We all know that fizzy drinks tend to contain a lot of sugar, but are you aware of less obvious foods and drinks that contain the sweet stuff? We take a look at the impact of sugar in our diet and suggest ways to decrease the amount we consume.

According to the British Medical Journal, too much sugar is linked to weight gain, obesity, type 2 diabetes, tooth decay, gum disease and other health problems.

Concerns about our national sweet tooth have now reached fever pitch, as a result a new pressure group, Action on Sugar, has been formed. The group is campaigning for a 20-30 percent reduction in the sugar added to processed foods.

Cardiologist and Science Director of Action on Sugar, Dr Aseem Malhotra says: ‘Aside from being a major cause of obesity, there is increasing evidence that added sugar increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome and fatty liver disease.’

‘Added sugar has no nutritional value whatsoever, and causes no feeling of satiety.’

 

How much sugar is in our diet?

The World Health Organisation has advised us to have no more than six teaspoons of sugar a day.

Fruit juices and smoothies may seem like the healthy choice but they are usually very high in sugar – a 200ml glass of orange juice contains 5 teaspoons of sugar. Some fizzy drinks and can contain up to eight teaspoons of sugar, so in one beverage, we could be consuming our daily allowance.

Sugar can even be found in bread, with some single slices having around half a teaspoon each.

 

Ways you help reduce your sugar intake?

Small lifestyle changes can help you to cut excess sugar from your diet. Some tips that the NHS recommend include:

  • Don’t take sugar in your tea: Reduce the amount of sugar in your tea and coffee until you adjust to the taste.
     
  • Cooking from scratch: This means you know how much sugar is going into your food.
     
  • Swap sugary snacks: Fill the biscuit gap with oatcakes or rice cakes.
     
  • Drink more water: Dehydration can make us hungry so make sure you drink enough.
     
  • Eat fruit whole: Eating fruit instead of drinking it is more satisfying than fruit juice.

 

Utilising Health Technology

We can also use health technology to help us monitor or reduce our sugar intake. Fooducate is a smartphone app, that can help be aware of how much sugar is in your diet.

Food on the app database is graded from A to D, using an algorithm based on nutritional information provided on the packaging. Foods that aren’t as processed i.e. fresh veg, meat and wholegrains are very nutrient dense and graded highly.

Processed food, full of added sugar, sodium and saturated fat gets a lower grade. You can track the food you eat over a period of time which can encourage you to make better choices.

The app can be downloaded from iOS or Android for free.

 

Cut the cravings

Scientists have suggested that sugar can be addictive and cutting it out can lead to withdrawal symptoms such as cravings, fatigue, headaches and irritability. Another smartphone app CraveMate can be used to for motivation if you’re trying to kick your sugar addiction. It encourages you to improve on your own willpower.

The app explains how cravings work and why they happen in an easy to read guide. It will send you gentle reminders as often as you need to help you along the way.

You can post pictures or notes to help you stay mindful of how you conquer cravings. It encourages you to share these moments on social media too.

The app is free to download on iOS.

Want to learn more about sugar? Take a look at That Sugar Film

 

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