Sugar has been linked to the rising obesity epidemic and many foods contain ‘hidden’ sugars making it difficult for those wanting to reduce their intake of sugar to actually cut down. As well as helping with weight loss, cutting out or down on sugar has a number of benefits including lowering blood pressure, reducing the risk of heart attacks and increased energy.
It’s recommend that just 5% of your daily calorie intake should consist of added or ‘free’ sugars, such as those found naturally in honey or fruit juices but many adults and children eat far more than this advised amount. Cutting down your sugar consumption can be difficult, especially if you often eat pre-packaged meals as these typically have sugar added. Try following these tips to reduce your sugar addiction and begin a healthier diet:
Keep an eye out for ‘hidden’ sugars – Hidden sugars are sugars that aren’t where you would expect them and in some cases are listed on food labels in different ways, such as glucose or sucrose. For instance, many diet foods that claim to be healthy and low in fat will contain lots of sugar in bid to improve their taste, meaning that they often aren’t a healthier choice.
Check food labels – If you’re serious about reducing sugar but still want the convenience of being able to pick up items such as sauces off the shelf, checking labels is a must. Look at the both the ‘carbs as sugars’ on the nutrition panel and the ingredient list to identify any hidden sugars. While this might take longer initially you’ll soon learn which products are best for you.
Switch up your breakfast – Breakfast is often cited as the most important meal of the day but in the morning we’re often busy leading to choosing options that are easy to prepare, such as cereal, that are typically packed with sugar. Try switching to porridge, whole wheat cereal biscuits and reducing spreads like jams or honey at least a few times a week to lower sugar intake.
Opt for fresh ingredients – Making your meals from scratch is the best way to control the amount of sugar in your diet. Selecting only fresh produce means you can be sure there are no added sugars in your food. Preparing all your meals can take time but with some forward planning it can be sped up and you’ll have lots of tasty options.
Have healthy snacks on hand – If you like to snack sometimes the options of chocolate, biscuits or cake are often an easy choice. They’re simple to reach for but their sugar content is high. Instead keep some healthier options to hand, such as plain popcorn, nuts, fresh fruit or oatcakes.