‘Obsessing over being healthy can make you less likely to stick with good habits,’ says Dr Susan Love, co-author of Live A Little! Breaking The Rules Won’t Break Your Health (Three Rivers Press). ‘It can leave a busy person so defeated that you adopt a “screw it all” mentality.’ Any woman who has ever gone on a strict diet only to find herself raiding the biscuit tin at midnight can confirm that theory.
The ideal is that you always pass on the office cupcakes and anything else made with refined sugar. But we’re here to tell you it’s okay to have one small sweet a day.
Yes, it’s true that sugar is empty kilojoules and increased consumption has been linked to obesity and diabetes epidemics. But you can still have some! A woman who has a generally healthy diet is fine if she gets about 10% of her kilojoules from added sugar, says dietitian Janis Jibrin, coauthor of The Life You Want: Get Motivated, Lose Weight, And Be Happy (Simon & Schuster).
‘That translates to about 45g for the average woman, or about 650kJ to 850kJ per day,’ she explains. Desserts count, as do sneakier sources of sugar such as fruit-flavoured yoghurts, sweetened cereals and tomato sauce. You can spend your daily allowance all at once on half a cupcake for Jane Whoever’s birthday, or spread your 850 sugar kilojoules throughout the day: jam on your toast at breakfast, a packet of sugar in your coffee, a handful of Jelly Tots and an after-dinner ice lolly with the kids.