Enjoying sugar and treats in moderation can certainly be part of a healthy diet, but it is the overwhelming excess consumption of added sugars that can be problematic and may be the cause of many common health issues. Not only has sugar been liked to large health issues such as obesity, heart disease, and Type 2 Diabetes, but sugar can also impact day-to-day issues such as mood, energy, sleep, weight, digestion, and skin.
It’s not about never eating sugar again, it’s just about doing it in a balanced and controlled way.
So if you struggle with a sweet tooth, or just can’t seem to figure out where your sugar intake is coming from, here are 9 tips to help you manage your sugar intake.
1. Start Your Day With a Savoury Breakfast
Breakfast options such as cereal, granola, and flavoured yogurt contain sugar. Even the ‘healthy’ brands contain added sweeteners so it can be really difficult to avoid. Instead, starting your day with a savoury breakfast is a great way to help reduce your overall sugar intake. Something as simple as eating eggs instead of cereal can help to eliminate sugar while adding more protein and healthy fats to the diet which can also alleviate afternoon cravings.
2. Read The Ingredients
If you buy something packaged it is absolutely imperative that you read the label. Know when to spot these sugars, especially when they are among the first few ingredients listed.
3. Focus On Water
A sugar craving can also be mistaken for thirst. Try drinking a glass of water first, if you are craving something sweet. In addition, try to limit fizzy and energy drinks. Instead, you can jazz up your water by adding sliced lemons or cucumbers or maybe have flavoured unsweetened sparkling water.
4. Make Your Own Dressings & Sauces
Condiments can have a surprisingly high amount of sugar added to them. I know it might seem like a lot of work, but learning a couple of basic salad dressing recipes can help to alleviate the need for store-bought dressings and sauces and, in turn, help you eat less sugar.
5. Use Spices
Using spices such as cinnamon and pure extracts such as vanilla, almond or lemon can help give flavour without adding sugar or sweeteners.
6. Sweeten Naturally
Try using dates, mashed banana, maple syrup, honey or molasses to replace some of the sugar in recipes such as cakes, muffins or cookies.
7. Incorporate fruits
If you crave something sweet after meals, try to include some type of fruit in the mix. Options can be:
Frozen banana with natural greek yogurt topped with almonds
Baked apple pieces with sprinkle of cinnamon
Frozen grapes (my childhood fav!)
8. Eat Protein-Rich Snacks
Try to avoid the usual go-to snacks items such as granola bars or flavoured yogurt. Unfortunately, all of these snacks have sugar included. So instead, opt for a savoury snack with lots of protein like hummus and vegetables, almond butter and apple, boiled eggs or mixed nuts. Protein is the most satiating macronutrient and can help to balance blood sugar levels, keeping us full for longer periods of time.
9. Give it time
Once you've decreased the amount of high sugar foods in your diet and substituted home-made versions or whole food options, you might even notice that those intense sugar cravings gradually disappear. We can alter our taste buds to appreciate the natural sweetness of foods and eventually not even desire highly sweetened foods.
Although in small amounts sugar can most certainly be included in a healthy and balanced diet, it is the excess consumption of refined added sugars that you need to pay attention to. Reducing sugar is more than just cutting it out of your diet. It is about breaking old habits, it is hard and can take time. So, instead of trying to rush through things, be kind to yourself and take your time.