Here's why you should stop eating sugar – now

Your body will really thank you for ditching the white stuff so, if you fancy jumping on the I-quit-sugar bandwagon, welcome aboard! Taking the first steps can be daunting but the benefits are well documented: weight loss, reduction in pain and inflammation, clear head, glowing skin, improved mood. What’s stopping you? The road isn’t always straight-forward so here are my tips for staying on track.

1) Double check food labels if you’re buying anything that comes in a packet. “Sugar free” doesn’t always mean it has no sugar, but maybe the sugar is disguised as something else. Concentrated fruit juice of any kind is concentrated to such an extent that all that remains is the sugar. In fact, sugar has over 50 different aliases. Sneaky, right? Here are just a few:  sucrose, fructose, glucose, dextrose, galactose, lactose, maltose, invert sugar, raw sugar, confectioner's sugar, corn syrup, high-fructose corn syrup, brown rice syrup, barley malt (plus it contains gluten, so double trouble).

Even those supposed healthy alternatives agave nectar, coconut sugar and honey are nothing more than sugar in a nice dress. In fact, they might be even worse for you than sugar, containing high levels of fructose, which places additional strain on the liver.

2) Step away from artificial sweeteners. These are man-made products that are no better for us than real sugar. And some – notably aspartame and acesulfame-K – have been linked to cancer. Sugar alcohols like sorbitol are poorly broken down by the body, which just ends up feeding the bad bacteria in the large intestine.

And what about stevia? The kind you can buy on the shelf does not just contain stevia, which is in fact a natural product. That’s part of the problem. Additionally, our bodies are not designed for these zero calorie sweeteners; they confuse the body and lead to a rise in the stress hormones cortisol and adrenalin. Here’s a nice article on the great stevia myth you might be interested to read [http://empoweredsustenance.com/is-stevia-bad-for-you/].

Xylitol (found in chewing gum and in granulated form in health food shops) is another fruit alcohol but one that doesn’t feed the bad bacteria and has, in fact, anti-fungal properties. Still, the effect it has on the body is not fully understood.

3) Try natural sweeteners instead. Raw/ manuka honey, which is found in health food shops and not supermarket aisles.

Salt. Weird, right? Adding a pinch of salt (preferably sea salt or pink Himalayan salt crystals) can bring out the natural sweetness in your food so you may find you don’t need the sugar anyway.

Apple sauce, dates or mashed banana. You’ll see this in lots of healthy recipes. They’re natural, what’s not to like. The riper the banana, the sweeter the taste.

4) Watch the juices and smoothies. It’s easy to think that these are healthy options, but glass of orange juice can contain the equivalent of 5 teaspoons of sugar and none of the fibre to slow its progress into your bloodstream. Fruit laden smoothies do just the same. It’s a hit and run, people.

5) If you lapse, don’t worry. Sometimes we all cave, whether it’s a birthday cake you cannot refuse or a special celebratory dinner. Just start eating well afresh the next day. If you’ve been off sugar for a while, this first foray back on the white stuff may have you feeling sluggish and terrible. Use this as your motivation to get back on track!