Sugar can be difficult to cut down on because it is in all of the foods that we seem to love the most. We love a few biscuits with our tea in the Iggy & Burt studio. Even when we try to cut down on chocolate and cakes, added sugars seem to lurk in the foods and drinks we wouldn’t expect them to be in and can be a cause of concern for our diets.
The NHS advises that added sugars should not make up more than 5% of the energy we get from food and drink each day. This means that anyone aged 11 and older should have around 30 grams of sugar a day (which estimates at 2 and a half teaspoons worth). In reality, Britons are having around 700g of sugar per week which amounts to 140 teaspoons per person.
With excessive sugar consumption linked to obesity, heart disease, type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure reducing your sugar intake with small changes to your diet can't hurt.
What are you drinking?
It won’t come as a surprise to you that a lot of the added sugars in our diet come from sugar-filled fizzy drinks. A 500ml bottle of Coca-Cola has around 17 cubes of sugar whilst you should also watch out for fruit juices that have added sugars on top of the natural sugars that are already present in the fruit.
Although a fruit juice can count as one of your five a day, you should bear in mind how many other sugary foods and drinks you have within the same day to ensure you don’t go over your daily recommended intake. Sugary drinks are an easy one to cut back on as fizzy drinks can be swapped for water, herbal tea or fruit juices that do not have added sweeteners.
How are you starting your day?
An easy way to cut out added sugars from your diet is to swap cereals that have a high sugar content, which kids and adults alike love to eat, for cereals with a lower intake of sugar. Such as plain shredded wheat, porridge or whole wheat cereal bars.
Let's be honest, the idea of plain cereal doesn’t sound appealing to everyone, so why not add a banana or go crazy and sprinkle a bit of dried fruit. This way you know exactly what sugars you’re adding to your cereal without the element of surprise.
It's all in the snacks...
A big proportion of added sugars comes from our love for sweet treats. Chocolates, biscuits, jams, pastries, cakes and sweets are not easily avoided. Try cutting out desserts during the week or if this isn’t easy to do, cut back by swapping it out for desserts which have natural sugars in such as fruit and yogurt. For when you want to indulge in a dessert, take the time to compare labels and go with the option that has less sugar, this way you can indulge without the worry!
What about savoury food?
When it comes to meals, there are a lot of savoury foods we wouldn’t think have sugar in them that actually contain quite a lot. It’s a good idea to check labels when you shop on items such as sauces, salad dressings, condiments, takeaway dishes and dips.
It’s good to be aware that items which claim to be low fat or gluten free can also have a higher amount of sugar in them. It’s easy to not think about the amount of sugars in condiments as only a small amount is used alongside a meal, but if eaten everyday these sugars can really add up so having less ketchup, mayo or salad cream is an easy way to cut out those added sugars.
Being diligent in the amount of sugar we eat day to day will help to ensure we cut back and maintain a balanced diet. Reading the packaging of what we buy helps us to make better choices about what we are eating. And it never hurts to cook from scratch, that way you always know what is in your meals.
Whilst it's great to be aware and cut back on our sugar intake, remember that sugar is needed as part of a healthy, balanced diet and it doesn’t hurt to treat yourself every once in a while!