Summer is a time when people tend to be much more active, getting outside more on the warmer and longer days, spending more time on their feet outdoors simply because it is more pleasant to do, or more deliberately because they want to get fitter.
For many, summer is a prime time for their own specific favourite activities. Tennis and cricket will get plenty of people running around and while walking in the countryside can be undertaken at any time of year, now is the best time for very long walks, climbs up Britain’s higher mountains and taking on long-distance trails.
All that may help shift a few pounds and get you healthier, but the key, as ever, is to balance nutrition with exercise. On the one hand, you don’t want to consume loads of fat and sugar that negates the physical effort you are putting in.
On the other, it is important not to leave yourself short of energy, especially before doing something strenuous, which is why it is important to eat correctly. Slow-release energy food like porridge or pasta before starting out and fast-release energy foods like flapjacks and bananas on the day are ideal.
An obvious peril when it comes to diet is too much sugar, which is why it makes sense to seek out alternatives. Thankfully, there are some great organic sweeteners available. While not all of them are sugar free, they are still much healthier options than the refined sugar that is found in all too many food products.
Mention an alternative to sugar and most think of the sort of sickly, synthetic stuff that goes in tea, or cinnamon on a doughnut. But there are actually many options. Agave, for example, is available as a power or as a syrup.
It comes from the Agave plant, a succulent plant with blue-green leaves that originally comes from Latin America but grows well in temperate climates. As well as being used as a sweetener, it is also included as an ingredient in Tequila.
Stevia is another plant-based product we offer in liquid or powder form. Originally from South America but now grown in the Far East as well, it is far sweeter than table sugar but is almost calorie-free. For this reason, it has proved popular with diabetics. It can be sprinkled on top of food or infused as an additive – though always in small amounts because it is so sweet.
Coconut palm sugar is another option, coming not from the coconuts themselves, but the sap of the leaves. It is still a sugar, so it contains lots of calories, but it does not cause a spike in blood sugar, so that is still an advantage of it. This product comes from Asia, mainly places like Indonesia and Sri Lanka.
These options provide both alternative tastes and some great options that can suit people with particular health conditions. Clearly the greatest benefit of some of these is that they can reduce calorie intake while still sweetening food and drinks.
However, even where there are significant calories involved, they offer organic flavour alternatives and none of these are synthetic or processed.