11 easy ways to eat less sugar

As experts now claim it’s sugar not fat that’s behind our obesity crisis, editor Anna Magee has found some practical ways to eat less of the white stuff, without feeling deprived

What do you eat in a typical day?  Cereal for breakfast, soup and juice at lunch, a mid-afternoon cereal bar, pasta with chilli salsa and yoghurt for supper?  Believe it or not, that could contain around 60-80 teaspoons of sugar.   That’s because an overload of sugar is found not only in cakes, chocolates and treats but also lurking in pasta sauces, ketchups, canned vegetables, beans and even pre-packaged soups.  In fact, a Which? study found some ready meals contained as much sugar as ice-cream.    Why is this a problem?  According to a growing band of doctors and dieticians the excess sugar in our diets – both overt and covert –  may be making us overweight also contributing to mood issues and increasing our risks of heart disease and Type-2 diabetes. If you’re looking to cut back on your sugar intake, Healthista have produced some guidelines to help make it relatively painless.

  1. Spot hidden sugars

We consume around 20 teaspoons of sugar a day, about twice what the British Dietetic Association (BDA) says we should which is around ten teaspoons (or 50 grams).  That doesn’t even count sugar from fruit and adds up quickly because many sugars are hidden in foods where we least expect them. Here are some examples of everyday foods containing hidden sugars.

  • Canned corn ½ teaspoon per 100g
  • Ketchup just under 1 teaspoon per tablespoon
    ketchup, The pain-free guide to giving up sugar, by healthista.com
  • Baked beans 1-2 teaspoons per half can
  • Savoury crackers 3 teaspoons per 100 g – about four crackers
    savoury crackers, The pain-free guide to giving up sugar, by healthista.com
  • Fruit flavoured yoghurt drink 15 teaspoons per 250ml bottle

2. Read the back

Compare brands and look at sugars per 100g on labels. 15 grams or more per 100 grams is a high sugar food and five grams of sugar per 100 grams or less is a low sugar food according to the BDA.

3. Know sugar’s aliases 

Sugar can be disguised as anything ending in –ose.  For example maltose, dextrose and fructose are all sugars.  It may also be listed as molasses, treacle, high-fructose corn syrup and maldodextrin.  Honey, brown sugar and most syrups, even agave nectar that is often touted as a healthy alternative are all sugars.

4. Spot sneaky listing

If sugar is in the top three ingredients, that’s a high sugar food.   But manufacturers sometimes sneakily list sugar in different forms on labels to trick people, which is why what ultimately matters is that ‘per 100g’ listing.  See number one.

5. Add cinnamon 

This humble spice has been shown in trials to help keep blood sugar even and may help keep cravings at bay.  It’s great added to plain yoghurt, smoothies and fruit or porridge for breakfast.

6. Eat protein at every meal

Have a little protein such as eggs, nuts, seeds, lean meats and poultry, soya products, tahini or nut butters at breakfast, lunch and dinner and in two snacks mid-morning and mid-afternoon to maintain your blood sugar.
protein, The pain-free guide to giving up sugar, by healthista.com.

7. Stay hydrated 

Or you may mistake thirst for sweet craving so drink your eight glasses of water throughout the day.  To help your body’s absorption of the water you drink you need good mineral balance which you can enhance by eating more fruit and vegetables especially potassium-rich foods such as celery and green veggies.

8. Get snack happy 

If you know your weak spot for sweet cravings is 5pm, schedule a healthy snack for one hour before that to stop the massive blood sugar crash that causes you to crave sweets in its tracks. A small handful raw almonds or walnuts and a piece of fresh fruit or a teaspoon sugar-free peanut, hazelnut, cashew or almond butter on an oatcake would do the trick.

9. Supplement help 

Vitamin C can help regular sugar cravings.  Mix a teaspoon of the powder with water half an hour before you normally get your craving.   Try Vitamin C powder for £4.79 from myprotein.com.

10. Take a 15 minute walk

A study published in the journal Appetite from Exeter University found regular chocolate eaters who went for a daily 15 minute walk during their work day halved the amount of chocolate they ate, even when doing stressful jobs.

11. Replace it

Stevia is a sweetener that comes made from a plant and would be my first choice in sugar alternatives – I use it to sweeten smoothies and sorbets as I find a little goes a long way.   For baking and celebratory times stevia is a safe alternative that doesn’t spike blood sugar. It’s derived from the leaves of a South American plant of the same name and has been used to centuries as a sweetener in South America and for 40 years in Japan.  It’s 200-300 times sweeter than table sugar which is why you invariably only ever need a tiny bit! What’s also helpful to know is that stevia is not absorbed through the digestive tract and has no calories, making it a great choice if you’re trying to lose weight.  Try Truvia Sweetener Jar, 270g, which has a great taste, works well in both baking and raw recipes and comes in a spoonable granulated format for sprinkling (in a jar or pouch) and as tablets for coffee and tea.

For a chance to win this amazing Truvia-based hamper worth over £100, FOLLOW us and RETWEET the post on Twitter (@HealthistaTV) / LIKE us on Facebook and SHARE the post (Healthista).

hamper, truvia, healthista.com


7 low-sugar recipes that still taste like treats

WE LOVE The sweetener that comes from a plant, has no calories and is so sweet you only need a tiny amount

< Back

Also in this week’s magazine

Foodie Friday 3 quick & easy dinner recipes for your meal prep Sunday FEATURED
Healthy Recipes

Foodie Friday: 3 quick & easy dinner recipes for your meal prep Sunday

Need meal prep inspiration? Personal Trainer Ryan Le Breton shares three quick and easy dinner recipes, perfect for your meal prep Sunday

4 protein myths you need to STOP believing FEATURED

4 protein myths you need to STOP believing

'You can only get your protein from meat’ – we’ve heard all the myths. Nutritionist David Stache reveals 4 protein myths we all need to stop believing 

Sore joints Tired Feeling down Here’s what can help this winter woman with sore joints

Feeling down? Sore joints? Tired? Here’s what can help this winter

Whether you’re suffering from joint pain, disturbed sleep or just feeling down in the dumps, you are not the only one. Healthista speaks to the experts

7 ways to keep on top of your fitness routine over Christmas FEATURED

7 ways to keep on top of your healthy eating & fitness routine this Christmas

Worried the festive season will undo all your hard work? Healthista spoke to F45 Head Trainer Sam Gregory who reveals how to keep on top of your healthy eating and fitness routine this Xmas 

Avoid festive weight gain with these 6 weight loss tips FEATURED

Avoid festive weight gain with these 6 weight loss tips

Christmas can be a tricky time when it comes to easy weight gain. That's why Healthista spoke to an expert nutritionist who revealed 6 weight loss tips for the festive season 

Anxious or stressed 10 healthy foods & drinks you should probably avoid FEATURED

Feeling anxious or stressed? 10 healthy foods & drinks you should probably avoid

Been feeling anxious or stressed? Nutritionist Robert Hobson reveals 10 healthy foods and drinks you should probably avoid to mitigate stress and anxiety 

Latest Video Series


Wellness Weekly

I agree to my personal data being stored and used to receive the Healthista newsletter.


STOP - Healthista needs you!

Tell us what content you want more of...

MenopauseFitness VideosPost-partum careSexual wellness