While a no sugar diet is a worthy aim in practice this is not easy to achieve due to the amount of sugar added to the foods we buy in the shops.
However we can start to take control of our diet by checking the sugar levels in the foods we eat, especially processed foods.
It is fairly easy to give up adding sugar to our tea or coffee or sprinkling it over our breakfast cereals but the most sugar in our diet is hidden in drinks, ready meals and takeaways.
Leading doctors in several countries including the UK, the US and Canada have formed a campaign group ‘Action On Sugar’ which seeks to persuade the food industry to reduce the sugar content of foodstuffs and to lobby governments to implement new guidelines on its unnecessary use.
The reason for their concern is the rising obesity rates in adults and children. In England two thirds of adults and a quarter of children are overweight which increases the risk of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes.
Chairman of the new group, Prof. Graham McGregor of the Wolfson Institute of Preventative Medicine, believes that a 20% - 30% decrease in sugar added to foods would eliminate the problem of obesity within three to five years.
While I agree with these sentiments I believe we need to gradually reduce sugar levels to help wean people off the sweet tasting foods they have become used to.
The dangers of too much salt in our diet are well known and most packaged foodstuffs are now required to display the amounts of salt, sugar and fats in the product.
Like most people I enjoy the occasional burgher, baked beans or ice cream but I do try to create my own meals from unprocessed foods as much as possible. This means we can decide how much sugar or salt to add.
Many vegetables and fruits have a natural sweetness and I have suggestions for meals you won’t need to add any sugar to:
Vegetable Mash – use equal parts of potato, sweet potato and parsnip. Cook until soft, mash well with a knob of butter and a good grind of black peppercorns. Sprinkle with parsley to serve with fish or sausages and a green salad.
Carrot Soup – carrot has a natural sweetness – dice 2 lbs of carrots and sweat in a little olive oil with a diced onion and an inch of grated fresh ginger. Add a sprinkle of fennel seeds and a teaspoon of turmeric. After a few minutes add a pint and a half of good stock which is not too salty. Simmer until carrots are soft. You can then liquidise for a creamy soup or serve as is with a sprinkle of fresh chopped parsley.
Low fat yoghurt with honey (honey is a good alternative to sugar as it is made of natural sugars which are less harmful)
Tip: Dried fruits and vegetables are naturally sweeter than fresh because the natural sugars are concentrated in the drying process.
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