The link(s) between Sugar & Sweeteners

The link(s) between Sugar & Sweeteners

Sugar is bad for you! That’s the top news of many blogs and dieticians and “wanna be slim” enthusiasts – The Guardian has a whole section devoted to stories related to sugar and it’s effect on the population. There’s no argument here, it is indeed bad for us due to the number of products that pile it in – check out the BBC story How much sugar is hiding in your food?.

Sugars

The temptation of sugar

With sugar being almost impossible to avoid unless you are a home cook fanatic it’ll be there in some degree in nearly every meal, snack and drink. NHS looks at how sugar in our diet effects our health? and Healthline’s blog post on 11 reason why too much sugar is bad for you and everything from social sites to next door neighbours daughter is now an expert on it and like Time magazines article Sugar is definitely toxic it is definitely the number one villain in the world of food and drink.

Some say the sweetest things

The world of marketing has been listening and diet drinks, sugar free sweets, low sugar meals, 50% less sugar sauces etc… etc… is quickly becoming prominent in our stores. So it’s bad for you right? So, this must be good! Remember though, they must sweeten it somehow and what they use is aptly named sweeteners. The NHS educate us again on the truth about sweeteners and fitness magazine take us through the most popular sweeteners on Get Sweetener Savvy and it doesn’t take long to realise that they aren’t a miracle cure to the devil that is sugar. Which leaves us, and Thrillist.com asking which is worse: artificial sweeteners or sugar?.

Artificial Sweeteners

So the shift moves back to negative about sweeteners with articles like those from the BBC asking are sweeteners really bad for you? and Harvard reviewing artificial sweeteners: sugar-free, but at what cost? when the whole reason we moved to them was to get away from sugar. So, may be the answer is we just eat too much?! Most of the advice comes down to one word “moderation”, and as we have found out todays society lacks that control in both ourselves and the companies that produce the food. Sugar is bad for us but instead of a solution we found a workaround which is also bad for us!

You are the answer

As much as we contribute to a society it is our own individual problem. Control what you eat, and others may follow…if they don’t at least you won’t be a victim to the sugar wars. As previously specified there is loads of advice out there from experts like the SugarScience website who breaks it down with How Much is Too Much? to blogs from chefs like Jamie Oliver who takes a look with a similarly titled How much sugar is too much? post.

In conclusion, be wary of what you eat as it is us who abuse it that makes it bad. Stick to natural unrefined where possible, choose a diet that isn’t focused on sweetness and stay away from fast food. You don’t have to be a health fanatic, you just need to be health conscious.

And another thing…

So we are the problem. We love it, it’s generally a natural ingredient and carbohydrates is our first source of energy. Sugar for those who work out at the right time can do wonders, just check out the Greatist blog post The one time it’s totally OK to eat a lot of sugar for some advice. Fact is everyone is different and on top of that we have different goals.

The Pescatarian Challenge

The Pescatarian Challenge

A trip out with my better half kick-started a conversation about eating meat; the quality of meat we are eating, the morality around the methods of how we kill the animals for our pound of flesh and so on. Both being meat eaters it really was merely a general chat that got a little out of hand and ended up us daring each other to stave from eating meat for a month. As she gladly took the challenge (and to be honest, had no doubt she could do it) I had to follow suit.

Pescatarian for a Month

That was what initiated my pescatarian diet for a month and as we approached the start I felt happy to take the challenge on. I’m a fan of meat (big fan of pork and its plethora of varities) but love fish too so thought it wasn’t going to be too bad.

When I was home the variety was incredible. My better half (and this being one reason why she is better) went out and bought fish and seafood I had never tried before. From white fish to smoked variations, sea based to fresh water, meaty swimmers to sea faring molluscs, I’m pretty sure I didn’t have one meal with the same fish throughout the month. Looking into recipes (check out http://www.fishisthedish.co.uk/recipes) we found a mesmerizing array of fish dishes, take out any that included bits of meat was like taking a cup of water from the dead see to see the affect it would have on the salt content. A whole new world opened up to fish and seafood and the question left to us with is “why did we not know all this?!”. We knew the seas were plentiful with our watery delights but meat is prevalent, so widespread we’d just forgot…or just became the norm to go meat first.

