Can we really stop eating sugar altogether? And what would this mean? There have been books published, articles written and diets created in order to help us to stop us eating sugar full stop. But how easy is it in reality? Like any type of food or ingredients, everything is ok in moderation and this would always be my mantra. In order to cut out sugar altogether, in my mind, it would mean eating Paleo the majority of the time and over analysing ingredients lists and menus – not always the healthiest and easiest of behaviours to adopt for the rest of our lives. I do believe however that there are small changes we can make and quick hacks to stop us eating unnecessary sugar and to spot it from a mile off. Here are my tips…
1. Understand the different types of sugar.
Understanding the different types of sugar and sources of sugar can help to educate us on what to avoid, and what’s added sugar vs. natural sugar. On an ingredients list it is hard to know the difference between the two sometimes as sugar can be hidden in different forms and under different words such as sucrose, molasses, honey, agave, cane sugar… the list goes on. A good tip is to look for words ending in ‘ose’ as these are more than likely sugar related. A quick scan on the back of a packet can reveal the amount of added sugar and will help you to decide whether to opt for something else.
2. Make alterations.
If you’re picking up a smoothie at your local juice bar, or eating out at a restaurant, feel free to ask to swap the ingredients out. For example if opting for a smoothie with agave syrup in the ingredients list, ask them to remove it. Or if you’re out for brunch, ask if the granola comes with added honey and ask for it on the side. A recent finding in my local coffee shop also revealed that sugar was being added into my favourite turmeric latte. I couldn’t believe how good it tasted and after asking the barista what the secret ingredient was, he told me it was added sugar. It’s crazy but if you don’t ask the question, you’ll never know. Be mindful and don’t be afraid to ask or to make changes.
3. Buy unsweetened versions.
Opting for unsweetened varieties is a really easy switch to make, especially when it comes to milk in your daily coffee, porridge or overnight oats. Choose unsweetened almond milk such as Unsweetened Almond Breeze which contains no added sugar, vs. the original variety of Almond Breeze which contains 7g sugar per cup. If almond milk isn’t your first choice, choose cow’s milk that only contains naturally occurring sugars.
4. Avoid sweetness in the morning.
Someone once told me not to eat sweet things in the morning, namely fruits high in carbohydrates (like bananas) or fruit juices. I never quite understood why as isn’t fruit a breakfast staple? Researching into this further, I found that there have been studies conducted that proves that eating sugar in the mornings vs. eating a savoury breakfast, actually spikes our blood sugar levels and can have us reaching for more sugary snacks throughout the day. It might be a small switch to make but try swapping your fruit smoothie for eggs or avocado on high protein bread from The Protein Bread Co
5. Find our what drives you to eat sugar.
Identifying patterns and behaviours that lead you to wanting or craving sugar is a really crucial step in helping you to cut down on it. Whether it’s part of your evening routine to sit down and watch TV in the while munching on a bowl of lollies, or reaching for a bar of chocolate as a pick me up when your stressed and tired, these behaviours need to be identified so you can make amendments. From then, you can look at how to break the chain. For example, if you know you’re going to be working late and it may be stressful, arm yourself with tasty (low sugar) snacks or a fruit salad, or prepare yourself a bowl of Greek yoghurt with fruit in for dessert whilst you watch the TV. Having sugary foods out of sight does also help to keep them out of mind and it’s all about practising the new behaviours and making them part of your routine.
In conclusion, it’s hard to avoid sugar but not impossible. Being mindful of sugar and cutting back on it where you can will definitely make a difference to your intake. If you want to read more about sugar, check out my ‘5 Simple swaps to break your sugar addiction’ post.