After Halloween there’s 2 things that almost all of us will increase, the amount we eat, and the amount we spend. It’s only natural – after Halloween you have chocolate, then it’s toffee apples for Bonfire Night, and that’s all before we’ve even thought about Christmas. All that considered, it probably wouldn’t hurt to learn a little bit more about the sugars we are putting into our bodies.
Now don’t worry, this might be a Halloween blog but I won’t be trying to scare you out of eating sugar this weekend.
The thing with the word sugar is that it isn’t nearly specific enough. There are so many different types of sugars that we get from a wide variety sources – okay we need to avoid some if we can, but there are plenty we do want and more importantly need.
When I say a variety of sources, I really do mean a variety. Sugar can be found in anything, from the obvious ones like sweets and chocolate, to maybe some you didn’t realise like toothpaste and vitamins.
One word sugars ending in ‘ose’ tend to be dietary sugars, these include:
These sugars are digested very quickly and can therefore be a concern because digestion converts these sugars into fat (specifically saturated fats). These fats can clog up your arteries and put you at risk of heart disease, that’s why people who have a diet high in sugar are more at risk to it as they get older.
Sugar consumption is a particular concern of people who compete in athletic competition. Naturally they don’t want anything to jeopardise their ability to compete at the highest level, so intake of sugar is massively important.
The transportation of oxygen is massively important to athletes and a diet that is high in sugar can be detrimental to the system that transports oxygen. Assuming you’ve competed athletically before, you’ll probably have experienced burnout due to a lack of oxygen, so you can see why it’s of such great importance.
There’s usually always someone now who is screaming, ‘what about fruits? They’re high in sugar, I suppose we’ll cut them out too!?’
And I can’t argue with you for the first part there, fruits can be high in sugars, and although there might be many types of sugars, a lot of them act very similarly in the body.
Certain fruits like berries contain the least sugar and are therefore probably better for you, but fruits like apples and oranges are higher in sugar. This doesn’t mean you need to cut them out though! Sugar gives us energy, as long as you maintain an active lifestyle you need sugars. Not to mention the fact that fruits give us so many other benefits, that a little bit of sugar is hardly a high price to pay.
Thankfully someone came up with the idea of 5-a-day, and even though it’s a little cliché now, it’s still sound advice to follow.
Another thing I would tell you to look out for is low-fat products, like oven-baked chips for example. It’s always best to read the label because some companies replace the fat with corn syrup that is incredibly high in sugar – it might make the chips taste better but you’re better off having chips cooked in sunflower oil, trust me!
I can imagine the confusion – children come to trick or treat at your front door and you don’t know whether to give them chocolate or fruit!
Well just remember, this is the time of year when you should be enjoying yourself. You don’t have to go to excess, but a bar of chocolate on Halloween isn’t the end to your success.
Just make sure you monitor how much sugar you’re getting, and try not to have excessive amounts too often.