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Reduce sugar intake

Top tips for cutting your sugar intake

By Jana du Plessis

By now we know the basics of a healthy lifestyle. Stay active, eat fruit and veg and avoid going too heavy on the processed, sugar-filled treats. What we don’t always realise, is just how many food items have sugar hidden in their ingredients, and what the best ways are to minimise sugar consumption without compromising on flavour.

Always check the label
Once you start looking at food labels, you would be surprised at what food contains added sugar. Seemingly harmless favourites, such as bread or a tin of baked beans, are culprits. So always check pre-packaged and ready-made items, as those are the serial sugar offenders. Sauces, soup packets (yes, even the powdered types), any ready-made and tinned meals should also be avoided as far as possible.

Search for natural sweetness
Sugar has (mostly) a positive impact on flavour. Imagine taking the sugar out of your chocolate bar? It just won’t be the same. But that doesn’t mean that we have to rely on sugar for added sweetness! Fruit and veg are naturally sweet and some become even sweeter when cooked. First saute onions and carrots when cooking mince, stews and soup to release their sugary goodness; and roast butternut and sweet potatoes with cinnamon for a sweet side dish. Let fresh fruit on porridge replace the sugar spoon, or add a couple of dried fruit pieces to your mid-afternooon snack.

Less is more
Don’t overcomplicate meals with lots of ingredients and plenty of ingredients. Rather buy fresh food with short ingredients lists and focus on the natural flavours of what you’re cooking. When you challenge yourself to use only a certain number of ingredients per meal, you’ll be surprised at how tasty food can be without the addition of preservatives, flavourants and sweeteners.

Mindfulness over matter
Being more aware of how much sugar is hidden in everyday supermarket foods, doesn’t mean you should swear off all sugar for the rest of your life. It’s about knowing where sugar is found, how to go about reducing your default intake and allowing yourself a treat in moderation. Besides, if you’re eating less sugar in your everyday meals, doesn’t that mean having an extra slice of cake this weekend is (almost) guilt-free?

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