Jan 04, 2018

Sugar: way too sweet and not so innocent

What’s a Christmas if it’s not lazy days filled with sugar-fuelled drinks and snacks?

First there’s the 24 days of advent chocolates. Then the tubs of Christmas toffees, the obligatory yule log and the copious amounts of festive fizzy drinks.  But it’s only for one week of the year, there’s endless amounts of socialising to be done and there isn’t the time (or the inclination) to think about a healthy diet in and amongst it all.  Anyway, there’s always New Year when the resolutions will sort it out again, right?


And this New Year started with one big bang resolution. Parents have been urged by Public Health England to get tough on sweets, cakes and fizzy drinks in between meals to curb the obesity crisis.  In a single year, children are consuming nearly 400 biscuits, more than 120 cakes, around 100 portions of sweets and nearly 70 of both chocolate bars and ice creams. This is before it's all washed down with 150 juice drink pouches and cans of fizzy drink. 

But it can’t be just children who are enjoying a lifestyle of at least three unhealthy snacks and sugary drinks a day.

For most adults, a new year inevitably comes with the promise of new habits and the list will almost certainly include healthier eating and a more active lifestyle.  This is especially important for people with type 2 diabetes because a change in these two areas can cause a reverse in the symptoms.  Too much sugar is a primary factor in many diets and is known to not only increase your blood pressure, but double your risk of heart disease.  Excessive sugar consumption is also responsible for unnecessary weight gain which can lead to obesity.  And obesity significantly increases the risk of diabetes.

So, a reduction in sugar seems a sensible promise to make when we look at ways to achieve a healthier diet.

A great place to start is to establish a good food plan for your meals and snacks and stick to it.  A well-balanced meal plan provides parameters for you to work within and, once you have the basics in place, there’s lots of flexibility and new ideas for you to try.  There is no doubt that having your kitchen cupboards in order will help you to reset your diet and feel energized about the food you are eating.

So, let’s start with the basics of what makes a good pantry. 

Vegetables (especially the non-starchy sort) are a winner and can be eaten in abundance; even if you have diabetes.  Non-starchy veggies include asparagus, baby corn, broccoli and carrots and are as versatile as they come.  Try adding them to smoothies and muffins or enjoy them raw as a snack.

Whole grains are another staple not to be forgotten.  And, although they are classed as a carbohydrate, they have been linked to lowering the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and obesity.  Whole grains, including brown rice, quinoa, oats and barley are a great filling fibre and can be eaten as a cereal for a hearty breakfast, added to a tasty salad or enjoyed alongside lean meat, poultry or fish.

And to make whole grain dishes even more appealing, try adding a selection of nuts - almonds, cashews, walnuts and pistachios all work.  They are a great accompaniment and very versatile; whether mixed with natural yoghurt or adding that extra zing to a whole grain feast.  Research even suggests that people who eat around an ounce of nuts a day tend to be thinner and have a lower risk of developing heart disease.

Another secret staple for managing the waistline is canned beans.  They are rich in fibre, protein and antioxidants and work wonders as a satisfying snack or a filling ingredient in soups and meat dishes.  Hummus is a great example and is delicious as part of a sandwich or as a dip for carrots, cucumber and celery sticks.  Canned beans, such as butter beans, chickpeas and kidney beans are also a great addition to any salad or a tasty ingredient in soups and chilli.

These are just a small selection from a big list of pantry staples.  They are all super healthy ingredients that are versatile and can taste amazing in a whole variety of ways.  And, with National Obesity Awareness Week just around the corner, what better time to add them into your diet.  The National Obesity Forum works to tackle diabetes, heart disease and weight related illness.  And from the 8th to the 14th January, they are asking the UK to join them in a national New Year’s resolution to help improve the nation’s health.

Whether it’s cooking more healthily, avoiding snacks, or being a little more physically active, join in National Obesity Awareness week and make your healthy New Year’s resolution now!

If you are at risk from type 2 diabetes and would like to know more about the signs and symptoms to look out for, then register for a free account at www.equalibras.co.uk today where you can also view hints and tips on energy-boosting recipes and exercise routines…great for at home or in the workplace.

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