Sugar can be addictive.1https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2235907/ Why? Because it triggers the release of dopamine, the ‘happy hormone’, and we all like to feel happy! 2https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2235907/
But it’s no secret that eating too much sugar can be harmful to your system.
The NHS advises that adults consume no more than 30g of (free) sugar per day. 3https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/eat-well/food-types/how-does-sugar-in-our-diet-affect-our-health/ ‘Free sugars’ are defined as those added to foods and drinks either by the manufacturer or consumer, or naturally-occurring sugars in fruit juices, honey, syrups, and purees.4https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29587886/
Despite these guidelines, the actual average intake of sugar per day in the UK is a whopping 55.5g for men and 44g for women.5https://www.nutrition.org.uk/healthy-sustainable-diets/starchy-foods-sugar-and-fibre/sugar/?level=Health%20professional
Are you looking for ways to reduce your sugar intake following a chocolate feast this Easter? Or perhaps you would like to be more mindful of how much sugar you eat? Either way, we’ve got you covered. Read on for 10 top tips –
1. Don’t eat sugar for breakfast
Breakfast fuels your body and sets the tone for your day. Think of your body as a fireplace. The food that you eat is the substance that you burn in the fire. Your body prefers slow-burning material (think complex carbohydrates). These foods trickle energy into your system over time. Starting your day with fast-burning simple carbohydrates (like sugar-laden breakfast bars and “breakfast muffins”) can lead to unpleasant fluctuations in blood sugar.
Is breakfast actually the most important meal of the day? Click here to read more.
2. Reduce your stress levels
Easier said than done, but this is an important one! Long-term/chronic stress causes cortisol (the “stress hormone”) to release glucose (sugar) to provide your body with energy during high-stress periods.6ttps://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/22187-cortisol
Your body burns through this supply quickly when stressed, leading to cravings for sugary foods to satisfy those stress-induced hunger cravings.7https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/why-stress-causes-people-to-overeat De-stress with these 3 tips from Shann.
3. Get more sleep
Poor quality/insufficient sleep can lead to a rise in cortisol, which can lead to sugar cravings and poor food choices.8https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/22187-cortisol Here are 6 steps for a great night’s sleep.
4. Take synbiotics
A synbiotic is a combination of probiotics (beneficial bacteria like those found in our award-winning Kefir!) and prebiotics (found in our Complete Prebiotic). Kefir is rich in protein and our Complete Prebiotic is rich in fibre. Together they’re a powerful symbiotic combination that will contribute to a feeling of satiety and help curb your sugar cravings.
Click here for some synbiotic smoothie inspiration.
5. Plan your meals – and your snacks
And do not shop hungry! Shop with your mind (and a pre-written shopping list), not your stomach. Try to be realistic too; factor in snacks and foods to look forward to. This will help keep you on track. Click here for gut-friendly snack inspiration.
6. Reduce your intake of sugar drinks
Calories are units of energy for your body. Empty calories are those found in foods and drinks that provide little/no nutritional value.9https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/empty-calories For example, fizzy drinks and flavoured water. Swap out your sugar-laden flavoured water for herbal tea or homemade fruity water. To do this, add a few slices of cucumber, mint leaves, and chopped strawberry to a jug of water and sip throughout the day.
7. Stop taking sugar with your tea/coffee
Sugar in your hot drinks = empty calories. Remember the NHS 30g per day guideline?10https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/eat-well/food-types/how-does-sugar-in-our-diet-affect-our-health/ Let’s calculate! If you drink 4 mugs of tea per day with 2 tsp of sugar in each mug, this is what it looks like –
- 1 tsp sugar = 4 grams, so 2 tsp = 8 grams.
- 4 mugs = 32grams of sugar per day. 4 cups of sugary tea and you’ve more than reached your limit!
Start slowly by cutting from 2 tsp per mug to 1.5 tsp. Then 1 tsp, then 0.5, etc.
8. Eat full-fat foods rather than low-fat
Fat = flavour. Many ‘reduced fat’, ‘low-fat’ or ‘low-calorie’ foods, like yoghurt, have higher sugar contents than regular, full-fat versions. Sugar is often added to low-fat varieties to enhance the flavour in the absence of fat. Eat full-fat but in smaller quantities.11https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4742721/
9. Read your food labels
Check the packaging for added sugars. Top tip: did you know that ingredients on packaging are listed in order of quantity? Largest first. So, if sugar is one of the first on the list, it’s one of the largest ingredients.
Lastly, don’t cut out sugar completely (unless you want to!). Sounds like a contradiction, right? Wrong. Often, cutting out something you enjoy leads to a binge later down the line. Rethink your relationship with sugar. Adopt the 80/20 rule – eat well for your gut (and overall) health 80% of the time, and have a little bit of something you enjoy 20% of the time. Think of it as discipline, rather than deprivation!
Learn more about curbing your sugar cravings here!
Click here for 10 ways to boost your happy hormones – without sugar!
Any questions? Contact one of our Nutritional Therapists via live chat, we’re available on weekdays from 8am to 8pm.