There is an ever growing buzz around sugar these days, with more people understanding the dangerous effects it can have on our health.
The problem is that it can become very difficult to avoid sugar when it sneaks into the most unexpected places. From our bread and milk, to our sauces and any packaged foods. In fact, generally speaking, if your food is coming from anywhere other than the fresh produce and meat aisles of your supermarket, it more than likely has added sugar.
So how do you avoid it when it appears to be everywhere?
We have some top tips on how to cut back your intake!
UNDERSTAND YOUR LABELS:
Being able to recognise where sugar is hiding is a big step to choosing wiser. Anything that lists sugar, syrup, molasses, honey or any word ending in ‘ose’ (such a fructose, glucose or sucrose) means it contains sugar.
Then take note of where it sits within the ingredient list. The ingredients that make up the majority of the product sit at the beginning of the list and lessen the further down you get. If sugar (or any of its aliases) are listed close to the top, it’s a big red flag.
You can also check the nutrition label for guidance. As a general rule, if it states 22.5g or more of total sugar per 100g, then the product you’re holding is high in sugar. On the other hand, if it lists 5g or less of total sugar per 100g, the product is low in sugar.
WATCH YOUR MILK:
Believe it or not, lactose (found in milk) is a form of sugar as well. For this reason, when you opt for ‘lighter’ options such as skim milk, you are still consuming sugar but with a lot of the other nutrients removed as well. This means it isn’t always the healthier option.
Likewise, alternatives such as soy or almond milk often have sweeteners added. Always look for unsweetened versions to make sure you’re not getting any unwanted additives!
SWITCH IT UP:
There are always small ways to cut back your day to day sugar intake. If you need a teaspoon or two in your tea or coffee, try switching to a natural sweetener such as stevia or a drop of honey. You can also train your palette to slowly expect less sugar by adding a tiny bit less every week.
If you like to add some sweetness to your morning cereal, try throwing some fruit in instead.
Most importantly, don’t be afraid to use flavour. It’ll help you transition to a less sugar based diet. Use things like cinnamon, vanilla and nutmeg to trick yourself into thinking you’re getting a kick of sweetness!
DON’T FAKE IT:
When trying to avoid sugar, one of the biggest mistakes you can make is to go for artificial sugar. Setting aside all of the damaging health effects artificial sweeteners have been linked to, they also can have the opposite effect that you expect. When you taste something sweet, your body gets ready for the sugars and nutrients it is expecting to receive. Artificial sugar doesn’t provide these and, instead, leaves your body still expecting. This leads to sugar cravings and can eventually find you binging on a whole lot of things high in sugar.
Anything advertised as ‘diet’ or ‘light’ versions is generally made from an artificial sugar. If you’re still unsure, check the ingredients list. Anything that includes saccharin and aspartame should be avoided, but it’s well worth looking up the names of other artificial sweeteners to be aware of what’s out there!
The most important thing when cutting back sugar is perseverance. It involves quite the lifestyle change and that can be difficult to adjust to. It’s also important to keep in mind that, over time, your tastebuds will eventually become accustomed to foods that aren’t as sweet. In fact, a lot of people find that, after a while, they find that the same piece of cake they once would have devoured is now too sweet for them!
Have you made the switch to a less sugar-packed diet? What are your biggest tips?
Main Image Credit: Sipahh India