Cutting down on sugar: where to start
It’s the sweet question on everyone’s lips: am I eating too much sugar?
How much sugar is okay?
Tips to help you cut down on sugar
- Start well. When you’re doing your food shopping, begin in the fresh food section. “If you try to fill your trolley with fresh options then that will be a great start,” says Cosgriff.
- Know what you’re eating. If you’re buying packaged foods, look at the labels so you know what’s in the food. Labels can be tricky to understand, so give Bupa’s free FoodSwitch app, which includes a Sugar Switch filter, a go. Simply scan the barcode of the food you’re considering with your smart phone and it will suggest similar lower sugar foods as an alternative.
- Switch your drinks. Soft drinks should be consumed only occasionally and in small amounts, if at all. This is because one 600mL bottle of regular soft drink can contain up to 16 teaspoons of sugar! “Water is always the best choice,” says Cosgriff.
- Breakfast can be a trap. Some cereals can be very high in sugar. Cosgriff says that although some can be good sources of fibre, iron and folate, it’s best to stick with more basic options. “I recommend rolled oats,” she says. “They’re great for bowel and heart health, they’re low GI, keep you feeling full, and don’t have added sugar or salt, although be careful of the quick-to-make options.” Another low sugar food for breakfast might be Greek-style yoghurt with fruit and nuts.
- Watch your baking. If you’re baking something with sugar, you can try cutting down on the amount you put in. “You could also replace sugar with a natural sweet option, like fruit, unsweetened apple sauce or dairy,” says Cosgriff.
- Give yourself time. It can take some time for your tastebuds to adjust to eating low sugar foods. “Your tastebuds rejuvenate, and if you stick to it you’ll get used to eating a lot less sugar in your diet,” says Cosgriff.