Pescatarian diet has a wide variety

Things got difficult…

However, the month we had chosen to do the pescatarian challenge happened to be a busy one work wise and was travelling around quite a bit. It wasn’t long before I noticed what essentially became the biggest pain of being a pescatarian; eating out while on the move (of which happened a lot) is woefully void of fish options. Restaurants were OK albeit having a somewhat limited menu there was always, something to try and some places gave variety but the take-out restaurants, e.g. sandwich stops and the likes to keep me going while jumping on planes, trains and automobiles or just grabbing something quick and easy to take back to the office, was plane old boring. It was always some low-quality tuna or prawn-based meal with the biggest variety coming from the bread used…oh and pretty much always a sandwich or wrap. Some places did offer some better quality and variety of options, but they were far and few between, seeing 8 types of chicken, 4 varieties of pork and 3 beef options next to a damp tuna mayonnaise (eugh, mayonnaise) and prawn Marie Rose sandwich was becoming quite annoying by the third week.

So what did I really think?

At the end of the challenge, which we both completed, I was looking forward to some meat. I was very much looking forward to having choices again but the whole trial has left a lasting impression. Sushi was such a saviour in bringing some variety, excluding bread and not lathered in sauce fatty sauces that it has stuck as firm favourite for eating on the go. I now find myself reviewing the fish options at restaurants when eating out and salmon has now replaced my cooked breakfast as a healthier, and tastier option. I have to say I still love meat, certain dishes are still favourites of mine but the dietary split has gone from 70/30 in favour of meat to the same but in favour of fish.

In conclusion I highly recommend giving it go. It is not without frustration and like me, you may have some failed dishes (anything with crab is a no for me) but this was to be expected when giving things a go for the first time. Main thing I felt was how much better my diet was, quality sustenance when we could get quality produce (frozen mussels weren’t too great) saw less lethargy after meals and easier digestion. A bonus was a new world of food, love or hate it was great to find out new dishes, new seafood and new diet that has stuck with me. Even if not 100%.

Smoothie Ideas For An Easy Nutrient Boost

Whatever the main objective, increasing your intake of fresh fruit and vegetables is arguably one of the biggest contributors to a healthier lifestyle. The excuse most people find for not incorporating more into their daily diet is usually around the matter of convenience.

A simple way is to introduce smoothies into your life!

TrueSapien friend Yemsmoothies offers these simple yet nutritious ideas to try. Let us know what you think!

1 Avocado, Banana, Broccoli [raw], Spinach, Pear

2 Apple, Banana, Purple cabbage, Lettuce, Flaxseed, Banana

3 Red Apple, Orange, Carrot, Ginger, Lettuce, Red Banana powder

Base used for all smoothies – Water

If you’re drinking smoothies for weight loss/detox  as one of your meal replacements i.e breakfast or dinner then keep your smoothies as green as possible.

Note that you’ll  still need to exercise, eat and drink clean to achieve your weight loss. A Green smoothie isn’t a magical weight loss drink!

Your  healthy or weight loss smoothies aren’t meant to be extremely sweet like ” cold stone or Wall’s ice cream ” so don’t plough it with overly sweet fruits. Your solid sweeteners should be either pineapple, mango, banana or 1 -2 dates.

Drink and taste the colour of your smoothies.

Worried that your breakfast smoothie won’t fill you up ? – then add 2 tablespoons of oats. We can guarantee you that you’ll be full to the brim after drinking it!

Use coconut / almond/tigernut milk, water, coconut water or even cool green tea as your base.

Yemsmoothies will be back again soon with some more smoothie recipes or tips!

Stop counting Calories!

Well…don’t stop exactly but stop making it the priority number one! Many diets look at the calorie count of food and it seems the norm to check the amount of calories in food when shopping. Packaging even has marketing ploys on them that home in on this trait by declaring that there is “Only…” so many calories in this bar, dessert, snack etc… Outside the shop and it seems restaurants have sections on the menu that are specific to calorie intake such as the “Under 300 calorie menu” and magazines have article after article about burning those last calories or the most calorific foods. We are calorie obsessed, and it is all in the name of losing those few extra pounds. If losing weight is our goal then it is true that calories burned minus calories eaten needs to be a deficit number in order to lose weight, however, this is a very black and white view on dieting and the human body is a highly complex machine that requires more than just fuel to work optimally and to carry on working to it’s full potential for as long as we live.

Losing weight is so important to so many that being healthy (a word that seems to be losing credibility) can be sacrificed. The “calories is all that counts” attitude means many are missing the required nutrients for a healthy living diet. I have even heard of people missing meals so they can eat that cake later or go out on the pop with friends. Makes sense, right? You can only eat so many calories per day so cut down on food throughout the day because Aunt Jackie’s birthday party is on this evening and it’s going to get messy and wine, beer and cocktails. On the other hand there is the calorie compensation too; a cake has manifested in the works canteen…the piece and a half you had needs to be offset somehow, another 20 minutes on the treadmill will make up for it. Again, makes sense? I mean calories in from the cake have been burned off by calories out on your run but once again; the human body is not simple, it is a complex machine and calories only define energy consumed / burned and have no bearing on the nutrients.

