Labour federations have called on the National Treasury to revisit submissions and engage meaningfully on the contentious sugar tax now that its implementation has been deferred. File picture: Nokuthula Mbatha/ANA Pictures
Sugar is so rooted in our diets, that it is seemingly impossible to find a way to live without it. But whether you are trying to slim down to improve your health, sugary food can easily be avoided. 

Lifestyle bloggers Cara-Lisa Sham and Jordyn Muirhead share their tips on how you can live a sugar free lifestyle.

Jordyn Muirhead

“Sugar is in almost everything these days; even savoury foods, like bread, have sugar in them. We have become so reliant on sugar- from having that dessert after dinner, sugar in our breakfast cereal and with coffee or tea in the morning; to a chocolate bar as a snack, sweets, pastries, doughnuts etc," she said.

"A little sugar every now and then is okay but as the sugar and glucose build up in your body, it is stored faster than it is metabolised and the excess glucose forms fat and cholesterol. As the risk of diabetes and obesity increases, so do many other minor symptoms and disorders”, she said.

Jordyn’s Tips:

- When going to the shops do not buy anything that contains refined sugars. If you don’t buy it, you won’t have it in your house. 

- Buy a healthier sweetener as an alternative that you can add to something if you desperately need to. Things like xylitol, honey, stevia.

- Drinking more water and eating more whole foods prepared at home will fill you up and leave less space for sugary items.  

-Eating healthy fats like avocado, nuts, coconut oil, sometimes can aid with safety and sugar cravings.

- Beware of too many high sugary fruits as well; you don’t want to overload your system on fructose. Some of the best fruits are avocado, blueberries, raspberries and strawberries. 

Cara-Lisa Sham
 
"The problem comes not when we indulge in a sweet treat now and then, but when we over-consume those sweet treats, something that’s easy to do when sugar is added to many processed foods, including breads, cereals, yoghurt, juices, and sauces," says Cara-Lisa.

"On average, people consume about twenty two teaspoons of added sugars per day, which is way over the six teaspoons we should be consuming. This, combined with the fact that sugar has been scientifically proven to be as addictive as cocaine, has created for us a pretty significant craving. 

"Sweetness is the first taste humans prefer from birth. This is because carbohydrates stimulate the release of our feel-good brain chemical serotonin chemical. 

"The taste of sugar also releases endorphins that calm and relax us, and offer a natural 'high'. 

"Sweets just taste good too, and that preference gets reinforced by rewarding ourselves with sweet treats, which can make us crave it even more."

Cara-Lisa’s Tips:

- Combine foods. If the idea of stopping at a cookie or a baby candy bar seems impossible, you can still fill yourself up and satisfy a sugar craving, too. I like combining the craving food with a healthful one. 

- Reach for fruit. Keep fruit handy for when sugar cravings hit. You’ll get fibre and nutrients along with some sweetness. Stock up on raw nuts and seeds, goji berries and cacao nibs. Have them handy so you reach for them instead of reaching for the old (sugary) something.

- Balance your blood sugar levels. Sugar cravings can also be due to insulin spikes which affect hunger and cravings. When we eat, we want to ensure that the foods consumed have little or no effect on our blood sugar levels. Consuming healthy fats is a brilliant way to feel sustained and to keep your blood sugar levels stable by preventing insulin spikes. 

- Eat regularly. Waiting too long between meals may set you up to choose sugary, fatty, foods that cut your hunger. Your best bet? Choose protein, fibre-rich foods like whole grains, legumes, and fresh vegetables.