Sugar has never so controversial. Then, earlier this week, findings were released by charity Action On Sugar, that revealed some high street hot drinks contained as many as 20 teaspoons of sugar.
There is burgeoning pressure for the government to impose a sugar tax, with a report from Cancer Research UK and the UK Health Forum suggesting that it could prevent 4 million from becoming obese, saving the NHS £10 million a year.
With 64 per cent of you backing the sugar tax*, it’s clear that we’re keen to cut down on our daily intake of the sweet stuff. We asked Philippa Askham, co-founder of Sweetpea Pantry, to give us her five tips in order to eat less sugar:
1, Ditch sugary drinks
Fizzy drinks offer scant, if any, nutritional value and, whilst fresh fruit juices contain vitamins and fibre, many commercial brands are real sugar bombs. Try and stick to fresh juices with a high veggie content, and flavour water naturally with citrus wedges and sprigs of fresh mint. Beware also of coffees and hot drinks with added syrups; you’d be amazed at how much sugar can be lurking in those cardboard cups!
2,Keep the kitchen ‘junk free’
Prepare for snack attacks by keeping your kitchen stocked with delicious, healthy treats. We love to munch on fresh veggie sticks or oatcakes with houmous or guacamole. Bowls of fresh fruit, toasted coconut slices and nuts look appealing, and are far more satisfying than sugary snacks. And of course a bit of dark chocolate always goes down well (85 per cent is best).
3,Know your labels
Sugar hides in surprising places: pasta and stir fry sauces, cereals and even bread all contain ‘hidden’ sugars. Check the nutritional content when buying processed food, and bear in mind that the NHS and WHO currently recommend adults stick to 6-7 tsp of sugar a day (30g maximum; 1 tsp of sugar equates to around 4.25g of sugar). Even a ‘healthy’ muffin can push you over your recommended daily limit.
4, Train your taste buds
People who give up sugar for a period of time are often amazed by how sweet things taste once they return to their normal foods. Adjust your palate by gradually making healthier switches to reduce your sugar intake. Mix your normal muesli with plain oats and nuts, go for chocolate with a higher cocoa content, try adding fresh fruit to natural yoghurt instead of buying high-sugar flavoured yoghurts, and switch to sugar free nut butters. If you’re used to having something sweet after meals then try a chunk of cheese instead, some herbal tea (peppermint and liquorice has a lovely natural sweetness to it), or warm milk flavoured with cinnamon and nutmeg.
5, Get cooking
The best way to ensure your food contains no hidden nasties is to make it yourself. The current focus on reducing sugar and showcasing fresh ingredients means the bookstores are full of inspiring recipe books. At Sweetpea Pantry, we help busy people ‘get the goodness in’ with mixes for healthier biscuits, sugar free flapjacks and pancakes and pizza dough. They are all free from refined sugars, contain ‘super powered’ ingredients like chia and flaxseeds, and there are gluten free options available, too.