The fact that sugar appears so much in our daily diet in many different forms makes it all the harder to avoid or cut down intake. However, sugar doesn’t provide any nutritional value and often brings negative effects to health.
Whilst it’s difficult to ditch sugar totally from the diet, there are great ways that you can cut down intake and feel much better for it. Importantly, sugar adversely affects blood sugar balance, so the more you consume, the more energy levels will be erratic, and you can also suffer from mood swings and brain fog.
Clinical Nutritionist, Suzie Sawyer, provides five great tips for cutting down overall sugar intake.
What is sugar?
Firstly, we just need to understand what it is! It’s not always written as sugar on food packaging. Dextrose, fructose, galactose, glucose, lactose maltose and sucrose are all sugar in varying forms. Sugar is also honey, maple syrup, corn syrup, locust bean gum, malt syrup and treacle.
Unfortunately, sweeteners such as stevia, sucralose, sorbitol, and aspartame may be calorie-free, but they still upset blood sugar balance, which is not helpful for weight loss. Plus, you’ll never ‘train’ your pallet to want less sugar whilst still consuming sweeteners. It’s tough for sure but don’t despair as there are some easy wins when it comes to reducing sugar intake.
Ditch fizzy drinks
For all the reasons above, fizzy drinks may taste great, but they are unhelpful when it comes to brain function, weight management, sustained energy, bone health and nutritional balance – quite a list!
These guys upset gut bacteria which is so important for our overall health, plus the phosphoric acid depletes the bones of much-needed calcium too.
There’s no easy way on this one but the benefits of cutting down or cutting out completely are huge. Go ‘cold turkey’ or just have one for an occasional treat.
Avoid fruit juice
Fruit juice does provide some health benefits but if you’re drinking a large glass every day, you’re getting a big hit of sugar. Much better is to eat the fruit ‘whole’ as the fibre content slows down the sugar rush to the blood stream.
Get used to no sugar in tea or coffee
If you’ve always drunk your tea and coffee with added sugar, your tastebuds have got very used to receiving it this way. And so many of us believe we could never enjoy another cup without it!
Your taste buds can be re-trained in a week not to expect the taste of sugar. It’s not going to help switching to sweeteners. Whilst they will provide the taste, sweeteners are chemicals which can’t be processed by the body. They also add to the chemical load already in the food chain, much of which we can’t avoid.
Become a food label detective
As you can see, sugar isn’t always labelled ‘sugar’. It comes in many different guises. And whilst food manufacturers have to make nutritional declarations, these can be confusing for some, especially in the way they’re worded.
Have a quick scan over the ingredients list and see what you can find. Often, you’ll see some form of sugar high up on the ingredients list. Ingredients lists are published in weight descending order with the largest ingredient amount top of the list.
Try to avoid unnecessary sugars
We all know that there are large amounts of sugar in sweets, cakes, and pastries so it’s a question of managing intake. Maybe think about having one treat day per week where you enjoy some cake or a desert. It’s all about balance.
It’s worth thinking about total sugar intake over a month rather than just thinking about one day. And don’t forget cereals which are often packed with sugar, even ones you think are ‘healthy’ so look out for those sugars on food labelling.
Sugar is everywhere in our food chain. Once you become more aware of it, then intake becomes easier to manage. Good luck!
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