Learn how to reduce sugar in your diet with these practical tips and healthier alternatives for common foods. Since our recent Eater challenge, people have been wary about sugar content in foods. Even though the challenge has come to an end, we want to keep up the habits that we practised, so continue reading on my top tips to how you can continue to reduce your sugar intake daily!



Get used to less sweetness


We don’t want to completely cut any food group out of our diet. It is not sustainable and will only leave you craving it more in the future. Instead, reduce the amount of sugar you add to foods and drinks a little at a time. Over time, you will get accustomed to the taste of less sweet foods. I stopped having sugar in my tea for Lent once and haven’t looked back since!



Limit sugary drinks


Yes, this includes fruit juice and sports drinks! (Unless training hard of course). Not only are these a source of empty calories, they also show the strongest relationship with tooth decay, type 2 diabetes and obesity. The reason that sugary drinks can be so dangerous is because they are easier to over-consume than solid foods. Even though fruit juice contains natural sugar, in juicing, the sugars in the cell wall of the plant are released as ‘free sugars’. These are the ones that damage teeth, attribute to blood sugar levels raising quickly and provide additional calories. Look to reduce soft drinks and fruit juice with water, milk or no-sugar variations.



Go for natural sweetness


Instead of getting your sugar fix from ultra-processed food like sweet, biscuits and pastries, replace with the natural sugar options. There effect on blood sugar levels is minimised from fruits and vegetables. Add fresh fruit to yoghurt or porridge instead of sugar. Look to swap desserts for plain yoghurt and fruit. Avoiding ultra processed foods will also help to control your appetite and body weight.


Read food labels


Sugar has lots of hidden names such as:

  • sucrose,
  • glucose,
  • glucose syrup,
  • invert sugar,
  • dextrin,
  • fruit syrup,
  • maltodextrin,
  • cane sugar and
  • fructose.


When reading food labels, you may find than many of the foods which as marketed as ‘healthy’ contain sugars in large amounts. Honey, agave nectar, maple syrup and organic cane sugar fall into the same category.



Beware of low-fat foods


Foods are often marketed as low fat so that you quickly pick it up. What you may not realise is that the low-fat version often contains more sugar than its full fat equivalent! What happens is that the manufactures still need the product to taste good so that people buy it. They will then replace the fats with sugars to improve the taste!! As a result, your taste satisfactions may not be met and you may end up eating the food in excess resulting in the same amount of fat and more sugar being eaten.



Adapt meals and recipes


Often, breakfasts contain high levels of sugar. The reduced nutrient content can leave then easy to be overeaten and not satisfy you for they day. Instead of cereals, opt for porridge, eggs on toast or plain yoghurt with fresh fruit and nuts.

A higher protein and fibre breakfast will keep you fuller for longer. For baked goods, it is known that you can cut sugar by one third without compromising flavour!

Sweet spices such as:

  • nutmeg,
  • cinnamon,
  • vanilla,
  • lemon,
  • lime,
  • ginger or
  • almond extract

are all great alternatives to give to dishes, cakes or desserts so that you can enjoy without the guilt.


The bottom line


To reduce sugar in your day to day and still enjoy the foods you eat is possible! At the end of the day sugar is a carbohydrate, meaning it is an energy source for the body. Despite lots of negativities circulating about sugar intake, the science shows that small amounts of sugar in the body are unlikely to cause harm. Given that you time your sugar intake around your physical activity it may also boost your performance.

It can promote quick refuelling in long exercise bouts and maintain glucose concentration that can increase endurance. As sugar contains little nutritional value though, it leaves foods with large amounts of sugar (and often fats) easy to over consume which can lead to high calorie intakes. Think cakes, chocolates biscuits and juices. Feeling the need to overeat these foods is what results in obesity and type 2 diabetes. For this reason, the World Health Organisation does recommending sugar to 10% of total calories to reduce the risk of obesity and keep your teeth in top condition.


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