Sugar is a sneaky ingredient in that it can sneak into foods we think are good for us, without us realising – and before we know it we can exceed our daily recommended intake, having not even touched a bar of chocolate or a packet of sweets.
What is the recommended daily sugar allowance for an adult?
The average adult in the UK should have no more than 30g of sugar per day – that’s seven sugar cubes. For children under 10, it’s six cubes, and for kids under six, it’s five cubes. A snack pack of raisins contains, on average, 25g of sugar…so you can see how quickly our sugar intake can rack up, even if we think we’re eating healthily.
How can to reduce sugar sensibly in your diet…
The obvious answer when it comes to reducing sugar is to stay away from chocolate, sweets and fizzy drinks, but what about when we’re going about our daily habits and that pesky sugar is finding its way into our diets…how can we consciously avoid those grams adding up?
A good tip is to become more aware of the ingredients lists on the packaged foods you buy, look out for those traffic light labels and look for less red and more green labels in your shopping basket. Anything listed as having more than 25.5g of sugar per 100g is considered high so try and look for lower sugar alternatives.
Another quick measure is to use your hands, well specifically your thumb…if you’re reaching for a bar of chocolate have a thumb sized portion rather than the whole bar. A typical adult only needs four thumb sized portions of fat per day, so think of your thumb as your measuring stick for when you fancy something sweet but don’t want to over indulge.
Get on the scales…
Well, to be more precise, get your weighing scales out. It’s so easy when cooking, to just grab a handful of ingredients and say ‘that’ll do’ – and that’s where again, small amounts of sugar can creep in to our diets. So, for example, if you’re adding strawberries or dried apricots to your breakfast porridge, instead of grabbing a handful, why not try measuring out 20g and seeing what that looks like in comparison to your usual portion?
Look for alternatives
Reducing your sugar intake doesn’t mean having to go without. If you fancy something sweet while watching TV, rather than reach for the biscuit tin, try having some homemade baked treats ready and waiting – low sugar oat-based muffins can be a delicious TV time snack and a great way of avoiding last minute sugar crashes.
Preparation, knowledge and commitment
Changing your dietary habits is hard and who doesn’t like to indulge in something sweet and sticky every now and then? However, the long term health benefits of a low-sugar diet far outweigh the short-lived pleasure of a piece of cake or ice cream.
Having low sugar items in the cupboards or fridge that you and your family can snack on is a great way to avoid reaching for the easy-win biscuit tin. Keep plenty of fruit in your fruit bowl and encourage the kids to help themselves to it, too.
Read up on the ingredients in the foods you buy regularly and check how much sugar is in them. Remember, small changes over long periods make a big difference – and if you’re on the ball with your sugar intake most of the time, it makes that odd bit of chocolate or packet of sweets all the more sweeter!
Until next time…