Be Sweet to Yourself Series, with consultant dietitian Helen Bond.
Meet Kirstie: a sugar and caffeine super-fan.
The sugar & caffeine super-fan; Kirstie Johnson, 22.
Kirstie’s keen to get on top of her sugar habit in the hope that it will lead to better skin, a more stable mood and weight loss.
Total sugar consumed in a week:
Total sugar consumer during an average day:
Best Day & Worst day:
What Kirstie had to say:
• ‘On a normal day I’m on my feet for about 8-10 hours as a Head Veterinary Nurse and I rely on sugar and caffeine. Within the day, I have bursts of extreme energy and then all of a sudden I’ll be crashing and half asleep. I don’t sleep very well either.’
• ‘I’m also on a prescription at the moment to control my acne. My diet was discussed, but due to my work life, it wasn’t something I felt I could change. Picking at sweets and having drinks is a lot easier for me. I would also like to be leaner, but I think weight is harder to shift because of my diet.’
Helen Bond’s verdict:
• Kirstie’s sugar diary was the most shocking. If she has a 190g bag of Haribo’s Tangfastics in one sitting, that alone is three times the recommended maximum limit of free sugars in a day (30g) – the type that we should be cutting down on for the sake of our teeth and waistlines. Her habits include having lattes with four pumps of caramel syrup and whipped cream. Every pump is an extra teaspoon of sugar.
• Kirstie is obviously very busy and fuels herself with sugar and caffeine. These spikes in blood sugar levels will affect her mood, energy levels and skin. A high sugar diet is thought aggravate the balance of sex hormones in the body, which then causes and exacerbates spots.
• Luckily for her, Kirstie has youth and good genes on her side. She has a high metabolism and is running around all day burning calories. But, things will eventually slow down and things will catch up on her over time. What’s worrying is that she appears lean or slim, but her body is what we would call TOFI – thin on the outside and fat on the inside. Someone might look well, but on the inside it’s not so healthy.
• Start slow and steady with small steps: Kirstie obviously needs to cut down on sugar, but putting it into action can be difficult – making small swaps can make a big difference. She can start with using diet drinks instead of fizzy drinks (one can of coke contains 35g of sugar – your entire free sugar daily limit in one drink) or substituting syrups and sugary coffee additions with using either a Splenda Mini or a swirl of Splenda Zero in her coffee or tea. They hugely help people who have a sweet tooth and eat or drink a lot of sugar.
• Low GI diet: There is increasing evidence for a low GI diet when treating acne. These are foods that release energy slowly instead of spiking blood sugar levels, fill you up without piling on the pounds and provide you with skin-friendly B vitamins like riboflavin, niacin and biotin and prebiotics. I would recommend wholegrains, such as wholemeal or granary bread, brown rice (instead of white), buckwheat and quinoa and wholegrain breakfast cereals, including rolled oats.
• More fruits and veggies: Kirstie needs more fruits and vegetables in her diet, as she is falling short of her 5-A-Day quota. Fruit and vegetables only provide naturally occurring sugars and supply a plethora of vitamins, minerals and other phytonutrients, which support the health of the skin and help protect skin cells from damage. Different types of vegetables and fruit contain different nutrients, so Kirstie should try to eat a variety of colours each and every day for her health and wellbeing.
• Introduce more good fats: A lot of people with oily or greasy skin think they shouldn’t have more fat. But increasing your good fat intake, especially omega-3s found in oil-rich fish (salmon, fresh tuna, sardines and mackerel etc.) could be beneficial for Kirstie’s skin by dampening down inflammation and maintaining a healthy skin barrier.
• Be organised: Try and get healthy snacks pre-prepared, like nuts and seeds and avoid buying sweets that lie around that are tempting.