One of the most important changes you can make when it comes to how you feel and move – and even how you look – is to cut back one key ingredient from your diet... One that has virtually no nutritional value and yet is almost everywhere you look.
You might already have guessed what I’m talking about: added sugar. This is the "extra" sugar that is added to your foods, such as the kind found in syrups, lollies, biscuits, soft drinks, and processed foods. It is not the naturally occurring sugar found in fruits, veggies, and other foods that contain fiber and loads of micronutrients that your body really needs!
Did you know that the national recommended maximum for added sugar is 10% of your total calories? So, for example, if you eat 2,000 calories a day, that's 200 calories – or 50g of sugar. Most of us get much more than that! For example, 175g of Yoplait Strawberry Yoghurt contains 23.6g of sugar!
I highly encourage you to wean yourself off that added sugar, which contains zero essential nutrients but does have a lot of calories – plus it plays havoc with your blood sugar, increases inflammation, and can lead to cravings. Not only that, but over time it can set up a chain reaction with your body's hormones that leads to chronic health issues and storing belly fat.
On a side note, while maple syrup and honey do contain some micronutrients and health benefits, your body still processes them as sugar, so if you do use them, just watch your portion sizes.
If you've got a serious sweet tooth, I'm not going to sugar-coat it (pardon the pun): ditching the sugar can be challenging. But with some simple tactics (and some patience) you can go a long way toward cutting down on your sugar intake pretty painlessly.
Some things you can do:
- Read food labels or look at nutrition info online for your favorite foods. You'll probably be amazed at what you see!
- Track your sugar intake over the course of a day so you have a baseline for your intake. Most food journal apps (like MyFitnessPal) let you track sugar levels. Subtract out the sugar from natural sources like fruit. This likely will be eye-opening!
Next, try these swaps / ideas:
- Reach for fruit instead of biscuits, cakes, and other sweet treats. To keep it fun, try new-to-you fruits. Example: pomegranate seeds are totally addictive!
- Frozen fruit also works really well instead of ice cream (or try the new 100% natural “Pure Pops”).
- Infuse your water with berries and/or cucumber or try unsweetened flavored mineral water.
- Brew up some herbal tea that’s been infused with fruit. Drink it warm or cold!
- Brush your teeth right after you eat!
One last thing… be sure you stay hydrated to help with cravings.
After just a few days of eating less sugar, take a look in the mirror. Chances are you’ll notice a positive change in your skin too, because sugar contributes to wrinkles, uneven skin tone, and other issues.