Cut Down On your Daily Sugar Intake By Following These Simple Steps
We consume sugar every day and it’s found in most foods. Despite the negative impact it has on health when consumed in excess, we may not always stop to wonder, “just how much sugar do we ingest with every meal or beverage that we consume?”
Lowering the amount of sugar ingested on a daily basis can provide numerous health benefits to your body.
Because sugar is addictive, cutting down can be challenging. That’s why we’ve come up with some easy tips to help you cut down on sugar without it turning your routine upside down.
What role does sugar play in the body?
Sugar and glucose 101
Sugar and carbohydrates are essential for our body as it’s the fuel that drives energy to allow your body to function on a daily basis. Have you ever felt light-headed or dizzy? Sometimes it can be a result of low blood sugar levels. When we exercise or exert our bodies, energy is burnt to allow this to happen without feeling dizzy.
The body breaks down sugar and carbohydrates that we consume to create glucose. This process is done with the help of the hormone called insulin during the digestive process.
The glucose is then stored in the body to use as energy. The blood sugar (glucose) in the body is vital for muscle function, brain function, and for regulating body temperature for that matter.
However, irregular blood sugar levels may be a sign of diabetes. In the case of patients with diabetes, the body can no longer naturally produce enough insulin to break down glucose but instead, needs additional insulin.
Good and bad carbs
When it comes to carbohydrates there are those considered good and others considered bad. People who follow certain diets may choose to stay away from bread and pasta and rather take in natural carbs and sugars found in fruit and vegetables.
When considering the glycemic index, it’s important to opt for low glycemic foods which are at 55 or less instead of high GI which
Rapidly increasing the blood sugar can lead to diabetes and other illnesses associated.
Good carbs are Low-GI (low glycemic index) foods, which mean the sugars are absorbed more slowly and gradually into the body. Low-GI foods include some of the following with estimated GI level):
- Grains and starch – corn (54), wild rice (57), spaghetti (42), bran (42),
- Vegetables – celery (15), asparagus (15), spinach (15), lettuce (15), chickpeas (33) tomatoes (15), cooked carrots (39)
- Dairy products – plain
yogurt(14), nut milks(30), skim milk (32)
- Fruits – apples (38), grapefruit (25), oranges (44)
- Proteins – Peanuts (21), lentils (41), beans (40), Black-eyed beans (59)
Bad carbs, on the other hand, are High-GI foods (high glycemic index) which in this case mean the sugar intake is rapidly absorbed. This not only leads to weight gain but also increases the blood sugar levels in the body.
Many “bad” carbs are also nutrient poor. And when it comes to processed food, it gets even worse. Processed food is packed full of
High-GI foods include but are not limited to the following (with estimated GI level):
- Starch and grains – whole wheat bread (71), white bread (100), baked potatoes (85), white bagels (103)
- Fruits – watermelon (72), pineapple (66)
- Dairy – ice cream (61)
- Your typical “junk food” including chocolate, candy, gummy sweets, crisps, biscuits, crackers (all with extremely high GI and virtually zero nutrition).
11 Tips to lower sugar intake
If you want to start on a healthier road then it’s imperative
Here are some easy tips that you could implement on your road to reduce your sugar intake in your overall diet.
1. Eliminate sodas
Sodas are huge culprits when it comes to sugar intake and often contains lots more sugar than is required in a healthy, balanced diet.
If you do opt for a sugar-free soda, then be aware that artificial
Your best choice is to opt for regular water or herbal teas (without sugar of course!).
2. Opt for cereal with lower sugar
Plain porridge such as oats is a great low-sugar option. You can also chooser bran or corn cereal.
If you find the taste of these cereals to be a bit bland, add small quantities of fresh fruit to your cereals instead of sugar.
3. Quit table sugar
While you may not be able to totally eliminate table sugar, you can cut back on the intake like adding half or much less than you would on a regular basis.
You can also opt for honey as a natural sweetener to processed sugar. While everything may start to take on an acquired taste considering the lower dose of sugar, the results and benefits
As quickly as your body because accustomed to sweet tastes, the reverse is also true. In no time your taste buds will adapt to the point that if you taste something sweet again, you’ll be shocked at how sweet it actually is.
4. Eat fruits and vegetables (fresh or frozen)
While it’s much better to eat fresh fruits and vegetables, if you can’t then frozen is also fine. Just make sure that it’s naturally sweet in water and not syrup because you need to consider the sugar intake at all times and syrup is a no go!
Keep in mind that fruit also contains sugar, so don’t eat too much of it.
By far your best choice is a variety of seasonal vegetables.
5. Healthier smoothies
When it comes to your favourite smoothies, you can make healthy options. Use low-fat yoghurts, milk, and fruit to sweeten. Green smoothies are in and these are made
Check out more healthy smoothie recipes here.
6. Add flavour with herbs and spices
Cooking sometimes needs a hint of sweet to make the flavour full and tasty. However, you don’t have to add table sugar, instead, opt for sweet spices like cinnamon and nutmeg.
Instead of smothering your protein of choice with rich, fattening and unhealthy sauces, rather season with a variety of delectable herbs and spices.
NB: ensure that the spices you use are not rendered unhealthy by additional additives like MSG.
7. Opt for healthier snacks
While it’s tempting to grab a bag of crisps or biscuits as your go-to snack, there are tasty and very healthy options too.
Why not have some fresh fruit, homemade popped corn, or unsalted rice cakes with sugar-free peanut butter? You can also munch on sliced carrots and cucumber dipped in hummus.
8. Make your own ice cream and ice pops
It is summer at the moment, so the urge to enjoy a cool ice-
Instead of buying creamy sugar-laden ice-creams, rather make your own fruit popsicles and sorbet ice cream. There are plenty of recipes available that you can try for yourself.
9. Check those food labels
To stay on your healthy less-sugar road it’s imperative to monitor food labels. You’ll only know whether you’re eating healthy if you check what’s inside.
While it may seem like a drab to read the labels before purchasing your foods, it’s very important and will greatly help you on your journey.
10. Main meals high in sugar
As a rule of thumb, you may want to steer clear from dishes that are “sweet & sour”, “salad cream”, or “sweet
Opt for olive oil and apple cider vinegar instead.
11. Watch out for condiments
Condiments like tomato sauce or chutney almost always contain sugar contents. Another reason why reading food labels is so important. If you simply cannot live without these favourites then be sure to consume them in small quantities.
Sugar by any other name will still be sweet:
Recognise any of these words when checking food labels? Be warned; these are all forms of sugar:
- Fruit juice
- Corn syrup
- Invert sugar
- Hydrolysed starch
**Did you know?
Did you know that a study by ASU professor Carol Johnston suggests that adding vinegar to your diet each day can help with insulin productivity? There were also prior studies that suggest the same, compiled in the 1980’s.
There isn’t a quick fix when it comes to balancing a healthy diet, but it takes dedication and consistency to do this.
Following a balanced diet means that you’ll be getting the right amount of carbohydrates for your body to perform and have energy. You’ll also need to include protein, fats and all the micronutrients as well.
While you carefully consider the foods you eat looking to steer clear from processed sugars and artificial sweeteners, remember that you need to exercise too.
It’s like having the ideal 3-course meal, “starter, main, and dessert”, only in the case of being healthy you’ll need to follow through with getting enough rest, exercise, and eating a properly balanced diet.
Remember that reducing sugar in your diet and maintaining a balanced diet is a long-term commitment. You can see it as a long-term investment in your health and a lifestyle change that will benefit you now and as you age.