16th January 2021

Cookies. Doughnuts. Chocolate. Cakes. These are the good things in life which make us happy. However, we secretly know too many treats can be bad for us. Sugar has long been associated with obesity and type 2 diabetes, and for the most part, we know the items we should avoid in excess. 

It’s not just the obvious sugary choices though. So many products these days are full of hidden sugar which serves as a source of unnecessary and unhealthy calories. Action on Sugar recommends the average adult should only be taking in around 30g or 7 teaspoons of sugar a day (Action on Sugar, n.d.).  

So, if you want to reduce your intake, you really need to know where the sugar lies. 

As January gets under way and we go about setting our goals for the year, we highlight 6 practical steps you can take to beat the sugar and lower your overall consumption of the sweet stuff. 

Reduce the serving 

We all know giving up sugar isn’t as easy as it sounds. Especially if you rely on it for comfort, energy boosts, or other emotional reasons. 

So instead of setting unrealistic goals, simply follow a 50% reduction rule. This means if you take one spoon of sugar in your tea, halve it. If you’re used to eating four scoops of ice-cream on a Saturday, then reduce it to two, and so on.  

This way you’ll still be getting your sugar fix but will also be dramatically reducing your intake at the same time.  

Consider natural sweeteners 

Stevia, Erythritol, and Xylitol might sound like the newest characters in Japanese anime, but they are actually naturally sweet alternatives which are considered good for you. All three are extremely low in calories and don’t cause blood sugar spikes like traditional sugar does. 

Sometimes it is difficult to go cold-turkey with sugar withdrawal, so these are definitely worth a try for those of you looking to adjust to tastes which are less sweet than what you’re used to. 

Read and compare food labels 

Labels, labels, labels! They’re the only way to get a true picture of what you’re consuming, and believe us, you might get a shock when you realise how much sugar is in some of the foods you’re eating.  

If your food label is telling you there’s more than 22.5g of total sugars per 100g then it’s too high (NHS, 2018.). This doesn’t mean the item is forbidden, but ensure you eat it in moderation or reserve it as a treat for a special occasion. 

Taking note of the colour-coded nutritional information is a good way to get a snapshot of whether a product is low, medium, or high in sugars. Remember, red means high, so the greener your label, the more likely it is to be a healthier choice (NHS, 2018). 

Swap sugar-filled drinks with alternatives 

Roughly 7-10 teaspoons go into our canned fizzy drinks and that visual alone should be enough to make you think twice (The Nutrition Source, 2021). The NHS recommends switching sugary drinks for sugar-free, diet, or no-added-sugar drinks (NHS, 2020). 

It’s important to remember the difference between natural sugar and refined sugar though. Natural sugars are found in fruit and dairy products and are digested much slower than refined sugar, keeping you fuller for longer, as well as keeping your metabolism stable (Health Design, 2017). 

So keep ordering those Peel smoothies! 

Avoid sugary desserts 

Don’t get us wrong. We at Peel love a good old dessert and fully advocate a bit of indulgence now and then. But most of them are nutritionally empty and can leave you feeling tired and stodgy.  

Instead of the usual cakes, doughnuts, and pies try to substitute your normal dessert for something less sugary. Our suggestions are dark chocolate pieces in Greek yoghurt or fresh fruit sprinkled with a bit of cinnamon.  

Shop on a full stomach  

A study looking at how food deprivation affects food purchasing behaviour found that being hungry not only makes you put more unnecessary items into your shopping basket, but it also influences the kinds of foods you buy (Mela, Aaron, and Gatenby, 1996).  

Shopping whilst hungry causes you to go for more higher-calorie items, as does shopping between 4-7pm when you are more likely to be wanting your dinner (Tal and Wansink, 2013).  

So the rule is, eat first and shop after! 

What does Peel offer? 

As always, we at Peel have your back when it comes to helping you attain your fitness goals. If reducing overall sugar intake is what you’re aiming for, then try out these low-sugar green juice options: 

ph9: Freshly pressed spinach, lime, celery, courgette and cucumber 

Lean Clean: Freshly pressed lemon, broccoli, whole lead kale and cucumber with chlorella  

Managing your goals 

If, like us, you have a natural sweet tooth, then remember, setting yourself a goal of zero sugar consumption is unrealistic and you’ll probably fail. The key here is to reduce your intake slowly and to be more aware and attuned to where the hidden sugar lies so that you can make well-informed choices. Take it slow and make small changes where possible. But also allow yourself to have that treat occasionally, because after all, life is here to be enjoyed and lived! 

References: 

Food Labels. (2018). NHShttps://www.nhs.uk/live-well/eat-well/how-to-read-food-labels/  

Mela, D. J., Aaron, J. I. and Gatenby, S. J. (1996). Relationships of consumer characteristics and food deprivation to food purchasing behaviour. Physiology and Behaviour, 60(5). https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/8916190/  

Natural vs refined sugar: why the difference matters. (2017). Health Designshttps://www.healthdesigns.net/natural-vs-refined-sugar/  

Recommended intake. (n.d.). Action on Sugar Organisationhttp://www.actiononsugar.org/sugar-and-health/recommended-intake/  

Sugary Drinks. (2021). The Nutrition Source. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/healthy-drinks/sugary-drinks/  

Sugar: the facts. (2020). NHShttps://www.nhs.uk/live-well/eat-well/how-does-sugar-in-our-diet-affect-our-health/  

Tal, A. and Wansink, B. (2013). Fattening fasting: hungry grocery shoppers buy more calories, not more food. The Journal of the Associated Medical Association, 173(12). https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/fullarticle/1685889