There are many different reasons why we put on weight from our hormones, gut health, thyroid function, stress and what food we are eating.
It is the combination of high levels of fat with processed carbohydrates, salts and additives that are hyper-palatable and override the body's weight set point.
Body weight set point
This is the weight our body will fight to maintain even though, in most cases it is unhealthy.
Hyper palatable foods cause a surge in dopamine within the brain which can be a strong stimulus for food reward and reinforce food addiction-like behaviour. The food industry knows this.
Wholefoods that incorporate adequate protein and fibre are considered low palatable foods. These help you feel satisfied and helps reduce the overstimulation of the reward centre in the brain.
Let's look at sugar and fat.
Sugar is classed as a simple carbohydrate that is found naturally in some foods and drinks. It is also added to certain foods and drinks.
Fruits, vegetables and dairy products contain natural sugar. These also include nutrients such as vitamins, minerals and fibre. These are digested more slowly, giving a longer energy source.
Sugar that is added to products has no nutritional value. It has no essential fats, no protein and no vitamins and minerals. The body usually digests these sugars very quickly and are not a good source of energy.
Monosaccharides are the simplest form of carbohydrates. They include glucose and fructose.
Glucose is the most important for us. It is used by the cells throughout our body and is the primary source of energy our body uses. Any excess glucose is stored in the liver as glycogen.
Fructose is another monosaccharide that is found in fruit, honey, sucrose and high fructose corn syrup. This is much sweeter and is not used by our body as a source of energy.
The World Health Organisation has set a limit of no more than 6t teaspoons of sugar per day for the average adult.`
How sugar affects our health
Too much glucose can affect our health, as it drives the pancreas to release more insulin and more energy deposits into fat tissues and therefore contributes to weight gain.
Fructose interferes with your hormones that control appetite and as a result, you are left not feeling full but wanting more. It can also raise your bad cholesterol and cause inflammation in the body.
There are quite a few grocery items that contain sugar. We know it is in cookies, cakes, soft drinks, confectionery, packaged cereal; but did you know it is in pasta sauce, tomato sauce, stir fry sauces, salad dressings, bread, yoghurts, jams, iced tea and alcohol.
To give you an idea of how much sugar is hidden in certain grocery items.
1 cup of juice: 5 teaspoons
100g packaged cereal (35g sugar): 7 tsp
Yoghurt (25g sugar): 5 tsp
2 glasses of white wine (200mL ea): 8tsp
Sure, an apple still contains natural sugars but because you are eating the fibre, this is slow-released energy plus it has added nutrients. So ditch the sugar in your coffee, check grocery items for added sugar. If you are craving something sweet, opt for a couple of squares of dark chocolate (70%).
When baking choose either organic honey, pure maple syrup, rice malt syrup and if you can’t ditch the sugar in your coffee, try stevia. But these are still classed as sugars so be mindful.
For so many years we were told to avoid fat and consume low-fat products and that saturated fat is bad?
The fat found in unprocessed foods contains essential fatty acids necessary for immune function, hormone production and to maintain the integrity of cells. Dietary fat is also needed by the body to absorb fat-soluble vitamins such as A, D, E and K. Unprocessed, natural foods that contain fat include meat, fish, eggs and dairy.
Benefits of consuming dietary fat include:
Helps you feel more satisfied and fuller for longer.
Doesn’t raise blood glucose and spike insulin-like simple carbohydrates.
Extra virgin olive oil and nuts have cardioprotective benefits.
The fats to avoid are the unnatural ones such as trans fats. They have undergone a process called hydrogenation where oils are turned into solids. Initially, they were used primarily in margarine and vegetable shortening but these days are added to so many packaged and processed goods. They have no nutritional value and harmful to your health. They increase the harmful LDLs in the blood and reduce the beneficial HDLs. They contribute to inflammation in the body and insulin resistance. These are found in packaged products such as cookies, cakes, bakery goods and fast food goods.
So what should we be eating?
Less processed, cold-pressed oils such as extra virgin, olive, coconut, flaxseed, avocado and hempseed oils are much healthier options.
Fats occurring naturally in foods such as nuts and seeds, avocado, eggs, grass-fed beef, free-range meats and wild-caught fish.
Healthier donut recipe
These are great to pop in the kids lunchbox or keep in the freezer for those days when you feel like something sweet without the guilt.
Recipe makes 6
It's important that everything is at room temperature.
1/4 cup coconut flour
1/4 cup cacao powder
1 tablespoon coconut sugar
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
4 eggs free-range or organic
1/3 cup extra virgin coconut oil (liquid)
1/3 cup pure maple syrup
60 g dark chocolate (70% dark chocolate)
Desiccated coconut for decorating
Place all the dry ingredients into a mixing bowl, then add coconut oil, maple syrup and eggs one at a time, carefully combining all ingredients.
Let the mixture stand for a few minutes, this allows the mix to thicken and combine till smooth.
Lightly grease donut moulds with a little coconut oil and place mixture evenly into six donut holes.
Bake in a fan-forced oven at 160 degrees or moderate oven for 15 minutes till they are firm or a skewer inserted in a donut comes out clean,
Place some water in a small saucepan and heat till simmering
Place chopped chocolate into a heatproof bowl that will comfortably sit over the saucepan.
Carefully stir the chocolate till it has melted, then carefully drizzle over donuts.
Sprinkle with some desiccated coconut and place in fridge till set.
Can keep in the freezer.
Tip: If you have put cold eggs into the mix and this has made the mixture lumpy, just let it stand for a few minutes till everything is at room temperature then mix till smooth.
Malhotra, A., & O'Neill, D. (2017). The Pioppi diet. Penguin Books.
Weaver, L., & Bannard, S. (2016). Dr Libby's women's wellness wisdom. The Green Frog Publishing P/L.
Why is sugar bad for you? 5 reasons. (2019). Retrieved 14 November 2019, from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/324854.php