Day 9 and I have officially been sugar-free for over a week – a lot longer than I thought I would last. I am still getting the cravings and chocolate visions, but, now I may be imagining this, I think they are not as strong and needy. Today I went into a shop and they had my most favourite ice creams in the entire world- Maxibons, on special offer. A pack of three for only 59p. I made the decision to buy a pack and leave them in the freezer until my 30 day experiment was up. I feel confident that I have the willpower to be able to have them in the house and not touch them until it is time. Okay, I also sneaked a Cadbury’s Creme Egg into my basket, but again it isn’t going to pass my lips until 21 days. I feel proud that I can look at this food and not instantly devour them as soon as I get home. By now those three ice creams would have been demolished by yours truly. Being a typical Taurus and I am very stubborn and that stubbornness I think helps when it comes to dieting and cutting out foods. I want to prove that I can do it, plus having this blog also reminds me that I can’t throw in the towel – I have to keep going.
I started this blog primarily to try out healthier versions of foods I love – both savoury and sweet, but the sweet part of that is on hold for the time being. I have been doing a lot of research recently into sugar vs artificial sweeteners and it seems neither are particularly good for our bodies. The overall opinion at the moment is to always pick real sugar, so the recipe trying is going to have to wait until I am back moderately on the sugar – if I decide to go back on it at all! Part of my research has been looking at food labels and it has made me so much more aware of how much of our food has added sugar – food that I didn’t expect.
I found this out on day one of my challenge. I eat peanut butter on wholemeal toast for breakfast or after a workout in the evening. Without thinking I spread a layer on my toast and I was about to eat it before I my brain kicked in and reminded me to check the label just in case. I was pretty sure that peanut butter couldn’t possibly have sugar in it, but I was wrong. There in the ingredients list was dextrose. On a happier note, there are peanut butters out there without added sugar, you just need to search around a bit or if you’re feeling adventurous you could always make some home-made.
Even more surprising than the peanut butter was crisps. I didn’t expect crisps – a savoury snack – to have added sugar. The sugar is added in the flavouring and it is only a small amount, but added sugar is added sugar to me. After having to put all my favourite flavours back on the shelf, I settled with plain ready salted that were sugar free.
Okay I’ll be honest, this wasn’t a surprise to me. I knew that cereal does have added sugar, but I wasn’t aware just how much. Simple cornflakes, that I find bland and flavourless anyway and normally sprinkle sugar on, actually already have sugar on them. Granola, Muesli and Special K all have a significant amount of added sugar. The one that shocked me the most was a cereal aimed at children, Honey Monster Puffs, have a whopping five types of sugar (glucose syrup, sugar, honey, caramelised sugar and molasses). Definitely not a great choice to start you’re day off and even more so with children.
Low Fat Yogurts
One brand in particular stood out to me as I was reading the labels on yogurts. I eat a lot of yogurts thinking they are good for me and are healthy. I’m sure many dieters have reached for a pot of Muller Light as a snack, I have eaten a lot. They boast about the fact they are low fat and low calorie, but what they fail to mention is they do in fact have not only added sugar, but also the controversial sweetener – aspartame. I found 12.8g sugar in the vanilla flavoured yogurt. You do have to keep in mind that dairy products do have natural sugars in them, but the added sugar is clearly stated on the pot. Sweeteners have been shown to have similar effects of sugar in your body and aspartame has been linked to cancer. Although it has been approved as being ‘safe’ to eat, I would rather not risk eating something that someone has clearly been able to link to contributing to cancer. You’re best bet to still enjoy yogurt is to choose full fat natural or Greek yogurt and add fruit as a sweetener. Much less artificial and much better for you.
Another healthy staple, popular among dieters due to their low calorie count. I generally make all my own soup as I prefer the taste, but on the odd occasion I will grab a tin for convenience. I thought I would check the soup to see if there was any added sugar and again, to my surprise, it does. Another savoury food with sugar added to it. A tin of Heinz tomato soup has 19.4g sugar added, they also do a reduced sugar version that still has 13.4g of sugar in it. Home-made tomato soup is a lot nicer than tinned and is a lot better for your health.
Another favourite of mine ruined by a huge 20.6g of sugar in them. Now I think about baked beans, they do have a strange sweetness to them that I don’t think is really necessary. What do they taste like without the sugar? I am beginning to see how I managed to pile on so much weight before.
After looking at the cereal I knew that these sweet sticky cereal bars would also have a high sugar content. At this point I was getting quite angry with manufacturers. They have no concern for our health, their only focus is cashing in. Make us addicted to their product and we will buy more of it. It’s sad when money comes before our own well being. It’s the products that promote themselves as ‘healthy’ that can be the worst offenders. Special K Biscuit Moments – 6.8g. Nature Valley Protein – 6.2g. Go Ahead Bars – 14.2g. Eat Natural Bars – 11.5g.
There is probably so many more shocking foods out there with poisonous sugar hiding inside. I read that in America 80% of the food in the supermarkets contain added sugar, I would be interested to see what UK supermarkets are like. It has got me thinking about what food really tastes like, before they add the sugar. Our taste buds have been ruined to the point if sugar wasn’t in our food then it would taste bland. I have noticed this since I cut out sugar, food tasted flavourless and dull. I was craving a punch of flavour. Today however I bought a coconut and the water inside was so sweet and creamy and more importantly flavourful. I feel like I’m beginning to taste food again, the way it’s meant to taste. I would recommend everyone to try to give up sugar even if its only for 30 days like I am doing. The sugary food will still be there when you’re finished, but hopefully you won’t even want it by then.