Sugary foods and drinks provide an instant ‘hit,’ which is why so many Brits reach for a sweet treat when they are tired, in need of comfort, or as a reward. As a result, people of all ages in the United Kingdom consume nearly twice as much sugar on a daily basis.
It’s not always as simple as avoiding that can of soda, as many of the items you eat have sugar added to them, making maintaining a healthy lifestyle challenging. Sugar is added to everyday goods like bread, spaghetti, and soup to increase their taste and shelf life, but there are a few simple strategies to reduce sugar in your diet.
This is significant because dieticians believe that high sugar diets are a more major driver in the growth in morbid obesity than the proliferation of saturated fats. Diabetes organisations believe that sugar-rich lifestyles are to blame for the disease’s doubling in the last 15 years.
However, according to research, that the best approach to make that shift is “slowly but surely,” cutting back does not have to be a cruel exercise of self-denial.
Why should you reduce your sugar consumption?
Sugar intake is recommended to be between 20 and 30 grammes per day, but with 39 grammes in a can of Coca-Cola, most adults in the UK easily consume almost twice that amount – 55 grammes.
This type of diet, according to the NHS, causes tooth damage, obesity, and diabetes. While sugar is necessary for our bodies to operate, the sheer amount of “hidden” or “free” sugars in our diet makes it challenging to maintain a healthy sugar consumption.
According to government health authorities, you should consider reducing “free” sugars because, unlike healthier sugars found in fruits, milk, and vegetables, they are not part of a healthy diet. Sweets, cakes, cookies, chocolate, and some fizzy beverages and juice drinks all contain free sugars. These are the sweet foods that you should avoid.
What the specialist says:
- Make sure you get a good night’s sleep –
Getting more high-quality sleep, like drinking more water, can have a huge influence on our physical and emotional health, and it can even assist manage how our bodies handle sugar.
Those who obtained less than 6 hours of sleep were twice as likely to have cells that were less responsive to insulin or to develop full-blown diabetes, according to a study of almost 4,000 adults who reported how much sleep they had each night. This was true even after the researchers took into account other lifestyle habits.
Our blood sugars typically climb between 4 and 8 a.m., matching a healthy waking cycle in a regular sleep pattern. However, if your body is not totally rested or if you are accustomed to a high-sugar breakfast, you may feel even more exhausted in the morning.
Without sugar in your coffee or cereal, getting a good night’s sleep will assist your body wake up for the day. “Sometimes all you need to do to keep sugar cravings at bay is to fix your sleeping habits,” researcher advises.
“People who are sleep deprived consume more junk food, mainly from high-calorie fatty foods than people who meet their daily sleep quota.”
- Limit your alcohol consumption –
Unless you’re drinking straight vodka and munching on celery sticks and hummus as a drunken snack, reducing your sugar intake through alcohol may be the simplest way to do it.
As part of the fermentation process, beer, cider, and wine all need both added and natural sugar, making it impossible to avoid extra sugar when enjoying a drink.
Unlike other sugary drinks, you frequently consume numerous beers or glasses of wine over the course of an evening of drinking, leading your blood sugar to spike before collapsing, resulting in late-night kebab binges.
According to Fairbains, alcoholic beverages make for roughly 11% of 30 to 64-year-olds’ daily sugar intake in the United Kingdom.
“These drinks also stimulate your appetite, which can cause hunger pangs, leading to overeating. Alcohol can also affect your willpower and judgment, setting you up for bad food choices.”
- Try for sugar-free or low-sugar options –
The simplest modification you can make in your diet is to choose low-sugar options for most everyday meals.
While there are many sugar-free or low-sugar versions of popular soft drinks, eliminating some of your favourite juices might be challenging. If you can’t find an acceptable substitute, BBC Good Food suggests adding sparkling water to low-sugar fruit squashes.
“Instead of stocking your cupboards with sugary snacks, replace the cereals, desserts, chocolate bars, chips, and any other sugar-rich food, with healthy snacking options,” researcher recommends.
“Whole wheat pretzels, popcorn, apple slices dipped in almond butter, unsweetened yoghurts, flavoured almonds, veggies, and hummus are among them.
“Sugary snacks are not going to taunt when they’re not within arm’s reach. Your future self will thank you in the long run!”
- Reduce the amount of corn in your diet –
Not just corn, but all starchy vegetables that break down complex carbohydrates into simple carbohydrates (sugar) – thus if you’re trying to cut sugar, you might want to skip the corn on the cob or the roast potatoes.
If you want to reduce your sugar intake, stay away from peas, carrots, maize, sweet potatoes, and lima beans. While eliminating these foods from your diet is improbable, keeping track of how much of each type of vegetable you eat might help you make better choices.
“Because starchy greens have higher levels of sugar, consuming them can fast increase your sugar intake—and as you know, the more sugar you consume, the more sweets you crave,” specialist added.
“Instead, choose low-carb veggies, such as onions, asparagus, mushrooms, broccoli, or cauliflower.”
- Improve your label reading skills –
Over the last decade, food labelling has improved tremendously, and all contained and added sugars in food products must now be listed on the label.
This implies that, while finding sugar-free items may be difficult, you may still choose the healthiest decision by looking beyond a company’s low-sugar claims.
Fairbains reveals that sugar is hidden in peanut butter, tomato ketchup, and a variety of other sauces and condiments.
‘It’s hard to spot the word sugar on food labels because it can go by as many 60 names—all standing for added sugar in one form or the other. For example, sucrose, glucose, and other words ending in “ose”.’