5 Easy Ways to Eat Less Sugar

Did you know there are over 60 different names for sugar?

I think we all know if we see cane sugar or syrup on a food label, that these are a type of sugar.  But there are many other names which are harder to decipher (non-diastatic malt, anyone?) Food manufacturers love it because they can trick us into thinking their food is healthier than it actually is if they can hide the fact it contains added sugar,  because hey, who on earth is going to know that mannose or panocha count as sugar? 

So this makes it a lot harder to cut down on the sweet stuff when you have to play nutrition detective. Lucky I am here to tell you 5 easy ways to eat less sugar without you having to memory drill 60 names. 

The science part

Why should we care about having less of the sweet stuff? Eating too much sugar may lead to inflammation, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and obesity among other health problems. Most health professionals would agree that reducing sugar intake a is a great way to improve health, but it is important to note the difference between naturally occurring sugars and added sugars.

  • Naturally occurring sugars

    These are the sugars found in food such as fruit, some vegetables and dairy. These foods are super nutritious. Fruit and vegetables are rich in fibre, phytochemicals, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals while dairy foods give us calcium, protein and vitamins and minerals too. So keep eating these foods!

  • Added sugar

    Added sugars are those that have been added to food products by food manufactures to make it taste sweeter. Added sugars are also the extras you add onto food (think sugar in tea, honey on cereal and so on). This is the sugar to cut down on. Added sugar (it can also be called ‘free sugar’) goes my many different names such as…dextrose, honey, maple syrup, agave, glucose, invert sugar, evaporate cane juice and so on. Added sugars don’t provide much nutrition and can contribute to poor health as mention. We want to eat less added sugars.  

5 easy ways to eat less sugar

1. Add cinnamon to your food

Sprinkle cinnamon over your cereal or in your coffee instead of sugar. By adding flavour with spices you won’t miss the sweetness of sugar so much. I used to take 2 sugars in my coffee, but by using cinnamon instead I was able to cut it back slowly to none.

Save: 1-2 teaspoons a day

2. Use a smaller spoon

If you are finding it too hard to give up your sugar-topped cereal or having sugars in your coffee try this: use a smaller spoon than normal. Your eyes will still see your normal one or two teaspoons of sugar but there will be less on the spoon. It’s a small decrease so you there won’t be much change in taste but you will have reduced the amount eaten.

Save: 1-2 teaspoons a day

3. Ditch the soda

Soft drinks are one of the worst offenders of added sugar – a can contains around 10 teaspoons of sugar! Swap if for plain mineral water and lemon juice loaded up with sliced fruit and a few sprigs of mint for a refreshing alternative. Keep a jug made up in the fridge so it is readily available. If you can’t give up soda the next best alternative is to swap to a diet version.

Save: 10 teaspoons a day

4. Vanilla extract

Use vanilla extract to boost the flavour of your food – it imparts a warm, rich aromatic flavour. A few drops in your coffee, on your cereal or where you would normally use sugar is a great way to give sweetness and flavour without using traditional sweetening agents. A teaspoon does contain a little sugar (0.5g) but this is far less than a teaspoon of sugar at 4g, and it also provides some antioxidants so it’s still a fair alternative to a traditional teaspoon of sugar.

Save: 1-2 teaspoons a day

5. Check your sauces

Take a peek at the ingredients panel for any of the packaged sauces on the shelves at the supermarket. You might be surprised to see how much sugar features. Keep the sauces on the shelf and try some of these alternatives;

  • Instead of ketchup grab a tub of salsa to add some flavour to food instead. Both feature tomato as the base, but while the ketchup will contain sugar or other sweeteners, salsa is simply made of tomatoes, onion, red peppers and some vinegar.
  • Instead of low-fat mayonnaise try a slice of avocado. Low-fat mayonnaise will generally have sugar added to boost the flavour, but a slice of avocado is naturally sugar-free and will have a creamy taste as well as provide some nutrition.
  • Look at your hot chilli sauce ingredient label. I was shocked to see most of the ones in the supermarket listed sugar as the 2nd or 3rd ingredient! What on earth is sugar doing in a hot chilli? Go for Tabasco, fresh or dried chilli or Sambal Oelek

Save: 1-2 teaspoons a day

What things have you done to cut down on your sugar intake?


Written by Sanchia Parker (Seed and Kilter)

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