How to Reduce Sugar Intake

The word sugar means different things to different people. The young love sugar, the middle-aged are wary of it while the aged are terrified. Why are there mixed feelings for something sweet and palatable? Well, here we break it down for you.

Understanding the basics of sugar.

Sugar is an energy source. The body breaks sugar down into glucose that the brain uses to function and the cells in the body use as energy. Depending on their source of supply, sugar is classified into sucrose, glucose and fructose, lactose and maltose. Irrespective of how it is ingested, the body shows no partiality in breaking down sugar. It is the degree of absorption that varies and that depends on whether it is consumed as a solid or liquid.

A person can have up to six teaspoons of sugar a day. Lesser than that is even better. Consuming sugar in excess results in health conditions like type 2 diabetes, heart disease, inflammation, obesity and fatty liver. Excess sugar speeds up the ageing process and is also associated with mind-related issues like depression and skin problems like acne.

The following points help reduce the intake of sugar and curb the craving.

Get accustomed to less sweetness.

Give your palate time to adjust. Instead of banning sugar, reduce the amount of sugar you add to foods and drinks a little at a time. Gradually, you will get accustomed to the taste of food with less sugar.

Limit sugary drinks.

Sugary drinks are not only a source of empty calories but they also show the strongest relationship with tooth decay, obesity and type 2 diabetes. Although fruit juice contains natural sugar, the juicing process means the sugar in the cell wall of the plant is released as ‘free sugar’ which damages teeth, raises blood sugar levels and provides additional calories. Replace soft drinks with water, low-fat milk, unsweetened tea or coffee.

Minimize processed foods.

Replace highly processed sugary foods like sweets, chocolate, cakes, biscuits and desserts in your diet with natural ones found in fruits and vegetables. These have a less drastic effect on blood sugar levels. Processed foods also stimulate hunger and make it difficult to control appetite and body weight.

Don’t ban fruit.

Sugar that occurs naturally in fruits is less concentrated, and consuming it along with fiber ensures that absorption of sugar is gradual. Fruits are also a valuable source of vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals.

Read the label.

It is necessary to be aware of sugar intake, so check labels for sucrose, glucose syrup, invert sugar, fructose, dextrose, maltodextrin, fruit syrup, raw sugar, cane sugar and glucose. Foods disguised as health foods can also be loaded with added sugar. Agave nectar, honey, organic cane sugar and maple syrup fall into this category.

Beware of low-fat foods.

Low-fat foods often contain more sugar than their full-fat equivalents. Manufacturers replace fat with other ingredients including sugar to improve taste. These foods do not always satisfy taste expectations resulting in eating more.

Rethink your breakfast.

A high-protein breakfast keeps you feeling fuller for longer. Readymade breakfast cereals are loaded with sugar. Replace them with porridge, eggs on toast, or yogurt with fresh fruit and nuts.

Substitute sugar with natural food enhancers.

Syrup is the most preferred food enhancer and the most vicious too. Substitute it with natural food enhancers like almond extract, cinnamon, dried fruit or canned fruit. They are not only healthy alternates but fulfilling treats.

The tongue accustoms itself to the tastes we introduce it to. Cutting down on sugar does not have to feel punitive. Over time, the sugar craving will die down revealing an improvement in overall health, loss in weight and a boost in confidence.

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