‘Naughty but nice, we’ve all used this line at one point or another! It’s a term we tend to use when indulging in calorific, sugary cakes that we know are obviously not good for us but we choose to eat them anyway because they taste so delicious! But what about the foods we stock in our cupboards and fridges and eat on a daily basis, such as pasta and stir-fry sauces, ketchup, mayonnaise and pre-packaged foods which we eat out of habit and convenience. How much sugar are we actually consuming that we are unaware of?
If you seem to be gaining weight and generally not feeling your best, hidden sugars in your diet could be the reason. Eating unintentional sugar could effect you in terms of lack of energy, mood swings, weight gain and complexion breakouts and it might come as a surprise to learn it could be the result of too much sugar as you might regard your diet as overall pretty healthy. If this sounds familiar then maybe its time to delve deeper into the devil we call sugar that you’re eating without even realising!
The pink coated, multicoloured sugar toppings are a bit of a giveaway when it comes to donuts and cakes, we can see the badness for ourselves and can make an informed decision on whether we want to indulge or not, but a lot of regular and ‘standard’ foods we pick up on our weekly food shop probably contains more sugar than you’d dare to imagine!
Here are 10 easy ways to slash the sugar from your diet, its amazing how great you’ll feel when you put these guidelines into action…
READ THE LABEL
Always without fail read the back label of your food and compare different brands as you’ll be surprised how the brands differ in sugar levels. Look at sugars per 100g on labels and remember that 15 grams or more per 100 grams is high sugar food and 5 grams of sugar per 100 grams or less is a low sugar food according to the BDA.
SPOT SUGAR IN DISGUISE
Some sneaky food manufacturers disguise sugar using different names to try and fool people. Don’t allow this to happen and swot up on your sugar jargon. For example dextrose, maltose, treacle, high-fructose, fructose, corn syrup, maltodextrin, honey, agave nectar are all names for sugars.
KEEP CRAVINGS AT BAY
Add cinnamon to your food to keep blood sugar levels balanced and combat sugar cravings. Cinnamon tastes great added to porridge, cereal, yogurt and smoothies and gives your food a tasty kick!
Adding protein to every meal will maintain your blood sugar and will result in you less likely to be reaching for the biscuits come 4pm. Protein such as eggs, nuts, lean meats, fish and soya products will give you the protein you need to balance your meals.
Make sure you always have a supply of whole nuts such as almonds, walnuts and cashews on you for times when you feel a craving kick-in. We tend to make bad food choices when we don’t have healthy options available to us.
FRESH AND REAL
The best food you can eat with the least amount of sugar in is real and whole food that is fresh and has a short shelf life. Anything you can store in your cupboard or fridge for more than a few days is probably preserved with sugar and lots of it. Be savvy as this is one of the most important ways to make sure you are providing your body with good, healthy food low in sugar.
It’s common to mistake sweet cravings and hunger for thirst. Make sure you drink 8 glasses of water a day it will keep you hydrated and reduce hunger pangs.
To help your body absorb the water you drink you need good mineral balance, do this by eating more fruit and vegetables, especially potassium rich foods.
DON’T GO COLD TURKEY
If you want to totally cut sugar from your diet then slowly wean yourself off, its unrealistic to stop eating sugar completely and be able to stick to it longterm.
LESS SUGAR, MORE FLAVOUR
Focus on flavouring your food with herbs, spices and lemon zest. This will take away the need to add sugar to sweeten your food by not only making it taste better but making it healthier too, as the health benefits to many fresh herbs will do wonders for your health. If you usually have syrup sweetened coffees then try using vanilla extract or sprinkle cinnamon, nutmeg or ginger on top and stir in- it will create the same sweet taste without the calories!
If you’ve managed to follow the above tips to reduce your sugar intake then you must remember to enjoy your desserts when you do treat yourself. The key here is to avoid wasting your daily sugar allocation on food you can cut down on, i.e ketchup, mayonnaise,pasta sauces etc and instead make delicious homemade alternatives.