Sugar fix: easy swaps to reduce your sugar intake

Experts agree that as a nation, we’re consuming far too much sugar. It’s been linked to obesity, tooth decay, heart disease, diabetes, acne, premature ageing… the list goes on.

So why do we continue to consume so much, knowing how damaging it is to our health?

Well, there’s the taste factor. Pretty much every single one of us enjoys a sweet treat every now and again. But the other factor is hidden sugar. Sometimes, we don’t even realise we’re eating it! Breakfast cereals, pasta sauce, yoghurts, drinks and ready meals can all be made with copious amounts of added sugar, so it’s vital we pay close attention to the ingredients labels on the foods we eat.

It’s recommended the average adult consumes no more than 30g of sugar per day. That’s the equivalent to 7 sugar cubes. It’s hard to imagine we even eat that much sugar in one day, but when you take into account one can of fizzy pop can contain up to 9 cubes of sugar - it’s easy to understand why we’re overdosing on the sweet stuff!

So what’s the solution?

If you’re not quite ready to go cold-turkey on sugar, here are some simple lifestyle swaps you can make to reduce your overall intake:

Ditch the fizz

We all love fizzy pop, but why not have it just once in a while as a treat? Remove temptation by not keeping it in the house and try to drink more water instead. Can’t stomach plain water? Invest in a water bottle with a section for fruit and herbs to give it a fresh, sweet taste. Or, opt for sparkling water and add a little sugar free squash.

Beware of breakfast

Cereals, jam, marmalade, spreads, pastries… these can all send you over your recommended daily intake whilst you’re still dressed in your pyjamas! Try swapping them for good old porridge. If you really can’t start the day without something sweet, try adding some chopped fruit for extra taste. Our favourite breakfast recipe is overnight oats made with porridge oats, natural yoghurt, milk and fresh fruit. Yum!

You could also swap cereals for eggs. Nutritious, a great source of protein and tasty to boot, eggs are our go-to breakfast staple. They can be cooked so many ways you’ll never tire of them, and they don’t contain any added sugar!

Try a natural sweetener

When we consume so much hidden sugar in the foods we eat, it seems madness to add even more sugar to our diets every time we have a cup of tea or coffee! Many of us do though, and simply can’t enjoy a warm drink without our sweet fix.

If this applies to you, don’t worry - there’s a natural alternative that’ll still give you that great sweet taste: Stevia.

Stevia is an extract from the leaves of the Stevia rebaudiana, which has around 300 times the sweetness of sugar! It doesn’t cause the release of insulin so can be used by diabetics or those wanting to lose weight and can be added to tea, coffee and even recipes that call for sugar.

Sounds too good to be true? It really isn’t, read more about Stevia here.

Save the really decadent desserts as a treat

If you really can’t live without pudding, why not try eating the very indulgent ones only at the weekend, and opting for fruit with low-fat natural yoghurt during the week? By doing so you’ll eat more of your five a day and you never know, you may come to prefer it!

Make your own

Next time you eat a pasta bolognese or chicken curry, check the ingredients label on the packaging. There’s sure to be added sugar in there!

The safest way to know what you’re eating is to make meals from scratch, so you control exactly what’s going into your food. That way, you can still enjoy the foods you love, but know they don’t contain any hidden nasties.

Don’t get much time to cook? Batch cook and freeze individual portions for quick and easy midweek dinners.

Do you have any tips on how to reduce your sugar intake? Let us know on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram!

April 15, 2019 by Rio Health