cut down on sugar


cut down on sugar

Before you freak and throw out everything in your kitchen, take a moment to fully understand the official sugar recommendation and the difference between added sugar and naturally-occurring sugar. Fruits, veggies and plain dairy products have naturally occurring sugar that you shouldn’t overly concern you. Because fruits and veggies contain other nutrients like fiber and healthy fats, the liver doesn’t process the sugar in the same way it would a cookie or a Twix bar. In other words, the sugar in apples and peppers won’t contribute to weight gain and diabetes like a soda will. Here are ways to help you cut down on sugar:

  • Remove sugar (white and brown), syrup, honey and molasses from the breakfast table — out of sight, out of mind!
  • Cut back on the amount of sugar added to things you eat or drink regularly like cereal, pancakes, coffee or tea. Try cutting the usual amount of sugar you add by half and wean down from there.
  • Instead of adding sugar to cereal or oatmeal, add fresh fruit (try bananas, cherries or strawberries) or dried fruit (raisins, cranberries or apricots).
  • Instead of having sweetened yoghurt, have plain yoghurt and add fresh fruit or dried fruit
  • When baking cookies, brownies or cakes, cut the sugar in your recipe by one-third to one-half. Often you won’t notice the difference.
  • Instead of adding sugar in recipes, use extracts such as almond, vanilla, orange or lemon.
  • Enhance foods with spices instead of sugar; try ginger, allspice, cinnamon or nutmeg.
  • Buy sugar-free or low-calorie drinks.
  • Compare the sugar content of different foods and choose the lower sugar and calorie option.
  • Sauces and condiments such as ketchup, pickles and mayonnaise can be as much as 30 per cent sugar, while sweet chilli sauce can be up to a whopping 70 per cent sugar. Try to cut down by using low-sugar or sugar-free alternatives such as a tomato-based pasta sauce instead of ketchup, pestoor plain mustard instead of pickles, or humous instead of mayonnaise.
  • Salad dressing can be another source of hidden sugar. Try the classic combination of a good virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar (this often contains sugar too, so check the label), or olive oil and a squeeze of lemon. Sprinkle on some dried or fresh herbs for added flavour.


  • Sugar isn’t just hidden in products you buy at the supermarket, many restaurant and take-away meals often also contain a lot of hidden sugars. 
  • Words such as “glaze” or “sweet pickles” on a menu usually indicate the dish contains a big dose of sugar, even though they are part of a savoury meal. Ask for a sugar-free alternative on the menu, or for any sauces to be served on the side.
  • Although the traditional versions are healthy, most Asian take-away foods have been significantly sweetened up for British palates. Thai, Chinese, Japanese teriyaki and even your favourite Indian curries such as butter chicken are almost guaranteed to contain added sugar. When ordering, ask your waiter if it is possible to prepare the dish without sugar. It will be just as tasty!
  • Instead of eating a whole desert, try splitting it with someone. Alternatively, choose fruit instead.


When you’re in the early stages of cutting down on sugar, you’ll probably notice that it is seemingly everywhere! Every cafe, take-away or snack food aisle is packed with products containing sugar. None of this is helpful if you find yourself ravenous while commuting home or out and about, or when a colleague brings out biscuits or cake in the office. Here’s where a bit of planning makes it much easier to stick to your goals:

  • Keep non-sugar alternatives handy in your handbag, briefcase, in the car or the kids’ lunch boxes, to have up your sleeve for when a craving strikes. These light and small snacks can be packed in a snap-lock bag or reusable container and most can be made at the start of the week, ready to go.
    • Plain nuts and dried fruit – nuts such as cashews or almonds are naturally sweet as well as being nutritious, and a few sultanas can hit the spot when you’re really craving sweets.
    • Toasted almonds – freshly toasting nuts gives them a burst of extra flavour. Make your own at home by simply placing raw almonds on a flat baking tray and dry toasting on a medium-low oven for 10-15 minutes. You can also toast walnuts, pecans, cashews or sunflower seeds in this way.
    • Oatcakes with cheese – oatcakes are filling, tasty and usually sugar-free (but do check the label), and are wrapped in small packets of three or four within the box, making them an ideal emergency snack to carry around. You can make little mini oatcake ‘sandwiches’ with sliced low salt cheese, or even sugar-free jam.
    • Plain houmous with celery/carrot sticks – quick, cheap and nutritious, houmous is a tasty snack that’s fun to eat. Make your own at home by blending tinned chick peas, tahini sesame paste, lemon juice and a little cumin powder and olive oil. If you’re in a hurry, supermarket versions are good too, just check the label for added sugars and choose the low sugar and salt option.
    • Corn cakes – These are a cross between puffed rice cakes and popcorn and easy to carry around and eat on the go.
    • Fresh fruit
    • Dark chocolate




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