How To Cut Down On Sugar
Action on Sugar’s Registered Nutritionist Kawther Hashem provides some tips on eating less sugar:
- Sugar isnt just hidden in products you buy at the supermarket, many restaurant and take-away meals often also contain a lot of hidden sugars.
- Words such as glaze or sweet pickles on a menu usually indicate the dish contains a big dose of sugar, even though they are part of a savoury meal. Ask for a sugar-free alternative on the menu, or for any sauces to be served on the side.
- Although the traditional versions are healthy, most Asian take-away foods have been significantly sweetened up for British palates. Thai, Chinese, Japanese teriyaki and even your favourite Indian curries such as butter chicken are almost guaranteed to contain added sugar. When ordering, ask your waiter if it is possible to prepare the dish without sugar. It will be just as tasty!
- Instead of eating a whole desert, try splitting it with someone. Alternatively, choose fruit instead.
SnacksWhen youre in the early stages of cutting down on sugar, youll probably notice that it is seemingly everywhere! Every cafe, take-away or snack food aisle is packed with products containing sugar. None of this is helpful if you find yourself ravenous while commuting home or out and about, or when a colleague brings out biscuits or cake in the office. Heres where a bit of planning makes it much easier to stick to your goals:
Desserts And Sweet Snacks
The goal isnt to eliminate dessert from your life, but to bring your added sugar intake into a healthier range. That might mean eating dessert a little less often, making some healthier sweet swaps, and of course, managing the added sugars that are creeping into your diet in other areas.
Here are some ideas related to treats:
- Have dark chocolate. It tends to have less sugar than other desserts and it has potential health benefits. In one small study, people who ate dark chocolate reported fewer cravings for sweet, salty or fatty foods. Dark chocolate is also rich in antioxidants compounds that help offset the cellular damage that contributes to the development of many diseases.
- Enjoy fruit. Fruit contains natural sugars and its the type of sweetness our bodies were designed to enjoy. You can doctor up plain fruit so it resembles dessert by sprinkling cinnamon onto banana slices, broiling a grapefruit or sauteing a chopped apple sprinkled with pie spices, for example. Adding some nuts or seeds or a spoonful of yogurt can make it feel even more special.
- Be mindful with sweets. If you think about it, there are some desserts you love and some you can live without. Pause and think about where a treat falls on this spectrum and consider skipping those that arent that enjoyable. And when you decide to have something sweet, be present, eat it from a plate or bowl and take your time to enjoy it.
Are Sugar Substitutes Better For You
There are sweeteners that can replace sugar and some are kilojoule-free. Theyre often used to sweeten drinks such as tea or coffee, or as an alternative to sugar when baking or cooking.
There are 3 types of sugar substitutes:
- Artificial sweeteners such as aspartame, saccharin and sucralose have no kilojoules. They are used widely by the food industry in products labelled diet or no sugar.
- Nutritive sweeteners such as fructose, isomalt, mannitol, xylitol, sorbitol and polydextrose are not kilojoule-free. They either have the same energy than sugar.
- Natural intense sweeteners such as stevia and monk-fruit extract are kilojoule-free and generally made from plants. Because they are much sweeter than sugar, only small amounts may be needed.
Remember, sugar substitutes may still cause tooth decay, and evidence is mixed regarding whether they help with weight loss.
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Are Low Or Sugar
Sugar detox or quit-sugar diets may completely restrict all sugar or just added sugars from your diet. This can result in short-term weight loss but may not be sustainable.
A zero-sugar diet would involve cutting out all fruit, vegetables, milk and some grains and legumes because of their natural sugar content. This puts a person at risk of nutritional deficiencies and is not in line with Australias Dietary Guidelines.
In this case it’s nearly impossible to get enough nutrients and fibre without taking supplements. Healthy carbohydrates are also needed for the beneficial gut bacteria that keep your digestive tract healthy.
However, restricting added sugars is sensible since these are common in energy-dense, nutrient-poor discretionary foods and drinks.
Expert Tips To Help You Cut Back On Sugar
If you’re eating much more than what is recommended how can you start cutting back? Naidoo and Khorana shared the following sugar-reduction tips with Business Insider:
Cut out sugar-sweetened beverages and energy or sports drinks. This is one of the most obvious ways to cut down on your sugar intake. Soft drinks are laden with sugar and have absolutely no nutritional value. Naidoo said if you’re trying to stop high-sugar soda, consider cutting back on the amount from one can of soda to a half a can. Next, consider switching to a fresh squeezed juice mixed with sparkling water . This should help you move toward drinking mostly water as your beverage of choice.
Avoid processed foods. These include cookies, cakes, and pastries. “Treating this sugar craving with real fruit-based snacks or unsalted raw nuts will not only slash the sugar intake tremendously but can add vitamins and minerals to your diet,” explained Khorana.
Say “no” to breakfast cereals. Sugary breakfast cereals can lead to an inevitable sugar rush and slump which will you craving sugar for the rest of the day. Khorana recommended oats since they are a fantastic and cheap way to feed you and your family and there’s so much you can do with them warm porridge, cold overnight oats, oat bars, and more.
