There are two types of sugar:
Natural sugarsThis is the kind of sugar you find in vegetables, fruit and natural dairy products. Simply put, nobody put these sugars into the food – they were there already.
Refined or added sugarsThese sugars are added to food while they’re being prepared or processed – think of things like sweetened yoghurt, biscuits or chocolate. Your body breaks down refined or added sugars quickly, causing spikes in blood sugar levels – and because it’s digested so fast you won’t feel full and will be hungry again sooner.
Easy ways to cut back on sugar
Don’t addFirst step to cutting back your sugar intake is to ban what we’ll call ‘table sugar’. That’s the sugar you put in your coffee, sprinkle over your cereal or add to your tomato-based pasta sauce. This is the easiest way to cut your sugar consumption. But that’s not to say it’s not a struggle to go cold turkey. Instead, try cutting the number of spoons you put into your coffee by half, and wean down slowly from there.
Read labels & know what to look forIt’s not as simple as scanning the ingredient list for ‘sugar’. Anything that ends in “-ose” is likely to be a type of sugar. That can include fructose, glucose, lactose, sucrose and maltose.
Eat more proteinAdding protein to each of your meals and snacks will help combat sugar cravings. Not only will you feel full for longer, your blood sugar levels are less likely to dip and spike, causing sugar cravings.
Don’t automatically reach for low fat productsFoods that are labeled ‘low fat’ are usually lower in kilojoules than the regular alternatives but they often contain a lot more sugar. Why? Well, because the product has less fat, adding extra sugar makes it taste better.
Ditch sugary cerealDon’t fool yourself: just because you aren’t sitting down to a bowl of sugar-laden sweet cereal (think: a chocolate-flavoured kiddies cereal), doesn’t mean you’re actually enjoying the ‘healthy’ option. Some cereals contain up to 20g of sugar per 100g and muesli and granola are some of the biggest culprits. When choosing muesli or granola, look for one that has 5g of sugar or less per 100g.
Say ‘no’ to fruit juiceYes, it’s delicious but most fruit juices contain added sugars. When you eat a whole piece of fruit, the natural fibre it contains helps slow the digestion of sucrose – plus you get all the added vitamins and minerals. When fruit is turned into juice, it contains all the sugars without the fibre. Also, you could easily drink the juice of four oranges just by downing a small glass of juice but can you ever imagine wolfing down that many oranges in a single sitting? Probably not. If you’re hooked on fruit juices, start by diluting yours with water while you wean yourself off. Instead, flavour your water with cut up slices of fruit or vegetables like strawberries, cucumber and mint.
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