We all like treats. There’s nothing like a chocolate biscuit dunked into a freshly brewed cup of coffee, and there are times when only a slice of cake will do. But what about the ‘hidden’ sugars added to everyday foods you’d never consider a treat?
Eating foods rich in sugar can make a big contribution to the calories we consume. As the government accepts advice from nutrition experts to cut our daily sugar intake in half - to about 25g (around six teaspoons) and no more than 5% of our total daily calorie intake - here are five simple ways to wave goodbye to those sneaky added sugars.
1. Eat real bread
The mass-produced bread you find in supermarkets has sugar snuck into it, especially the ones you’d think are healthier, such brown and wholemeal breads, according to the Telegraph. Adding sugar is a cheap way to improve its flavour and texture. You won’t find any added sugars in the truly authentic slow 24-hour fermentation sourdough loaves made at BreadBread Bakery in Brixton. Their breads contain no unnecessary nasties and uses organic flours with high quality grains. After three days you’ll still get a fresh slice out of your loaf because it’s the very freshest it can possibly be when it gets delivered to you.
2. Cook from scratch
You may not consider yourself to be a person with a sweet tooth, but you might actually be eating a lot more sugar than you think. Many foods you wouldn’t think of as being sweet contain sugar. Sauces and condiments (more on that later), as well as takeaway and pre-prepared foods are common culprits where again sugar is added for flavour. The best way to know what is in the food you eat is to prepare and cook it yourself. By gathering together a bunch of seasonal fresh fruit and vegetables and arming yourself with the adage ‘what grows together, goes together’ (tomato and basil salad anyone?), you can prepare fuss-free, flavour-packed meals. Using a little seasoning - pepper a pinch of salt and a drizzle of oil - can go a long way to simply letting the fresh flavours of fantastic produce shine too. There are many reasons why eating seasonal food is good for you, but perhaps the best one is because this is the time when foods taste their best, as nature intended.
3. Know your sauces
Pre-prepared pasta sauces are one of the biggest hiding places for sugar. According to the NHS, a third of an average-sized jar of pasta sauce (about 150g) can contain over 13g of sugar, (including added sugar), which is the equivalent of three teaspoons. Tomatoes undoubtedly taste infinitely better when eaten fresh, straight from being picked from the vine (like the ones grown locally and on a small scale at Chegworth Valley and Wild Country Organics). However, we know it’s not always feasible to make great a tasting tomato sauce from scratch, particularly when it’s 9pm on a Wednesday night and you just need to eat. Our tomato sauce is made from 100% fresh organic vegetables with absolutely no added sugar - just tomatoes, carrots, courgettes, onion, aubergine, celery and basil - making it a perfect partner for the freshest egg pasta from La Tua.
4. Check your cereal
Whilst it won’t surprise you that many supermarket breakfast cereals are packed with added sugar, it can be difficult to discern how much sugar has been added. Cereal branded as ‘healthier’, a ‘source of fibre’ or ‘low in saturated fat’ can contain levels of sugar on par with frosted flakes. If you want to cut sugar completely from breakfast, swap a bowl of sugary breakfast cereal for plain cereal - such as plain porridge, plain whole wheat cereal biscuits, or plain shredded whole grain pillows. This could cut out 70g of sugar (up to 22 sugar cubes) from your diet over a week. Our Blackbird Bakery Granola uses honey as a sweetener, which has a low glycemic index (GI) rating, which means it won’t cause a spike in blood sugar levels the way refined sugar does. Take a look at the labels of cereals carefully. Lookout for sugar as an ingredient and if the total sugar content of an item is over 22.5g per 100g, it is high in sugar, and below 5g is low.
5. Flavour your water
Did you know that nearly a quarter of the added sugar in our diets comes from fizzy drinks, sweetened juices, squashes and cordials? Although an obvious source, a typical can of pop can contain the equivalent of nine teaspoons of sugar, and most supermarket-brand carbonated drinks have between nine and 13 teaspoonfuls. Thankfully the guys at Ugly Drinks have come up with a way of enjoying that fizz without the added sugar. Their cans of
Lemon & Lime
and Grapefruit & Pineapple sparkling water are infused with natural fruit flavours and that’s why it has 0g sugars, fat or calories (Because you’re sweet enough already.) And if fizzy aint your thing, try flavouring water with slices of fresh fruit or cucumber, herbs such as mint or rosemary, or a few splashes of fresh lemon or lime juice. Drink herbal teas, or make your own with slices of lemon and fresh ginger. Steer clear of flavoured water drinks as they can contain the equivalent of four teaspoons of sugar in 500ml. If the idea of only drinking water (and cups of tea without sugar!) doesn’t float your low-hidden sugar boat, then stick to a maximum of one 150ml glass of pure fruit juice a day. Fruit juice can be high in sugar - when the juice has been extracted from the whole fruit, the sugar released can cause damage to our teeth. Dilute it with water too to stave of any fruit juice cravings.
You don’t have to completely cut sugar out of your diet to be healthy. One of life’s greatest pleasures is to enjoy a range of foods in moderation. We hope these small changes will help make a difference to gradually reduce the amount of added sugar in your diet, so you can enjoy the treats you know about.
Want to know more information on how to reduce sugar from your diet? Take a look at this guide provided by the NHS