All about nutrition

The low down on Sugar!

Sugar has become more prominent in our diets over the years and has been seen to contribute to a number of health diseases including diabetes, obesity, heart disease and cancer. A highly addictive, yet tasty substance, sugar has been termed the 'white poison' of our foods.

Sugar is a carbohydrate that naturally occurs in whole real foods such as fruits, vegetables, grains and dairy. As these foods contain other beneficial nutrients such as fibre, essential minerals and antioxidants they also provide us with a steady state of energy into our bodies. However, problems start to occur when we consume overly processed or manufactured foods containing high levels of added sugars, which increase the flavour of foods and gives us that sugar high and surge of energy.

Sugar is highly addictive and often is associated with strong cravings such as headaches, lack of energy, irritability, anxiety, low moods and changes in our sleep patterns.

Recent studies in Australia and NZ have shown that people are consuming over 28 teaspoons of refined sugar per day! With top sources coming from soft drinks, fruit juices, flavoured yoghurt, cereals, cakes, processed foods and candy. So how much should we eat? The World Health Organization recommends around 5-10 teaspoons (50g) of free sugar per day, that's it.

Here's a few tips on how to start reducing your sugar levels.

The lowdown on sugar

1. Replace sugar with good fats
Good, quality fats fuel us for longer and can help curb those afternoon sweeting cravings. Try bumping up your breakfast or lunch meal with some avocado, nuts/seeds, coconut oil or oily fish. Nut butters and veggie sticks make a great afternoon snack or chia seed pudding. Try our Australian avocado's and NZ Blue coconut oil!
2. Ensure adequate hydration
Being dehydrated can often cause the body to crave sugar or feel hungry. With our hot summers it's important to drink plenty of water (8-10 glasses/day) to make sure we are fully hydrated. Add some slices or lemon or berries to spice up the taste!
3. Good quality rest and repair
These days our lives are filled with pressure and urgency at work, or running the children around to school activities while maintaining a household and putting food on the table. Caffeine or sugar tends to fuel us during these times but can leave us feeling amped up and more stressed. It's important we slow down and ensure adequate periods 'downtime' so we can activate our 'rest and digest' part of the nervous system and create a feeling of calm. This is when the magic happens and the body repairs.
4. Is there an emotional connection?
Sweet foods often have an emotional connection associated with them or a need that isn't being met. We tend to reach for that sweet item after a stressful day, as a reward or when we are searching for feelings of love or pleasure in our loves. I invite you to try something different that still brings out those blissful feelings, like getting together with friends, watching the sunset with your partner, laughing with your children or dancing like no one is there. Whatever makes you feel happy. Try it and just notice the effects.
5. Fill your cupboards with whole, real foods
Replace those sugary items with real, unprocessed foods. Out of sight, out of mind is the key and when we fill us bodies up on the good stuff then there's no room for the junk! Our fresh produce section has a great assortment of fruit and vegetables for the family.

Recipe of the week

Here's an easy slice to have with a tea or coffee or an afternoon energy boost snack. Plenty of healthy fats, low sugar options and smart carbs to fuel the body. (*allergy warning – they do contain nuts!)

'Pistachio, apricot and dark chocolate energy bars'

Pistachio, apricot & dark chocolate energy bars


• Olive oil , for greasing 
• Shelled pistachios 75g
• Mixed seeds 100g
• Rolled oats 250g
• Medjool dates x8
• Dried or fresh apricots 100g
• Quality dark chocolate (70%) 50g
• Honey or maple syrup 50ml
• Pic's Smooth almond butter 4tbsp


1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Grease and line a 20cm x 20cm square baking tin. 
2. Chop the pistachios, then scatter over a baking sheet with the mixed seeds and oats, and roast for 20 minutes, or until golden and toasted, turning occasionally. 
3. Meanwhile, destone and roughly tear the dates, and roughly chop the apricots and chocolate.
4. Place the maple syrup, almond butter, dates and 150ml of water in a small saucepan over a low heat. Gently heat for 10 minutes, mashing the dates with the back of your spoon, until you have a sticky sauce. 
5. Tip the oats, seeds and pistachios into a large bowl along with the apricots and pour over the honey mixture. Coat everything in the sticky sauce before gently folding through the dark chocolate. 
6. Pour the mixture into the baking tin, using a back of a spoon to press into an even layer. 
7. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until golden, then cut into portions.

Recipe credit -

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Blog, health, nutrition and fitness coach, Hong Kong, Chrissy Denton


Blog, fitness nutrition and fitness coach, Hong Kong, Chrissy Denton


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