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Sugar Bomb

Not all sugars are equal but we do need to look at how much we are consuming. It won’t be news to you but the average adult is eating way more sugar than necessary, which is linked to an increased risk of diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, fatty liver disease and obesity… to name a few!

The majority of this sugar isn’t always related to natural sugars that occur in products including fruit and milk, meaning this will be due to heavily processed foods and even those disguised as ‘healthy’ and ‘low fat’.

Thinking of ditching sugar or curious as to how you could limit it?

Firstly, I wouldn’t recommend a ‘sugar diet’ – it’s about tweaking your lifestyle and habits whereby choosing natural, unprocessed foods becomes the go-to and not quick fixes. Sadly, the majority of our food is processed and refined, which is damaging our health so ditching this side of it should be explored for your health.

Sweet Tooth?

Ditching the white stuff doesn’t mean that you can’t get your sweet fix anymore. What I can show you through my recipes and online course is how to replace sugary foods with healthier (and even tastier!) alternatives; meaning you get your fix but also a dose of essential vitamins and minerals.

How To Cut Out Refined Sugar

1.Slowly does it!

Take your time––gradually reducing the amount of sugar in your diet will make it more manageable and will be more realistic.

Begin byeliminating the most obvious sources of sugar: Baked Goodies – yes, that meansthose temptingcakes, muffins, and brownies, which look good on the outside but aren’t so good on the inside. We can recreate versions of these!

Then start reducing the amount of sugar you have, if any, in your hot drinks. Eventually, you can reduce this to not needing that extra sweetness as your palate cravings will adapt.

2. Read labels

Getting used to reading labels of a productscan help identify types of sugars to avoid and whether or not to use that item.

The tricky thing is not all sugars are labelled “sugar”. With various names and in many different syrups and concentrates, there are over 60differentnames for sugar on food labels.

Themain culprits are:

  • cane sugar or brown sugar
  • corn syrup or high fructose corn syrup
  • evaporated cane juice
  • invert sugar
  • beet sugar
  • coconut sugar
  • maple syrup
  • agave syrup
  • rice syrup
  • juice concentrate
  • honey
  • demerara
  • sucanat
  • panela or piloncillo
  • turbinado
  • muscovado

Alarm bells should also ring for any ingredients that end with “-ose”:

  • sucrose
  • glucose
  • dextrose
  • fructose
  • lactose

3. Avoid simple carbs

It’s best for you to avoid simple carbohydrates such as white flour, white pasta, and white rice. The reason being is that these foods can be quickly broken down into sugar in the body, which can cause the blood sugar levels to spike – meaning you end up craving more or get that energy slump! Swapping these fox wholegrain options will make a difference straight away.

4. Avoid artificial sugars

Many people will swap refined sugar for artificial sugars and although they can give that sweet punch or certain acquired taste with little or no calories, they should still be avoided. Artificial sweeteners will trick the body to think it’s consuming sugar, which can lead to you craving more sugar to get that next fix. Sounds addictive? That’s because it is.

An example of artificial sugars include:

  • Splenda
  • Stevia
  • Equal
  • Nutrasweet
  • Sweet’N Low

Products labeled as ‘low sugar’, ‘ low fat’, ‘ low calorie’ or ‘diet’ will still contain sugar but in a chemical form. These include:

  • aspartame
  • sucralose
  • saccharin
  • acesulfame k or acesulfame potassium
  • neotame

5. Do not drink sugar

Fizzy drinks can, sadly, be many people’s downfall as these are often laden with sugar. Try replacing these drinks with unsweetened herbal tea, coffee without sugar, sparkling mineral water, or just plain water. You will be surprised at how much your sugar intake will be reduced and you will be more hydrated. can help a person reduce their sugar intake and stay hydrated.

6. Focus on whole-foods

Processed foods are more likely to contain refined ingredients or added sugarsso focusing on consuming whole and complete foods will ensure you are including ingredients such

A diet with a focus on eating whole and complete foods will be rich in:

  • vegetables
  • fruits
  • tofu
  • fish
  • whole, unprocessed grains and legumes
  • nuts and seeds

7. Spice It up

The palate often misses sugar because it’s craving flavour, therefore using sweet-tasting herbs and spices are worth exploring. Products such as salad dressing and condiments, pasta sauce, breakfast cereals, milk, and granola bars often have sugar in their ingredients list. Check out my blog on seasoning for more information.

