While sugar-free diets may help us avoid processed foods and drinks that are high in added sugars, they also encourage some people to avoid important whole foods that protect their health.
All dietary guidelines advise us to limit our intake of foods and drinks that contain added sugars, encouraging us, instead, to embrace a diet packed with whole foods, including whole grains, fruits, vegetables, protein foods, reduced-fat dairy, and dairy alternatives.
Most of these whole-food products contain some naturally occurring sugars, and in some cases, refined sugars have also been added. These sugars are combined with fiber and nutrients, helping to slow down the release of sugar into our bloodstream—keeping our blood glucose levels stable. Small amounts of natural or added sugars in these whole foods won’t impact your health, but avoiding whole foods will. Many research studies show that having low intakes of protective whole foods can increase your risk of weight gain, chronic diseases, reduced energy levels, poor gut health and constipation, and poor mood and depression.
The World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines for sugar strongly recommend that you reduce your intake of “free” sugars to less than 10 percent (about 12 teaspoons, or 50 grams) of your total energy intake each day. Unfortunately, most people exceed WHO’s recommendation and take in 14 teaspoons (60 grams) or more of “free” sugar each day. The key contributors to this excess are soft drinks, sports drinks, and energy drinks. Foods and beverages high in free sugars can be problematic because they are often energy dense (large amounts of calories) and nutrient poor (offering few nutrients and no fiber).
When shopping, look mostly for products with less than 10 to 15 grams of total sugars for each 100-gram serving. Government regulations require food companies to include this information on their labels. This will provide you with an overall nutritional assessment of these food products, and you can use the information to compare similar foods. Then choose the healthier options!
tips for eating less sugar
FOCUS ON WHOLE FOODS.
Whole foods such as whole grains, vegetables, legumes, fruits, nuts, and seeds are packed with nutrients and fiber and will satisfy your body, reducing your need and cravings for sweet things.
TIME FOR TASTE BUDS.
The fewer high-sugar foods and drinks you have, the less you’ll crave them. Give your taste buds some time, and you will discover that the natural sweetness of whole foods is enough for you.
REDUCE ADDED SUGAR.
Try adding fruits such as bananas, berries, and dates to flavor your breakfast cereal. A dash of cinnamon works well too.
Go for a piece of fruit, berries mixed with natural yogurt, or a handful of unsalted roasted nuts instead of chocolate or a sweet cookie or slice of cake.
Article courtesy of Sanitarium Health Food Company. Visit sanitarium.com.au and subscribe to Wholicious Living for more great health and nutrition info each month.