What is the current recommendation for sugar intake?
The American Heart Association recommends a maximum of 6 teaspoons of added sugar for women and 9 for men.
The Australian National Health and Medical Research Council recommend consuming only moderate amounts of sugars and foods containing added sugars.
Tips on how to reduce your sugar intake:
1) First you have to believe it is important to reduce your sugar intake.
2) Start by looking at your diet on a daily basis and seeing how much sugar you eat “incidentally.” By that, I mean the hidden source of sugar in foods and drinks that you might not consider as sweet and not naturally recognise as part of your sugar intake. For example, bread, sauces, salad dressings, low fat foods, processed and fast foods.
3) Aim to reduce your sugar intake to no more than 1 or 2 teaspoon per day.
4) Reduce your sugar intake in the way that you feel will work best for you. For each person it will probably be a bit different.
5) Sugar is very addictive. The more you eat, the more it takes to satisfy you. The opposite is also true. Train your taste buds to get used to less and you will be satisfied with less.
6) Some people might want to cut out all sugar for a month and then stay on a diet with minimal sugar intake. You will need strong will power and determination if you choose to go cold turkey. This method might increase the likelihood of failure as your taste buds would not have had the time to adjust, resulting in excessive cravings.
7) Some people might want to cut down slowly and give their taste buds time to get used to the change. You can have a little less sugar each week and aim to reduce your sugar intake to the desired level by the end of a month.
Give yourself a daily sugar ‘quota’ and use it on the highest quality sweets that you can afford. Choose only the sweets you really love and stick to a small portion.
9) If you have sugar every day, keep any sweet treats to a minimum, about once a week. If you don’t have sugar on a daily basis, you can afford to have sweet treats a couple of times a week.
10) If you over indulged on one day, don’t beat yourself up too hard. Remember you are only human. Try to cut down your sugar intake the next day.
11) Establish rules about desserts. For example, only have dessert on even days of the month, or only on weekends, or only at restaurants or only after dinner and never during lunch time.
12) Go for a walk when you crave sweetness.
13) Don’t skip meals because when you miss breakfast, lunch or dinner, your sugar levels drop and you will be tempted to reach for high-sugar foods to satisfy your cravings.
14) Read the labels and look for hidden sources of sugar.
15) Avoid soft drinks, cordials and fruit juices. Go for freshly squeezed juice which is full of vitamins and nutrients. Try a glass of iced filtered water or iced tea with lime/lemon.
16) Have your tea or coffee without sugar and milk. You can spice up your coffee with cinnamon before brewing.
17) Have hot cereal such as oats or unsweetened cereals for breakfast .Use organic fresh fruits (bananas, cherries, strawberries) or dried fruits (raisins, sultanas, dates, apricots) or nuts as toppings.
18) Cut down on commercially prepared and packaged foods.
19) Removing the lolly jar will dramatically reduce your sugar intake.
20) Choose healthy snacks such as seeds, nuts or fresh fruits instead of cakes and chocolates.
21) Reduce the amount of sugar you use in recipes. Try using half of the required amount of sugar or substitute with equal amount of unsweetened apple sauce. Use spices and extracts such as almond, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg or apple pie spice to add flavour to desserts.
22) Avoid artificial sweetener such as aspartame which is detrimental to your health. For more information on aspartame, check out our recent blog.
Life without too much sugar is really not that bad. We are living it and loving it!!
You will feel a lot better…. Try it out and you will be surprised at how good you actually feel.
Let us know how you go.
Dr Esther Lok
Disclaimer: All advice may not be construed as medical advice or instruction and is not meant to replace the advice of your medical practitioner. Information has been compiled from the author’s personal experiences and own research into multiple existing public references and previously published scientific studies. While all care is taken, information is not warranted as accurate and The Organics Institute and Dr Esther Lok cannot be held liable for any errors and omissions.