Sugar is a problem in most people’s diets – not because it is an “evil” ingredient, but because we eat too much of it without any consideration for its actual function.
If you’re an elite athlete of some sort, then sugars can be used as a very functional part of your nutrition programme. But if you, like most of us, are moderately active (or less) and trying to get leaner, then lots of sugar is not for you.
So here are some of the best ways to cut your sugar intake – not to zero, but to less than you’re eating now – which is better for you and your goals and a good step in the right direction.
1. Beware of processed foods
Processed and refined foods almost always contain a big chunk of sugar, even if the food is savoury. Why? Because sugar makes everything more palatable, which sells more products. And remember, that’s what food companies are in the business of doing.
You will find added sugar in soups and premade stews, pasta sauces, and other condiments including tomato sauce, mayo, chutney, etc.
So read your ingredient lists, and if sugar is near the top of the list, give that product a skip in favour of a healthier version. Better still, make it yourself so you know exactly what’s in your food. The simpler the better.
2. What’s in a name?
While we’re reading the ingredients label, you also want to be aware of the various clever names that sugar is sold under.
It used to be that sugar was called ‘sugar’. But now, names such as glucose, galactose, evaporated cane juice, fruit juice concentrate and barley malt are all used for sugar.
This is a clear effort to hide the ingredient so you think the product is healthier. Don’t fall for it.
3. Drink your hot drinks the right way
We all love a good cup of tea or coffee … or three… or four. But if you drink numerous cups of hot drinks per day, with sugar in each, then you are adding a lot of unnecessary calories to your daily intake.
Start to cut down, and eventually try not to add any sugar to your hot drinks. Do it over time, slowly reducing the sugar until you’re used to the real taste of your drink of choice. You’ll actually enjoy it once you’re accustomed to the new taste.
A good friend of mine has a good way of handling her hot drinks sweet craving. To get a good kick out of her morning cuppa, she adds two spoons of sugar to her coffee, and then doesn’t have any sugar in her hot drinks for the rest of the day.
If you really need a boost in the morning to get the day going, then that’s one way to do it.
4. Eat the right sweets
Whether you’re looking for a snack or preparing a dessert, nature has provided the right stuff as far as sweet foods go.
Fruit is sweet, tasty and healthy. It does contain sugar, but it’s not the same as the refined table-kind. The sugar in fruit is more usable for your body, and it’s also contained in food that requires more digestive processing, so it gets used.
You can also make fruits even sweeter by grilling or baking them.
5. Don’t be tempted by sugar-free foods
Sugar-free foods are everywhere nowadays and they are seriously tempting because they are super sweet without the “evil sugar”.
But they can actually be counterproductive because their sweetness can make you crave the sugar you aren’t getting, and that can easily lead to a binge. The best option, if you’re craving something sweet, is fruit.
The second best is a small piece of 70% or over dark chocolate.
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