Sugar – the buzzword of the year and present in a high number of everyday shop bought foods that we consume. Whether it’s disguised in your claimed ‘natural’ Greek yoghurt or in your herbs and spice mix, it’s hard to escape it but what we’ve all learnt, is that we should probably be consuming less of it. The added sugar in foods never ceases to amaze me and it’s no wonder so many of us have a sweet tooth or a full on sugar addiction.

When you consume sugar, there are a number of things that happen to your body. When you have that first bite, your brain goes into frenzy and naturally you want to eat more of it. It’ll give you a high and your body will crave more, tempting you to delve back into the chocolate bag. Whoever said you can open a bag of chocolate and just have one was certainly from a different planet! Your blood sugar has then been spiked so your body starts producing insulin. Insulin plays the part of trying to absorb the excess glucose in the blood and stabilizing sugar levels. Once the insulin has completed this job, your blood sugar levels will drop and you may also experience a low at this point.

If its sugar you feel like your bodies craving and want to stop those sugar highs and lows, here are 5 simple swaps to help break your sugar addiction and reduce your sugar intake.

1. Milk Chocolate to Dark Chocolate

Milk chocolate contains less of the original cocoa bean than dark chocolate and therefore usually contains more sugar, cream and milk. Dark chocolate therefore uses more of the cocoa bean, meaning there is therefore more nutritional quality. You’re likely to be more satisfied by eating less squares of dark chocolate than milk too, so it’s definitely a no-brainer swap.

Dairy Milk 25g chocolate block: 14.4g sugar vs. Lindt Excellence 70% chocolate 25g block: 7.25g sugar

2. Flavoured/fruity yoghurts to plain Greek yoghurt with home-made compote

Many fruit yoghurts, despite being labelled as ‘natural’ or ‘organic’ which might lead us to believe they wouldn’t contain additional sugar, actually contain a high amount of sugar. Fruity varieties can contain more than 12g sugar compared to a lower 6g found in some natural Greek yoghurts. It may seem like an obvious swap, but make your own home-made compote (link here to Top 5 Winter recipes) and you’ll save immensely on the sugar content. Often too, yoghurt’s labelled as low fat, will appear to have a lower fat content but the yoghurt will more than likely contain higher amounts of sugar in its place.

Five Am: Organic vanilla bean yoghurt 170g pot 18.7g sugar Vs. Chobani plain Greek yoghurt 170g pot 5.3g Sugar

3. Home-made salad dressing/sauces to shop bought dressings/sauces

When you’ve made a healthy salad for lunch/dinner, lathering it in a shop bought sauce or salad dressing can actually reduce the ‘healthiness’ of the salad immensely and you may be adding sugar onto your salad. Make your own salad dressing or simply squeeze some lemon juice and a tsp. apple cider vinegar into the mix. Alternatively for sauces e.g. for stir fry’s, you can make your own. My favourite sauce to make is a simple satay sauce using basic ingredients. For other sauce inspiration click here

Masterfoods Satay Marinade 37g serving: 7.6g sugar vs. Home-made satay sauce 37g serving, averaging 2g sugar

4. Ice cream to protein ice cream

Ice cream has come a long way in the last few years with innovations happening across a number of brands. Once thought of as a treat, ice cream can now be enjoyed as a low calorie and low sugar dessert. Also, is there a better way to get our protein in?!

Ben and Jerry’s Chocolate ice cream 85g serving: 19g sugar vs. Halo Top Chocolate Ice Cream 64g serving: 5g sugar.

5. Processed flavoured peanut butter for home-made nut butter/100% nut butter

Many peanut butters actually contain added sugar and not just nuts like the labels would initially have us believe. The flavoured varieties also contain a high amount of sugar so keep it simple. If you have a good food processor you can even make your own, however there are a number of great brands out there which will save you with the mess.

Peanut Butter and Co.’s Cinnamon Raisin Swirl 20g serving: 5.6g sugar vs. Pics Peanut Butter 20g serving: 1.1g sugars

My advice would be: always check the labels with your food as hidden sugar is where we might least expect it. I always try to make my own versions of shop bought sauces and condiments but appreciate this can’t always be done and we don’t always have the time. Opting for food labels with ingredients that you can pronounce is a must for me too.

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