It's estimated that year-on-year sugar consumption rises by as much as 30 per cent in the western world and even the most innocent-looking foods may be crammed with hidden sugars. Ketchup and bread are major culprits, whilst many outwardly healthy juices and smoothies have a deceptively sweet centre.
So are we all destined to suffer from sugar-related illnesses, obesity and high blood pressure? Thankfully, the answer is no. There are many easy ways to cut down your daily sugar intake and the following are just some of the key options available …
Keep a close eye on food ingredients
Many apparently innocent foods contain hidden sugars within their ingredients. Sadly, that healthy-looking supermarket sandwich you’re munching on could, in fact, contain more sugar than a small bar of chocolate. As a result, it’s vital you get into the habit of reading labels carefully to make sure no unnecessary sugars have been added.
Sugar can take a number of guises, and products listing glucose, fructose and fruit juice concentrates within their ingredients may be sweeter than they seem. So stay vigilant!
Gradually cut down on your sugary snacks
Sugar plays a vital role in any healthy diet, supplying energy to the body whilst offering key nutrients. As a result, it’s important you keep things in moderation and make sure you bring your sugar consumption down slowly.
There’s no point in suddenly pretending that chocolate bars and cream cakes don’t exist. Complete denial simply won’t work, ensuring you’ll soon be back and hungry for more. Instead, wean yourself off slowly, by periodically reducing your sugary snack intake so that the amount you crave shrinks smaller and smaller.
Cut down on high-sugar soft drinks by making your own
Health experts recommend we consume less than 10 teaspoons of added sugar per day. However, this becomes an almost impossible target when that daily can of soft drink you enjoy potentially contains over six sugar-stacked teaspoons. So what’s the alternative?
Thankfully, help could be at hand in the form of DIY soft drinks which allow you to healthily recreate the taste of your favourite fizzy tipple, without the emphasis on sugar. Simply add some fresh and flavorsome fruit juice to a glass of soda water and you’re sorted! Alternatively, why not create your own smoothie, simply by adding fresh fruit to a plain yogurt base? You’ll be a smoothie operator in no time …
Just say no to desserts ... some of the time
Whilst it’s always tempting to top off a meal with a slice of cake or a frothy, sugar-rich coffee, a great way of easing the strain on your sweet tooth is to cut back on desserts and save them up for treats at the weekend.
Similarly, instead of taking your morning cereal (or, if you prefer, plain yogurt) with a hefty heap of sugar, why not try topping it with some fruit instead, to add a more natural touch of sweetener?
Reduce your sweet-sucking
Don’t be a sucker, be sweet-aware! Sweets, mints and even chewing gum can prove seriously high in hidden sugars, making it difficult to wean yourself away from them once you’re hooked.
As a result, it’s so important you take a quick peek at their wrappers to see just how sweet they really are. Once you realise how damaging all-day sucking can be, you’ll probably think twice before reaching for yet another tasty gum drop ...
Reducing the amount of sweet treats in your daily diet doesn’t mean you have to become an overnight sugar fascist. Instead, the best way to reduce your sugar intake is to do so gradually, weaning yourself off so that your cravings subside.
By taking simple steps and being vigilant about ingredients, you’ll see the benefits in no time and seriously reduce the risks of disease, weight gain and tooth decay. Pretty sweet, eh?