The negative health effects associated with excess sugar consumption are widely documented and well researched. Medical research has found strong links between excessive sugar consumption and weight gain, diabetes, heart disease, erratic mood fluctuations and attention disorders. The recommended sugar consumption for an adult is 25g-30g per day which is 5-6 teaspoons.
When you think that apple juice has on average 10g of sugar per 100ml’s it’s easy to see how your daily consumption can be much higher than you realize and it’s important to be careful about the source of the sugars we do choose to eat. For example, the sugar (fructose) found in fruit also comes with the added benefit of the fibre, vitamins and minerals that benefit our general health, unlike chocolate milk which offers minimal health benefits to consumers along with excessive amounts of sugar. So, in our opinion, fruit would be a healthier choice than chocolate milk, although they both contain sugar.
In store bought and mass-produced foods there is so often unnecessarily high amounts of added sugar so it’s important to be aware of what you ear and take notice of the ingredients to keep your sugar consumption down. So, here’s a few actionable tips you can use to reduce your daily sugar consumption;
- Stay away from pre-packaged sauces and mixes when cooking meals.
Many of you may know that commercially produced sauces such as tomato and barbecue sauce are loaded with sugar. However, sugar is also hidden in other commercial sauces such as ready-made pasta sauce and mixes. Household brand name sauces can contain at least one teaspoon of sugar per serve. This might not seem like much but bear in mind it all adds up when trying to stay within the guidelines for healthy sugar intake. Read the labels and avoid those that contain added sugar and ingredients you can’t pronounce. Remember that list of ingredients go in order of the greatest to the least amount in the bottle so if sugar is near the top then it is one of largest ingredients in package.
- Cut Down on Fruit Juice, Flavoured Milks & ‘Health’ drinks.
Drinks like fruit juice and flavoured milk may sometimes seem like a healthy alternative to soft drinks and beer. However, these drinks still contain high amounts of sugar. Unsweetened apple juice for example, contains around 10g of sugar per 100g of apple juice. Well known supermarket Iced coffee brands contain a whopping 61 grams of sugar in a 600ml carton (that’s 3 times your recommended intake in one sitting, plus what else you eat for the day). When craving drinks like fruit juice, iced tea or iced coffee try to search for natural unsweetened juice options or vegetable based juices and ask your barista to make your iced coffee with no sugar. For soft drink alternatives try Kombucha or soda with lime and fruit flavours. Alternatively you can swap the juice for a whole piece of fruit, which also gives you the added nutrients and fibre.
- Don’t buy flavoured or sweetened yoghurt.
Sweetened and flavoured yoghurts can contain a lot of sugar. For example, in a 150g tub of Classic Vanilla yoghurt there is 20g of sugar. It is recommended that when buying yoghurt, you opt for the unsweetened variety and flavour it yourself with fruit. If you’re confident in the kitchen you can even make yoghurt yourself. Here’s a recipe you can try (we’ve used this one, its easy and we like it).
- Try to cut out unhealthy snacks and sweets.
Unhealthy snacks like chocolates or mints obviously contain large amounts of sugar. However, the nutritional information on some of these products can be quite deceptive. Often the sugar content listed is for a very small amount of the packaged product and on many packages nutritional information is intentionally made difficult to locate. The healthy option here is to try and eliminate these kinds of snacks and replace them things like fruit, nuts or naturally sweetened snacks like protein balls.
- Beware of store-bought breakfast cereals
Breakfast cereals are often advertised as being a healthy way to start your day. Any breakfast cereals (particularly those marketed towards children) are very high in sugar. Often cereals that are advertised as healthy diet options are high in sugar. Well known brands labeled as 'healthy' cereal can contain approximately 3 teaspoons of sugar per 100 grams. Healthy alternatives to breakfast cereals include unsweetened muesli, fruit (or a combination of both) or eggs.
Remember, it takes at least 30 days to notice the effects of reducing your sugar consumption, so stick with it for at least 4 weeks! During this time try to make a conscious effort to count your daily sugar grams and keep it under 30g per day.