Are we drowning in sugar? Surveys show that Australians are each eating over 35 kilos per year. Although fewer of us take sugar in our tea or coffee, and we sprinkle less on our cereals and desserts, we are actually consuming more sugar, hidden away in processed foods, leading to weight problems and obesity.
Even worse, as sugary foods often replace more healthy alternatives, nutrition experts say the influx of sweets indirectly contributes to diseases such as osteoporosis, heart disease and cancer – all of which are directly affected by what we eat. Here's some advice to help get your sugar consumption down to healthy levels.
Cut down slowly. Forget going cold turkey. Therein lies failure. Instead, if you normally have two chocolate bars a day, cut down to one. Then, next week, have one every other day. The following week, have one every three days, until you’re down to just one a week. If you normally take 2 teaspoons of sugar in your coffee, use the same routine, cutting down gradually to 1/2 teaspoon. Eventually, get to the point where you’re using artificial sweetener if you still need the sweet taste. The more sugar you eat, the more you’ll crave. So cutting down slowly is the best way to tame a sweet tooth gone wild.
Choose sugar-free and reduced-sugar alternatives to foods such as baked beans, tomato sauce and cereals, when available.
Go half and half. Mix half standard fizzy drink with half diet version; half a sweetened yogurt with half a pot of plain yogurt; half a glass of juice with half a glass of fizzy water. Do this for two weeks, then cut back to a quarter sweetened to three-quarters unsweetened. Continue until you’re taking only the unsweetened version.
Grant yourself a daily sugar ‘quota’, and use it on the foods where it matters most. For the majority of us, that means desserts. Don’t waste it on dressings, spreads, breakfast cereals and fizzy drinks. Not only will this reduce your sugar intake in a day, but it will help you to lose your sweet tooth. The more sugar you eat, the less sensitive your tastebuds seem to become, so you want more. Train your tastebuds to become accustomed to less and you’ll be satisfied with less.
Establish rules about dessert. For instance, have dessert only after dinner, never after lunch. Or eat dessert only on odd days of the month, or just at weekends or in restaurants. If you have a long tradition of daily desserts, then make it your rule to have raw fruit at least half of the time.