Healthy Living NT

SUGAR: Should I quit?

12/06/2015 Grace Chirgwin, Registered Practicing Dietitian, Alice Springs
For a long time, fat was seen as the evil in our food supply and more recently sugar has claimed the spotlight, described as being to blame for many of our health problems. Recommendations to cut all sugar out from what we are eating are aplenty.

However quitting sugar isn’t as straight-forward as it sounds. Sugars are found in carbohydrate foods and are the main source of energy for our bodies. They are found naturally in milk, fruit, legumes and some vegetables, as well as refined sugar from plants such as sugar cane which can then be added to food and drinks such as cakes, biscuits and soft drinks.

There is sugar in a lot of foods and drinks, and it is not a straight-forward, nor a practical thing to remove completely from what we are eating and drinking without missing out on some very important nutrients.

So in general terms, quitting sugar is not something that is recommended. However, quitting or reducing added sugar is something that can definitely be good for our health. Some people feel comfortable eliminating all added sugar and that is perfectly fine. Others feel that they can’t live without that bit of added sugar, and it is also fine to plan a little added sugar in your week, being mindful about the frequency and amount.

The other key is replacing the added sugar sensibly. When fat was considered the enemy, unfortunately there wasn’t a rush to eat plenty of vegetables and wholegrains; rather the market was flooded with 99% fat free biscuits and the like. And so with sugar – it shouldn’t be all sugar-free or no added sugar foods we should be turning to; instead replace the added sugar with sensible things:

  • Still have fruit – around 2 pieces per day
  • Plenty of non-starchy veg – salad or cooked (many Australians need to double or treble their intake to meet their recommended requirements)
  • Dairy or alternatives with calcium
  • Lean protein and iron from meat or alternative sources
  • Wholegrains
  • Try to prepare as much of your own food as possible, avoiding more processed foods

So if you want to quit or reduce added sugar, replace it sensibly and go for your life!


This article was published on the Territory Way Magazine edition 116 June 2014. For more interesting articles, please click here

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