A committee of scientists have advised that we need to cut our current levels of “free sugars” – those not found naturally in fruit, vegetables or milk – to 5% of our daily nutritional intake (around seven teaspoons), with most people already consuming at least twice this. Here are some tips for cutting down – and some warnings on the unexpected places you can find it…
1. Cut any sugar you are adding yourself
This one sounds a bit obvious, but if you currently take sugar with your hot drinks, having three a day will already bring you up to half of the recommended daily amount. Try giving your hot drinks a go without them – after a week you may actually prefer your hot drink without the additional sweetness. But if you find that your beverage is lacking in taste, you could investigate a natural sugar alternative made from the stevia plant.
2. Beware of fruit drinks
Think switching that can of cola for a glass of orange juice is a good sugar swap? Think again. True, a 330ml serving of the fizzy stuff does contain 35g of sugar (that’s your daily allowance and then some gone in one sitting), but the same amount of orange juice contains only 3g less sugar than the “unhealthy” alternative. Rustle up your own flavoured fizzy drink using carbonated water, ice and pieces of fresh fruit – not only will it create a tasty, low-sugar alternative, but you can also eat the fruit once you’ve finished the drink!
3. Watch out for hidden sugar
It’s not just the sweet stuff that contains sugar. Savoury items can also sometimes have quite a high sugar level – half of a 12” Pizza Express American pizza contains 7.5g of sugar (25% of the recommended daily amount). Even those trying to be healthy may find themselves ingesting more sugar than they thought – healthy-looking cereal bars contain 8.4g of sugar per serving. Our tip: always read the label!
4. Alcohol is a type of sugar!
Although the sun may (or may not) be shining outside, be aware of the sugar content in alcoholic drinks. The big hitters are fruit ciders, with some containing as much as 5 teaspoons of sugar in one pint, with G&Ts close behind, containing 14g per 250ml can. If you have alcoholic drinks and you want to make them healthier, take some carbonated water and mix them up a bit, or drink a glass of water between each one.
5. Try eliminating sugar slowly
If giving it all up in one go sounds intimidating, try phasing out sugar in stages. Start with cutting out some of the sugar you add yourself, then once you feel happy move onto other stages such as analysing your food labels, and substituting sugary treats with healthier alternatives.