Replacing Artificial Sugars with Natural Energy

The afternoon lull hits and you find yourself reaching for the closest sugary fare. Your blood sugar levels have dropped, you feel tired, flat and your body is telling you to eat. You are craving something sweet – the refined white stuff – SUGAR! You know you should be making better food choices, but the little devil on your shoulder is screaming for cupcakes!

That’s the thing, it’s perfectly natural for you to feel this way when blood sugar levels drop – in fact it’s your body’s natural response to crave sugar. It wants food that will translate to energy quick smart. However, let me be clear – it is NOT a free ticket to eat the sweet baked goodies, biscuits, chocolate, and lollies filled with refined sugars! Yes sugar will give you a quick pick me up, but believe me, this is only temporary and that sugar “high” will wear off leaving you flat and feeling worse. There are natural, far more nutritious ways to get the sugar hit you are looking for.

My favourite natural energy boosting foods

Dates – When nothing but sweet will do! Naturally sweetened, dates are like natures candy. Containing three types of naturally occurring sugars; glucose, sucrose and fructose, they are a powerhouse for instant energy! Medjool dates are found in the fridge section at most supermarkets and although they are a dried fruit, they are generally soft and moist.

The benefit of eating dates over refined sugary sweets is that they also contain loads of vitamins and minerals too. Dates provide you with vitamin B-6, iron, niacin and pantothenic acid. They are also rich in potassium, magnesium, manganese and copper, making them beneficial for regulating energy, metabolism and blood sugar levels.

As with all dried fruit, they are higher in calories than fresh fruit varieties – But in comparison to chowing down on high-fat desserts, dates are a fat-free sweet alternative. Limiting your intake of dates is advised, especially if you have diabetes or are conscious of calorie intake. Everything in moderation, as they say!

Coconut water – Is natures own energy drink. The oils found in coconut contain triglycerides, which convert to energy quickly and effectively in the human body. Coconuts produce water that is packed with natural electrolytes making coconut water beneficial for active people. Not to be confused with coconut milk or cream which is from the flesh of the coconut, it is the clear water found inside young green coconuts.

With its lightly sweet flavour, coconut water will also treat your sweet tooth. Providing energy boosting hydration, it also has the added bonus of vitamin C, potassium, sodium, magnesium, phosphorus, calcium, manganese and zinc – making it source of vitamins and minerals too.

Although coconut water is fat free, cholesterol free and contains no preservatives, it is not kilojoule free. So be mindful of your consumption as with all foods containing natural sugars, the energy values can add up quickly. Having said that, coconut water is far lower in calories than drinks containing refined sugars like soft drinks, flavoured milks and processed fruit drinks.

Bananas are a wonderfully nourishing fruit that gives you a sustained and substantial energy boost. The riper the banana the more developed the sugars are and therefore the more easily digestible it becomes (allowing the body to convert it to high-energy fuel). Having said that, bananas are classified as a low GI (Glycemic Index) food meaning that it doesn’t cause high blood sugar levels. They are a good snack choice for diabetics.

As a good source of carbohydrates, Bananas help to bring low blood glucose levels back to normal. They also contain vitamins B6, C, folate, niacin, riboflavin, pantothenic acid and have antioxidant power. It doesn’t end there – Banana’s are also a great source of potassium and fibre.

And the bonus is that they come already wrapped in their own biodegradable packaging!

Eat to avoid an energy slump

Prevention is always better than the cure! Improve daily eating habits to avoid needing that instant sugary pick me up. The best way to keep your blood sugar levels balanced is to start your day with a good nutritious breakfast. Continue to eat at regular intervals throughout the day, with healthy snacks and a nourishing lunch. Fuelling your body with low GI (slow release) carbohydrates will give you sustained energy throughout your day. Staying well hydrated is also an important and vital element to a lasting energy supply.