Whether you love sweets or not, chances are that your family’s sugar consumption is out of control. One teaspoon of sugar does not harm us but the extreme overconsumption of (hidden) sugar has become a global epidemic!
Switzerland is no exception. We are consuming on average about 30 teaspoons of sugar, which is around 120g per person per day. On a yearly basis, this adds up to about 44kg of sugar per person (source: Schweizerische Gesellschaft für Ernährung SGE & Bundesamt für Statistik, 2017).
This extreme overconsumption of sugar puts a burden on our body!
Did you know that kids under the age of 2 shouldn’t consume any added sugar? Sugar is difficult to be digested by their little body. Once kids are older than 2 years old, the World Health Organisation recommends a maximum of 3 teaspoons of added sugar. Adults can digest on average 9 teaspoons (men) and 6 teaspoons (women). Remember: 1 teaspoon of sugar is about 4 grams.
But I don’t eat sugar! Why should I care? Sugar is HIDDEN EVERYWHERE!
Over 70% of processed products in the supermarket contain one or more types of sugar. There are more than 50 names for sugar! The real issue with sugar is the so-called ‘hidden sugars’ since we are not aware of consuming these. In other words, although you might not have a sweet tooth, chances are that sugar finds its way into your body through many unexpected products.
Where is sugar hidden in our food?
We all know that cakes, cookies, chocolate, donuts, and sodas contain sugar. But did you know that added sugar can also be found in savoury products such as sausages, bread, potato chips, frozen pizzas, pasta sauces, and salad dressings?
Even ‘healthy’ snacks for kids are sometimes shockingly packed with added sugar! Puricious’ mission is to raise awareness and transparency for hidden sugars where we least expect them and don’t even know we are consuming!
The real issue is the accumulation of (hidden) sugar
A typical breakfast can already contain more sugar than our body can deal with. Most of Puricious’ clients were used to starting their day with muesli, yoghurt, and orange juice. This breakfast is considered ‘healthy’ unlike a breakfast with pancakes, for example. However, it easily contains more than 10 teaspoons of hidden sugar and we are not even aware of it!
But our body needs sugar as fuel, right?
Our body needs sugar (glucose) for energy. We obtain this sugar as fuel for our cells when we eat unprocessed whole foods that contain nutrients such as vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. Any refined sugars are ‘empty calories’ as they do not nourish our body. These processed sugars have no nutritional value for our body and are exactly the kind of sugar that is mostly added to products as ‘hidden sugar’. These are the sugars to avoid!
Naturally occurring sugars such as in fruits, vegetables, and carbohydrates, can be used as fuel by our body. Our body breaks these foods down into glucose. When glucose comes into our blood stream, our hormone insulin then helps stabilise our blood sugar level by acting as the ‘key’ to allow glucose molecules into our cells for fuel. This process helps to provide energy to our body and keeps our blood sugar level stable.
What happens when we consume too much sugar?
Any excess sugar that our body cannot instantly burn as energy, gets stored as fat ‘for later’. In the past, this would help us survive in times of hunger. Nowadays, this ‘survival mechanism’ is hardly ever needed as food is almost always available to us. As a result, we store the sugar as fat. In the long run, this can lead to many health complications.
How does excess (hidden) sugar impact our health in the long run?
Indulging in birthday cake, cookies, or a bar of chocolate once in a while is not a problem. Our body is incredibly efficient and knows how to stay in balance. However, if we keep consuming too much sugar, we may risk consequences in the long run such as type 2 diabetes, low energy, inflammation, obesity, dental cavities, heart disease and hormonal issues (source: World Health Organisation, 2015).
Extreme sugar consumption is not the only culprit for health complications
Sugar is just one of the many factors that influence our health. Other factors that play an important role are, amongst others, stress, toxins in our environment, food chemicals, and so on. The most important step for your overall health is to assess all aspects of your lifestyle and find a balance that makes you feel good.
How to reduce your (hidden) sugar intake?
