It is all about balance, however, as many of us are increasingly over-indulging in sugary snacks and treats, our waistlines are expanding and our health is becoming considerably compromised.
One teaspoon of sugar has around 16 calories. If you were to cut out foods and drinks that equal 10 teaspoons of sugar (a bowl of coco pops!) – You’ll cut 160 calories from your daily diet. Try doing that for seven days and you can be cutting back on 1,120 calories – this reduction, for about three weeks will result in a weight loss of one pound! Pound by pound, you can see how effective simple sugar reductions can be if you are trying to lose weight.
Try these tips to get on track:
Get in the habit of reading food labels
Many times even things that you might not classify as being sweet like tomato sauce, ketchup, crackers, cereal bars and salad dressings can be loaded with hidden, unhealthy sugars. Look for foods with less than 5g of sugar per 100g.
Reduce the servings
When baking cookies, brownies or cakes try to cut the sugar in the recipe by half. Often you won’t notice the difference. Use extracts such as almond, vanilla, orange or lemon as you gradually cut the sugar and your taste buds adapt.
Think protein and fat
Unhealthy carbohydrate rich foods are usually the ones loaded with empty calories and sugar. Always think of pairing proteins and fats together to avoid blood sugar imbalances. Keeping your blood sugars balanced by having a snack rich in both protein and fat will keep you fuller, more satisfied and it will reduce your cravings for sugar rich foods in the long run. If you are keen to reduce your carbohydrate intake, try out our Paleo Inspired programme
Enhance your meals with spices instead of sugar
Mix it up and keep it interesting use spices such as ginger, allspice, cinnamon or nutmeg to season and flavour food without added sugars. This will spare you a few inches off your waistline! Sprinkle cinnamon on your morning porridge or in your smoothie – cinnamon has been shown to be effective in regulating blood sugar levels and help control appetite.
Increase your fibre intake
Fibre can slow down carbohydrate digestion and sugar absorption which is helpful for improving blood sugar control. Foods high in fibre include vegetables, fruit and whole grains and a variety should be included in your daily diet. Fibre also has an amazing role in helping you feel satisfied after a meal, making you less likely to binge on unhealthy sugary foods – win-win!
Up your intake of chromium and magnesium rich foods
High blood sugar levels and diabetes have been, in many cases, linked to micronutrient deficiencies. Particularly magnesium and chromium are two powerful micronutrients involved in blood sugar control. Think of eggs, wholegrains, nuts and green beans for chromium and dark leafy greens, fish, avocados, bananas for magnesium.
Start your day with a savoury breakfast
This is a very helpful tip if you have an extremely sweet tooth. Starting your morning with something sweet is more likely to make you continue eating sugary foods throughout the day. Think of making something savoury first thing in the morning like a vegetable omelette or some smoked salmon on rye bread. Give it a go for a week and see if it reduces the overall sugar you eat.
Don’t drink your fruit
Fruit juice is a staple in many people’s diets. An orange, for example, has about 10g of naturally occurring sugars – a glass of orange juice has over twice the amount and less than one third of the fibre. Eating the whole fruit has much more benefits as you are consuming the fibre and extra nutrients contained within the whole fruit. Once you juice it, you don’t get much more than a glass of sugary water.
Be mindful of all sugars – even the “healthy” ones
This is where we mention fruit again. No matter how healthy a particular fruit is – it is still sugar and we should consume it in moderation as we are likely to experience powerful cravings when excessively consuming it. Try and pick fruits like berries, apples and pears when you need something sweet rather than mangoes, grapes or figs. One cup of whole cranberries has 4g sugar, 1 cup of raspberries has about 5.5g – on the other hand, 1 cup of mango has about 22g and 1 cup of chopped figs have a significant 29g – It all adds up.
Stay away from fat-free products
This is a very common mistake people tend to make without realising the harm. Most of the time, products that are low-fat, reduced-fat or fat-free are almost always full of sugar. Fat is what gives food flavour, reducing or removing this nutrient means another ingredient has to be added so it still tastes good – most of the time it’s sugar (or salt). Always opt for whole-food and natural ingredients rather than “diet” foods.