Sugar has become part of our day to day lives and most of us eat and drink far too much of it without even realising.
According to NHS research, the average Briton consumes an average of 140 teaspoons of sugar per week. This is a huge figure considering the recommended amount is 35 teaspoons per week or 30g per day.
The problem is the abundance of cheap, everyday products that contain scary amounts of added sugar - take a hot chocolate from Starbucks, for example, which contains 15 teaspoons of the stuff. As more of us consume these sugary food and drinks we’re gaining weight and putting our body in a state of inflammation.
How does sugar do this? High sugar intake creates a stress response in the body which causes a surge of insulin and stress hormones, triggering inflammation in our organs and joints. Not only does this make us feel fatigued and weak, it’s also leading to record numbers of people with obesity and Type 2 diabetes, as well as conditions such as joint pain and arthritis.
The less sugar we eat the less inflammation occurs, meaning our immune system drastically improves and our body functions properly.
Try these easy and simple ways to cut down:
Check all of the tinned and packaged foods you buy for sugar content – you might be surprised what has large amounts of sugar in it, including pasta sauces, fresh fruit juice, baked beans, fruit bars and breakfast cereals. Don’t be fooled by a ‘healthy’ label as many of these foods are also laden with sweeteners.
Try to limit your intake by swapping to reduced sugar versions (for example: Heinz Reduced Sugar & Salt Ketchup) or lower sugar alternatives such as carrot or vegetable based juice over pure apple juice. This will make a huge difference to your overall wellbeing and bring your sugar count down over time.
Here’s a handy guide on what is high/low in regards to sugar content:
- high – over 22.5g of total sugars per 100g
- low – 5g of total sugars or less per 100g
Try delicious and healthy ways of sweetening food such as fresh fruit, coconut sugar, honey and date syrup. These are better for you as they contain vitamins and minerals but do try to keep these natural sweet foods to minimal levels as you want to retrain your taste buds away from sugary flavours (you’ll be amazed how quickly this happens once you address your sugar intake).
Control your cravings
When you first reduce your sugar intake you might find you crave sweet foods but this will pass after a few days. If you do have a sugar craving try distracting yourself by going for a walk, call a friend for a chat or drink a large mug of sweet herbal tea such as peppermint & licorice. If you still can’t think of anything but sweet treats, try eating citrus fruit such as a fresh orange to clear the craving (it works!). After a few days your sweet cravings will drop dramatically as your blood sugar levels go back into balance. You’ll feel much better for it too.
Know your good sugar from your bad
We don’t need to avoid natural sugars found in nutrient-dense food like dairy products as these are naturally occurring and far better for us than the added sugars found in processed foods such as fizzy drinks, sweets and cereal bars. So, don’t worry about those.
Cook yourself healthy
Cooking from scratch at home is the best way to avoid sugary sauces, stir fry mixes and condiments. By preparing and cooking everything yourself you can be sure of exactly what you are eating and you’ll be much healthier for it.
Article written by Ginny Weeks
How do you keep your sugar levels in check? Tell us below or tweet @honoroakWR