Vegan, vegetarian, paleo, pegan (yes that’s not a typo it’s a combination diet of paleo vegan), dairy free, gluten free, free range, organic, sugar free … what are you?
I choose not to label my style of eating but I am committed to an animal friendly, organic and locavore, dairy, gluten and processed sugar free lifestyle. Read more about my personal path on food HERE.
As an empowerment and holistic life coach with a basis in health, while still modelling and having been brought up by a woman in the fitness industry ‘nutrition’ and ‘you are what you eat’ have been paramount since the womb! My school lunches were a banquette from the health food store, grandparents garden and fresh market mixed with nourishing Mum Love, and not much has changed today. Healthy living to me isn’t a matter of dieting, deprivation or calorie counting. I don’t even recall the last time I stepped onto a set of scales. Why? Because when I nourish my body with a wide variety of wholesome, fresh foods from the earth I don’t need to worry; my immune system is also strong, I have energy, my skin glows, my hair shines and I know that is from working on myself from the inside out by fuelling my body with real food.
Sure I’ve deprived myself along the way, particularly of my favourite pleasure – chocolate – but since learned the magic of making and enjoying sugar free homemade raw cacao, so no deprivation is ever warranted. And as for ‘takeaway’, I get excited about making homemade pizza with my own dairy free, gluten free base, sauce and piling on all the organic veggies I can with herbs and savoury yeast flakes for cheesy flavour! This is because I see the joy in preparing nourishment infused with love and I see how my body thrives off it. Yes, while I’ve tried ‘fast food’ now I fully understand the effects to my body, the ingredients and the detriment to the planet that most of those food companies are causing and it makes me want to make extremely conscious choices for my health and the health and wellbeing of our Mother Earth.
On a daily basis however, I understand how allowing yourself to get caught up in a fast paced lifestyle means food takes a backseat and you often end up eating the best you can for where you are. That being polite code for ‘grabbing whatever off the shelf on the go’. It doesn’t have to be this way. I teach and guide women and men to value the body as a temple and plan ahead by pre-making snacks or buying the right foods to take with you; especially if you know you won’t be able to order or buy what your body needs on the run. For me that means packing my own assortment of food on a flight, making a lunch box up to take on location for energy on a shoot, or making time on a Sunday night to whip up extra healthy snacks as go to’s between clients.
We only have one body for one lifetime so I encourage a lifestyle that is sustainable for us and the Earth, to ensure the body is functioning at it’s most optimal not treating it like it’s fast, cheap and easy by putting exactly that kind of ‘food’ into it.
This of course means no processed sugar. And THAT is everywhere. If there is a bright, shiny label on it, advertising and perhaps a jingle too you can almost guarantee sugar is in that ‘health’ bar, ‘juice’ drink, ‘spicy sauce’ and ‘fibre rich’ cereal, all of which may be marketed to you as ‘healthy’! So it’s essential to know the difference types of sugars, how they work and where they are found. I’ve done the ground work for you below;
DIFFERENT TYPES OF SUGARS
Glucose – From breads & pastas used by the brain and body as energy.
Your body processes most carbohydrates you eat into glucose, either used immediately for energy, or stored in muscle cells, or in the liver as glycogen for later use.
Ideally, you want to be eating wholegrain natural breads, brown wholegrain pasta and brown or black rice which are lower in sugar and more energy sustaining as they slowly release into your system unlike ‘white’ pastas and breads which spike your blood sugars and often leave you sluggish. Ever felt fabulous, nourished and invigorated after fast food takeaway?
Lactose – Sugar found in dairy
Many people find themselves lactose intolerant, suffering bloating, cramps, digestive issues, skin irritations, etc after consuming dairy. If you relate to this you may want to consider going dairy-free for 3 weeks to trial and test if indeed this is an irritant for you.
Sucrose – Commonly called ‘table sugar’ from sugar cane and sugar beets, it is 50% glucose & 50% fructose.
Fruits and vegetables also contain sucrose. One to avoid as an unnecessary additive.
This sugar will especially give you the ‘sugar-high’. You may feel elated for about 45 minutes then you may feel lethargic, short tempered, erratic, cloudy minded, forgetful and/or unable to sustain tasks. What is happening is your insulin is spiked by the sugar then when it drops it causes the adrenalin to kick in which can lead to anxiety and even panic attacks, especially on a consistently high sugar diet.
Fructose – naturally occurring sugar found in fruits and honey
This is also added to various soda and fruit-flavoured drinks. It is very different from other sugars because it has a different metabolic pathway.
It is not the preferred energy source for muscles or the brain.
