Food News

Shining A Spotlight On Sugar

The NHS recommends having no more than 30g of sugar per day. However, it’s hidden in foods that you wouldn’t expect.

Zoe Stirling, nutritional therapist and co-owner of healthy hangout Squirrel ( says: “Sugar has been in the news a lot lately, and it certainly seems to be the villain of the moment.

“As well as causing blood sugar levels to peak and trough, high intake is also linked to health conditions like diabetes and heart disease.”

Follow her top tips to lower your intake, and you’ll soon feel the benefits of cutting back.

    • Avoid Fizzy Drinks

“Opt for water or herbal teas,” suggests Zoe. “Add fresh cucumber or lemon for some extra flavour. Avoiding sweet drinks is a simple way to cut down on the sugar without making too much of a difference to your diet.”

    • Skip Dessert

“Many people find that it’s after meal times that they fancy something sweet, so try to distract yourself to avoid temptation,” Zoe advises. “You could cleanse your palate either by making a cup of fresh mint or peppermint tea, or try brushing your teeth earlier in the evening to reduce the sugar cravings.”

    • Don’t Consider Honey As A Healthy Alternative

“The bitter-sweet truth is that sugar is sugar, meaning that swapping the white stuff for honey or maple syrup isn’t going to make that much difference in the long term,” explains Zoe. “Your body sees both products as glucose and therefore responds in a similar way. Try using spices like cinnamon and vanilla, as these will add to the flavour without significantly raising your blood sugar levels.”

    • Avoid Adding Sugar To Your Drinks

“Wean yourself off added sugar in teas and coffees,” Zoe recommends. “The additional sweet stuff really does add up over the course of a day, so this is an way to reduce your intake without noticing too much. If it is too hard to go cold turkey, cut down the quantity bit by bit until you don’t need it any more.”

    • Approach Nut Milks With Caution

“We’ve become big consumers of nut-based milks such as almond and cashew varieties, however, many types can be high in sugar,” Zoe warns. “Look for unsweetened products and also those which are made purely from nuts and filtered water, rather than a mix of rice milk and almond, which have higher sugar content.”

    • Check Labels As You Buy

“Utilise the traffic light labelling system in the supermarket to ensure food items or meals don’t contain high levels of sugar,” says Zoe. “It’s a quick and effective tool for ensuring there’s not too much in a specific dish, food item or product.”

    • Ditch The Sweeteners

“Don’t swap out natural sugars for fake ones,” Zoe tells us. “They’ve actually been shown to increase weight gain, and not aid weight loss.”

    • Clean Out Your Cupboards

Spring cleans don’t have to be reserved for that season alone. “Remember the old adage of ‘out of sight, out of mind’,” Zoe states. “Have a complete clear out of your kitchen cupboards and get rid of any items that might cause temptations, such as chocolates, sweets and biscuits.”

  • Balance Your Meals

“Ensure you’re getting enough protein and good fats to minimise sugar cravings,” says Zoe. “When we have lots of high carbohydrate foods, such as refined breads, pasta, white potatoes, and sweets, it sends our blood sugar levels soaring. Make sure that your meals are well-balanced, with carbohydrates such as brown rice or sweet potatoes, with good sources of protein and healthy fats such as avocados, nuts and seeds.”