You can’t look in any newspaper or magazine lately without seeing Jamie Oliver’s sugar tax campaign and whether you agree with it or not, you can’t deny that sugar is bad for us.
I think the sugar tax is a great idea because it will definitely deter people from buying so many sugary items. None of us ever like the idea of having to pay more for anything – just look at the 5p plastic carrier bag scandal!
Anyway, if you’re trying to cut down your sugar intake, whether it’s because of the fear of paying extra money for your sugary snacks or because you want to be healthier, I have some great tips. I’m not completely sugar-free and I don’t pretend to be – those of you who follow my blog will know I’m a strong believer of everything in moderation. However, I have cut my general sugar intake to barely anything (as far as refined sugars) and I don’t feel like I’m missing out.
I do occasionally fancy something super sweet but considering I used to munch on chocolate bars and sweets every day, I’m proud of how far I’ve come. Before I give you my tips, I want to share this infographic with you from YorkTest about why we eat so much sugar – this isn’t a sponsored post in any way, I just love the infographic so wanted to share it.
My tips are at the bottom of this post, after the infographic…
So how can you lower your sugar intake?
The most important thing I found when cutting out sugar is that it’s a hard thing to do all in one go. So instead of freaking yourself out by removing everything sugary from your life all at once, try lowering your sugar intake gradually. It’s much easier as you’re less likely to crave it badly if you make small changes. The following tips are some ways to lower your sugar intake and it’s up to you what order you choose to do them in. Try making each change for a week and then adding the next change on until you’re eventually hardly eating any sugar.
Start your day sugar-free
Swap your breakfast cereal for a less sugary alternative, such as eggs or porridge – I’m a big fan of eggs because they keep me full for ages! You’d be surprised just how much sugar is in most breakfast cereal.
Prepare your meals and snacks
You might think that meal prep is something only bodybuilders do, but it’s actually a great way to stay on track. When we are in a rush the majority of us reach for quick and easy convenience food and it’s usually not a healthy option. If you prepare your meals then you’ll always have them ready so will be less likely to grab a sugary snack.
Swap (some) fruit for veggies
I’m not saying you should cut out fruit completely, fruit doesn’t contain refined sugars so eating a few pieces of fruit each day is fine. I know that walking around munching on a courgette isn’t quite as appealing as an apple. But in smoothies or juices, try mixing it up a bit and replacing some fruit with veggies.
Check food labels
If you’re gluten-free then you probably do this already, but you’d actually be surprised how many foods and drinks contain high amounts of added sugars. Sauces and salad dressings are some things that are often high in sugar, but always check your food labels to be sure. The labels won’t always state it as simply as the word ‘sugar’ sadly. Other names for sugar include maltodextrin, sucrose, maltose and rice syrup. For a huge list of different names for sugar, check out this link to Women’s Health website. Sorry, but I don’t fancy typing out all 56 of those names!
Stay away from fizzy drinks
We all know they contain a lot of sugar so try to choose something else. If you’re a big fizzy drinks fan then start by cutting the amount you usually drink by half and then gradually cutting down more each week until you no longer drink fizzy. There are loads of tasty low sugar (and even sugar-free) squashes available so find a flavour you like and that will help you to forget the fizzy drinks. If you can drink just water most of the time then that’s even better! You’ll be amazed how much better you feel when you cut out fizzy drinks.
Cut the sugar from your tea/coffee
I’ve never been a fan of ‘normal’ tea or coffee (I’m a squash fan, or peppermint tea if I fancy a hot drink), so unfortunately won’t know how you feel when you have to cut back on the sugar in tea or coffee. But try lowering your usual sugar amount in hot drinks by half, and then gradually working it down to no sugar. If you fancy making an even healthier choice opt for herbal tea. No need for sugar!
It’s highly likely that you will experience sugar cravings at some point while you’re cutting the amount of sugar you eat, but it’s important you find a way to resist them and once you’ve managed to cut your sugar intake down loads the cravings should start to fade.
I used to take a few sips of water when I had a mini craving, or make a mug of peppermint or green tea when I had bad cravings. I know that sounds crazy but it worked most of the time because drinking the herbal tea reminded me I was trying to make healthier choices and it got me back on track because my mind was focused on being healthy. That may not work for you (because I realise not everyone is as weird as me), but find what does work for you. It could be that you jog on the spot for 20 seconds, I don’t know. Find the thing that reminds you why you made the decision to cut out sugar and that will motivate you to keep going whenever the cravings strike.
And finally, make generally healthier choices
Don’t freak out if you do have something sugary. The idea is to reduce the amount of sugar you eat but if you do fall off the wagon, don’t quit and eat everything in sight, just accept it and get back on with trying to eat generally healthier. I’ve got to the stage where even most of my treats are still fairly healthy options, but it’s taken me a while…and I still do love chocolate. Granted, I don’t eat it anywhere near as often as I used to, but I’ve made the decision to not be completely sugar-free and to instead just be aware of my sugar intake and, for the majority of the time, to be refined sugar-free.
Nobody’s perfect and I’m not writing this expecting you to go completely sugar-free instantly, but if you can just be more aware of your sugar intake then it’s a great start to reducing the sugar in your diet.
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