By GMB Nutritionist Melissa Fine
If you’ve been reading the GMB blog for some time now, you’ll know that not all sugars are created equal.
We’re all about eating real food at GMB, so when sugar is concerned, we always go for refined sugar free options.
This means we get sweetness in our diet from fruit, which is not straight-up-sugar; fruit is a wholefood package, with its sugar content wrapped in nutrients like vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fibre. When it comes to sweetening healthy treats, we opt for fructose free rice malt syrup and other less refined sugars, which you can read more about here.
What’s the problem with refined sugar?
Refined sugar – AKA white sugar – provides empty kilojoules, meaning it provides energy, but no health-promoting nutrients. Refined sugar can also wreak havoc on our blood sugar levels – causing an energy spike, followed by a fast crash. The sugar in fresh fruit doesn’t have the same impact because of its fibre content, which helps keep our blood sugar stable.
Another problem with refined sugar is that it’s everywhere.
You’d be surprised at the number of food products at the supermarket that contain refined sugar, with common culprits being anything in a bottle, jar or pouch: think sauces, spreads and soups. Even bread.
It’s not just the biccies and confectionary; sugar is in more mass produced, savoury foods than you realise. The sugar in soft drinks is now also a no-brainer…and all the more reason to switch to sparkling water with a squeeze of lemon juice!
The easiest way to cut back on refined sugar?
Eat a diet that revolves around unprocessed whole foods. That means your five serves of veg and two serves of fruit per day, along with unprocessed meats and fish, nuts and seeds, full fat dairy, and whole or minimally processed grains.
When it comes to cutting back on refined sugar, we reckon the trickiest parts are sauces, spreads and of course, dessert!
So, to make your job easier, here are 6 Simple Refined Sugar Free Swaps that You Can Make Today:
1. Swap a commercial chocolate bar with homemade bliss balls
We can’t get enough of the Clean Chocolate Co’s Choc Lamington Real Treat Mix. It’s sweetened with minimally processed coconut sugar, which hasn’t been stripped of its nutrients, and fructose free rice malt syrup - a natural byproduct of cooked rice that has undergone fermentation. Simply add coconut oil, rice malt and almond milk to this ready-to-go coconutty, chocolatey mix and start rolling!
2. Instead of lollies, eat a Medjool date
It’s nature’s candy! Pro-tip: pop a couple Medjool dates in the freezer for a firmer sweet treat that takes longer to eat…we like to stretch our dessert out!
3. Switch sugary salad dressing for a homemade version
You’d never sprinkle sugar on your salad, so why put sugary dressing on a good thing?
Try two-parts olive oil to one-part balsamic or red wine vinegar, both of which add a little natural sweetness. Add a dash of Dijon mustard and pepper and you’re done.
4. Instead of cereal (read: highly processed and likely to contain sugar), try traditional rolled oats
This minimally processed cereal alternative is inherently sweet and creamy, especially when you use it for porridge. We’re fans of the Bob’s Red Mill brand, but even more commercial brands are A-okay - just make sure not to get one of the flavoured (i.e., highly sweetened!) varieties. Mashed banana or berries will add all the sweetness you need.
5. Swap that choc-hazelnut spread we all grew up on with a pure nut butter
Our go-tos are Mayver’s or Pic’s Peanut Butter…nothing but dry-roasted nuts and a pinch of salt in these.
6. Trade bottled teriyaki sauce (a sugar bomb) for soy sauce or tamari
Tamari is a wheat free, and therefore gluten free version of soy sauce. Just make sure to read the ingredients on the back of the bottle – some brands sneak the sugar in. We like the Pure Harvest or Spiral brand.