One of the things that led me to become a personal trainer was the wish to help people feel better about themselves, primarily through exercise, but also through food. Now let me set this straight from the start: I am no nutritionist, but I do have basic nutrition qualifications, so when I analyse clients’ food diaries I am looking for little tweaks they can make so their food works with them, not against them; things like spotting where there’s a blood sugar slump during the day and advising on healthier snacks that could be eaten to ward that off, or advising on healthy yummy breakfasts that will see my clients getting through the morning at work without needing to reach for the biscuits.
For more detailed food work I look to two friends, one I see as my female hormone and energy level guru, the other I view as my sports nutrition guide. They are actually both qualified the same and can advise on each other’s areas, that’s just how I fit them into my little world.
Anyway, last week Health Coach friend, Kathy Payne, who runs Kathy Payne – Hormone Health and Fertility, ran a facebook challenge called Curb Your Cravings. Every day she set us a challenge, some easier, some harder. The one that really got my ears pricked up was her sugar day. We were challenged to add up our sugar intake (either all sugar or just refined sugars, it was for each of us to choose, I went for all sugar, including those from fruit, veg, etc) as we went through the day until we reached the daily recommended amount for an adult woman, which is 30g. 30g of sugar. That’s about 5 teaspoons. That’s nothing!
OK. Breakfast – soya yogurt, muesli, ground linseed, mixed berries. Yep, I’m feeling pretty smug. Oh. The muesli is 9g sugar/100g. OK, have a look at the other box of muesli in the kitchen. Oh. 14g sugar/100g. Breakfast in total was 10g (I went for the lower sugar muesli and had nowhere near 100g of it).
Lunch – right, let’s do this. Made a veggie/chickpea/spinach thing 3.3g sugar/100g. Smugness back. 1 apple. 12g!! What????? OK, mental note to self, stick to berries when wanting fruit. Total 15.3g
Mid afternoon – OK, I’ll have some mixed nuts, they’ll be fine, right? 4g sugar/100g. Wow. But you know, nuts are good fats and all, so I’ll still have them, just add them to my sugar tally. Total 4g (ish, didn’t weigh the nuts)
Dinner – cod on a tomato and butter bean sauce, with tenderstem broccoli. About 10g
So on a day WHEN I WAS FOCUSING ON MY SUGAR INTAKE I got to 39.3g. Nearly 10g over the recommended daily intake. Granted I was counting fruit and veg sugar, not just the refined stuff, and had I only counted the refined stuff I’d have been at about 9g over the day, but what an eye opener.
Interestingly nutritionist friend, Claire Doherty, who runs Namaste Nutrition, is running a sugar challenge on facebook in September. I may report back. If I survive a low to no sugar September!