By Nutrition Expert – Trupti Gurav,Mumbai
Many people eat much more sugar than necessary, so reducing added sugar intake is a healthful idea.
The no-sugar diet has gained popularity as people continue to look for effective ways to live a healthful life or lose weight.
It’s well known that sugar is bad for you.
Sugar is naturally in lots of foods like fruit, vegetables, milk, cheese, and even grains. But manufacturers also add different forms of sugar and syrup to processed and pre packaged foods like ice cream, cookies, candy, and soda, as well as to less obvious products like ketchup, spaghetti sauce, yogurt, bread, and salad dressing.
To eat a healthy, balanced diet, we should eat these types of foods only occasionally, and get a majority of our calories from other kinds of foods, such as starchy foods, fruits and vegetables.
Following tips can help you cut down:
- Give your taste buds time to adjust. If you’re in the habit of having two spoonfuls of sugar in your coffee or tea, for instance, start by going to one-and-a-half for a week, then down to one.
- One of the best ways to avoid sugar is to do make sure you cook with whole foods and avoid buying processed, packaged food altogether. For example, make your own tomato sauce because shop bought tomato sauce is often high in sugar which is added by food manufactures to make us want more of it.
- Add fruit. Instead of adding sugar to cereal or oatmeal, try fresh fruit (bananas, cherries or strawberries) or dried fruit (raisins, cranberries or apricots).
- Avoid eating too much fruit, especially those that are high in natural sugar such as mangoes and pineapples which will encourage your sugar craving.
- Avoid fruit juices and fizzy drinks. They are high in sugar and sugar in liquid form is absorbed very quickly in the body. Also, avoid diet drinks too because the artificial sweeteners will actually make you crave sugar more. It is always better to eat whole fruit.
- Read food labels carefully. The list of ingredients on the back are listed in descending order with the highest ingredient first. There is so much hidden sugar in foods such as soups, pasta sauces, bread etc. For example, many breakfast cereals contain sugar and this is listed as the first or second ingredient which is a warning that the product contains a lot of sugar.
- Don’t buy low fat products thinking you are making a better choice because these are often packed with sugar or artificial sweeteners.
- Swap out the soda. Water is best, but if you want something sweet to drink or are trying to lose weight, diet drinks can be a better choice than sugary drinks.
- Eat small meals regularly to keep your blood sugar balanced and energy levels stable. Eat protein at each meal and this will keep you satisfied and fuller for longer.
- Ensure you have a good breakfast, such as porridge, muesli or eggs. This is essential for controlling sugar cravings.
- If you are craving something sweet, have some berries that provide some natural sugar but are also loaded with antioxidants and fibre so they won’t cause you to have a sugar surge; or some dark chocolate which contains antioxidants but will satisfy that craving.
- Cut the serving back. When baking cookies, brownies or cakes, cut the sugar called for in your recipe by one-third to one-half. Often you won’t notice the difference.
- Make sure you get enough sleep. When you are tired, your body will naturally crave sugar to keep your energy levels topped up. Also, lack of sleep will interfere with the hunger hormone grehlin which can make you eat more food.
- Try extracts. Instead of adding sugar in recipes, use extracts like almond, vanilla, orange or lemon.
- Replace it completely. Enhance foods with spices instead of sugar. Try ginger, allspice, cinnamon or nutmeg.
- Substitute. Switch out sugar with unsweetened applesauce in recipes (use equal amounts).
- Avoid sugar loaded desserts. Enjoy fruit for dessert instead of cookies or pastries.
- Lemon, licorice, and anise are good flavorings for your tea. For coffee, try cinnamon, vanilla extract, or unsweetened cocoa powder. If you can drink milk, stir some in to add sugar that’s natural, but not sweet.
- Limit Non-nutritive Sweeteners. If you are trying to lose weight, a temporary fix to satisfying your sweet tooth may be with non-nutritive sweeteners. But watch out! Make sure that swapping sugary options for non-nutritive sweeteners now doesn’t lead to eating more later.