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No sugar diet: Recipes and advice you need to help beat unhealthy sweet cravings
REPLACING refined sugar with small amounts of low-sugar fruit and the odd dash of honey will help you on your way to a smaller waistline and a healthier future.
- 10:12, 4 FEB 2014
- Updated 10:15, 4 FEB 2014
HOW can you cut sugar out of your diet? In day two of our special series on sugar, we bring you all the advice and recipes you need to enjoy a sugar-free diet.
You can still treat yourself to tasty and sweet food but you will just be doing it without the nasty refined sugar that is found in so many pre-prepared foods.
Replace it with small amounts of low-sugar fruit and the odd dash of honey and you will be on the way to a smaller waistline and a healthier future.
Cassandra Barns, a nutritional therapist at NutriCentre, said: “You can actually become addicted to sugar if you consume large amounts, leaving your body craving it.
“This can affect your skin, mood and lead to health problems such as obesity and diabetes.
“If you’re hooked on sugar, you need to break the cycle and change your diet. If you have drastically cut down, you should notice the difference in your energy levels and how you look after a few days or weeks. You won’t want to go back.”
Cassandra also brings you recipes for meals and snacks for two days to set you on the road to a sugar-free life.
She said: “To avoid the cycle of blood glucose dips and peaks that make you reach for sugar, it is vital to base your meals on foods with a low-glycaemic load.
“This means their impact on blood glucose levels is minimal.
“You need food that’s digested slowly to make you feel full.
“Perhaps the most important of these are foods that contain good amounts of protein – good quality meats, eggs, fish, nuts and seeds, beans and lentils and, unless you are intolerant to dairy foods, cheese and yoghurt.
“Protein foods are not only digested slowly but can actually help to slow down the absorption of any starches or natural sugars in your meals.
“Healthy fats also have this benefit and are often found in the same foods – fish, eggs, nuts and seeds – but also in avocados, olive oil and other cold-pressed seed oils such as flaxseed oil.
“Another important thing to remember is that any carbohydrate-rich, starchy foods that you eat – breads, pasta, rice and so on – should be the wholegrain, unrefined versions such as brown rice, wholegrain oats and wholemeal bread.
“White breads, white pasta, pastries and anything else made with white flour contain little fibre and therefore have a high glycaemic load, meaning their starches are quickly broken down by the digestive system into sugars and quickly raise the body’s blood-glucose levels – just like sugar itself.
“The other vital component of your meals should be non-starchy vegetables.
“These should ideally make up half your plate of food, not only because they have a low glycaemic load but also because of their fibre, vitamin, mineral and antioxidant content.
Junk food is obviously something that everyone should avoid as much as possible, for example, but since the hydroxycitric acid(active ingredient/compound) often reduces the user’s appetite, he or she does not feel such a strong need to consume as many calories- making the process much easier.
These include most vegetables but not potatoes and parsnips, which are high in quickly absorbed starches.
“Some of the other root veg such as squash, pumpkin and carrots also have medium to high starch levels and should be included in moderation.
“Particularly good options are any green vegetables, which tend to be very low in starches.”
Meal plans and recipes
Sugar-free muesli (choose one with chopped nuts) with semi-skimmed milk with 2 tablespoons of sugar-free natural yoghurt. Add a small handful of berries or sliced apple and kiwi fruit.
Wholegrain sandwich with reduced fat sliced chicken and salad leaves inside. 3 Brazil nuts.
Bean casserole – chickpeas, kidney beans and butterbeans, alongside lots of vegetables. You can add a splash of Worcester sauce for a more spicy taste. Or use a jar of sugar-free Mexican flavour pasta sauce. Serve on a bed of wholegrain rice or the mixture can be added to flat corn bread and rolled into a sandwich shape (fajitas style).
Two slices of wholegrain brown toast with peanut butter (check this is sugar free) and an orange cut in quarters on the side.
Brown wholemeal pasta with chopped poached egg and steamed broccoli. Add salad leaves on the side.
Grilled salmon. Serve with lemon juice on top and drizzled with olive oil. Grill sweet potatoes and red and green peppers to serve on the side (sprinkle with rock salt and drizzle with oil before serving).
Sugar-free recipes for snacks
2-3 small bananas (sliced)
1 cup dates (chopped)
80ml vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla essence
Cut into squares while still warm.
1 Mash the bananas in a large bowl.
2 Add the dates and oil to the bananas and mix together.
3 Stir in the oats and the vanilla essence and leave for 5 mins, so the oats absorb the oil.
4 Spoon the mixture into a well-greased baking tray and bake at 175C or gas mark 5 for 25 mins.
350g dark chocolate
5 tablespoons honey
1 Combine the chocolate, broken into pieces, the honey and 3/4 cup of cream over barely simmering water.
2 Stir until chocolate has just melted and combined with the cream and honey. Set aside to cool.
3 While the mixture is cooling, whip the remaining 2 1/4 cups of cream to not quite firm but a little more than soft peaks.