Make your own spaghetti sauce. Store-bought tomato sauce is high in added sugar. Opt for your own homemade version.
Do not replace sugars with artificial sweeteners. Enough said!
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Does Sugar Cause Diabetes
There are two main types of diabetes type 1 and type 2 diabetes.
We know that sugar does not cause type 1 diabetes, nor is it caused by anything else in your lifestyle. In type 1 diabetes, the insulin producing cells in your pancreas are destroyed by your immune system.
With type 2 diabetes, the answer is a little more complex. Though we know sugar doesnt directly cause type 2 diabetes, you are more likely to get it if you are overweight. You gain weight when you take in more calories than your body needs, and sugary foods and drinks contain a lot of calories.
So you can see if too much sugar is making you put on weight, then you are increasing your risk of getting type 2 diabetes. But type 2 diabetes is complex, and sugar is unlikely to be the only reason the condition develops.
We also know that sugar sweetened drinks, like canned soft drinks, are associated with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes, and this is not necessarily linked to their effect on body weight.
Processed Sugars Have A Bitter
Baked goods, fizzy bottles of soda, and even the so-called “healthy” packaged snacks at your desk are likely jam-packed with grams on grams of added sugars. That initial first bite or sip tastes satisfying enough, sure, but can you honestly say you feel particularly vibrant or energized when that slice of cake or carbonated syrup is sitting in your stomach?
Grace Derocha, a registered dietitian, certified diabetes educator and certified health coach at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan told INSIDER there are more than 50 names and varieties of processed sugars in food products, and even though they might taste good, they certainly aren’t doing any good for you.
“The high glycemic index can spike blood sugars in the body fast and drop them quickly as well,” leading to a kind of roller coaster effect on blood sugars, Derocha explained. “As blood sugar levels rise, you’ll experience a quick increase in energy. Sadly, because those levels become regulated quickly, an energy or “sugar” crash is not far behind the spike, especially when dealing with added sugars.”
What’s more, the body uses enzymes in its small intestine to break down sugar into glucose. Typically this isn’t a problem as glucose from carbohydrates are stored as an energy source your body can dip into when necessary, but Derocha pointed out that any excess glucose will be converted to fat, which can lead to weight gain and obesity if you aren’t minding your portions.
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I Actually Eat Pretty Well
Im not going to lie. I thought that by dialing back my sugar the weight would fall off and Id be at my lean and mean racing weight. Youve read how that happens, right? But I didnt lose weight. I didnt gain weight either.
I realized that, despite my sweet tooth and my nightly bowl of ice cream, I eat well and dont have much to cut out. Sure, if I wanted to shed ten pounds, I could probably do it. But Id have to seriously sacrifice by cutting out all sweets and dialing back my caloric intake, which during marathon season, may not be as high as it should be anyway. So, chalk one up for me, for eating a pretty balanced diet and performing pretty well on the road.
Over the years Ive learned that depriving yourself of certain foods or food groups is the worst thing you can do to your mind and body. I used to cut out carbs. I couldnt maintain a healthy weight. I was miserable. Once I started eating everything in moderation, my weight stabilized I was happier, and I stopped feeling like I was missing out on things.
Where am I now, you might ask? Im not as strict as I was during that month-long experiment. But I am more mindfulor I try to be. I read the labels closely. I ask myself if I really need that square of chocolate that has made its way onto my desk. I try to make my own versions of foods I like if possible. I try to limit the amount of ice cream in my freezer. And of course, I run a lot.
Top Foods With Fruit Rather Than Syrups
Pancakes and syrup is certainly a dynamic duo, but if you want to stop eating so much sugar, you’re going to need to separate the two. Now, that doesn’t mean you have to eat bland pancakes. Top your flapjacks with fresh fruit for a nice touch of sweetness. You can also make pancakes with ricotta cheese and lemon zest for a fresh take on the breakfast staple.
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How To Reduce Sugar In Baking Recipes
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Sugar, sugar, sugar. We all consume far more of it than we ever need. And yet the thought of giving up the baked goodies is too painful by half. Instead, look for creative ways to reduce sugar when baking, and soon you’ll learn to lessen that sweet tooth while still enjoying the advantages of a fulfilling baked item.
The Case Against Sugar
Here’s the short Cliff Notes version: Sugar’s been implicated in everything from chronic, life-threatening health issuessuch as diabetes and heart diseaseto skin problems and good old stealthy weight gain.
Health experts like Frank Lipman, MD, have gone so far as to call sugar the devil, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has recently required brands to better highlight the sugar content on food labels in a bigger way.
Thats because when you eat sugar, your blood glucose levels spike, which results in a burst of energyfollowed by a quick crash, Susan Blum, MD, explains. You can run your blood sugar up and down all day, she explains, because when you crash, you go looking for more sugar to pull yourself back up. Should you try and feed your fatigue with more sugarwhich you may have noticed does not workthe vicious cycle makes you feel run down and cranky.