How will it help?

It may feel like an effort to begin with and will take short while for your body to adjust but know that you will feel so much better for it. Your body doesn’t know how to process refined sugar, panics, then stores it as fat! Reducing your visceral fat (fat around your vital organs) is crucial and embarking on a life without so much sugar will only benefit you.

You will notice:

  • Weight loss
  • Improved energy
  • Clearer skin
  • Less mood swings
  • The risk of digestive conditions and type 2 diabetes will be reduced.

I’m ready but I don’t know what to cook?

I’ve launched a new online food course, which shows you how to prepare the most delicious recipes that your body and organs will adore. It’s a step-by-step guide; with videos, downloadable recipes and real food. You can find out more about it and enrol here: https://jayhalford.com/inspired-cooking-course/

Seasoning: When, Where and How

Do you like to sprinkle a little seasoning over your dishes? I do and I bet you do too. Seasonings are there to enhance and compliment the flavour in your food, which will make the eating experience even more pleasurable, making it an important element in my cooking.

If you’ve been following my journey for a while, you will know that I’m all about the food with the natural flavour of food being my main focus. like my food to taste how it is supposed to, so when it comes to seasoning I keep things at a minimum.

The two most fundamental and widely used spices are salt and pepper. Typically, what people think of when speaking of salt and pepper is white, granulated salt and pre-ground black pepper–but these are far from the only kinds of salt and pepper that exist.

Salt Rocks

Rock salt is a great salt variation, the larger crystals carry a punch. Sea salt is cherished by many as a more natural, culinary salt. There’s also Kosher, iodized, pickling and black salt, amongst many more.

My absolute favourite is Himalayan pink salt–yep, it comes directly from the Himalayas and is pink. If you’re considering going pink then you’re onto a good thing; it’s a far better alternative to processed salt and by using just the right amount in your foodis actually very good for your health. Yup – salt can be healthy. Pink Himalayan sea salt contains over 84 minerals and trace elements, including: calcium, magnesium, potassium, copper and iron. So, it definitelydoesmore than enhance the favour of your food. You can also add it to hot baths to ease sore, tired muscles too!

Pepper Time

There is a vast assortment of peppers to explore ranging from your basic black pepper to chilli, jalapeño, habanero, cayenne to a white pepper, each with its own degree of spiciness and subtle flavour distinctions.

Spice Game

Let’s look a bit closer at other seasonings – we will explore blends shortly! Most individual seasonings are classed as herbs or spices.Herbs are usually the fresh or dried leaves of succulent plants that grow in particularly temperate climates. Spices tend to referto any seasoning derivedfrom the other parts of the plant besides the leaves, including the roots, stems, bark, seeds, fruit or buds.

Just to add a ‘sprinkle’ of confusion, chefs will use these two terms differently; spicescanbe used to describe all seasonings, including herbs.

Whereas herbs will have a somewhat milder flavour, spices are likely to be more pronounced. The most common cooking herbs willinclude: basil, oregano, marjoram, parsley, rosemary, thyme and dill. Common culinary spices include cinnamon, paprika (another pepper),turmeric, ginger, saffron and cumin. Ginger and garlic are both considered spices as well.

An interesting fact for you:

Did you know that some herbs and spices cancome from different parts of the same plant?

Dill seed and dill weed. Two other herbs, cilantro and coriander, both come from the same plant, but at two different stages in its growth cycle.

Many herbs and spices come from different varieties of the same plant, such as the mind-boggling array of types of basil, including Thai basil, Lemon basil, Cinnamon basil and Royal basil. What’s more, basil is just one kind of mint, of which there’s an even greater variety. Interestingly, although many herbs and spices, like licorice, fennel and star anise, have a very similar flavour but are actually not linked to one another at all!

Try It You Might Like It

Experiment! Different seasonings and blends applied to similar dishes may take you on entirely different culinary journeys.

When creating raw dishes, I have a strong focus on seasonings as this really enhances the flavour of dishes.

My main ones include:

– lemon juice

– tamari

– cinnamon

– vanilla

– nutritonal yeast

Are you a seasoned pro or are there specific ones that you stick to. Explore my free recipes on my blog or download my eBook for inspiration for dishes that will use a variety of seasonings.