Banish sugar and boost your health

Most of us are addicted to sugar.

Even if you avoid lollies and soft drink, even if you would never add sugar to your tea or coffee, there are multiple hidden sources of sugar in the average person's daily diet - so much so that we're consuming the recommended five to nine teaspoons a day many times over.

Before she cut sugar out of her diet, blogger and journalist Sarah Wilson estimates she was eating around 25 teaspoons of sugar a day, most of it coming from what she believed were healthy choices - a bit of honey on her yoghurt here, a handful of sultanas there.

While experimenting with ways to address issues with her autoimmune system, she tried cutting out sugar for a few weeks and felt better straight away.

"I really didn't want to quit sugar, because I was addicted, but I felt different immediately," she says.

"I felt clear in the head and less addicted to food, less obsessed by food, and that for me was worth the detox pain I went through, which was minimal."

Keen to share her experience, and the reams of research she had done on the effects of sugar on the body, Wilson has released I Quit Sugar (previously an ebook), an eight-week plan people could use to get off the white stuff that includes more than 100 sugar-free recipes for people to try.

She says the interest in the program stems from people knowing they are eating too much sugar, but being unsure of how to stop relying on it.

"Pretty much everyone I know struggles with their eating and their weight and they struggle with feeling guilty about food," she says.

"My message is not very Draconian. It's not about not touching sugar ever again, mine is very much about encouraging people to eliminate sugar for eight weeks and seeing how they feel about it afterwards."

Her issue is particularly with fructose, found in fruit and added to a huge number of processed foods. Some research suggests that because fructose was once a rarity in our diets, our bodies can't recognise when we've had enough - explaining why it is so hard to stop after one piece of chocolate - and it converts to fat quite quickly.

Seemingly innocuous foods such as dried fruit, low-fat yoghurt, fruit juices and tomato sauce are full of sugar people often don't realise they're consuming, thinking they are making healthy choices instead.

"I think health food shop foods are some of the worst because you think they're healthy, but in fact they're not, they're just as sugary," Wilson says.

"It doesn't make a difference whether it comes from an apple or sugar cane, it's still sugar."

While people have lost weight after cutting fructose from their diets, the main benefit is a return your natural appetite, listening to your body's real cues for hunger rather than the sugar craving.

Wilson says the message is to cut out processed foods and you will find your sugar addiction subsides.

"Eat food in its most tamper-free form is the simplest way to eat. If there's one thing people can learn from this, it's to cut out processed food."

My Raspberry Ripple

Ingredients

 cup frozen raspberries

 cup shredded coconut (or coconut flakes for a chunkier version)

 cup coconut oil

80 g salted butter

2 tablespoons raw cacao powder or cocoa

2–3 tablespoons rice malt syrup

Method

Line a dinner plate or baking tray with baking paper (a dinner plate is ideal as the slight indent creates a good shape).

■ Scatter the berries and coconut on the plate or baking tray.

■ Melt the oil and butter in a saucepan or in the microwave (the oil takes longer to melt, so add the butter a little after), then stir in the cacao powder and syrup.

■ Pour over the berries and pop into the freezer for 30 minutes until firm. To serve, either break into shards or cut into wedges.

Note: Be sure to use salted butter in this recipe – it gives a lovely kick.

Serves 6–8

Bacon and Egg Cupcakes

Ingredients

■ Coconut oil, butter or ghee for greasing

■ 6 rashers bacon

■ 6 eggs

■ Crumbled fetta (optional)

■ Chopped chives or other herbs (optional)

Method

■ Preheat the oven to 200°C and lightly grease a 6-cup muffin tray.

■ Use a bacon rasher to line each muffin cup, looping or pressing the bacon around the sides and using any small broken bits to line the bottom. ■ Gently crack 1 egg into each bacon cup, then sprinkle with cheese and herbs if desired. Bake for 15 minutes until the egg whites are set.

■ Let sit for a minute and then, using a knife or spoon, gently remove the cupcakes from the tray. Serve hot or warm.

Makes 6

Smartphone
Tablet - Narrow
Tablet - Wide
Desktop