Sugar Awareness Week: an expert’s tips to help ditch the sweet stuff from your diet

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  • Sugar Awareness Week wants to alert us to the damaging effect of too much sugar in our diet

    It’s Sugar Awareness Week, so we spoke to leading nutritionist and weight-loss specialist Kim Pearson, to see how we can reduce sugar consumption from our diets, without losing our minds in the process. Because it’s no secret that sugar has a huge effect on our body and mind (and not in a positive way). This is what Kim had to say…

     

    • Remember to Read Your Labels

      ‘A master of mystery, sugar likes to disguise itself under a host of different names on food packaging. Look out for dextrose, fructose, glucose and sucrose, amongst others on your ingredients list. But the best way to easily tell just how much sugar is in your food is to look at the nutrition information table. This will clearly tell you how many grams of sugar there are per 100g. Knowing that there are around four grams of sugar in a teaspoon helps to put this number into perspective.’

    Sugar Awareness Week

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    • Beware Hidden Sugars

      ‘A lot of everyday foods that you may not expect to contain sugar are actually loaded with the stuff. Breakfast cereals, so-called ‘healthy snack bars’ and soft drinks are all common culprits of being amongst the biggest sources of sugar in the average diet. And don’t forget alcoholic drinks, too. Cocktails are amongst the worst offenders here, although it’s tricky to say exactly which are the worst, as it depends on the recipe you use. Take mojitos for example, you can have a bartender who uses a couple of teaspoons, but another might pour in an obscene amount. I tend to recommend dry wines or champagne. Dry wine has under 5g of sugar per litre of wine, which means less than one teaspoon per bottle. You can mix dry white wine with soda water to make a spritzer which makes it last longer too.

     

    • Don’t Forget Fruit

      ‘Packed with vitamins, minerals and fibre, it’s easy to think that you can pack your diet with as much fruit as possible. But remember that many fruits are so sweet and delicious because they are pretty high in sugar. Avoid fruit juices and dried fruits – a small 300ml Tropicana contains 26g of sugar (equivalent to 6.5 teaspoons!) for example. Coconut and berries (think strawberries, raspberries and blueberries) have a lower sugar content that sweeter options like bananas and mango so get to know which fruits to reach for.’

    • Switch to a Sweetener

      ‘Sweeteners can get a bad rep, but if you opt for a more natural sweetener, such as stevia or xylitol, you can cut your sugar intake without giving up that sweet fix. A stevia clicker can be handy for sweetening drinks while xylitol is good for baking. A word on honey, too. It’s hailed as a ‘good sugar’ because it’s natural. But it’s typically around 80% sugar, and sugar is sugar. Sorry.’

    • Beware ‘No Added Sugar’

      ‘Many foods that are labelled as ‘no added sugar’ are actually already packed with the stuff. For example, an energy bar that contains a lot of dried fruit doesn’t need added sugar because it already contains a lot naturally. This comes back to remembering to read your labels carefully and not being sucked in by clever advertising.’

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