One or Two Sugars? None, please! – by the Sugar Free Siblings- -
As part of the 40 Day to Personal Revolution Programme and eating more mindfully in generally over the course of the 6 weeks, participants complete a three day cleanse. Sometimes after such cleanses or periods of eliminating certain food groups from our diet, we fall back into old patterns – know exactly what we’re talking about? Diana and Charlotte, or the SugarFreeSiblings, are eager yogis and you will see them rolling out their mats regularly at Lumi. They have taken a big step together and have eliminated sugar. They are very passionate about shedding light on the fact that sugar has meandered its way into a wide range of products that we are presented with on a daily basis, and to spread the word on how to drop it out of your diet. Below, they have answered a few questions on where to start, what to look out for and how to enjoy and make the whole journey easier so you can keep going.
How different are your lives now you’ve eliminated sugar?
That’s always a tricky question, because who knows what life would be like WITH sugar – not as good that’s for sure! We say that from a psychological perspective: we don’t miss or crave sugar, we don’t have mid-afternoon sugar crashes like most office workers do at c. 3pm every afternoon, and I’d say our moods are more stable. Also our skin is clearer, and our nails and hair have become that little bit stronger.
Sugar is in everything; do you easily find sweet alternatives?
The beauty of giving up sugar is that as you ween yourself off the sweet tasting stuff your taste buds gratifyingly adjust themselves as well. That means that your cravings change and before too long the 75% Chocolate becomes way passé and the 99% becomes oh so nouveau! In all honesty, a piece of fruit, a teaspoon of nut butter, a handful of cacao nibs or a piece of one of our homemade Sugar Free Sibling delicacies hits the spot every time 😉
What’s the difference between natural sugars and refined sugar?
The BIG question. We don’t really like the distinction between natural vs refined. “Natural” doesn’t necessarily mean it’s ok to consume in huge quantities just because it’s natural. ‘Sugars’ are found in tonnes of foods – like Vegetables, Fruit, Dairy and Whole Grains – but these are part of a super complex matrix that make up the cells of such foods and are actually building blocks that revive and restore our humble bodies. The other sugars that we really want to avoid in excess, refer to some ‘natural’ and some not so natural products, aka ‘free sugars’. These are HFCS (high fructose corn syrup), Sucrose (aka table sugar), Honey, Agave, Coconut Sugar, Maple Syrup and most products out there selling themselves as ‘natural nectar from a tree in the southernmost tip of Timbuktu’ or the like… All of the aforementioned products are made up of Glucose and Fructose. Sucrose & HFCS are roughly 50/50, the others (bar Agave which is 90% Fructose) contain around roughly 35-45% Fructose, and the rest Glucose. In this form the fructose is incredibly addictive (more so than cocaine according to some studies), can only be broken down in the Liver – an overworked organ as it is – and promotes fat storage. To summarise, we’re not saying give it up completely – unless you’re as madly dedicated as we are (!) – just be aware of what’s out there and the effects that excess consumption can have on your health.
What is your opinion on fruit?
We love fruit, but given our constant chat about fructose people often misinterpret that and mistakenly (and perhaps quite rightly) presume we don’t eat fruit. Fruit is fantastic as it’s super high in antioxidants, essential vitamins and phytochemical. However, this refers to fruit in its whole form, not dried, not juiced, not covered in honey or agave. When we eat fruit in its whole form, the bulk (fibre/juice/pith etc.) mitigates the immediate dumping effect of the fructose on the liver – meaning that we don’t strain the body like crazy, it’s a slow release that the body can handle and won’t spike our blood sugar levels. PURE excess and manufactured fructose (high quantities of refined and free sugars) will spike the blood sugar levels, will have long-term damaging effects on the liver and fat storage system and will not be a welcome surprise to our bodies.
What advice would you give someone wanting to go sugar free?
