We know that eating too much sugar isn't good for our health. Many research studies have shown again and again that consuming high amounts of sugar can have many negative effects for our health (type 2 diabetes, obesity, heart disease and tooth decay). Even more dangerous than the “regular sugar” (found in fruits, vegetables), are the added sugars, which are referring to syrups added to foods during processing, typically to make the food taste better.
So, if you want to control your sugar intake and adopt a low-sugar diet, try to follow these 5 tips:
Tip #1 - Consume low sugar fruits
- If you’re trying to lower your daily sugar intake, incorporating low-sugar fruits can help you maintain a healthy weight and reach your weight-loss goals. High glycaemic (GI) fruits spike your blood sugar rapidly, while low GI foods have less of an effect on blood sugar. High GI fruits include bananas, watermelon, pineapple, mango and raisins. Low GI fruits include berries (blackberries, strawberries, and blueberries). So, for your next home-made smoothie, instead of putting bananas, try using some of the berries mentioned. They will also give your body a super vitamin boost.
Tip #2 - Avoid “soft drinks”
- Sugary drinks (also known as “soft” drinks) refer to any beverage with added sugar or other sweeteners (high fructose corn syrup, sucrose, fruit juice concentrates, and more). This includes soda, pop, cola, tonic, fruit punch, lemonade (and other “ades”), sweetened powdered drinks, as well as sports and energy drinks. As a category (officially titled sugar-sweetened beverages), these beverages are the single largest source of calories and added sugar in the United States diet. So, basically these beverages provide many calories and added sugars, but virtually no other nutrients.
When it comes to our health, it’s clear that these “soft” drinks should be avoided at all costs if we want to reduce our sugar intake. The alternative? Water will always be the top option. Besides water, there is a range of healthier beverages that can be consumed in their place, like home-made smoothies, green tea, low fat or fat free milk, or sparkling water.
Tip #3 Read food labels
- Reading the ingredients list on the food labels can help you make the best choices regarding sugar intake. Pay close attention to the details, such as calories, total carbohydrates, fiber, fat, salt and, of course, sugar. Keep in mind that ingredients are listed in descending order by weight. The main (heaviest) ingredient is listed first, followed by other ingredients used in decreasing amounts. So, when reading the labels make sure to always choose the products with the lowest amount od added sugars.
Tip #4 - Choose the right snacks
- Need to fill a gap between meals? It’s all right, if you choose the right snacks. Avoid at all costs baked chips (any kind), rice cakes, pretzels, potato chips, store-bought smoothies and cereal bars. These are the worst snacks, with a lot of added sugars in them. Instead, try to have a dried fruit, mixed nuts, dark chocolate or regular vegetables.
Tip #5 - Choose the right breakfast cereal
- Many breakfast cereals usually are high in sugar. You can try to switch to some lower-sugar cereals or (the best option) those with no added sugar, such as:
- no-added-sugar muesli
- plain natural yoghurt topped with chopped fruit
- plain porridge
- plain wheat biscuit cereal
- plain shredded wholegrain cereal
As you can see, trying to reduce sugar intake will not be an easy task. You will need to fight the sugar cravings, read in detail the food labels and carefully plan your meals. However, the benefits far outweigh the sacrifices you will have to make, because health should always be your top priority.