24 Mar Tips To Reduce Your Sugar Consumption
Sugar has been the focus of a lot of attention in recent years and as you would know, there hasn’t been much positive press about it. That’s because consuming too much sugar is heavily associated with chronic health issues like obesity and type 2 diabetes. Excess sugar is effecting kids and adults of all ages with many people unaware just how much of it they’re eating every day thanks to hidden sugar.
On average, New Zealanders consume 54kgs of sugar per year. To put that in perspective, that’s 37 teaspoons of sugar per day, per person. The Word Health Organisations’ recent guidelines state the average adult should only be consuming 6 teaspoons of sugar per day or less. New Zealand is ranked 3rd in the world with people being overweight and understanding the impact sugar has on your body is one of the ways we can improve this ranking.
While you may not be suffering from a chronic health condition, the amount of sugar in your diet could be the reason for your weight gain, headaches, lack of motivation, fatigue and bloated stomach. Simply put, overloading on this substance could potentially be holding you back from your goals and impacting your health.
Now not all sugar is bad. Where things go wrong mainly is due to the amount of processed packaged food people are consuming. If you base your diet around whole real food and consume sugar in its natural state you are on a much better path to success.
So in order to get on the right path, here are my tips to help you reduce your sugar consumption.
1. Get to know the forms of sugar
Just because the ingredients don’t list ‘sugar’ on the food label, doesn’t mean the product isn’t full of it. Food manufactures have definitely become more creative with their food labelling potentially throwing you off track.
And unfortunately, some of the “healthy” food products may just be where a lot of your hidden sugars are coming from, like nutrition bars or yoghurts which could have up to 4 types of sugars!
Sugar comes in a variety of forms including:
High fructose corn syrup
2. Read the back of the food labels
If you’re buying anything in a packet, I can’t stress to you enough of how important it is for you to read the labels. Not the front where the product claims to be healthy, full of goodness and refined sugar free. Start reading the back of the labels, particularly at the list of ingredients.
Even in products you thought were healthy, you often will find sugar. From pasta sauces and baked beans, to yoghurts and breads. Sugar is everywhere!
Before you make your product choice, compare other brands too. It might just help you spot the hidden ingredients and improve your understanding of what is going into the food. If you don’t know what the ingredients are, it isn’t real whole food. But it back on the shelf.
3. Get more fibre
One way to ensure you don’t encounter that 3pm crash and desire a sugar hit is to ensure you’re eating good quality fibre. Add into your diet more vegetables, start with one green smoothie per day that is jam packed with fibre, minerals and vitamins. These vegetables will provide a slower release of energy which helps you remain fuller for longer and keeps you alert and focused. You’ll also be getting the added benefits of the extra vitamins and minerals.
Steer clear of consuming too many simple carbohydrates which are rapidly broken down to provide energy. This is because they are sugars. Foods like white bread, cakes, biscuits, jams, honey and soft drink are all simple carbs.
4. Carry around snacks
The downfall for many people is not carrying around healthy snacks to have on hand when they get peckish. If you don’t, it’s so easy to fall into the trap of grabbing a ‘healthy’ muesli bar or a muffin at your local café.
Prepare plenty of snacks that you can have at work, in your car or handbag for when you’re hungry. Snacks like your green smoothie, nuts, homemade bliss balls, nut butter with vegetable sticks, trail mix, yogurt are all great foods to stop you hitting up the vending machine.
5. Avoid soft drink
Kiwis, like the Americans and Aussies, are well known for enjoying too much soft drink! With the recent approval of the UK soft drink tax thanks to Jamie Oliver’s campaigns, governments around the world are now being pressured to follow.
That’s because soft drink has so much sugar packed into that tiny can. A 355ml can could contain as much as 10 teaspoons each! And for those who are thinking drinking the diet version is better, unfortunately your misguided. Most use sweeteners that aren’t considered healthy in the levels they’re consumed.
Time to ditch the fizzy drink and opt for sparkling water with a slice of lemon or even a chilled glass of herbal tea.
6. Prepare your food from scratch
The best way to know how much sugar is in your food, is to prepare your own food from scratch. The reality is most processed foods contain a decent amount of sugar, so by spending the time to make your own you’ll be easily cutting down your sweet intake. And you’ll also save money!
7. Consider sweeteners
There are plenty of sweeteners making their way onto the market – some better than others. If you are wanting to do some baking and have a relatively healthy treat, then use things like fruit in your baking for the natural sweetness.
Some great sugar alternatives are raw honey, dates, lucuma powder, molasses and good old fresh fruit.
Just remember though, these are all best only in moderation and don’t give you a license to gorge yourself silly. They may be helpful however in easy you off the toxic sugar and reduce your overall consumption.