Plus, sugar is extremely inflammatory in the body, warn both physicians. It triggers the immune system, Dr. Blum adds. And chronic inflammation is believed to be the basis of pretty much all disease, which is why sugar’s become such a problem child of ingredients.
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Where Do I Find Added Sugars On Food Labels
Learning how to read food labels can help you manage the amount of sugar in your diet. Labels tell you if any sugars have been added, as well as the total amount of sugar in a product.
- ingredients list ingredients are listed in order of weight. The higher up the list, the bigger the proportion of that ingredient. Sugars may be listed as sucrose, glucose, dextrose, maltose, golden syrup, maple syrup, molasses, coconut sugar, agave syrup or others. High-fructose corn syrup is another added sugar, but its not common in Australia.
- nutrition information panel sugars are listed under Carbohydrates. The amount of sugar per 100g is an easy way to compare products for their sugar content. For example, if one cereal brand has 10g of sugar per 100g and another has 5g of sugar per 100g, the second option may be the better one.
The amount of sugar per serve shows how much sugar you will consume in one suggested serve of the product. This is a measure of total sugar both naturally-occurring and added sugar.
Learn How To Spot Sugar
Sugar is the simplest form of carbohydrate the others being fibre and starch, which are longer chain molecules.
Natural sugar exists in certain foods like fruit and milk. Added sugars have been added to foods during manufacturing in products like biscuits and ice-cream.
Sugar takes a number of different forms. Glucose, fructose, and sucrose are all types of sugar.
Glucose is the bodys preferred carb source and is made up of one single unit of sugar. Similarly, fructose is a single unit of sugar and is known as fruit sugar. Sucrose is a combination of glucose and fructose and is simply the scientific name for basic table sugar.
As well as different forms of sugar there are many different names for added sugar. This means sugar can be disguised as all kinds of ingredients in products in supermarkets. Keep your eyes peeled for:
- Sugar is the simplest form of carbohydrate.
- Intrinsic sugars are naturally present, but free sugars get added during processing.
- Sugar hides in many shop-bought products under different names.
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Quash Sugar Cravings With Tea
Next time you’re having a hard to ignore the sweet-tooth attack, fix yourself a cuppa tea. Mint, ginger, cinnamon, and Chai teas will all help you fend off those longings by hitting that “sweet spot” without sugar overload, explains Brown. And with so many varieties, it’s hard to get bored. If you need to sweeten it up, add just a teaspoon of honey , which is a bit healthier for you than straight sugar or sweeteners.
Easy Ways To Cut Back On Sugar In Your Diet
- When cutting sugar from your diet, focus on cutting out added sugars but keeping natural sugars.
- Be on the lookout for other names for sugar on nutrition labels, like molasses, dextrose, and more.
- Avoid artificial sweeteners because they can make you crave more sugar.
- Visit Insider’s Health Reference library for more advice.
According to The Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion , Americans consume what equates to about 17 teaspoons of sugar a day, which exceeds the max recommended amount of 12 teaspoons or about 200 to 250 calories worth.
Cutting sugar out of your diet isn’t just beneficial for losing weight, it’s also important for long-term personal health.
For a 2017 study in BMJ Open, researchers estimated that if, starting in 2015, Americans reduced added sugars in their diet by 20% and stuck with it, then by 2035 for every 100,000 people about 20 fewer people would have type 2 diabetes and 10 fewer people would have coronary heart disease. Not to mention the estimated $10.3 billion in medical costs the country would save.
So, if you’re inspired to cut down on your sugar consumption, here are some tips.
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Identify Your Main Source Of Sugar:
Are desserts your weakness? Or is it soda or junk food? Whatever it is, you need to find the main source of sugar and work on it to reduce it. For instance, you may be adding a lot of sugar to your coffee or eating a lot of bread and cookies through the day. These are your sources of sugar. Figure out what is the reason behind your increased sugar intake and then aim to reduce it.
What Type Of Sugar To Cut And Keep
Before you start cutting every sweet treat under the sun, consider this: not all sugar is created equal.
There are natural sugars like fructose in many fruits and lactose in dairy products that you should still consume in moderation because they come with additional vitamins and minerals your body needs to function.
Then there are added sugars that you can often find added to certain foods and drinks like pre-packaged bread, ketchup, and soda, to name a few. These added sugars provide your body with no real nutrition. And, when consumed in excess with processed foods, have been linked to obesity, hypertension, and metabolic syndrome.
“The refined sugars, or things that you see on any food label that says sugar or sucrose, brown rice syrup, maple syrup, agave it’s all sugar,” says Despina Hyde Gandhi, registered dietitian and diabetes educator at the Weight Management Program at NYU Langone Health. “Those are all the things that we want to try to avoid.”
The first step to cutting added sugar out of your diet is being aware of the different foods that contain it. That means always reading the labels. According to Sugar Science by the University of California, San Francisco, added sugars can come in a variety of forms. Here are some to look out for on food labels:
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