Six simple steps to cut out sugar

We all know that giving up refined sugar can be borderline impossible, even though it’s well-documented that too much of it is bad for you. Regularly consuming more than the recommended limits is associated with weight gain and an increased risk of serious health issues such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

So, if you’re thinking about trying to cut back it’s a good idea to be prepared with the right advice. After all, sometimes you need tips that go beyond purging your house of all temptations.

We asked experts to share some insider knowledge on how to beat those sugar cravings and cut back on the white stuff for good …

1. Know your enemy

“Who says we need to quit all sugar?” says nutritionist Lily Soutter. “Be savvy with what you give up instead.”

Young girl on dieting for good health concept. Close up female using hand reject junk food by pushing out her favorite donuts and choose red apple and salad for good health.
Sugars are not all created equal. (iStock/PA)

“While we need to be mindful of reducing our sugar intake, we don’t need to ditch all sugar. There is a lot of confusion as to whether we need to hold back on fruit consumption due to the sugar content, for instance,” she adds. “You may have heard rumours such as ‘bananas make you fat’, or that ‘fruit is high in sugar therefore unhealthy’. However, this is simply a myth.

“Fruit sugar is locked into a fibrous matrix, which can help to slow the release of sugar into the blood stream and keep us full. Fruit also comes with key vitamins, minerals and antioxidants which support health.”


View this post on Instagram


🍓Making the most out of these lovely local strawberries here in Gozo – bloody lovely🍓 . 👍🏻#nutrition #fitness #nutritionist #health #motivation #fit #healthy#diet #healthyfood #healthylifestyle #muscle #food #gymlife #eatclean #lifestyle #foodporn #exercise #body #blueberries #antioxidants #foodphotography #wellness #vegan #nutritionist #Dietitian👍🏻

A post shared by Robert Hobson BSc MSc RNutr (@robhobsonnutritionist) on

Ms Soutter explains that it’s ‘free sugars’ – which are mainly added by manufacturers to enhance flavour and have no nutritional value – that we should be weary of. “The current recommendations are that we cut back on free sugars to 30g per day. To put this into context, one tablespoon of honey comes with as much as 17g of free sugar – so that drizzle of honey you add to your porridge could be hitting your maximum intake of free sugar before 9am.”

“Be weary of ‘hidden sugars’ too,” adds Dr David Lewis, co-author of Fat Planet: The Obesity Trap And How We Can Escape It. “These are sugars that manufacturers introduce into a surprisingly wide range of foods under various guises. You might find them listed as: sucrose, glucose, grape sugar, dextrose, maltose, ethyl maltol or fructose.”

Customer in alcohol or drinks section in supermarket or liquor store holding a bottle from the shelf. Happy lady with shopping basket choosing alcoholic beverages.
Get familiar with food labels. (iStock/PA)

With this in mind, Dr Lewis says it’s a good idea to get into the habit of reading food labels, so you can keep a record of how much you’re consuming.

2. Stay hydrated

According to Dr Will Breakey, keeping a regular supply of water by your desk can help to ward off afternoon cravings for biscuits and sweets.

“Off-the-shelf bottles of fizzy drinks harbour lots of sugar and even the diet varieties contain potentially harmful sugar substitutes,” warns Dr Breakey. “Buy yourself a BPA-free water bottle with a wide lid, so you can throw in natural flavourings such as lemon wedges, orange segments, chopped strawberries and mint.

“Don’t forget to keep drinking in the evening, as studies have shown that staying well hydrated before bedtime can help to curb night-time sugar cravings.”


View this post on Instagram


Drinking enough water and staying hydrated is one of my daily struggles that I’m constantly working to improve. Do you struggle with it too? 🙋🏼‍♀️ . . . Did you know that water detoxes the body, reduces bloating, help you stay fuller longer, increase energy, and help with headaches? And that’s only a FEW benefits of it! . . . I know a lot of people say that don’t like it because it has no taste. That’s an easy fix! 😜 You can add fruit (my favorite is strawberry and lemon), add veggies like cucumber, and herbs like basil and mint. The choices are seriously endless 😋. You’re also not drinking your calories and it’s gives you a nice, refreshing treat once you drink it! . . . Have you tried infused water? What’s your favorite recipe that helps you drink more?