4 Gradually fold in the whipped cream to the now cooled chocolate mixture.
5 Pour into one serving bowl or individual bowls
if preferred (this makes a generous amount)
6 If using one large serving bowl, the mousse will probably take a good three hours to set.
Sugar-Free orange hot chocolate:
3 tsp plain cocoa powder
50g desiccated coconut
50g pure carob powder
100g ground almonds
Finally, what about CG’s effects on blood sugar levels?
A good schedule is to stay on track Monday to Saturday and then treat yourself to a snack on Sunday and start all over on Monday again.
Using enough water to stick the mixture together, roll into about 10 balls and keep in fridge.
2. These are sugar-free and nutrient-rich but taste sweet thanks to the coconut and carob (which tastes a bit like chocolate). Carob is sometimes easier to find with online health food retailers.
12 Steps to cutting sugar out
Aim for foods that have a low glycaemic load, as their impact on blood-sugar levels is minimal and you’ll be less likely to experience blood-glucose highs and lows that will have you reaching for the biscuit tin.
Make sure each meal includes protein, non-starchy vegetables and unrefined carbohydrates.
Limit sweet tasting veg (parsnips, potato and carrots) and opt for green veg like broccoli and spinach. Good protein (lean turkey, eggs, fish, beans) is digested slowly and makes you feel fuller for longer, carbs should be wholegrain varieties for the same reason.
Protein foods can also help to slow down the absorption of any starches or natural sugars in your meals. Healthy fats also have this benefit and are often found in the same foods – fish, eggs, nuts and seeds – but also in avocados and olive oil.
If we don’t have breakfast, by 11am we crave sugar as our blood-sugar levels drop too low.
Try two poached eggs on a slice of wholemeal bread with some rocket, or some sugar-free yoghurt with nuts and berries.
A healthy snack between meals can help while you’re giving up sugar, as it stops your sugar levels dropping too low, which can cause sweet cravings. Good examples include two oatcakes topped with a tablespoon of humus, guacamole or cottage cheese and half an avocado. Avoid bananas and grapes, and opt for berries as they are naturally low in sugar.
Alcohol raises blood sugar but, being a liquid, it is even more quickly absorbed into the bloodstream than sugar. Alcohol also contains more calories than sugar with 7 calories per gram versus 4 calories per gram.
Alcohol binges are a classic way to set up a cycle of cravings for sugary, stodgy foods.
Overgrowth of unhelpful yeasts in the gut, such as candida, can contribute to or exacerbate sugar cravings.
Eating sugar and high-starch foods makes the candida overgrowth worse, so we become stuck in a catch-22 situation.
To help solve this, try taking a high-strength, good quality probiotic supplement such as ProVen’s new Adult Probiotic 25 Billion (from www.provenprobiotics.co.uk ).
6 Go easy on the tea and coffee
Caffeine is a stimulant that causes our body’s stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline to be released, which in turn cause a cycle of energy dips and peaks, and make you more likely to crave sugar later on.
Decaffeinated coffee and tea contains other stimulants, so try better options such as naturally caffeine-free rooibos tea or grain-based coffee alternatives.
7 Consider natural sugar alternatives
Xylitol is a naturally sweet substance found in many plants.
In commercial preparations, it is found in granules and looks and tastes like sugar, although slightly less sweet.
Stevia is a substance extracted from the leaf of the stevia plant.
Of course they don’t want potential customers to think a natural product that cost a tiny fraction of what they charge can be effective at all.
It is an intensely sweet substance and very little is needed to give a sweet taste – it has very few calories and minimal impact on glucose levels.
Or add a small teaspoon of cinnamon to your yoghurt – as well as being naturally sweet, cinnamon has been shown to help support normal blood- glucose levels.
Go for three squares of good quality dark chocolate (minimum 70 per cent cocoa), as this amount will only contain a relatively small amount of sugar and there is also evidence that dark chocolate has health benefits. Or try a small pot of sugar-free plain yoghurt, with a teaspoon of pure cocoa or raw cacao powder.
9 Chromium to control cravings
Chromium is a trace mineral that has a vital role in supporting normal blood glucose levels and therefore helping to prevent the dips that cause us to crave sugary foods.
Try Quest Vitamin’s new Chromium Picolinate ( www.questexcellence.com ) once a day, preferably with breakfast.
This supplement also contains vitamin B3, which works closely together with chromium.
Chromium can take a month or longer to have its full effect, so persevere or start taking chromium before attempting to give up sugar.
Moderate exercise helps us to feel energised, less sluggish and healthier. It can help to control stress levels and also support blood-sugar control to avoid dips and cravings.
