An Introduction of No Sugar Challenge
In order to make a successful no sugar challenge, you need to eliminate all added sugar from your life. Sugar consume in its natural way is relatively safe, it is considered as carbohydrate which is needed by our body system for proper function.
Fresh fruits, vegetables, and dairy product contain natural sugar in the form of fructose and lactose. Sugar raise an issue when it is added into foods and drinks for better food appearance, taste, and texture.
The sugar added during food processing is simple sugar which classified as empty calories because it contains zero nutrients and loaded with calories.
High intake of empty calories sugar resulted many health effects especially weight gain and lead to other non-communicable diseases.
What Is No Added Sugar?
The popular terms of ‘no sugar added’ and ‘sugar free’ on the front page of food package has attracted people’s attention and perceive it as a healthier food choice.
Don’t be misled by the popular statement above, it may not necessarily mean that the food is healthier and can be consumed more, you should understand the terms of ‘no sugar added’ and identify the food label (nutritional information and ingredients) to determine the true face of the food product.
According to Federal Food and Drug Administration, ‘No Added Sugar’ means no sugar or sugar containing ingredients is used during the food processing.
Sugar containing ingredients included honey, nectar, high fructose corn syrup, malt syrup, cane sugar/syrup, rice syrup, fruit juice concentrate, caramel, molasses, dextrose, maltose, fructose, lactose, ethyl maltol and etc.
Steps To Get Started On No Sugar Challenge
Step 1: Understand what is sugar added and names of sugar
There is various name of sugars ranged from the word ‘sugar’ to ‘syrup’ and more! Here is the list of different forms of sugar:
- Sugar – Cane sugar, Date sugar, Confectioner’s sugar, Icing sugar, Brown sugar, Demerara sugar, Organic raw sugar, Yellow sugar, Raw sugar, Golden sugar, Castor Sugar, and Beet Sugar.
- Syrup – Corn syrup, Maple Syrup, Golden syrup, Refiner’s syrup, Rice syrup, Malt syrup, Sorghum Syrup, High- fructose corn syrup, Carob syrup, Buttered Syrup.
- Others – Molasses, Malt, Maltodextrin, Caramel, Honey, Fruit juice concentrate, Cane juice crystal, Glucose solids, Ethyl Maltol, Dextran, Diatase, Glucose, Sucrose, Lactose, Galactose, and Maltose.
Step 2: Read your Food Label
Don’t be surprised that sugar is hiding as different forms in different foods in the market. Reading the food ingredients list and food label helps to identify the hidden sugar from the product before you purchase it.
Food such as dressing, breakfast cereal, condiments and even meats (Processed) do have sugar added and you most probably do not realise it.
If you are unsure on the names stated in the ingredients list, simply google it to get a quick answer and clear your doubts.
Step 3: Gradually changing high sugar diet to no sugar diet
Cut down sugar totally may be hard for the first few days.
You may start to omit those obvious sugar food sources such as pastry (baked goods), dessert (cakes, muffin, brownies, ice-cream, pudding), confectioneries (chocolate, sweets), sugary drink (milk tea, juices, milkshakes, coffee).
Step 4: Switch your food choice from simple carbs to complex carbs
No added sugar doesn’t mean to cut down your carbohydrate intake totally.
You should cut down simple carbs intake such as food product made by white flour, white rice, paste, and white bread. Replace your simple carbs with complex carbs or starchy vegetables to prevent the carbohydrates break down too fast and raise your blood sugar.
Complex carbs / starchy vegetables examples: Wholegrain bread, pasta and rice, Sweet potato, Pumpkin, Corn, Beans, and Yams.
Step 5: Stay away from drinks contained sugar
Sugary beverage become hugely popular in Singapore and you may be drinking without realising its sugar content.
Fruit juice, bubble milk tea, milk shake, sugary tea, soft drink, sodas, coffee, and herbal teas are the examples of sugary beverage. Even with the heading or label of ‘Healthy’ fruit juice could contain as much sugar as a can of soft drink.
Replace your sugar drink with unsweetened coffee, teas, sparkling mineral water or just plain water to stay hydrated.
DIY your own refreshing summer drink with fresh fruit and leaves to avoid consumption of sugary drink from stalls or market.
Prepare homemade infused water could be your first step, refer to the recipe below: –
- Few slices of fruits such as strawberry/ blueberries/ pineapple/ watermelon/ kiwi/ grapefruit
- Slices of lemon / lime
- Few leaves of mint leave
- Cold water / ice-cube (optional)
1. Place your desired combination of fruits or herbs in a large bottle or pitcher. Add cold water to fill the container. Add ice cube or keep it fridge for cooling and enjoy when it is cold.
Step 6: Plan your meals
Plan your diet ahead to prevent consumption of hidden sugary snacks when hunger strikes.
Replace your simple carbs with complex carbs or starchy vegetables, then include high quality protein food sources such as lean poultry, fish, seafood, tofu and beans, and lastly loaded your plate with green vegetables to create a healthy balance meal.
Focus on wholesome foods in your meal plan to avoid intake of hidden sugar from process food.
Some examples of healthy food and snacks choices as followed:
Healthy Foods and Snacks with No Added Sugar
- 0% fat, unsweetened Greek Yogurt + ½ cup of blueberries + 1 tablespoon chia seed
- 1/2 palm size of grilled chicken strips + boiled green peas
- 3 tablespoons of walnut + Cucumber (with some hummus)
- 3 tablespoons of cashew nut + Carrot Sticks (with some lemon juice)
- Unsweetened soy milk + 3 tablespoons plain rolled oats
- 2 hard boiled egg + Green salad (with vinaigrette dressing)
- 2 slices wholemeal bread + 2 tablespoon unsweetened peanut butter
- Guacamole + hard boiled egg + thin slice of Baguette (with black pepper)
- Unsweetened almond milk + 1 tablespoon chia seed + 1 tablespoon almond
- 1 small bowl of Air-popped popcorn
- Lettuce wraps with Tuna
- 1 bowl of Zucchini noodle with 1 palm size of pan-fried salmon
Benefits For Foods With No Sugar
- Reduced calories intake from added sugar
- Help in losing weight while achieving no sugar challenge
- Maintain healthy weight, stay away from obesity
- Reduce hunger and craving for other sugary food
- Good dental health
- Lower blood pressure
- Lower LDL cholesterol (Bad cholesterol)
- Lower down heart attack risk
- Reduce risk of diabetes
- Prevent fatty liver disease
Implications Of High Sugar Intake On Your Diet
- Lead to weight gain and obesity – High sugar intake is the main culprit of rising the obesity rate due to the added sugar in the food processing. It may also increase your hunger and crave for high sugary food.
- May increase risk of heart disease – Drinking sugar sweetened beverages is associated to an increase of visceral fat (organ fat) around belly which linked with non-communicable disease such as heart disease.
- May increase risk of Diabetes Mellitus – High sugar intake cause the resistance to insulin (hormone produced to regulate blood sugar level). When insulin resistance happens, body cell fails to grab the glucose out of bloodstream resulted in high blood sugar level and diabetes.
- May increase the risk of developing acne prone skin – High sugary food spike our sugar level and increase the insulin secretion, causing increase of androgen secretion, sebum production and inflammation and raise the risk of acne development.
- Lead to Fatty Liver – High intake of added sugar in the form of fructose can overload our liver due to fructose is exclusively broken down by liver. Excess workload of breaking down fructose process may lead to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.
Have a great fun in achieving no sugar challenge test!