Tame That Sweet Tooth
Are those pretty cupcakes and cute macaroons calling out to you? Quitting sugar totally can be hard, but here’re five easy ways to reduce it from your diet
The Health Promotion Board recommends no more than 10 percent of sugar as part of our daily dietary energy. This works out to about 40g to 55g, or eight to 11 teaspoons for an average adult each day. Many nutrition experts say that sugar in moderation is fine for most people, but consumed in excess, it can lead to health and metabolic problems beyond its effects on weight gain, such as obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.
The good news is, you don’t need to go cold turkey on sugar, but you can indulge in your favourite treats with smarter eating habits.
Go for whole grains
Use sugar as a condiment instead of an ingredient. So instead of having pre-sweetened cereal for breakfast, go for a whole grain option, then add some fruit and sprinkle just a little bit of sugar. You’ll still enjoy the sweet taste, but consume a lot less sugar.
Pay attention to labels
Keep in mind that seven grams of sugar equates to approximately one tablespoon of sugar! Read ingredient and nutrition labels closely and you’ll find that these often reveal hidden sugar in several guises such as corn syrup, fructose and glucose. Also, be cautious with products labelled “no sugar added” – this doesn’t mean that the product doesn’t naturally contain a lot of it.
Use the three-bite rule
Allow yourself three bits and chew slowly to savour each delicious mouthful. then pass your plate on to a fellow diner. You’ll soon realise that enjoying just three bits of an indulgent dessert can be very pleasurable and that your sweet tooth is satisfied with just a small portion. Make a little go a long way!
Cut out the pre-dinner cocktails
If you start having cocktails before you even order, the alcohol may go to your head and sabotage your willpower when it comes to making healthy menu choices, so wait to enjoy a drink with your meal. And if you have to drink, choose red wine over cocktails with sugary mixes – red wine contains antioxidants that are good for you.
Use natural sweeteners
It can be tough to quit refined sugar, but luckily, there are healthy sweeteners that are actually good for you. Stevia is a great sugar replacement that has zero calories and zero effect on insulin levels. A natural, zero-calorie sweetener that can lower both blood pressure and blood sugar levels, stevia is extracted from the leaves of a plant called stevia rebaudiana, a plant that’s been grown for sweetness and medicinal purposes for centuries in South America. Several sweet compounds are found in stevia leaves (the main ones being stevioside and rebaudioside A, both are hundreds of times sweeter than sugar, gram for gram).
Monk fruit (known in Asia as luo han guo) is native to regions of Southeast Asia, including some parts of Thailand and China. Buddhist monks in the 13th century were the first to cultivate the fruit, which is the reason for its name. Traditionally, people used dried monk fruit in herbal medicines, but today, monk fruit is most popular as a natural sweetener. The fruit’s extract contains substances called mogrosides (which the body processes differently from common sugars like sucrose and fructose, which are intensely sweet. According to the International Food Information Council Foundation, monk fruit is around 150–200 times sweeter than sugar (so you only need to use very little each time). Like Stevia, monk fruit contains no calories and is a low glycemic index food (that means it won’t cause a rapid spike in your blood sugar compared to high GI foods, like white bread or ice cream). Both monk fruit and Stevia have a slight aftertaste that some may not like (this is brand-dependant as some manufacturers mix the extract with different sugars to balance out the intensity), so experiment with different brands to find one that suits your taste buds.