of things like diabetes, it is a major contributor. Luckily we can do something about it.
Losing excess weight through exercise and healthy eating choices can significantly lower the risks. Starting by controlling your sugar intake can have a massive impact on health, beyond reducing the risk of developing or further diabetes including having steady energy and concentration levels.
What should I eat instead?
In order to fully give up something that you enjoy, it’s important to surround yourself with healthy alternatives and options so you can make the better choice. It’s tough when you’re craving sugar – especially as it’s something you’ve probably enjoyed all your life, but consider the following before you reach for the sweets:
- Are you dehydrated?
- Dehydration is far more common than you think and when we’re thirsty there’s a hormonal imbalance in your body similar to that of hunger response.
- Your hormones may be affected
- Dopamine is a hormone related to feelings of well being and happiness which coincidentally is also released whilst eating sugar. So it could just be your brain wishing to experience the sensations of satisfaction!
A good balance of whole wheat and grains is a good start to keep your blood sugar level about right – all the brown rice, bread and pastas will help you feel fuller for longer as they absorb much more slowly and your body can process what you’ve consumed. Healthy fats that you find in oily fish, fibre rich foods and lean protein will also serve your body well.
We all know the 5 a day rule for fruit and vegetables, but ideally we’re much more about 4 veg and 1 fruit as a balance. Vegetables give us a high density of the micro-nutrients we need for full function and won’t contain nearly so much sugar, but will contain more vitamins and minerals.
Here’s some great suggestions to help beat those sweet cravings:
- Making sure you have nuts (any nuts will do! Almonds, cashews and walnuts all contain high levels of omega fats). Protein rich and long lasting, it’s a great idea to have a bowl of nuts handy to nibble at if you get a sugar craving.
- Raw Broccoli & Carrots – okay this doesn’t sound that appetising, but raw broccoli contains one of the smallest amounts of fructose and has a low calorie count, so will fill you up and do you good. Healthy sweet snacks like raw carrots have high fibre and low sugar, ideal for snacking on between meals
- Tea can improve concentration, reduce inflammation and feels good! Try Aveda comforting tea which contains liquorice, an anti-inflammatory that actually lowers blood sugar levels but tastes sweet!
- Avocado on toast with a squeeze of lemon and black pepper makes a delicious breakfast that will fill you up easily till lunch. Avocados contain around 300 calories and unusually for a fruit contain virtually no sugar, where as fibre rich bread will be a slow burner that your body can absorb over time, meaning maximum benefit and sustained energy.
Awareness of your sugar consumption is the first step and recognising the need to change is the second. Try to bear in mind that your end goal of feeling amazing starts with you and your own motivation!
Why not book yourself a yoga class with us in our studio? We’d love to see you and it’s a fantastic way to start honouring your body and wanting to make this ‘home’ feel amazing! Hope to see you in studio soon for a happier, healthier you!