» Handy hints for quit­ting your sugar habit

We all know that too much sugar is bad for us – but giv­ing it up is hard. LIZ CON­NOR asks ex­perts for their top handy hints in ditch­ing the white stuff

Gloucestershire Echo - - CITIZEN -

WE all know that giv­ing up re­fined sugar can be bor­der­line im­pos­si­ble, even though it’s well­doc­u­mented that too much of it is bad for us. Reg­u­larly con­sum­ing more than the NHS’ rec­om­mended lim­its – which is no more than 30g of ‘free sug­ars’ (that’s those added to foods, drinks and treats to sweeten them, plus some nat­u­ral sug­ars such as those found in honey, syrup and fruit juice) in a day for adults – is as­so­ci­ated with weight gain and an in­creased risk of health is­sues like heart disease and type 2 di­a­betes.

We asked ex­perts to share some in­sider knowl­edge on how to beat those sugar crav­ings and cut back on the white stuff for good...

1. KNOW YOUR EN­EMY

“WHO says we need to quit all sugar?” says nu­tri­tion­ist Lily Sout­ter, speak­ing on be­half of cold pressed juice brand, Press (press-lon­don. com). “Be savvy with what you give up in­stead.”

“While we need to be mindful of re­duc­ing our ‘free sugar’ in­take, we don’t need to ditch all sugar. There is a lot of con­fu­sion as to whether we need to hold back on fruit con­sump­tion due to the sugar con­tent, for in­stance,” she adds.

“You may have heard ru­mours such as ‘ba­nanas make you fat,’ or that ‘fruit is high in sugar there­fore un­healthy’. How­ever, this is sim­ply a myth. Fruit sugar is locked into a fi­brous matrix, which can help to slow the re­lease of sugar into the blood stream and keep us full. Fruit also comes with vi­ta­mins, min­er­als and an­tiox­i­dants.”

Lily ex­plains that it’s ‘free sug­ars’ – usu­ally added by man­u­fac­tur­ers to en­hance flavour – that we should be wary of. “The cur­rent rec­om­men­da­tions are that we cut back on free sug­ars to 30g per day. To put this into con­text, one ta­ble­spoon of honey comes with as much as 17g of free sugar – so that driz­zle of honey you add to your por­ridge could be hit­ting your max­i­mum in­take of free sugar be­fore 9am.”

“Be wary of ‘hidden sug­ars’ too,” adds Dr David Lewis, co-au­thor of Fat Planet: The Obe­sity Trap And How We Can Es­cape It (askdr­david. co.uk). “These are sug­ars that man­u­fac­tur­ers in­tro­duce into a sur­pris­ingly wide range of foods un­der var­i­ous guises. You might find them listed as: Su­crose, glu­cose, grape sugar, dex­trose, mal­tose, ethyl mal­tol or fruc­tose.”

With this in mind, Dr Lewis says it’s a good idea to get in the habit of read­ing food la­bels, so you can keep a record of how much you con­sume.

2. STAY HY­DRATED

AC­CORD­ING to

Dr Will Breakey, founder of nat­u­ral condi­ments brand Dr Wills (dr-wills.com), keep­ing a sup­ply of wa­ter by your desk can help to ward off af­ter­noon crav­ings for bis­cuits and sweets.

“Off-the-shelf bottles of fizzy drinks har­bour lots of sugar and even the diet va­ri­eties con­tain potentiall­y harm­ful sugar sub­sti­tutes,” warns Dr Breakey. “Buy your­self a Bpa-free wa­ter bot­tle with a wide lid, so you can throw in nat­u­ral flavour­ings like lemon wedges, orange seg­ments, chopped straw­ber­ries and mint.

“Don’t for­get to keep drink­ing in the even­ing, as stud­ies have shown that stay­ing well hy­drated be­fore bedtime can help to curb night-time sugar crav­ings.”

