I’m not here to demonise sugar. As a self-confessed sweet tooth, you know I must LOVE Muscular Dystrophy NSW when I agree to take part in their Sugar-Free September.

I would also encourage anybody reading this to get involved as well. I don’t care if it’s September 2nd or 11th, it’s never too late to examine your relationship with food – sugar in particular.

Some quick points on sugar. It’s a carbohydrate, which are essential for the body and definitely have a place in a balanced diet. Sugar is a ‘simple’ carb meaning it is digested and absorbed by the body quicker than a complex carb – like oats.  The consideration with these types of sugars is that it gives us a quick energy hit that doesn’t last long and rarely makes us feel full. Foods loaded with sugar are addictive, but honestly, what isn’t?

Sugar Free September is a great way of supporting Muscular Dystrophy NSW, it’s also a great opportunity for all of us participating, to utilise the opportunity to examine and improve our diets*. To support you in this – I’d love to set out two challenges for you that will hopefully morph over time into habits. Or not, I’m not your boss..

  1. Read the nutritional information when buying groceries. 

It takes an extra second and see for yourself how often sugar is found in food, and how much of it. You’d be surprised how much sugar there is in non-sweet foods like tomato sauce, pre-made soups and baked beans. Typically, the more processed the food is the more sugar it has (as well as salt and fat). Whilst this is to make it taste better, it’s also to extend its shelf life. While you’re there – check out the energy quantity or kilojoules/calories in the food as well. It’s crazy to think how unaware we can be of what we are putting in our bodies when it comes to food. I’ve been doing this for months now and it has completely changed my decision making around food – except on cheat days of course…

  1.  Recognise what a sugar craving is really telling us. 

A sugar craving isn’t your body’s way of communicating a desperate physiological need for a donut. We made it this far as a species without Nutella, our body can live without it, but it can’t live without energy which sweets have plenty of. Often a sugar craving is your body’s way of saying it is running on empty, which is why these cravings are so common when starting a new spartan diet. Eating more complex carbs and nutritionally balanced meals throughout the day can lessen these cravings. Simple sugar can also release a hit of dopamine (feel good hormone) and can be your brains way of solving a problem like being bored or upset. So next time you’re craving a sugary snack, ask yourself why. If it’s because you’re hungry, eat something healthy, and if it’s to boost your mood substitute it with a walk in the sun or – I can’t believe I’m admitting this – watch cat videos on YouTube (there’s studies that back this ok?!).

Again, sugar is not the devil, the problem is often our relationship with it. By catching the sugar thoughts in their tracks and keeping an eye on the food you buy, you can make improve this relationship.

Not only will your body thank you for it, but it will also totally make that next birthday cake taste way better.

*Diet is not a dirty word; it refers to the food an animal or person habitually eats.

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