This is the mentality of counting calories brings about, we disregard all the other factors. If you are serious about “getting into shape” then I may assume that you are out of shape and that it didn’t happen over night. It’s the same to get your desired body;it takes time and, let’s face it, it’ll be a long and arduous task but it’ll work and it’ll be worth it. Not only slim but healthy, strong, mobile and all round performance will improve in all aspects, not to mention you will look better as your body isn’t just losing weight but gaining muscle.

So STOP making calorie deficit your only goal and change your lifestyle; eat healthy, keep hydrated and exercise regulary and properly (and have fun) – you’ll have the body you want and reap a whole host of benefits and bonuses that come along with a healthy lifestyle!

Vegetarian diet. The step to Plant Power!

I’ve always believed that spur of the moment lifestyle decisions are often the ones that are most reliable, in tune with our inner self and less likely influenced by someone else’s agenda or that of the masses (the sheep factor). So when, three weeks before Christmas, I decided to eliminate meat intake from my diet and become vegetarian, I wasn’t at all daunted by the annual turkey and pigs in blankets festive binge period looming large on the horizon.

Why the change?

I didn’t go into it feeling like I was going to be denying myself anything. I had recently watched a short video on global livestock farming practices which had set my mind to work. I won’t divulge any information  from it as I don’t believe I am in a position to preach on the subject (I’ve spent over 40 years eating meat compared to 4 weeks not!) but it brought the subject from the area of my mind filed ‘taken for granted’ into an area more open for debate.

So how has it gone?

Someone asked me yesterday this very question and on reflection I have to say I have only missed eating meat on one occasion. Yes you’ve guessed it, Christmas dinner.
This fact alone suggests that it has been quite plain sailing. I do the majority of my own and my families cooking and have found it relatively straightforward to replace my meat with fish or extra vegetables rather than going down the route of meat substitutes like Quorn. I’m still cooking meat for my family.

How do I feel?

I was warned that I could feel weak or lethargic adopting a vegetarian diet. Far from it. I have stepped my sport training up over the period (swimming, cycling and running) and if anything have found myself more energised than ever. I also feel less bloated after meals.
There is a wealth of information now available to those looking at alternative diets,  for the health benefits or ethical beliefs, whether that includes meat or not. It’s not necessary to go down the full Vegetarian or Vegan route either, as I still eat fish and eggs my diet is currently that termed Pescatarian.
This change to my diet has certainly pushed me to broaden my intake of a wider variety of fruit, vegetables, pulses and nuts which can only be a good thing even if I decide to start eating meat again (although I have no intention of this at this point in time!)
My advice is to try alternative nutrition programmes and see if they work for you. Listen to your body and your gut instinct, the only way you’ll know is by trying.

Plan To Succeed In 2016 With Your Resolution

So how do we do with New Years Resolutions? Not so well it seems. Although that shouldn’t be too much of a shock to you as you’ve more than likely witnessed failure first hand. Statistics show about 8% are successful and most fail before January is through.

Why is this important?

Well, in the top 5 most popular New Years Resolutions are losing weight, living life to the fullest and staying fit and healthy so it stands to reason there are a lot of people out there that are living their lives feeling overweight, feel unhappy with how they live or consider themselves unfit.
So if these are that important to us why do so many people fail?

Simple. The main reason is this. The goal that is set is too vague and/or too ambitious.
Targets (resolutions) need to be specific and measurable with timescales. ‘This year’ isn’t enough as it’s far too easy to start ‘tomorrow’ or ‘Monday’ as a year makes us feel we have plenty of time to recover a poor start.
The other reason is we focus too heavily on the big picture. While it’s great to visualize how you want to be or feel once you’ve reached your objective, goals are more easily achieved if they are as simple as possible.

Choose smaller ‘bite sized’ objectives that when repeatedly achieved will result in achieving the overall goal.

For example, rather than your resolution being ‘I want to lose weight’ first be specific about how much would be realistic over the year. Then break this down into 2 monthly periods so you have clear targets. Then it’s time to break your goal down by asking if you can simplify the goal. Rather than focusing on ‘losing weight’ ask if you can simplify. Maybe reducing ‘fast food’ from your diet would be a start? Or taking the stairs everyday at the shopping centre or place of work. Once you’ve achieved the mini goal, introduce something else.
You’ll soon be on the way to achieving your overriding resolution!
Make 2016 the year you make a better you and live a ‘life less ordinary!’