Sugar Sugar – All You Need to Know

It’s rarely out of the news so we’re aware that sugar certainly isn’t good for us, but how do we know how much to have and how do we know when we’re eating it?

Now – to avoid any confusion, there are two types of sugar - naturally occurring and 'free' sugars (added), which include table sugar (sucrose) as well as concentrated sources like fruit juice. It is these 'free sugars' which are any sugars added to food or drinks, or found naturally in unsweetened fruit juices, honey and syrups that we need to cut back on.

Hiding in foods you would never even expect it to be hiding in, we are guilty of falling to its devious ways. Some of us more so than others but that’s because a lot of simply don’t know when we’re eating it.

For example, one tablespoon of ketchup contains around 4g (about 1 teaspoon) of free sugars and a can of soft drink contains up to 40g (about 10 teaspoons). It’s also hiding in low-fat food - more often than not there is so much sugar in place of fat to help improve the texture and taste

To put it into context, the UK's official nutrition advisors are agreeing with recommendations from the World Health Organisation (WHO) that we should have no more than 24g (6 teaspoons a day).

David Perlmutter, M.D., author of Grain Brain: The Surprising Truth about Wheat, Carbs, and Sugar—Your Brain’s Silent Killers has said that we should all be on a sugar fast permanently. So what is it about sugar that’s really not doing us any favours and what can we do now to help ourselves? Should we be going cold turkey?

If you can't go cold turkey just yet, you can still lower your intake by eating more healthy fats. “Sweet and fatty foods are our two main desires. If you choose to eat more healthy fats, you’ll crave sweets less,” says Perlmutter, who recommends eating cheese, chocolate (85 percent cacao or more), olive oil, grass-fed beef, butter, eggs, nuts and seeds.

Not sure how to cut down? Don't worry, there are some really simple ways to reduce your daily intake without even really noticing:

  • Swap white bread, rice and pasta for wholegrain versions like granary and wholemeal breads, brown rice and pasta as well as oats

  • Sprinkle some cinnamon over your hot drink, it not only helps to stabilise blood sugar levels but adds flavour

  • Don’t buy anything that says ‘low-fat’, ‘diet’ or ‘sugar-free’ on the packaging. Sugar free can often mean the product is full of synthetic sweeteners instead like sucralose, saccharin and aspartame all of which should be avoided like the plague!

  • Indulge in more protein, it slows your stomach emptying which in turn should stop your cravings

  • Try to only have soft drinks and alcohol on weekends

  • If you do love a glass of fruit juice, stick to a day and dilute it a little

  • Enjoy herbal teas or water with slices of citrus fruits like lemons and limes for added flavour