Five simple changes to help reduce your sugar intake
Cutting down on sugar needn't be a chore. Here are some simple tips to help ensure your food still tastes delicious, so you won't even miss the sweet stuff.
As a nation, we drink and eat too many sugary foods. Whether it’s sweetened drinks, processed foods, or just adding sugar (sucrose) itself to our food, our consumption of sugar is causing a health crisis.
Reducing your sugar intake needn't be difficult, here are some tips to help.
1. Eat breakfast
Cut out packaged sugary cereals, and swap them for healthier choices such as porridge oats. Need a sweet kick? Top your porridge with some berries or a banana. If oats aren't to your liking, try fresh fruit and low-fat Greek yoghurt, eggs, or a smoothie made with low-fat yoghurt. Eating a healthy well-balanced breakfast makes you less likely to need a sugary energy boost mid-morning.
2. Don't ditch the fruit
Many people mistakenly avoid fruit if they're trying to cut down on sugar in their diet. However, fruit contains fructose, which can easily be metabolised and broken down into glucose, which is an essential energy source for our body and brain. Fresh fruit also contains many other necessary vitamins, nutrients and fibre, which helps to fill us up, and keep our bowels healthy.
The best way to enjoy fruit is fresh, or frozen, in its whole form.
3. Cut out sugary drinks
The 2007 Australian National Children's Nutrition and Physical Activity Survey found that up to 38 per cent of children (aged 2 years to 16 years) consumed sugar-sweetened beverages.
Research shows that if you drink 340ml of sugary drink a day, you are five times more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than if you drink one can a month or less.
As sugar-sweetened drinks can be high in energy (kilojoules), this can lead to weight gain and obesity. We know that obesity is one of the leading risk factors for type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and some cancers.
Ditch the soft drink and instead stick to unflavoured water. If you still want a sweet hit, try adding fruit, such as strawberries, blueberries or a slice of lemon to your water bottle, and keep it with you to help quench your thirst and keep hydrated.
4. Get the whole family cooking
Encourage everybody to participate in preparing family meals, and it can pay dividends. A study at the University of Alberta found that children who help prepare food at home are more likely to enjoy eating fruits and veggies than kids who don't. The researchers also found that by helping to prepare meals, children are more confident about how important it is to eating healthy food.
5. Add nature’s flavour
Visit your herb garden and enjoy nature's very own flavours: vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger are an easy way to add taste to a milkshake, coffee, baked goods or even meat. Try poached pears with a sprinkle of cinnamon, or adding it to your meat marinade for a sweet touch.
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Eating foods in their whole form and avoiding processed foods is the simplest way to reduce your sugar consumption. Educate the entire family on how to make smarter food choices and you'll hopefully find that you won't even miss it.