Should we really be avoiding sugar, and if so, what else can we have

Sugar is having its time in the spotlight as the toxic substance we should all avoid. Is this fiction or should we really be avoiding the sweet stuff?

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It's easy to dismiss the comments from hardcore health enthusiasts, bloggers and news articles using not-so-scientific evidence, and a whole lot of 'scare' words to promote the claims that sugar is poison, toxic and sending us all to an early grave. We feel comfortable in what we know. Well, what we think we know. Low fat is good, calories should be monitored, and carbs are the evil little nutrients in food that make us fat. In all honesty, even some health professionals are struggling to grasp the new concepts of nutrition. 

However, when the world's most respected research organisation changes their recommendations, you know something's up. 

The World Health Organisation has recently released new guidelines for our sugar intake. 

Draft guidelines published Wednesday have cut the recommended intake by half. Bringing it down from 10% of our total daily intake, to a mere 5%. This includes fruit juice, honey, syrups and added sugars to foods. However, it does not include natural occurring sugars from fruit. 

What does that look like? For the average adult Australian (consuming about 2000 calories daily), this is the equivalent of  around 1 1/4 tbsp of honey, 1 1/2 tbsp table sugar, or just over a cup of Orchy orange juice. This guideline pretty much rules out most breakfast cereals, packaged snacks, treats and even some savoury packet foods. 

So what do we do?

You can use alternative sweeteners:

  1. No sugar: stevia, natvia, cinnamon, vanilla beans
  2. Minimal sugar: coconut water/milk, vanilla extract
  3. Natural sugars: honey, maple syrup, molasses, dried fruit, fruit puree
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It doesn't need to be difficult if you get a little creative, stick to wholefoods, and aim to eat the bulk of your food in its most natural state. 

Snack on nuts, vegetables, fresh whole fruit, homemade savoury baked goods e.g. egg muffins, almond meal/gluten free seed and nut loaf, mini salads, bliss balls, a green smoothie, trail mix, and full fat natural yoghurt if tolerated.