Stress is one of the primary triggers for sugar cravings, as our body is being prepared for physical action (the “fight or flight” syndrome).
Try in any way you can to reduce stress – by delegating or reducing your workload, taking some gentle exercise, or practising yoga or meditation to help you relax. Reduced stress will often mean better sleep as well, which will mean better energy levels the next day.
12 Energising vitamins and minerals
Most of us can benefit from extra support, to prevent tiredness triggering those pesky sugar cravings. B vitamins, vitamin C and the mineral magnesium are particularly important nutrients that are needed to produce energy from the foods we eat.
What Foods Can You Eat on the hCG Diet?
Diet fads come and go, but the hCG diet has been around for at least four decades, according to a study of the diet published in the Western Journal of Medicine in 1977. While the diet claims that the injection of human chorionic gonadotropin, or hCG, is responsible for helping people lose weight, it's more likely the dangerously restrictive, 500-calorie diet you're expected to follow that causes the loss. You should not follow any extremely low-calorie diet except under the close supervision of a doctor.
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What is the hCG Diet
The hormone hCG is made by women's bodies when they're pregnant, and it's also sometimes prescribed for women having difficulty becoming pregnant.
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While not approved by the Food and Drug Administration for weight loss, hCG is touted to help people lose weight quickly by suppressing appetite and spot-reducing areas of unwanted fat.
In addition to receiving the hormone, which can be given as a pill or an injection, it's also recommended that you follow a 500-calorie diet when on the hCG weight-loss plan. Restricting your intake to such extremes severely limits your food choices and may make it hard for you to meet your essential nutrient needs. For reference, very low-calorie diets prescribed by doctors contain about 800 calories and usually include a liquid supplement to help you meet your vitamin and mineral needs.
Lean Protein on hCG
Most of the calories on the hCG diet come from very lean proteins, including white meat poultry, white fish, shellfish and very lean red meat such as veal. You are allowed 7 ounces of these proteins a day, which you should evenly divide between lunch and dinner. To make sure your portions aren't too large, it's recommended you measure your meats before they're cooked. Then trim away any visible fat and either grill or broil the meat without fat.
Low-Cal Veggies, Some Fruit and Carbs
In addition to your very lean protein, you're allowed one low-cal veggie at lunch and dinner. Options include spinach and other greens, cucumbers, onions, radishes, asparagus, tomatoes, celery, radishes and cabbage. Although just two servings of veggies a day won't provide all the vitamins and minerals you need, they'll provide add some nutrients and fiber to the restrictive diet.
At lunch and dinner, you also can have one piece of Melba toast or one bread stick and one serving of fruit -- either an apple, an orange, a handful of strawberries or half a grapefruit.
Food Flavorings and Drinks
While you can't use butter or oil on the hCG diet, you can add flavor to your food with a few allowed seasonings, including salt, pepper, marjoram, thyme, mustard powder and basil. Vinegar and garlic are also permitted.
Beverage choices are limited to water, coffee or tea. And you either have to drink your coffee or tea unsweetened or use a sugar substitute. One tablespoon of milk is allowed per day, which you can add to your hot beverage.
What a Typical Day's Menu Might Look Like
You can't eat any solid food before lunch on the hCG diet. So, for breakfast, you can have a cup of coffee or tea, either black or with the allowed 1 tablespoon of milk and sugar substitute. At lunch, you may want to have 3.5 ounces of grilled chicken breast and sliced strawberries on top of raw spinach, drizzled with vinegar and served with a bread stick. Dinner might be 3.5 ounces of grilled garlic shrimp, grilled asparagus, Melba toast and a fresh orange.
Efficacy and Concerns About the Diet
No evidence supports the claims that hCG hormones help you lose weight, according to the Hormone Health Network.
The big butt-shaped windscreen and deep side plate gave the Solo a healthy and confused right, and sales more sit around the 3,000 mark.
Nor does the hormone and diet plan help control your hunger, which may make the diet portion very difficult to follow for any length of time.
In addition to being nearly impossible for you to meet your daily nutrient needs on the restrictive diet, you may also experience a drop in metabolism, which means you'll burn fewer calories. And, as you can imagine, eating so little can negatively affect your energy levels and mood. Rapid weight loss from a very low-calorie diet also increases your risk of developing gallstones.
Potential side effects from the injected form of the hormone include headaches, breast tenderness, breast enlargement in men or ovarian cysts in women. Blood clots, which can be serious and even fatal, are a possible complication of improperly administered injections. The injections may also cause ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome in women, which leads to swollen ovaries, leaking of fluid into your belly and possible weight gain. You should not take hCG if you're nursing or have a history of heart disease, kidney disease, adrenal or thyroid gland disorder, or various types of cancer such as breast or prostate. The hCG diet isn't a healthy way to lose weight; therefore, anyone who attempts it should have close medical supervision.