Start by detecting hidden sugar in the food and drinks consumed. Become familiar with the many different names of sugar and read the labels on packages to discover how much (hidden) sugar there is in your food. Ideally, the sugar content in 1 serving size is lower than 10%.
Substitute your family’s sugary favourite snacks for healthier (free from hidden sugars) ones. Also, cooking at home helps control what is in our food and reducing consumption of added / hidden sugars. A quick win to reduce our sugar intake is ditching sugary drinks and skip adding sugar in tea or coffee!
No more sugar ever again?
Your family can still enjoy sugar but in moderation! The key to a healthy lifestyle is to find the right balance between enjoying foods that nourish and energise our body, while indulging in a treat every now and then. We rather mindfully enjoy something sugary than consuming many unwanted hidden sugars! By consuming less and less sugar, our taste buds change over time and some food starts to become too sweet. This is the easiest way to stop craving those sweet snacks.
Getting into action without prohibiting your kids to eat any sugar
As a parent you care for your kids’ health and obviously want them to eat healthily. The issue with prohibiting anything is that it can trigger ‘the forbidden fruit effect’. In other words, the stricter you are, the more the kids want sugar since it now has become ‘a forbidden’ item, which can make it even more exciting for them.
We have worked with parents and found that it really helps to still allow sugar from time to time and educate your kids on how sugar affects their body. Kids are curious and when they understand WHY it is important for them not to have that Haribo candy or Coca-Cola, they will also desire it less.
Additionally, making healthy low-sugar alternatives together with your family is a great way to involve them and make it fun to enjoy other (less sugary) treats!
No need to feel deprived! Kids love preparing these yummy sugar-free oat cookies
Most kids absolutely love to help you cook and bake! They can be your little helper in the kitchen! One of the favourite recipes of most kids have been our oat cookies!
These are made with only 2 ingredients: bananas and oat flakes! All you need to do is mash the banana and add oats until the banana only acts as a kind of glue to hold the oat flakes together. If you want chocolate cookies, add cocoa powder to your liking (more if you like darker chocolate) or add some cinnamon and some small pieces of apple to the baking mix to create ‘apple pie’ cookies.
Once your mix is ready, bake them until golden brown in your oven at 180 degrees Celsius. You can store the cookies in an airtight container for up to 5 days. Enjoy!
N.B. the exact amount of oat flakes depends on the size of your banana. Therefore just add oat flakes to the mashed banana until it is a consistent mix but not too liquid.
The health benefits of a sweet life with less sugar in it
Dr. Lustig from the University of California found in his study in 2013 that ditching sugar rapidly improves our health. Within only 10 days, participants of his study benefited from lower blood pressure, lower triglycerides (fat in blood), lower LDL (bad cholesterol), improved liver function, and lower fasting insulin levels that led to reversing pre-diabetic insulin levels (source: Dr. Lustig, Fat Chance, 2012).
The participants of the Puricious 10-Day Sugar Rehab program also experienced similar benefits! The biggest game changer for most participants was to finally feel in control around sugar. They are energised, feel fitter and lighter, have a clearer mind, are less often sick, sleep better, and no longer crave sugar.
If Sabine, aka ex-cookie monster, managed to reduce her sugar consumption, your family can too!
At university and during her corporate career, Sabine’s nickname (founder of Puricious Health Coaching) was ‘cookie monster’. Cookies - as well as chocolate - helped her deal with stress and emotions. They provided an energy boost when needed. Sabine could have never imagined a life without her daily package of cookies! Thanks to a balanced lifestyle, she still enjoys her favourite treats without feeling controlled by sugar.
Ready to enjoy a sweeter life with less sugar in it?
In the 10-day Sugar Rehab program, you get lots of recipes and ‘quick fixes’ on how to enjoy a low sugar lifestyle with your family! Try it out as an exciting experiment to see how your family can benefit from consuming less sugar. We wish you and your family all the best and especially lots of fun together in this experiment!
For step-by-step guidance, find out more about the 10-day Sugar Rehab program
Available in English and German: www.puricious.com/no-sugar
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