If there’s one thing that we know for certain, it’s that sugar is addictive. Whether it’s the kind that you stir into your tea, sprinkle on your pancakes or the stuff that’s hidden in all of your favourite foods and drinks, sugar is something that undeniably keeps us coming back for more. According to Public Health England, adults should have no more than 30g of free sugars each day, which is equivalent to seven sugar cubes. The problem is in the UK sugar-related illnesses are becoming more common and the number of people becoming ill as a result of a poor, sugar-laden diet continues to rise. During Sugar Awareness Week, make a pact to cut out or reduce the amount of sugar in your diet with some of these helpful methods.
Choosing to embark on a low or no-sugar diet plan can have a number of positive effects on your overall health, and these can include:
Lower blood pressure – foods with high amounts of added sugar can cause weight gain if eaten regularly, which increases the risk of high blood pressure. When you have high blood pressure your heart has to work much harder and over time this could lead to heart disease, heart attack and stroke.
Increased energy – lots of people turn to sugary foods for a pick me up, but there is evidence to suggest that this could actually be counter-productive. For a proper pick me up you’re much better to rely on slow-burning carbs or high protein foods.
Bettered brainpower – this one is really important in the context of your job or just life in general. We all like to feel as though we are on top of our game at all times, and relying too heavily on sugar could be detrimental when it comes to brain function. Research has revealed that eating too much sugar can affect memory negatively, making it harder for you to retain important information.
It can aid weight loss – though overall health is a good motivation for going low sugar, there is, of course, the added benefit of weight loss. A low sugar diet can support this because when you replace refined sugars in your diet with the likes of healthy fats, your insulin remains at a stable level, meaning that fewer calories get stored as fat.
Make a habit of reading food labels
Awareness about the food that you are eating is one of the easiest ways to cut back on sugar and reading food labels is a great place to start. Reading tinned food, convenience food and snack labels will help you to determine how much sugar is in the food that you are purchasing. Be sure to check out what the guidelines say about how much sugar you could consume every day too.
Choose fresh, frozen or tinned fruit (in moderation)
But if you are opting for the tinned variety, be sure to choose fruit in water or juice as opposed to syrup that is going to be full of sugar. Fruit does still have natural sugars in though, so if you are keen to boost the amount of nutrients in your diet try and opt for veggies instead.
Cut out sugary drinks
It’s easy to consume a lot of sugar when you are constantly sipping on fizzy drinks and fruit juices. Instead, opt for fruit infused water, herbal teas or sugar-free versions of your favourite drinks.
Replace sugary sauces
Some meals are greatly enhanced with the help of syrups, sauces and dips, but these aren’t good news if you are trying to cut down on sugar. If you’re big on flavour, swap all of these items out for spices instead. Cinnamon, nutmeg, cayenne pepper and chilli flakes are all great for adding heat and flavour to dishes that are otherwise bland.
Focus on whole foods
Processed foods are the enemy when you are adopting a low sugar lifestyle, so instead try and create meals using predominantly whole foods such as vegetables, fruit, lean meats, fish and nuts and seeds.
Opt for low sugar alternatives
When you are just embarking on a low sugar diet, it’s completely natural to experience cravings, so it’s important to be aware of the foods that you can eat to reduce these. Some good options include berries, dark chocolate and plain yoghurt with fruit. Fruit is an interesting one though, and lots of people do try and avoid it when they are on a low sugar diet. The fruits that you are best to choose include strawberries, peaches and blackberries.
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