By now, almost everyone is familiar with the ways in which sugar can wreak havoc on your health - from obesity to diabetes to liver damage...
So why is it that so many South Africans are still eating an average of 153 g (that equals six chocolate bars!) of the dangerously sweet stuff a day?
It's time to start cutting back on sugar to take back your health. If you find that cutting back is extremely difficult, you've come to the right place - read on for five top tips on how to get your sugar consumption under control… for once and for all!
Five tips to get your sugar intake under control
#1: Write down everything you eat for a day
Do this and highlight anywhere that there’s sugar in your diet. Then ask yourself, “is there anywhere I can easily cut sugar out?” Three sugars in your morning cup of tea or coffee? Cut it back to one. Mid-afternoon sweets or chocolate? Snack on an apple or some grapes instead. Soon, you’ll realise how easy it is to cut back!
#2: Always check product labels before indulging!
This simple tip can significantly help you cut back on the amount of sugar you eat. Sweeteners such as cane sugar, glucose, honey, agave nectar, rice syrup, corn syrup, coconut nectar and date paste are all fine. However, you should avoid the much maligned high-fructose corn syrup (or HFCS). It’s important to check the labels on savoury food products as well – if a food contains one of these sweeteners or anything ending in ‘ose or ‘dextrin (such as sucrose or maltodextrin), it contains sugar. And if these are listed in the first three ingredients, it means the food is actually sugary rather than something savoury.
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#3: Shop on the perimeter of your grocery store
You can avoid unnecessary sugar by simply navigating the healthy aisles in your grocery store and filling your trolley with fresh fruits and vegetables, organic, grass-fed meats, BPA-free canned foods and superfoods
. Stay away as far away from the sweet aisles and the bakery section as you can!
4: Experiment with healthy dessert recipes
I get it – it can be challenging it is to resist a sugary treat after dinner! So I’m not going to suggest cutting dessert out completely – rather, allow yourself something sweet that’s under 100 calories but doesn’t contain sugar substitutes. There are loads of healthy dessert recipes that you can experiment with. One of my favourites is a classic chia pudding – it’s so simple to whip up and also so satisfying! If you’re not big into baking, two squares of dark chocolate is another healthy alternative to your usual sugar-packed bowl of ice cream or chocolate pudding.
#5: Don’t beat yourself up if you eat more sugar than you’d like
This may sound like a no-brainer but it’s really important! Remember that sugar can play an enjoyable role if your life when you consume it on an irregular basis. So it’s totally fine to indulge in a slice of cake or – if you’re trying to keep things as healthy as you can – matcha green tea ice cream from time to time. Moderation is key when it comes to your sugar intake!
And there you have it – the ins and outs to dealing with those pesky sugar cravings in a health way. Good luck!