Sugar reduction without Going Cold Turkey

Sugar has been getting a bad wrap lately and all forms of sugar seem to be getting lumped together. I’m not one to promote cutting out any particular food group (apart from highly processed/calorie rich/high fat packaged foods perhaps). I just don’t believe, for most people, it’s easy to do or easy to maintain, especially with a family.

You don’t need to cut out everything that contains sugar to make a positive impact on your sugar intake.

What is the Problem with a High Sugar Diet?

Studies show excess sugar intake increase the risk of heart disease. It’s not entirely understood how it does this, but is thought to be indirectly, via:

  1. Higher Blood Pressure
  2. Inflammation
  3. Excess Body Fat
  4. Diabetes
  5. Fatty Liver Disease

So How do I reduce the sugar in my diet?

What you want to do is, reduce refined sugar that’s added to foods. The best way is to look for whole food options i.e. more natural food options. If a food is processed and packaged you can almost guarantee that there has been sugar added.

Try avoiding these sugar sources

  1. Soft drinks/long life fruit juices/iced teas
  2. Drinking your calories means you are probably doubling up you calories. why? because liquid calories generally don’t trigger you “full” or satiety mechanism. So you will still feel hungry, and will eat. If you, must try these tips:

    • switch to fresh juice, diluted it with water 50/50.
    • when drinking coffee or tea, have no or less sugar. The sugar in the milk you add is negligible when you compare it to the sugar you add. So just reduce the sugar.
    • If you struggle with the taste water (or lack of), add some fruit to it. Let some cut berries, citrus slices, herbs like mint, infuse the water.
  3. Flavoured yoghurts especially low fat yoghurt
  4. Low fat yoghurt tends to have more added sugar than their full fat counterparts. Try using a natural yoghurt and add your own flavour via fruits, berries. Add a drizzle of honey if you need to tame the tartness.

  5. Packaged or processed snack foods
  6. Reduce the packaged foods as much as possible and the ones you do stick with, read the labels and make the best choices. Then take control of the content of the rest of your snack by making your own. You can also switch to having more fresh fruit and veg for snacks.

    Remember this when reading your food labels:
    1 tsp sugar = 4.2 g sugar = 16 calories/67 Kj

    The WHO recommends 25g/6 tsp sugar per day

  7. Store bought sauces, marinades and dressings
  8. Check the labels on store bought dressing and sauces, etc. You might be shocked by what you find. My go to salad dressings are home made and quick:

    • Lemon, olive oil and dried or herbs (I use oregano or mint for a fresher flavour) – sometimes I will add some garlic as well.
    • Olive oil & Balsamic vinegar, take it easy on the vinegar because again it has a bit of sugar, but not like a store bough dressing

    Google is a good resource for marinade recipe. If you find one you like and it contains sugar, try tweaking it.

Health & diet is a Trade-off

There is always going to be a trade-off between money, your time and your health. Preparing snacks and foods at home does take time, but it give you more control over the food content. Or you can buy healthier packaged options, but they will likely be more expensive – if you can manage these then go for it.

Try not to make your health and wellbeing the sacrifice in the trade-off though… what’s the point of eating convenience food, which surely frees up time and money for the rest of your life, if you don’t have the good health to actually go and live the rest of your life?

For a quick reference on what you need to remember about refined sugar, take a look at my quick guide.