How to stop eating as much sugar
Author: ANCP Date Posted:26 May 2016
There are no nutritional benefits to including refined sugar in your diet. It contains no nutrients, but plenty of calories and consuming it to excess may increase your risk of tooth decay, weight gain and other health problems. By following our week-by-week plan, you’ll soon find yourself swapping the refined sugar in your diet for healthier options.
Week 1: Have a better breakfast
Kick things off by going through your pantry and tossing out any packaged or canned foods that contain refined sugar or hidden sugars in the forms of corn syrup, sucrose, glucose, dextrose, maltose and even fructose (fruit sugar). Don’t forget to read the labels on your breakfast cereal – they often contain surprisingly large quantities of sugar.
If yours doesn't make the grade, choose a new one based on fibre - and nutrient-rich whole grains such as oats, brown rice, millet, amaranth, spelt or buckwheat. Serve it with fresh or dried fruit for added sweetness. If you’re prone to experiencing sugar cravings, especially in the late afternoon, try increasing the protein content of your breakfast by adding extra nuts and seeds, or swapping your cereal for an omelette or protein smoothie.
Tip: Consider taking a chromium supplement with your breakfast. This essential mineral plays a vital role in the blood sugar control and the metabolism of the carbohydrates, fats and proteins in your diet. Other supplements that support blood sugar management in healthy people may also be beneficial.
Week 2: Be smarter with your sauces and spreads
Now that you’ve got your breakfast on track, let’s tackle what you spread on your bread. Ditch the sugary jams, chocolate spreads and store-bought chutneys and instead choose healthier options such as sugar-free fruit spreads, natural nut butters, avocado, mashed banana, tahini or hummus. While you’re at it, check to see if your bread contains added sugar and whether it’s based on whole grains. If it’s not as nutritious as it should be, try switching to sourdough bread, mountain bread or pita bread – always favouring whole grain varieties.
Week 3: Guilt-free snacks and desserts
There’s no need for sugary snacks when there are so many tasty and healthy options to choose from. Steer clear of lollies, biscuits, cakes, sweetened yoghurts and instead reach for unsalted nuts and seeds, a piece of fruit, a tub of natural yoghurt with added berries, or vegetable sticks with hummus or nut butter. Replace the refined sugar in cakes and desserts with fresh fruit, xylitol, agave syrup, rice syrup, barley malt or raw honey. Adding organic desiccated coconut or almond meal is another way to add a bit of sweetness.
Week 4: Think about your drinks
If you take sugar in your coffee or tea, it’s time to cut it out. Simply halve the amount of sugar you use every day until you no longer need it. If you prefer, you could replace it with natural alternatives, such as stevia or xylitol - both are very sweet so you don’t need to use much at all. Toss the soft drinks, cordials and flavoured milks in the bin, but don’t replace them with diet drinks, because the artificial sweeteners they contain are not a healthy choice.
Check whether your fruit juice contains added sugar too and even if it doesn't, drink it infrequently and in small quantities, as your body can only process a small amount of fruit sugar every day. (It’s better to eat the whole fruit and enjoy its natural juiciness).
What should you drink instead?
Filtered water is the best option by far – add a squeeze of lemon or lime juice to flavour it if you like, or drink herbal teas, many of which are naturally sweet and refreshing. These diet and lifestyle tips are intended for normal healthy people. If you have a blood sugar disorder such as diabetes do not take supplements or change your diet or exercise routine unless advised to do so and supervised by your healthcare professional. To do so may interfere with your blood sugar management and medication requirements.