The modern diet has become overwhelmingly sugar-saturated. An abundance of processed foods is laced with the sweet component. Even canned beans! Manufacturers add sugar to usually savoury dishes to make them more pleasant to eat. Not only does high sugar consumption contribute to obesity and tooth decay, but it is also a significant risk factor for people with diabetes. The maximum recommended daily amount is about 30g for adults – just seven teaspoons a day. To put that in perspective, a small Coke alone contains around 26.5g (equivalent to 6.63tsp), while a tablespoon of ketchup adds another 4g (about 1tsp). It’s easy to see how these amounts can quickly escalate.
To help you reduce your sugar intake and mitigate these health risks, we’ve compiled 10 practical tips to curb your cravings, replace hidden sugar sources with healthier alternatives, and successfully adopt sustainable lifestyle changes:
- No sugar in the house. Try to make this a general rule. Eliminating sugar from your home can help reduce temptation and make it easier to stick to your healthy eating goals. Instead, stock up on healthier options such as dark chocolate with at least 70% cocoa or higher, which can provide a satisfying sweetness with minimal added sugar. Keeping a small amount of sugar on hand for occasional use can also be a good compromise, but be mindful of how much you use to avoid excess sugar intake.
- Swap sugary drinks with dietary ones. It’s best to drink water, but every now and then, you might have cravings for something sweet. Try smoothies 100% made from fruits, tea from dried fruits or herbs, sparkling water, coffee, Aloe Vera juice or another unsweetened beverage.
- Avoid sugary fruits. It is well known that some fruits actually contain sugar. Examples include table grapes, watermelon, jackfruit, and pomelo. You can find out more on the topic in our Nutritional Facts whitepaper.
- Extracts give the feeling that we eat something sweet without it being really sweet. Enhance foods with extracts like almond, vanilla, orange, lemon or any other one that will bring joy to your taste buds.
- Similarly, with spices, you might think there is sugar where there is none. Replace sugar completely by adding spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice etc.
- Always read food labels – many processed and canned goods contain added sugar, so people with diabetes need to be extra aware of that sneaky additive. Understanding food labels is essential in picking the correct groceries when going shopping. Educate yourself on the topic by reading more here.
- Sugar has many names – related to the previous point: some brands do not necessarily state directly that their products contain some sort of sugar. Look out for such deceiving tactics in the ingredients list. Examples include: evaporated cane juice, fruit juice concentrate, brown rice syrup, malt syrup, corn syrup, date syrup, barley malt, galactose or glucose.
- Substitute sugar with jams, jellies, applesauce etc. All unsweetened, of course. Add natural sweetness to your meals without the added sugar, as it actually has many alternatives, and you just need to find out which one satisfies your sweet tooth.
- Keep fruits on eye level so healthy sugars rather than unhealthy ones can tempt you. Some will argue that tomatoes are fruits, but they indeed have some sweeteners in them that can satisfy a craving. Similarly, add some cinnamon with pumpkin – roast it, and you have a great dessert.
- Go slow and steady – change is not easy, so grace yourself by gradually cutting down on sugar. This allows your taste buds to adjust to the change, making it easier to stick to the new habit in the long run. Additionally, it can help avoid the withdrawal symptoms that can come from sudden and drastic reductions in sugar consumption. Remember to celebrate your progress along the way, and don’t be too hard on yourself if you slip up – change takes time and effort.
In conclusion, reducing sugar can be challenging, but it’s essential for people with diabetes or anyone looking to improve their health. By following these tips, you can significantly reduce your sugar intake and still satisfy your cravings. Remember to take it slow and steady, celebrate your progress, and don’t give up if you slip up – cutting down on sugar is a process that takes time and effort, but the benefits for your health are worth it.
Meanwhile, you can track every bite you take in the Diabetes:M app, where even homemade recipes can be entered and analyzed. You will also be able to track all diabetes-related measurements, such as blood sugar levels, exact prick points, and medications. Discover all features by downloading the app from here.