Added sugar is found in many processed foods, from sweets to biscuits, as well as in foods that are marketed as ‘healthy’ snacks. Therefore, it can be challenging to understand how much sugar you are consuming on a daily basis.
Increased consumption of sugar has been scientifically shown to contribute to obesity, heart disease, cancer, as well as tooth decay and acne. However, by reading our 10 top tips, you can find simple ways to reduce sugar in your diet.
1. Swap sugary desserts for healthier ones
Whilst desserts don’t often provide much nutritional value, this doesn’t always have to be the case. Instead of cake and ice cream, why not substitute these highly processed items with fresh fruit or low-fat yoghurt. By opting for naturally sweet foods, you also increase your daily vitamin intake and antioxidants.
This means that you can still satisfy your sweet tooth without consuming lots of sugar. Most desserts such as chocolate and doughnuts cause a sudden spike in blood sugar that rapidly drops leaving you feeling tired and craving more sugar.
2. Eliminate sugary drinks from your diet
Most added sugars in any diet come from sugary drinks such as energy drinks, sweetened teas, fizzy drinks, and sports drinks. There are also lots of sugars found in smoothies and fruit juices such as squash.
Sugary drinks can be a major contributor to mass sugar consumption as the body absorbs calories from drinks a lot more quickly than it does with food. This means you will be left feeling hungry and will tend to consume more sugary food to compensate.
Eliminating sugary drinks from your diet will help to boost your overall health and help with weight loss.
3. Plan a healthy breakfast
Many breakfast cereals are full of sugar which can cause you to consume a larger portion than advised. It may also lead you to feel very hungry again by the midmorning.
Instead of processed cereals, why not opt for porridge? Porridge oats are a whole grain and contain soluble fibre helping to lower cholesterol. Adding a banana or agave syrup can add a touch of sweetness without adding over-processed sugar.
4. Switch to whole grains
Whole foods are foods that are not processed or refined. This means they are also free from artificial substances and added sugars. Because of this, they help keep you fuller for a lot longer.
Changing white bread to whole grain bread, white pasta to brown pasta, and white rice to brown rice are just a few substitutions you can make to lower your sugar levels and maintain a healthy diet.
5. Double-check ‘healthy’ processed foods
Often processed foods are marketed as healthy because they contain granola or dried fruit. Usually, they are marketed as breakfast bars but can surprisingly contain the same amount of sugar as a chocolate bar.
While dried fruit can be a great source of fibre, candied types can contribute lots of sugar to a diet, so it is important to ensure you are not consuming too much.
Alternative natural snacks include boiled eggs, nuts, seeds, and fresh fruit.
6. Know how to identify sugars in your food
Sugar isn’t always listed plainly on food packets, so it can be difficult to avoid it if you don’t know exactly what you’re looking for.
Try to look out for sucrose, glucose, maltose, corn syrup, and hydrolysed starch. Nowadays, food labels are printed very clearly to help consumers identify what is in their food.
7. Ensure you’re receiving enough sleep
Sleeping well is very important for your health. Many studies have shown that poor sleep is linked to depression, obesity, problems with the immune system, and decreased concentration.
Lack of sleep can also influence the types of food you eat, meaning you are more likely to reach for foods high in sugar, fat, and salt if you feel overly tired.
Studies have also shown that adults should aim to sleep between 7 and 9 hours a night. Sleep is essential to every process carried out in the body and affects everything from cognitive function to our ability to fight disease.
8. Swap your sugar for zero-calorie sweeteners
There are lots of sugar alternatives on the market, such as aspartame and sucralose. However, these are artificial sweeteners and have been linked to gut imbalances that can increase sugar cravings and cause weight gain.
Instead, we recommend natural zero-calorie sweeteners such as stevia. Naturally derived sweeteners still undergo some processing but not the same amount as processed sugars.
9. Avoid or minimise your consumption of canned foods
Whilst canned foods can be a great way to save money and make bulk batches of food, they can also contain lots of added sugar. Fruit and vegetables already contain naturally-occurring sugars which don’t affect blood sugar the same way processed sugar does.
Many canned fruits and vegetables include syrup to keep the produce sweet. However, these ingredients are sweet enough, so if you do buy canned produce, find those in water or with ‘no added sugar’ labels.
Rinsing canned fruit and vegetables in water can help to remove processed sugar too.
10. Check your kitchen cupboard staples
Many foods that are found in kitchen cupboards, such as ketchup, sweet chilli, and barbecue sauce, are very high in sugar and can often be more sugary than desserts.
When shopping, opt for condiments with no added sugar labels. This way, you can easily monitor how much sugar you are consuming. Sauces such as pesto and mayonnaise can easily be made at home with very little to no sugar.
For assistance in achieving your body goals, choose The Bodywork Clinic. With over 15 years of experience in the industry, our team can help to advise and guide you on your options to help you achieve your body goals.
Call today on 01223 455144 to arrange a free consultation with our specialist aesthetic nurse Ruth Holt.