15 Ways To Cut Back On Sugar

From high blood pressure and diabetes, to mood disorders and energy issues, sugar is wreaking havoc on our overall health, not just our waistlines. While sugar consumption is one of the toughest food habits to break, the experts agree cutting back is paramount. Here’s what they recommend…

Yasmin Alexander, nutritional therapist

Make Your Own Sauces

“Although these are a lifesaver when you’re short on time, some jars of tomato sauce contain 27g of sugar per 500g. Although some of the sugars will occur naturally from the tomatoes, it will also include some added table sugar to preserve and sweeten the sauce. Instead, try batch cooking your own tomato sauce by roasting tomatoes, onions, garlic and some extra veg such as courgettes in some olive oil, then blend up and season. This can be stored in the freezer in portions, so it’s easy to defrost and use on days when you’re in a rush.”

Think Twice About Cereal

“Breakfast cereals are one to keep a close eye on. Instead of sugar-coated cereals such as Crunchy Nut, Honey Nut Clusters and Cinnamon Swirls, opt for plainer cereals such as porridge oats and low-sugar granolas such as Troo, Bio&Me and Lizi’s Low Sugar Granola. To naturally sweeten your breakfast bowls, try adding some chopped fruit such as berries or mashed banana, and swap fruit flavoured yoghurts for plain, natural and Greek yoghurts.”

Ditch Bottled Salad Dressing

“Although salads are inherently healthy, they can often be tainted by salad dressings packed with added sugars. Instead of shop-bought dressings such as honey mustard, balsamic glaze, French dressing, or house dressings, opt for olive oil, chilli or basil-infused oil, or balsamic vinegar. The same goes for dipping sauces – these can really catch you out. Be aware that dipping sauces such as ketchup, barbeque and sweet chilli sauces all carry a hefty sugar content. Try swapping for some tomato puree or mayonnaise, which don’t contain any added sugars.”

Visit NutritionByYasmin.com
 

Louise Parker, weight loss expert and founder of The Louise Parker Method

Swot Up

“Doing a little research into the foods you eat really does pay off. This is especially important when it comes to sugar, as there is so much misconception out there. Remember sugar is sugar, no matter how natural the source. Honey, agave, maple syrup, coconut sugar and high fructose corn syrup are all sugar. For example, while agave is naturally occurring, the sugars in this super-sweet plant sap are mainly fructose, which is metabolized in the liver and converted into fat stores. When do you do eat sugar, make sure it’s in a crème brûlée or a glass of wine, or something else that’s truly worth it.” 

Eat Regular Meals

“Each Louise Parker Method meal and snack is well balanced including a source of protein, some low-GI carbohydrate, a little healthy fat (around a tablespoon at each meal) and fibre. This balance helps to manage appetite, energy and mood across the day, minimising those energy dips and the need for a quick sugary pick me up. Try not to skip meals. If your blood sugars drop, all bets are off.”

Hit The Supermarket

“Vanilla paste is a great, and low-sugar, way to flavour your porridge – recommended brands include Taylor & Colledge and Nielsen Massey. Stevia is also great to sweeten drinks instead of sugar and honey – look out for brands like Truvia and Natavia.”

Make Some Low-Sugar Snacks

“There are endless varieties of sugar-free frozen yoghurts you can make – one of my favourites is mango and pistachio. Simply add 250g frozen mango and 250g fat-free Greek yoghurt to a high-speed blender, like a Vitamix, for around 20-30 seconds, before spooning into bowls and topping with chopped salted pistachios. Hot chocolate made with skimmed or semi-skimmed milk, a heaped teaspoon of cocoa powder, half a teaspoon of vanilla paste and stevia, is also delicious. Roasted nuts are also great – simply roast 280g of almonds in the oven for around ten minutes, before removing and mixing through a tablespoon of cocoa powder, half a teaspoon of stevia and half a teaspoon of ground cinnamon. Return to the oven and leave to cool in there with the door slightly ajar. Two tablespoons of these nuts is considered a healthy portion.”

