Don’t be Fooled by the ‘Sugar-Free’ ‘gluten-free’ = ‘guilt-free’ Myth!

Women’s Health recently posted a recipe for ‘healthy chocolate cake’ on their website and suggested that since it was ‘guilt-free’, we should eat it for breakfast. It’s difficult to know where to start with this one.

This article comes under the category of nutritional nonsense. Something that FTFs often comes across is the notion of ‘guilt-free’, ‘sugar-free’ desserts.

Firstly, feeling guilty when eating any food is a recipe for disaster (pardon the pun!). Evidence has shown that ‘restrictive eaters’ i.e. people who diet or attach feelings of guilt to specific foods are more likely to overeat that those who don’t.

It’s the sugar free element of these recipes that we find particularly misleading. Many of these recipes use ‘healthier sugar alternatives’ which, to put it bluntly are still sugar.

Whether you’re eating honey, agave nectar, coconut sugar, palm sugar etc. These are all sources of sugar and EVERY SINGLE ONE will contain 3.75 calories per gram and will take the same time to burn off during exercise.


Advocates of sugar alternatives suggest they are a better choice than common white sugar as they are higher in certain vitamins and minerals. This point doesn’t wash with us, as if you’re getting a large proportion of your daily vitamins and minerals from syrup, honey or any other form of sugar, you really need to re- think your diet!

It is recommended that we consume no more than 30g of ‘added’ sugar / day (this excludes sugars found naturally in foods such as fruit and milk). If you stick to these guidelines, you can have your cake and eat it (in moderation!)

Many people are unaware that sugar is present in many naturally occurring foods such as fruits, vegetables and dairy. This makes going ‘sugar-free’ virtually impossible. In actual fact, glucose (sugar) is the brain’s preferred fuel source. We need a certain amount of sugar in the diet to stay healthy (see previous post on sugar free diets )

butter-1449453_1280-1Another nutrition misconception highlighted by this recipe is that coconut oil is healthier than other fat sources such as butter. Whilst it’s recommended that we should limit our saturated fat intakes due to the associated effects on cardiovascular health, a recent paper found that coconut oil has a far worse nutritional profile that more common fat sources such as butter. In fact, butter was found to be 40% saturated fat, whereas coconut oil was a whopping 87%.

As for the teff flour and rice flour- these are great options if you’re actually GLUTEN FREE. But for the majority of the population who are not, there are absolutely no health benefits from using gluten-free flours. There is a misconception that gluten-free is healthier. Some foods that contain gluten like cakes and biscuits are less nutritious than other healthier gluten-containing foods like wholemeal bread and pasta. HOWEVER, as we have shown in previous posts  , gluten is quite simply a protein found in wheat and is not something to be feared!

Verdict:  There is nothing wrong with enjoying a slice cake as part of a healthy balanced diet. Just don’t kid yourself that these ‘sugar-free’ ‘gluten-free’ and ‘guilt-free’ alternative desserts are necessarily healthier or less calorific.

Read the original article here:

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