Health & Fitness

6 painless ways to reduce sugar in your diet

Just eating less sugar will keep you from putting on weight, and reduce your risk of heart disease, diabetes and cancer

You know that eating a diet high in sugar could lead to weight gain. It could also increase your risk for getting heart disease, diabetes and cancer. Eating lots of sugary foods could also affect your mental health: the spikes and slumps in your blood sugar levels could cause mood swings and may increase your risk of depression. And dermatologists are also warning that a high-sugar diet could cause acne and lead to accelerated skin ageing.

The key, of course, is to eat less sugar. But it also important to first understand the different types of sugar in food. Not all of it is bad.

What’s okay for your health: Fruits, vegetables and dairy. The sugar in these foods exist in its natural state, in the form of fructose or lactose.

So what’s not okay for your health: Processed foods – it's when sugar is added to food that it becomes a problem. Sugar from these empty calories eventually turns into fat, so limit eating them to help your health. Here are six ways to do it.

1. Don't drink sugar  

We don’t just mean soft drinks. Sugar is also found in packaged smoothies, fruit juices, energy drinks, flavoured waters, iced tea and bottled coffee drinks.

Stick to good ol’ water. Want more flavour? Add a squeeze of lemon or lime, or add fruit slices to your jug of water for flavour, or splurge on sparkling water if you fancy something fizzy.

2. Don't buy low-fat items

When a food item claims to be low-fat or fat-free, chances are there's a lot of added sugar in it. When fat is removed from a product, sugar is often added in its place, to give it more taste. For example, natural yoghurt is healthy but the fat-free version generally has a lot of high-fructose corn syrup added to it. Steer clear of such “health” options – they’re not as healthy as they sound.

3. Eat more fruits and vegetables

You know these are good for you but did you know that fruits and vegetables could also satisfy your sugar cravings? Just stick to eating them, which also gives you a whole lot of beneficial nutrients. It's when fruit is juiced that the fibre is removed, leaving you with a lot of sugar and not much else

You can also add sweetness to your meals with vegetables such as peas, pumpkin, carrots or sweet potatoes – they contain lots of natural sugars and will satisfy your sugar craving, the healthy way.