How to give up sugar: 10 easy steps to reduce your intake

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  • Let's face it, we'd all be a little healthier, happier and probably lighter if we didn't have all that sugar in our diets. Follow these easy steps to cut it out completely...

    It’s no secret that there are hidden sugars lurking in foods all around us, silently sneaking into our meals and clawing us into a crave-filled, crash and burn, sugar addiction situation.  Many of us have wondered how to give up sugar, but the information out there is just too confusing to get our heads around.

    If you haven’t considered how to give up sugar in your diet, be warned: the maximum intake recommended by the World Health Organisation is 10 teaspoons of sugar, which is just 35 grams! All those syrupy lattes, afternoon snacks and cheeky tipples eventually add up…

    So if you’re thinking about cutting down on sugar, either from your diet or your kids’, look no further than our list of helpful tips on how to give up sugar.

    From checking labels more carefully and revealing where all that extra sugar you didn’t even know you were eating is hiding, to advice on sugar-free baking, our list will show you how to give up sugar for the long term.

    We know it’ll be tough, and you might not be able to give it all up straight away, but we hope that these simple steps will help you get sugar-free for the whole family.

    10 tips on how to give up sugar

    1. Go cold turkey

    If you’re serious about giving up the sugar. You’ve got to just do it. And really mean it. Our addiction to sugar is what gives us those un-ignorable sugar cravings,  and the sooner you cut it out, the less reliant you’ll be on it.

    But it’s not going to be easy. Going through sugar withdrawal is likely to  leave you lacking energy, craving sugary foods and maybe even   experiencing flu-like symptoms, so be prepared and make sure you keep your energy up.

    If you’re really suffering from sugar withdrawal, why not try a natural sugar substitute like Stevia? Only have a little and eventually you’ll be able to give those up for good too.

    sugar cubes: how to give up sugar

    Credit: Getty

    2. Remove the obvious

    The likelihood of you ditching the sugar when you know you’ve got a multipack of Twix in the treats cupboard is more unlikely than if you start afresh. We’re not ones for wasting food, but temptation is a terrible thing, so remove the culprits and you’ll be one giant step towards sorting your sugar habit!

    3. ..and the not so obvious

    All this talk of sugar lately has had us investigating the sugar content in some of your everyday foods. And it seems that sugar is hiding everywhere! Even trusty ol’ tomato soup has four teaspoons of sugar hidden in that inviting-looking tin. Sob.

    See which other sugar shockers we discovered  in your favourite bread, porridge and kids foods so you can know what to avoid.

    4. Don’t let fruits fool you

    Fruit, on the one hand, is great for you. Packed full of vitamins and other nutrients we’re not for a second recommending you avoid them, but it’s worth knowing that they do contain a lot of sugar.

    A small orange, for example, contains around nine grams of the white stuff, and if you’re the sort of person who dashes out the house with just a banana for breakfast, it’s worth knowing that there are 12 grams of sugar hiding in there. That’s over 3 teaspoons!

    If you’re reducing your sugar intake, opt for fruits like strawberries, blackberries and raspberries, which contain between 4.4 and 4.9 grams of sugar per 100 grams.

    fruit: how to give up sugar

    Credit: Getty

    5. Cook homemade meals

    We’re sure many of you do this anyway, but the importance of making homemade meals goes far beyond being satisfying and cheap. Ready meals can contain so much sugar – as many as six teaspoons in some! Stick to the homemade stuff and this way, you always know, 100%, exactly what has gone into that meal.

    6. Get exercising!

    Why don’t you try walking or running off your sugar cravings?

    Popping your trainers on and getting outside for a little bit of exercise will not only drag you away from the contents of the fridge and cupboards (sometimes the temptation is just too much!) but exercise also releases endorphins in the body, which can help to regulate mood changes associated with sugar withdrawal symptoms.

    Try some of our 15 minute workouts that will improve your fitness, balance and strength, not to mention knocking out those pesky cravings.

    7. Check the label

    Thankfully, those little colourful labels you’ll find on foods in supermarkets can make your sugar-free life a little easier.

    Make sure you always check the label before popping something in your basket and remember: pre-prepared meals are a real snake in the grass when it comes to sugar content, so keep an eye out!

    fruit: how to give up sugar

    Credit: Getty

    8. Switch your habits

    Do you keep the biscuit tin next to the kettle? Or sprinkle sugar on your porridge? Maybe you can’t get through a film without snacking on something sugary, or reward yourself with sweet stuff on a Sunday night?

    These habits are only going to change if you replace them with new ones. Fill your biscuit tin with nuts, exchange your sugary porridge for a teaspoon of honey, and get to know the things you like that don’t contain loads of sugar.

    9. Beware of booze

    You might think that you actually don’t consume that much sugar. But what you might not have realised (or turned a blind eye to) is the amount of sugar in alcoholic drinks.

    For example, a standard glass of white wine contains about a gram of sugar (four grams makes a teaspoon), liqueurs such as Baileys (you know this one’s going to be bad) contain six grams per serving! And as for mixers with spirits such as gin and vodka, well if your tipple’s a vodka and coke, we don’t think we need to tell you that this is just a sugary recipe for disaster.

    10. Know your grains

    Carbs – they’re sugary, don’t you know? Refined grains contain more sugar than their altogether, healthier counterpart, whole grains. Of course we’re not saying you need to cut out carbs altogether, but you can definitely make better choices at the supermarket if you want to cut down on your sugar intake.

    Or if you want to cook grain-free meals, check out our low carb recipes that’ll help you reduce your sugar intake, including a delicious fish and broccoli traybake – yum!

    Are you trying to give up sugar? We’d love to hear your tips in our comments section below.