Visit LouiseParker.com
 

Rebecca Stevens, nutritionist 

Think About Breakfast

“We are genetically programmed to like sweet tastes but although our body needs sugar in the form of glucose, which it gets from breaking down carbohydrates, we need to reduce the amount of ‘free sugars’ in our diet. ‘Free sugars’ are sugars that are added to food or drinks. If you are looking to reduce your sugar intake, breakfast is a meal that you may need to think more carefully about. If you like to start your day with granola, yoghurt and fruit – consider swapping shop-bought granola for your own homemade version and ensure your yoghurt is plain or natural with no added sugar. If you are a fan of muffins, try a plain croissant instead or avoid pastries and opt for porridge with blueberries and yoghurt. For example, if you swap a blueberry muffin (31.4g of sugar per muffin) for porridge with yoghurt and blueberries (9g of sugar per serving), you'll reduce your intake by 22.4g.”

Visit NourishAndNurtureNutrition.com
 

Kathryn Danzey, wellness expert and founder of Rejuvenated

Boost Serotonin Levels

“Eating sugar raises serotonin and dopamine, the happy hormones. When we eat foods containing sugar, we experience a quick high, but it’s soon followed by a slump in energy and mood. Refined sugar also undermines our body’s ability to make its own stores of these important brain chemicals. Add foods that will naturally boost serotonin and dopamine stores. Omega-3 fatty acids, protein, vitamins and minerals will all help to quash your cravings. Salmon, nuts and fresh vegetables will also help extinguish your desire for the white stuff. Salmon is rich in tryptophan, an amino acid that converts into a molecule called 5-HTP (5-hydroxytryptophan), which is used to make serotonin and melatonin.”

Start The Day With Protein

“Forget sugar and carb-laden breakfast cereals and try switching to good quality protein, which will balance insulin production and keep you fuller for longer whilst reducing pesky cravings. Try a breakfast with eggs or fish, and snack on nuts or a piece of goats’ cheese. It’s hard to beat smoked salmon, scrambled eggs and avocado. Eggs and avocado are also rich in tryptophan and as protein helps to balance blood sugar, it’s a perfect start to the day. If you can’t go without a morning bowl of cereal then try slow release carbohydrates, which will keep you fuller for longer such as oats or chia seeds.”

Avoid The PMT Trap

“We often crave sweet things and become irritable when premenstrual. Reducing sugar intake throughout the month will help to ease these symptoms. Studies suggest taking a Vitamin B6 supplement may be beneficial in the management of premenstrual syndrome. The NRV (nutrient reference value) is just 1.2mg per day however studies show doses of up to 100mg per day of vitamin B6 are likely to be of benefit in treating premenstrual symptoms and premenstrual depression.”

Stay Active

“Regular exercise can have a positive impact on natural serotonin levels to boost our mood and overall wellbeing. Even mild exercise can trigger metabolic processes that make more blood sugar available to the brain to reduce sugar cravings.”

Try Raw Chocolate

“If you have to have something sweet, then opt for raw chocolate. Raw cacao is full of mood boosting chemicals, phenethylamine and anandamide, which give you a positive feeling without negative side effects. Eat a square or two of a raw chocolate bar for a treat. Raw cacao powder is very nutrient dense, containing a high level of antioxidants and healthy fats. It comes from the cocoa bean but has no added sugar and is made from unroasted, cold-pressed beans. The perfect treat is a spoonful of cacao in warm almond milk before bed. It’s also rich in magnesium to help to reduce stress and help you drift away.”

Visit Rejuvenated.com

Sana Khan, nutrition consultant and founder of Avicenna Wellbeing 

Stock Up On Chia Seeds

“Jams and preserves are typically packed with sugar. Instead, try making a chia seed jam by soaking chia seeds overnight – you can also add frozen berries or vanilla essence for added flavour. When it comes to homemade desserts, chia seed puddings are always a winner as they contain lots of omega and fibre, and you are in control of how much sugar you add – fresh fruit and chopped dates are all good options.” 

Be Smoothie Savvy

“Fresh juices and smoothies can be sugary, especially if bought from a shop or pre-packaged. If you are making your own juices at home, limit to one piece of fruit per serving and always add some vegetables, and if you are making a smoothie, use a source of protein like nut butter, plus a dairy free milk. Just remember to look at the ingredients on your dairy free milk, as some varieties contain lots of sugar. Always look for no added sugar options.”

 

Visit AvicennaWellbeing.com

 

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