3. EN­JOY FROZEN BERRIES

IF you’re look­ing to sa­ti­ate your sweet tooth with­out crack­ing open a tub of Ben & Jerry’s, Dr Breakey says hav­ing a sup­ply of frozen berries in the freezer is a great com­bat­ant. “Mixed with nat­u­ral yo­ghurt, frozen rasp­ber­ries and blue­ber­ries can give you a su­per quick ‘froyo’ dessert, which can stave off any post-din­ner crav­ings for ice-cream. “It’s a great food swap now that the warmer weather has ar­rived. If you let your berries thaw out a bit, you can also use them as a sub­sti­tute for shop-bought jam too – smash them on wholegrain bread for a healthy break­fast hack.”

4. SUB­STI­TUTE WITH CIN­NA­MON

IF you’re strug­gling to give up sugar at break­fast time, our ex­perts sug­gest try­ing a spoon­ful of cin­na­mon in­stead of reach­ing for the honey pot. “Cin­na­mon is usu­ally as­so­ci­ated with sweet treats, but adding a sprin­kle to your por­ridge can help to ward off crav­ings for free sug­ars.”

The ben­e­fits of swap­ping in cin­na­mon don’t stop there ei­ther. “Cin­na­mon helps re­duce blood­sugar lev­els be­cause it slows stom­ach emp­ty­ing and makes you feel full faster,” says Dr Breakey.

“You’ll only need a tea­spoon daily – and you can sprin­kle this into your cof­fee. The fresher the cin­na­mon the bet­ter, as its ac­tive in­gre­di­ents be­gin to de­grade over time.”

5. GET A GOOD NIGHT’S SLEEP

“IF you’ve ever found your­self munch­ing your way through sug­ary quick-fix foods after a sleep­less night, then science can ex­plain why,” says Lily. “Re­search has shown that sleep deprivatio­n is as­so­ci­ated with an in­crease in ap­petite, and a study pub­lished in the Jour­nal of Clin­i­cal En­docrinol­ogy and Me­tab­o­lism found that when sleep is re­stricted, our sati­ety hor­mone, lep­tin, de­creases and our hunger hor­mone, ghre­lin, in­creases.

“It’s also been shown to af­fect our food choices. Re­search from King’s Col­lege Lon­don found that sleep­de­prived peo­ple on av­er­age con­sume 385 calo­ries more per day than those who slept longer.”

Sleep deprivatio­n can in­crease crav­ings for quick-fix foods such as sweets, salty snacks and high-calorie starchy foods, as the body looks for an in­stant boost. So, if you of­ten rely on a can of Coke to pull you through the af­ter­noon, it might be time to read­dress your sleep sched­ule.

6. BE MINDFUL OF BOOZE

THE sugar con­tent in beer or your a pre-mixed cock­tail is some­thing

many peo­ple are sur­prised about, and your week­end tipple can eas­ily send you well over the rec­om­mended guide­lines.

Dr Breakey says: “For the no-sugar purist, opt for vodka, soda and lime – this has no real sugar con­tent and is only around 100 calo­ries per glass. If you’re a wine drinker, stick to prosecco, as it con­tains 1g of sugar per 250ml. It’s a low-sugar choice com­pared with a large glass of pinot gri­gio (5g), zin­fan­del rose (8g) or doux (sweet) cham­pagne, which can con­tain a whop­ping 28g.”

There’s no real cure for hang­overs, so if you want to save your­self the headache the morn­ing after while still keep­ing your sugar lev­els in check, opt for a low-sugar, alcohol-free drink in­stead.

“After a while, the taste buds adapt to unsweet­ened foods – so stick with your plan,” prom­ises spe­cial­ist per­for­mance nu­tri­tion­ist Matt Lovell (amino­man.com).

“Soon enough, if you start adding sugar back into your tea or cof­fee, you’ll no­tice how sickly-sweet and un­drink­able it is.”

Cut­ting your sugar in­take can be hard

A tea­spoon of cin­na­mon a day can re­duce blood sugar lev­els

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