It’s time to get serious about cutting the sweet stuff from your diet. A bit of sugar every now and again is good for us, but the majority of Western people eat far, far more sugar than is healthy.
Cutting sugar isn’t easy. The stuff is, after all, delicious! But these tips may help:
Watch what you’re drinking
An astonishing amount of what we drink is full to bursting with sugars. From the spoonful that you stir into your tea to the cans in your office vending machine, sugar and drinks often go hand in hand. Even dry-tasting alcoholic drinks often contain more sugar than you might expect. And don’t be fooled by healthy smoothies and fruit juices - while they may well contain a lot of nutritious fruit, be sure to check the ingredients on the label. More often than not, fruity drinks have a whole heap of added sugars alongside their healthy ingredients.
It’s all too easy to take in a lot of sugar through drinks without even realising it. Simply by paying attention to the content of what you’re drinking (or, even better, switching to water wherever possible), you can cut an enormous amount of sugar from your diet in one fell swoop.
Avoid sugary sauces
Ketchup, sweet chilli, barbeque sauce - these are what the Great British Dinner are made of. But while a blob of ketchup may make your chips delicious, it also makes them more sugary than you may realise. A lot of common table sauces and condiments are very high in sugar.
If you’re like me and can’t bear the thought of eating your food ‘dry’, try and replace sugary sauces with lower sugar options, like pesto, mayonnaise, or homemade spicy sauces.
A lot of people who want to eat a healthier diet choose the ‘lower fat’ options when doing their supermarket shop. But, if you’re specifically trying to cut sugar, low-fat may not be your best bet. In order to make low-fat options more palatable for their customers, companies often ramp up the sugar content. Shockingly, it’s not uncommon for the low-fat versions of popular foods to actually be higher in calories than the full-fat originals. And, even if the calorie content is lower, all that sugar will disrupt your diet in other ways.
Cook from scratch
OK, we don’t all have the time or the resources to lovingly prepare every meal from scratch, using fresh ingredients. But, whenever you can manage to do it, this is a brilliant way of keeping hidden sugars out of your diet. The beauty of cooking from scratch is that you have total control over what’s going into your meal and thus into your body. Just remember, if you’re using ingredients like pre-made sauces, do check the sugar content before you start cooking.
Eat more fibre
Sugar cravings can be intense, and they’re not always linked to hunger. However, the hungrier you are, the harder they are to overcome. You can fend off hunger without breaking your diet by filling yourself up with fibre and slow-release proteins. Fibre - which you can get from pretty much any plant source - is low in calories and takes a long time to digest, so it keeps you a lot fuller for a lot longer. You can add to that ‘satiated’ feeling by eating a handful of nuts every now and again. Nuts such as walnuts, pistachios, and almonds are full of healthy fats and proteins which will convince your digestive system that it really doesn’t need any sugar right now. Plus, they’re delicious!