Giving up sugar for Junk Free June
Junk Free June begins on Thursday and for many Kiwis that means the start of their annual dietary overhaul, giving up unhealthy food or drink for the month.
Not only will you feel better physically and mentally but you will be entitled to a little smugness too, knowing you are supporting the work of the Cancer Society, which says that up to a third of all cancers are preventable through simple lifestyle changes. See here for more information, how to get involved or donate.
If sugar is your personal demon, nutritionist Mikki Williden has these comforting words: “It doesn’t take long to adjust your taste buds when you drop the sugar; for some it can happen in as little as a week. Lowering your overall expectation for sweet food will make you appreciate the taste of other foods that haven’t had sugar added.”
Read more about what Mikki has to say in her Well-being article: “Are Some Sugars Better Than Others”. Meanwhile, here are a few ideas to get you started if you are embarking on a no-refined-sugar month.
Cook with naturally sweet foods — carrots, kumara, parsnips and coconut are your new best friends.
Eat nourishing mini meals regularly to stabilise your energy and keep sugar cravings at bay. Include whole grains and fibre and enough protein and fat.
Trying to give up chocolate?
Remember Mikki’s wise words in Bite recently. “Your best bet for a chocolate fix is dark chocolate. The sugar content of even 72 per cent is going to be around 26g per 100g, significantly higher than the 6.3g you will find in 90 percent. The first block of 85 per cent chocolate I bought had to be given away as it was just too strong. Palates change though, and if you’re currently consuming at the lower end of the dark chocolate spectrum, perhaps the next block you buy could be a level up.” The theory is it’s easier to stop at one or two pieces of intense dark chocolate.
Keep a homemade fruit-based treat in the freezer
- Instant feijoa icecream
- Berry yoghurt iceblocks
- Banana icecream
- Lassi icecream (above)
- Banana and raspberry soft-serve
For more see our refined sugar-free recipe collection.
Spice it up
Use more spices in your cooking instead of sugar. As well as helping curb a sweet tooth, these spices offer nutrients too. Reach for cinnamon, which not only has a sweet taste but helps lower the glycaemic index of other foods. Use it in yoghurt, porridge, warm milky drinks, with mashed kumara.
Reach for cardamom, cloves, nutmeg, fenugreek with its maple syrup taste, ginger and spearmint. Try Delaney Mes’ cinnamon and sea salt roast pumpkin with walnuts and feta (above).
Giving up alcohol and added sugar?
Try Warren Elwin’s pina colada smoothie for a late afternoon boost. Blend 1 frozen banana, 1 slice of fresh pineapple cut into chunks, the zest and juice of ½ lemon, a little freshly grated ginger, ½ cup coconut yoghurt, and ½ - 1 cup of coconut milk (buy fresh coconut milk for drinking) until smooth and pour into cold tall glasses. Serves 1-2.