Fructose is only metabolised in the liver and relies on fructokinase to initiate metabolism.
It is also more ‘lipogenic’, or fat-producing, than glucose.
So you don’t want to consume foods with added fructose, and when it comes to fruit make sure you eat fresh and ideally organic and aim to eat the fruit in its natural form, with the fibre, as opposed to substituting your fruit intake for pressed juices which extract only the fructose. This is because the fibre in fruit tells you to stop eating when your body has had enough. Like if you had a bag of apples, that may give you a big glass of fresh apple juice which you could drink easily. However, if you tried to eat all those apples in one go it would be a real effort as the body would be resisting that much fructose. So, naturally sourced in its original form let’s say in a banana or a teaspoon of Jarrah honey is not a concern, the additive that is ‘fructose’ in pre-packed drinks and foods is what you want to avoid.
* A popular sweetener alternative is Stevia plant extract which comes in liquid concentrate drops or granules.
When it comes to fructose you ideally want to only have what your body desires. As in a small glass of fresh pressed juice for the day, or a couple of pieces of fresh fruit. As the liver can’t use fructose, it gets rid of it or turns it into fat.
HEALTH ISSUES FROM TOO MUCH SUGAR INCLUDE
Type 2 diabetes
Some of my top tips to ditching sugar and investing in your body temple
READ THE LABELS, ON EVERYTHING
You want to avoid any foods that have added sugar, in the form of but not limited to;
White or brown sugar
Cane sugar or evaporated cane sugar
High fructose corn syrup
*Likewise many additives, preservatives and flavourings are best avoided too.
**Need flavour? Reacquaint yourself with pure, fresh, organic herbs and spices, lemon juice, pepper, Himalayan salt, stevia, cinnamon, vanilla bean powder. Then play!
ALL CALORIES AREN’T EQUAL – don’t count calories!
Calorie counting is not an accurate gauge. I have never used them personally even while modelling neither as a holistic life and health coach. A sugary biscuit and a serve of almonds may have the same calorie count but their health benefits are vastly different. it’s common sense which would nourish your body better.
AVOID THE AISLES
As David Wolf says in That Sugar Film make an immediate left or right in the supermarket and head for the fresh produce. Or better still hit up your local fresh market for your food or get cracking on your own veggie garden or local co-op!
DUMP THE SUGAR FOR GOOD FATS
WE NEED MORE GOOD FATS AND PROTEIN instead of sugars to fuel the body.
Good fats like avocados, olive and coconut oil, nuts like cashews, almonds & walnuts and then plenty of fresh dark leafy greens and even sea vegetables like dulse and seaweeds which are extremely high in natural protein are ideal to nourish the body and won’t leave you unsatisfied.
THINK TWICE AT THE BAR
Let’s not forget how leading a sugar free lifestyle impacts alcohol consumption too. Sugar free pretty much means no alcohol but if you are after balance and enjoying a drink in moderation still here’s what you should know;
Contains minimal fructose as the fructose in the grapes ferments to become alcohol, leaving wine low in sugar. If the wine is dry, be it red or white, it contains very low levels of residual sugar often less than 1g/litre. In most cases this trace is not at a level that can be easily tested. Red wine is lower in fructose than white and is the better option. Red wine also contains resveratrol from the red grape – a powerful antioxidant and immune booster so if it’s choice I say opt for red over white any day.
*Desert wine contains a mountain of sugar by the glass, put it down and step away!
This stunning drop retains more sugar than it’s friends red and white wine so sip in style knowing;
Veuve Clicquot has 9 gram’s/litre
Billecart Salmon Brut Reserve (extra brut) has less than 6 gram’s/litre
Bollinger (extra brut) 4-5 gram’s/litre
*Sparkling Wine’s are often higher and one glass could very well equate to 1/5th of your daily energy intake
The dry spirits such as whiskey, gin and vodka are low in fructose. However, the key is to have them neat on ice or with sparkling / mineral, or soda water, not mixed with tonic water which is full of sugar!
Fructose free and the sugar in both beer and stout is maltose which your body can metabolise.
*Look into gluten free varieties of Beer.
**With all alcohol look into organic varieties.
More ‘sugar free’ inspiration
Damon Gameau created the documentary That Sugar Film: a unique experiment to document the effects of a high sugar diet on a healthy body, consuming only foods that are commonly perceived as ‘healthy’.
The film said, that if you take everything off supermarket aisles that contain sugar, 80% of the contents would be gone.
Tune in above to hear me talk ‘Sugar Free Living’ on Hit 92.9! With Heidi, Will & Woody.
May your life be Sweet As, Sugar Free!
With Love, Elise / S*M