Putting the ‘Sugar’ in Sugarloaf
One of the main tourist attractions in Rio is Sugar Loaf Mountain. The origin of the name comes from the similarity with the moulds used by the Portuguese to transport sugar, called sugarloaf’s. It’s no wonder with one of the most famous monuments in Rio named after sugar that all their food seems to be laden with the stuff.
In a contradictive statement, there is however, a bountiful amount of fruit available. Fruit sugar however is broken down in the body differently than refined sugar and contains masses of vitamins, nutrients and antioxidants essential for a healthy body, mind & immune system. In contrast the added refined sugar just plays havoc with your blood sugar levels and is linked to obesity, diabetes, stress on the liver, tooth decay and last but not least, it is highly addictive.
Choosing ‘Healthy’ in Rio
We didn’t have a kitchenette in our room to cook rice/legumes etc. and I found shopping for food in Rio to be especially difficult. I made sure I knew the Portuguese for sugar ‘açúcar´ and to my dismay found it in so many foods it was difficult to make healthy decisions.
The above issue and the fact that I am vegan made eating in Rio quite difficult. But not impossible. We stayed at a hotel that provided breakfast and we were lucky enough to be given a large portion of fruit (melon, papaya & banana) each day. Although we did have to leave the bread rolls, crackers, biscuits and fruit juices.
We managed to find a good 100% peanut butter and zero added sugar bread. There is also an array of salad you can choose from. We did however manage to find a lovely little vegan restaurant. Although eating out can also be difficult when you don’t know what is being added to your food.
I usually have porridge, so I bought some ‘light’ soya milk to try with it. Unfortunately the milk was so sweet I was unable to finish it. Luckily, I can have porridge with bottled water just fine. Nuts and seeds didn’t seem too readily available as I would usually add these to my porridge.
Buy some hemp/soy/pea protein powder from somewhere like My Protein to mix with your porridge. This will give you a little boost of protein which I felt I was lacking in whilst in Rio. Just be careful of the added sugars in those too, try to opt for unflavoured or those with less amounts.
Another thing I noticed that really surprised me, was that they didn’t seem to display how much sugar was in a product. This is usually found in the nutritional information on the packet. However, in Rio, this was nowhere to be seen?
For an issue that is so important to our health I found this all quite surprising. If you find yourself in the same position as me there are things you can do to try and counteract this
- Check the ingredients – does it contain added sugar? Check the nutritional information, how much sugar does it contain?
- If sugar is not included on the nutritional information, check to see how high up sugar is on the list of ingredients. The higher up, the bigger the percentage included.
- Try to opt for fruit instead. The sugar from fruit is broken down in your body differently and contains more nutritional value.
- Drink plenty of water to flush your system out.
- Buy tester packets of protein powder to add to food such as porridge or smoothies for that added boost of protein.
Sugar is a drug which is highly addictive and has been extensively compared to cocaine. Let’s make sure we all put our health first, it is after all the thing that is keeping us alive.
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