A post shared by Victoria (@victoriadukefitness) on

3. Keep a supply of frozen berries

If you’re looking to satiate your sweet tooth without cracking open a tub of Ben & Jerry’s, Dr Breakey says having a healthy supply of frozen berries in the freezer is a great combatant.

“Mixed with natural yoghurt, frozen raspberries and blueberries can give you a super quick ‘froyo’ dessert, which can stave off any post-dinner cravings for ice cream.


View this post on Instagram


#frozenberries #minifruitsalad #powerfood #notbadatall

A post shared by VanDort Studio (@antonvandort) on

4. Substitute with cinnamon

If you’re struggling to give up sugar at breakfast time, our experts suggest trying a spoonful of cinnamon instead of reaching for the honey pot.

“It might seem counterintuitive – as cinnamon is usually associated with sweet treats – but adding a sprinkle of the spice to your porridge can help to ward off cravings for free sugars.”

The benefits of swapping in cinnamon don’t stop there either. “Cinnamon helps reduce blood sugar levels because it slows stomach emptying and makes you feel full faster,” says Dr Breakey. “You’ll only need a teaspoon daily – and you can sprinkle this into your coffee quite easily. The fresher the cinnamon the better, as its active ingredients begin to degrade over time.”

5. Get a good night’s sleep

“If you’ve ever found yourself munching your way through sugary quick-fix foods after a sleepless night, then science can explain why,” says Ms Soutter. “Research has shown that sleep deprivation is associated with an increase in appetite, and a study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism found that when sleep is restricted, our satiety hormone, leptin, decreases and our hunger hormone, ghrelin, increases.”

And lack of sleep may do more than just increase your appetite. “It’s also been shown to affect our food choices,” says Ms Soutter. “Research from King’s College London found that sleep-deprived people on average consume 385 calories more per day than those who slept longer.”

Sleep deprivation can increase cravings for quick-fix foods such as sweets, salty snacks and high-calorie starchy foods, as the body looks for an instant boost of energy. So, if you’re often relying on a can of Coke to pull you through the afternoon, it might be signal to rethink your sleep schedule.

6. Be mindful of alcohol

The sugar content in beer or your favourite pre-mixed cocktail is something many people are surprised about, and your weekend tipple can easily send you well over the recommended daily intake guidelines.

“Sure, alcohol isn’t great for us in general and lots of us are trying to cut down, but many of us still like a drink, so it pays to know the sugar content of each tipple,” says Dr Breakey.

“For the no-sugar purist, opt for vodka, soda and lime – this has no real sugar content and is only around 100 calories per glass,” he advises. “If you’re a wine drinker, stick to prosecco, as it contains 1g of sugar per 250ml glass. It’s low-sugar choice compared with a large glass of pinot grigio (5g), zinfandel rosé (8g) or doux (sweet) champagne, which can contain a whopping 28g.”

Unfortunately, there’s no real cure for hangovers, so if you want to save yourself the headache the morning after while still keeping your sugar levels in check, opt for a low-sugar, alcohol-free drink instead.

The good news is, slowly reducing your sugar consumption is likely to have lasting effects. “After a while, the taste buds adapt to unsweetened foods – so stick with your plan,” promises specialist performance nutritionist Matt Lovell. “Soon enough, if you start adding sugar back into your tea or coffee, you’ll notice how sickly sweet and undrinkable it is.”

Are you trying to cut down on sugar? Have you been successful? Let us know in the comments section below.

Also read: Are all types of sugar the same?

– With PA


- Our Partners -


- Advertisment -
- Advertisment -