10 Ways to Cut Down Sugar
Having a diet high in added sugar is one of the worst things you can do to your body. It has been linked to numerous diseases such as diabetes, obesity, heart disease and even cancer. Sugar is naturally found in fruit and veg, but has little effect on our blood sugar because fibre and other components slow down the absorption of sugar. The danger lies with added sugars and sadly "low fat" foods gave added sugar a free pass, meaning that we now consume more sugar than ever thinking we're eating healthier because the label says "low fat"!
It is important to know the difference between the sugar that's ok to eat and the sugar that is not. The most common added sugars are regular table sugar (sucrose) or high fructose corn syrup. Naturally occurring sugars are fine.
Women should eat no more than 25g of sugar per day, that's 6 teaspoons. And men, no more than 37.5g or 9 teaspoons.
Here's 10 easy ways to cut back on sugar.
1. Cut back on sugary drinks
Fizzy drinks, energy drinks, sports drinks and fruit drinks. Even so called "healthy" innocent store bought smoothies and fruit drinks still contain a staggering amount of added sugar.
Did you know that 450ml of 100% apple juice contains more than 12 teaspoons of sugar??
Our bodies don't recognise calories from drinks in the same way it does from food. Drinks don’t make you feel as full, so people who consume lots of calories from drinks do not eat less to compensate. Studies have consistently shown that reducing your intake of sugary drinks can help with weight loss.
Try some healthy alternatives such as:
- Sparkling water with a squeeze of fresh lemon or lime
- Water with mint or cucumber
- Herbal tea
2. Avoid sugary desserts
Most desserts don’t provide much nutritionally. They are loaded with sugar, which causes blood sugar spikes and can leave you feeling tired, hungry and craving more sugar.
If you have a sweet tooth, try some healthy swaps. Swapping a sugary dessert for fruit increases the amount of fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants in your diet.
- Fresh fruit
- Greek yogurt with fruit and or cinnamon
- Baked fruit with Greek yogurt
- Dark chocolate
- A handful of dates or cherries
3. Avoid sauces with lots of sugar
Our staple kitchen sauces such as ketchup, barbecue sauce and sweet chili sauce can contain a shocking amount of sugar. A single tablespoon serving of ketchup may contain 1 teaspoon of sugar!!! And remember if you're a woman, you should only have 6 per day!
There are some varieties of sauces that do not contain added sugars, so be sure to check the label before you buy.
Or for some healthy flavoursome goodness, try these
- Herbs & spices
- Fresh chilli
- Yellow mustard
- Harissa paste
4. Eat full fat foods
There's no getting away from the low fat foods we see in supermarkets. They're everywhere. It might feel right to opt for these foods if you've been brainwashed with the fact that fat is bad. We are vulnerable when it comes to weight loss so it's easy to fall into the low fat trap. The disturbing truth is that they actually contain more sugar and sometimes even more calories than their full fat counterparts.
A 113g serving of low-fat vanilla yogurt contains 4 teaspoons of sugar and 96 calories. The same amount of full-fat plain yogurt contains just over a teaspoon (5 grams) of naturally occurring milk sugar and only 69 calories. Let that sink in!!
Another example is an 237ml coffee made with whole milk and no added sugar, which contains half a teaspoon (2 grams) of naturally occurring milk sugar and 18 calories. The same amount of a low-fat mocha coffee contains 6.5 teaspoons (26 grams) of added sugar and 160 calories!!!!
5. Eat whole foods
Whole foods are foods that have not been processed or refined. They're also free from additives and other artificial ingredients. The opposite food type is ultra processed and these are the foods that are loaded with salt, sugar and fat and substances not normally used in home cooking. These can be artificial flavors, colors, emulsifiers or other additives. Ultra processed foods include pizza, fizzy drinks, cereals, desserts.
Try to cook from scratch when possible so you can avoid added sugars. You don’t have to cook complicated meals. Simple tricks like marinating meat and fish in herbs, spices and olive oil will give you delicious and healthy meals.
6. Watch out for "healthy" snack foods
We all know that chocolate bars, biscuits, etc contain a lot of sugar and calories so we tend to go for a healthy snack alternative.
Surprisingly enough, snacks like granola bars, protein bars and dried fruit can contain as much, if not more, sugar than their unhealthy rivals, such as chocolate bars.
Some granola bars can contain as much as 8 teaspoons of sugar!!
Dried fruit is full of fibre, nutrients and antioxidants. However, it is also full of natural sugar, so it should be eaten in moderation. Some dried fruit also contains high quantities of added sugar. To avoid this, look for ingredients labels that say 100% fruit.
You can also try these healthy alternatives:
- A handful of nuts
- Trail mix
- Homemade granola bars
- Fresh fruit
- Hard boiled egg
8. Cereal killers
Breakfast cereals are amongst the worst when it comes to added sugar. According to a report, some of the most popular breakfast cereals contained over half their weight in sugar! The same report found that granola, which is usually marketed as “healthy,” has more sugar than any other type of average cereal.
Even the breakfasts that look so inviting on instagram like pancakes, waffles and muffins are packed with sugar.
Try these low sugar brekkies instead:
- Hot oatmeal
- Greek yogurt
9. Eat more protein & fat
Eating a lot of sugar means increased appetite, cravings, over eating and weight gain. However, a diet low in added sugar but high in protein and fat has the opposite effect, reducing hunger and food intake.
A high fat intake is also associated with reduced appetite. According to the fat content of a food, fat receptors in the mouth and gut alter the way it’s digested. This causes a reduction in appetite and subsequently, calorie intake.
10. Cut out S and get Zzzz instead
Good sleeping habits are super important for your health. Poor sleep has been linked to depression, poor concentration and reduced immune function. It is well known that there is a link between obesity and a lack of sleep, but recently, studies have shown that a lack of sleep also has an effect of the type of food you eat. So the less sleep you get, the more you want high-calorie, sweet and salty foods over healthy foods like fruits and vegetables.
So, get a good nights sleep, eat whole foods, fats and proteins, say no to dessert.
Cut the sugar, you're sweet enough ;)
Ruthie H x