Following on from my previous article, I am now going to offer some advice on how to reduce your sugar intake…without being the bearer of bad news! You may be currently worried about your health, or have been influenced by the media or even your best friend, but there have been some logical points made as to why we should monitor and reduce our sugar intakes.
Here are simple and realistic ways to improve your diet and the quality of your life without relying on a ‘sugar crutch’.
5 Small Steps To Reduce Your Sugar Intake:
1. Analyse Your Cravings & Retrain Your Taste Buds
Analyse and reflect on your cravings before you reach for your next sugary fix.
As a previous ‘Condiment Queen’ myself, I had to reflect on my usage; I was quite a fussy eater as a child and they made foods more pleasant.
Adjust your sugar intake over time and your palate will adjust with you; as a child I loved triple chocolate everything, now I prefer savoury foods.
2. Find Fruit & Vegetable Substitutions
Eating fresh produce will help fight sugar cravings through its natural sweetness and high fibre contents. High fibre= fuller for longer and no sugar crashes.
Try naturally sweet vegetables, e.g. carrots, sweet potatoes, bell peppers, squash and sugar peas. Instead of jam try whole or pureed berries on porridge or multi-seeded toast. Add whole fruit to plain yoghurt. Eat a multigrain wrap with grapes and peanut butter or sliced apple with almond butter. Be inventive and substitute sugar in baking with, e.g. pureed sweet potato, squash, carrot, apple or ripe bananas instead.
Take it easy on the dried or tinned fruit in syrups, as these have higher sugar contents; eat whole fruits instead of fruit smoothies/ juices as they offer more fibre and less sugar.
3. Don’t Use Sweeteners?
‘Natural sweeteners’ like honey and other unrefined sugars (i.e. coconut sugar) are slightly higher in nutrients but it is still sugar. Sweeteners, depending on the variety, can be hundreds or thousands’ of times sweeter than actual sugar; both sweeteners and natural sugars and can still enable your sweet tooth.
Information regarding artificial sweeteners is inconsistent. The EFSA has deemed them safe but studies still explore their possible side-effects.
Some studies suggest using artificial sweeteners could leave you craving more sugar, making it harder to cut it out, lose weight and fight chronic disease. While others suggest they might cause cancer or type 2 diabetes …but the jury is still out!
Don’t fall into media promotion, e.g. ‘Coca Cola Life’; there’s nothing natural about drinking chemicals sweetened by plants!
4. Read Food Labels
Refer to my previous sugar article for the ‘56 names of sugar’ when you go shopping; check for high and hidden sugar contents.
Check foods and beverages, e.g. some herbal teas have sugar.
Refer to the FSA guidance regarding healthy dietary sugar intakes.
5. Eat Balanced Meals & Exercise
Eat lean protein, complex carbohydrates and vegetables. Protein doesn’t have any effect on your blood sugar levels, therefore you will not get a ‘sugar rush and crash’, unlike refined carbohydrates and sugars.
Regular exercise will make you feel healthier and reduce sugary cravings. As mentioned in my previous article Diet and exercise, exercising is beneficial for both your physical and mental health.
Why You’ll Be Happier Weaning Yourself Off The ‘Sugar Train’!
Having a high sugar intake can be a prerequisite for unpleasant health conditions. Check out some possible consequences.
- Dental caries(tooth decay)
- Type 2 diabetes
- Cardiovascular diseases and associated factors
- Adult acne. Check out my Veganism article for further links.
- Increased aging
- To control your moods and concentration levels
To operate at your best, your blood sugar levels should not be too low or too high. Consuming regular and ‘healthy sugar sources’ will enable sustained concentration and moods; mental focus and activity use a lot of energy.
- To Increase your energy levels
A healthy diet will allow you to enjoy ‘active’ activities, as your waistlines decrease and mental and physical power increases.
- To gain back control
Any sort of change requires motivation and willpower. Take pride in the fact you’re making healthier choices and reaping the benefits of a healthier lifestyle!
I know that people generally like to hear good news about their bad habits, but I’m afraid that’s not going to happen today.
Hopefully I have empowered you to try to cut down or even eliminate sugar from your diet over the next week or month, it can’t hurt?
Article written by: Lynn Risby BSc Nutritionist
Feature image by: Libby Babet Yahoo!7 Flickr