It has been 4 years now since I said goodbye to sugar. I was a 2 teaspoons of sugar in my numerous cups of tea kind of girl and a lover of a full Afternoon Tea, the more sugary the confections, the better and don’t go skimping on the jam and cream!! Finding a fabulous setting in some of the most beautiful hotels and spaces around the world, my husband and I would sit and while away half a day in self induced sugar comas.
Then my wonderful Mum, who survived breast cancer in her mid sixties, started behaving oddly, nothing you could really put your finger on at first, just silly forgetfulness, sometimes a strange mood, or a lack off enthusiasm for something, or an out of character rude remark here and there and then it was back to her usual self. This carried on and off for a few years, until it started to become very evident there was indeed room for deep concern. The going into town and then being driven back home by one of the many taxi drivers that we knew ( I am forever thankful for living in a small town )because she had missed her footing ( her brain had simply forgotten to tell her to step down), or her seemingly ravenous hunger because her brain was no longer registering that she was full. Then came the not sleeping and wandering off half dressed at all times of the day or night, before the final fall that meant she could no longer walk. It was at this point she could no longer swallow either and in May 2000, I had to say goodbye to my fun loving, kind and sweet Mum. I am not writing any of this as a sob story, it’s facts about some of what my family and I went through for around 8 years and one of the reasons why I decided to cut out sugar completely from my life, I want to live a long and healthy life and I am determined to do so. There are somewhat conflicting ideas about sugar and dairy with regards to brain health, but I don’t have either anymore (more about dairy on another day) and the many, many reports I’ve read have not changed my thoughts or views on sugar.
Other reasons for living a sugar free (as much as I can) life include the overwhelming fact (for me) that the cellulite I was starting to get has pretty much almost disappeared, I used to also get quite puffy feet, ankles and lower legs from the heat and on flights, but this hasn’t happened since I gave up the sweet stuff. My anxiety has improved too, I no longer have any crashes, I have much more energy, I have more strength at the gym, in fact, the sluggishness I felt sometimes has completely dissipated.
Unfortunately, there is just so much sugar hidden in even savoury foods now, more so here in the US, but it is creeping into the UK too, something I noticed on a recent trip back. Here in America, I have learnt that high fructose corn syrup can be called a “natural sweetener”, so beware!!! That stuff is pure evil. Too much fructose can affect brain function, it can feed cancer cells, can cause leptin resistance, which in turn affects appetite and metabolism. It can also increase uric acid production, a cause of diseases such as gout and kidney stones. Add in the fact that fructose can only be metabolised by the liver, which means it can’t be used as energy and gets stored as fat, I am quite happy to say “I’ll pass on the sugar, thanks”.
I am certainly not trying to tell you to eschew all sugar, this is what works for me and I am really strict, I eat a predominately clean diet, with very little processed foods and I make sure that I have no more than 6g per 100g and if it has sugar in the ingredients (say crackers for example), then its a no from me. It does worry me, however, that even some frozen veg has sugar added, along with a whole slew of savoury products, so if you think you are cutting back on sugar, it might be wise to read the labels, they can be quite surprising and look out for “natural sweetener”.
With this in mind, you may wonder what I do eat (along with no sugar, I don’t have meat or dairy, but these are topics for another day), so below is my favourite breakfast at home. Unless, we are out for breakfast, I try to eat this most mornings.
I soak oats overnight in Almond Milk (unsweetened)and make a big batch to last a few days. This can be eaten cold, or add more almond milk and heat it up. I also soak a batch of chia seeds in. water overnight to make a gel and add a tablespoon to the oats (after they’ve been heated)
Oats are great for energy levels, they lower cholesterol and regulate blood sugar.
Chia Seeds are full of fibre and omega 3
Almond Milk is full of good fats, is heart healthy and one serving provides 50% of your Vitamin E daily allowance.
I add blueberries and raspberries ( these are the only 2 fruits I choose to eat, they are both low in fructose), either cold of heated up with the oats.
Both fruits are powerhouses full of amazingly good stuff
Blueberries reduce DNA damage and can protect against aging and cancer, they can stop cholesterol in the blood from becoming damaged, maybe help- prevent heart disease and are a high antioxidant.
148 grams contains only 84 calories and is packed with fibre, Vitamin C, Vitamin K and Manganese
Raspberries can help with cognitive ability in relation to aging, they have potassium to support heart health, they contain powerful antioxidants that work against free radicals and can inhibit tumoor growth and decrease inflammation in. the body. They’re high in Vitamin C, Beta Carotene and Lutein and one cup also contains Vitamin K, Folate, Vitamin E, Iron and Manganese. All this and they taste delicious too.
Ah Walnuts, that often left behind nut in the Christmas selection, but these are worth cracking open. They can improve cognitive function and memory and they’re full of heart healthy Omega 3.
I’m not quite done yet, I like to add some Pumpkin and Sunflower seeds into the mix too.
Pumpkin Seeds are heart healthy, contain Zinc, Omega 3 and Tryptophan, are good for post menopause, they’re an anti inflammatory and are an anti diabetic.
Sunflower Seeds contain Vitamin E and Selenium and have been linked to lower the risk of Alzheimers and Dementia.
And lastly, this is my finishing topping, a dollop of Trader Joes raw Almond Butter (surprisingly one of the few things Trader Joes doesn’t add sugar to, I mean whom knew hummus needed sugar?)
Almond Butter aside from its yumminess ( yes, I am allowed to say yumminess at 51), is full of healthy fats, Vitamin E, Fibre, Magnesium, Manganese and is sodium free. Don’t be too heavy handed though, its high in calories.
There you have it, my breakfast of choice and champions, this keeps me full until lunch. You could add cinnamon or different seeds (hemp gives a nuttier flavour, or flax), it is a fantastic way to start the day and “Break the Fast”.
Have a great Day
PS. I am not a healthcare professional, my words are based on my own research and what works for me and the physical and mental differences I have personally noted.