Sugar Free September, yep, I’ll give it a go!
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When I asked around who would like to join me in trying to reduce our extrinsic sugar intake (that’s the sugars that are added to our food and drink) this September I received a varied response. Some said point-blank “No way why would I want to do that?”, some squirmed a bit knowing that perhaps it was a good idea but said very little as perhaps the task seemed a bit too enormous (30 days hath September after all) and some said “Yep, I’ll give it a try”. Included in that last group were our three children and my husband, Ben, obviously - but he’s already a bit of a goody-two-shoes when it comes to not consuming sugar anyway.
Sugar-Free September is an initiative run by one of the big dental plan companies and yesterday being Day 1 was quite easy as we were fired up and motivated and we had a day where we could easily keep on top of what we were eating. The rest of the month, especially when the children return to school next week might not be quite so straight forward and we will need to really focus if we are going to succeed. Their initial question was obviously "Why?" so here are the reasons why we are doing it...
Why you should give Sugar-Free September a try
Humans don’t need sugar - It’s just a comforting substance that we treat ourselves to in times of celebration, when we’re feeling in need of a ‘pick-me-up’, or just out of habit. However, we already have more than enough sugar in our diets from naturally-occurring sources such as whole fruits, vegetables and milk (these are intrinsic sugars) and we don't need or benefit from eating the sugars that are added to our food and drink. Every time we have something sugary to eat or drink, bacteria in our mouths feed on this sugar and produce harmful acids, which can cause tooth decay. It then takes our saliva around an hour to neutralise these acids and return our mouths to normal. This means the more times a day you expose your teeth to sugar, the more you increase your chances of tooth decay.
There are many health benefits and this next one is especially important to us - well, to me at least! Sugar is calorific and it’s easy to pile the pounds on when you’re unknowingly eating items that have had sugar added to them. It can also lead to unwanted fat storage according to Claire White, author of Sugar Snub and nutritional adviser: “When our stores of glucose in our muscles and liver are full, any extra sugar, particularly fructose, is converted to fat. We can deal with fructose in fruits for example (don’t stop eating fruit!), but food manufacturers have created Fructose Glucose Syrup and filled fizzy drinks, junk food, and many supermarket foods with it.”
One of the children’s concerns was that they thought sugar is a good option for keeping you energised throughout the day but that’s not true. Although sugar does provide a boost of energy, its effects are short-lived and can actually make you feel worse. It takes just 30 minutes to go from a chocolate bar sugar-high to a sugar crash. Lean protein and good quality carbohydrates such as wholewheat pasta and brown rice are good options for keeping you fuelled so one of the first things we are doing is compiling a new snack list.
Another fact we discovered whilst researching all about sugar is that it has been linked to premature ageing. Over-consumption of sugar can weaken collagen and elastin, accelerating the rate at which wrinkles appear and some people have reported they have clearer, less spot-prone skin when they reduce their sugar consumption which is a bonus for hormonal teenage skin.
Obviously as the children are getting involved there are some conditions. We all agreed that we will have Delilah’s birthday off towards the end of the month because you can’t have a birthday without a cake and under no circumstances are they prepared to try an alternative. However, I am hoping that by that stage we might have re-educated our taste buds a bit and the idea of a chocolate fest might not be so appealing.
I'll soon update you how we all got on.