Easter is nearly here and the overload of chocolate and sweets will shortly begin.
Children (and adults) will undoubtedly eat far too much chocolate as they overindulge over the Easter weekend and, with most schools on holiday after the Easter weekend, I’ve no doubt chocolate consumption will be high during that week.
If nothing else, it gets it out of the house.
And while there is nothing wrong with the odd weekend of chocolate eating, we are still consuming dangerously high levels of sugar in our diets. So in light of this, what can you do to reduce your family’s sugar intake?
Any carbohydrate that we eat, whether it is sweet or savoury, is turned into sugar by the body to break it down.
Every time we eat, or we drink something other than water, our pancreas releases insulin to break down the food or drink we have consumed.
For adults, switch squash and fizzy drinks to water. If you don’t like the taste add fresh lemon or lime.
The more regularly that we eat, the more times throughout the day this process is done. The more regularly this process is done, the more our risk of type 2 diabetes developing within us increases.
Type 2 diabetes used to be thought of as something only seen in older people. However, it is now frequently seen in children and teenagers due to their poor diets.
The effects can be life changing, but through a healthy diet and lifestyle it can also be prevented. A low carbohydrate diet is the key to this prevention, but many struggle to know what to eat instead and how to reduce their intake.
For many, it can feel like all their usual choices are removed and there’s nothing nice left in.
However, that doesn’t have to be the case and it’s all about adapting to new ways of eating. This can be done slowly over time, especially if you have children who may be less receptive and motivated to change than adults.
Firstly, see this as a long term thing. It is not an extreme diet, but it is rather a healthy lifestyle for the whole family.
One of the biggest sources of sugar in the diet comes from breakfast dishes. A typical breakfast of cereal and orange juice can have over 50g of sugar (ten teaspoons).
This is way over the government recommendations of 19g per day for children and 30g per day for adults.
These recommendations are for added sugar.
Swap to less sugary cereals such as Weetabix, Ready Brek or Porridge with berries as a topping or one teaspoon of honey for those that really won’t eat it. Ditch the juice in favour of a glass of water and piece of fruit. Alternatively, you could try having an omelette, or a smashed avocado on rye toast, or eggs and bacon, or scrambled eggs with mushrooms and tomatoes.
Another big source of sugar in some people’s diet is from drinks. That might be squash (including no added sugar), fizzy drinks, energy drinks and the sugar added to hot drinks such as tea and coffee.
For adults, switch squash and fizzy drinks to water. If you really don’t like the taste, add some fresh lemon or lime, mint, cucumber or a few berries to flavour it. For children, gradually reduce the strength of the squash they’re drinking over time and ditch the fizzy drinks.
Even no added sugar or diet drinks can still have the same effect as sugary versions on the pancreas so it’s important they are removed from the diet.
Obviously, cakes, biscuits, chocolate and sweets are all high in sugar as well as the more harmful processed fats. There’s no need to cut them out completely but reducing your family’s intake of these to less than once a week will be beneficial.
Stop adding them to the weekly shop so they’re not in the house visible all the time, add more vegetables to meals to keep everyone fuller for longer and try to break bad habits associated with eating such as sitting on the sofa watching TV eating biscuits.
Get up and get yourself outside now that the nights are lighter.
My next column will be all about how to break food habits.
If you would like to know more, you can book your FREE ‘How to Ditch Sugar’ session with Hannah by texting or calling 07912 556470.