We understand that enjoying treats like a Paddlepop ice cream, a cinnamon scroll, or a slice of Aunty Val’s pav are going to serve us up some added sugar. And a little in the diet is fine for most. However, the sweet stuff can creep into our everyday foods without us even realizing. And eating too much can have serious health consequences.
As seen in the That Sugar Film.
Added sugar can be disguised under a heap of different names, and found in A LOT of our packaged food and drink (at least 70% of the stuff found at your average supermarket). Many of these foods are also marketed to be ‘healthy’. It can make buying good food difficult – if you are going to eat added sugar, you want to know you are eating added sugar, not have it hidden away beneath a veil of ‘natural’ and ‘healthy’ claims!
But we are here to help you out!
Here are our top tips to help you identify where the added sugar lies, and ways to limit too much of it sneaking into your every day:
- Understand added vs natural sugar
Added sugars are ingredients added to a food or drink. Natural sugars, like those in fruit, vegetables, whole grains and dairy, occur naturally as part of a whole food, and are a normal part of the diet.
- Reading the label
Remember, 4.2 grams of sugar is 1 teaspoon, and we aim to limit added sugar intake to 6 teaspoons (25g) per day.
- Shop from the supermarket perimeter
Focus your regular supermarket shop on these areas to supply most of your daily whole food needs – including fresh vegetables, fruit and other produce like dairy and meat. Staple yummies like nuts, seeds, beans and good fat olive and coconut oils may require an occasional middle aisle adventure!
- Mostly eat real food
If a majority of the food you consume each day is real, whole food, there leaves little room for the heavily processed, sugar-laden junk. But if you have something junky, enjoy it and do not be hard on yourself.
- Enjoy fibre, protein and healthy fats
To help curb cravings, at each meal get in some whole food sources of fibre, fat or protein, like avocado, almonds, and free-range eggs. It can leave you feeling fuller for longer and stabilise energy, lessening the likelihood of reaching for a quick sugary fix later on.
- Occasional processed food is okay
Our bodies are amazingly resilient, so when cutting back on the added sugars, you don’t need to be extreme. A little dessert when out with friends, or some shortbread at the occasional workplace afternoon tea ain’t going to break the health bank!
- Limit the sugary drinks
Replace a bubbly soft drink with plain soda water infused with fresh citrus slices or berries and fresh herbs or spices like cinnamon and vanilla. And if you really want a juice, enjoy one that is freshly pressed and try watering it down.
Overall, we want to reacquaint ourselves with the delicate sweetness offered in fruit and spices like cinnamon and vanilla. But if you are going to use a sweetener, use sparingly and choose one that is minimally processed.
And remember, for most a little is okay!