Going sugar free means knowing exactly what goes into your food, which means not buying ready-made / takeaway meals… #KnowEveryIngredient! People often presume that buying and prepping food at home (or in the office) is a huge burden which takes hours and is a total bore, but they would be very much mistaken. Shopping for food, picking the Veg, smelling the Fruit, coming home to slice, dice and cauli-rice your food in our minds is genuinely one of the most therapeutic and satisfying aspects of life. It does not have to be complicated. The most basic and inexpensive of foods can easily be turned into delicious meals when combined with a few store cupboard staples like some good extra virgin olive oil, curry powder, turmeric, apple cider vinegar, tahini, lemon, nut butters, and toasted seeds.
Our advice is quite simply to cook, and that is all. Clean that dusty pan, turn on that underutilized oven, fill that fridge and become experimental: chop, grate, marinade, roast, grill, fry. You won’t regret it and the pride you’ll feel at the end of the session will be worth every minute spent on making that EPIC concoction!
Do you have any quick and easy tips for people to quickly identify the ‘nasties’ on labels?
YES – for those that genuinely do not have the time to cook, (and note we say time, not money, because it will always be cheaper buying the raw ingredients and making them into meals yourself), then reading labels correctly is key. On the back of all supermarket products and high street food chains it will say Carbs; of which Sugars – this is the important number – you ideally want to be around 5g (or less) per 100g (note this does NOT include lactose, a sugar naturally occurring in yoghurt etc.). Also be sure to steer clear of excess dried fruit, which often leads to labels selling themselves as ‘sweetened with all natural sugar’, because here the fruit has been dehydrated to such an extent that you’re literally just left with some very high concentrations of fructose and a very menial amount of fibre and vitamins that it’s not really worth that ‘sugar rush’.
Further, we advocate #LessLabels. A good tip is to ask yourself when you hit the supermarket if you immediately recognise what the origin of this foodstuff looks like. If the answer is no then it’s probably full of processed gunk and tonnes of the nasty stuff – so turn your back on it and say NO thank you! Buy real fresh food instead that doesn’t need labels and cook from scratch.
What would you suggest for a sugar free breakfast?
Brekkie – that is always the hardest part of the day – namely because our supermarket shelves are sadly ridden with cheap, heinous, ‘naturally this, naturally that’, dehydrated, refined pieces of cardboard, marketing themselves as a foodstuff.
Breakfast kick starts the metabolism, sets you up for the day and should be enjoyed as much as any other meal. Again, much like prepping and using leftovers, a little forward thinking is always a good idea. We suggest stocking up the cupboards with foods like: chia seeds, linseeds, jumbo oats, cacao nibs, nut butters, buckwheat sprouts, frozen fruit, cinnamon, nut mylks, yoghurts, vanilla powder and fresh ginger.
Keep leftover jars and make up a mixture from the above list the night before: Chia & 8tsp Liquid (we normally use a mixture of Mylk & Water) or 2tbsp Oats and 8tbsp Liquid – plus all the other ingredients for flavour, depth and texture – mix them up and see what your favourite combo is.
Another epic start to the day are eggs with some humble greens and a slice of homemade nut or seed loaf or a smoothie – just remember to bulk it up with veg and not to go crazy on the fruit.
Any last non-sugar coated tips?
Going ‘sugar free’ shouldn’t be some unobtainable mission impossible. There is no point condemning the odd treat and occasional chocolate bar – because let’s be honest we all have to indulge sometimes… The point is to be aware, consciously make an effort not to go overdo your daily intake of ‘free sugars’ (aka the added, nutrient nil sugars). Some may argue that you ‘need’ them for fuel and energy, but we can, and do get all of our energy from REAL food.
About the Sugar Free Siblings
Diana and Charlotte are a couple of Sisters from Scotland, obsessed with cooking, nourishing & all things Fructo-Free. One of them is studying at the Institute of Integrative Nutrition to become a holistic Health Coach, the other is studying at the Centre of Naturopathic Medicine to become a Nutritional Therapist.
To find out more about them and try out some of their delicious recipes, head on over to their website here!
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