Expert / 21 May, 2021 / Amanda Hamilton
Wondering how to reduce your sugar intake? The NHS estimate that the UK population consume 700g of sugar per week. That’s an average of 140 teaspoons per person. It’s commonly known that eating too much sugar can lead to weight gain, particularly around the middle, alongside longer-term risks such as heart disease, some cancers and type 2 diabetes.
After a year of high-health anxiety and for many, comfort eating more than ever many of us are looking to make healthy changes to our routines that support our bodies, boost our health and grant better all-over wellness. It’s important that when looking to make positive changes, these aren’t about unrealistic goals to change negative aspects of our lives overnight, but about making steady positive lifestyle changes which we stick to.
As a nation, adults and children alike have seen sugar creeping into our diets and it’s easy to understand why. On any given label sugar can be described in myriad ways, often sounding healthy and natural, for example: brown rice syrup, date syrup, barley malt and coconut blossom sugar. To the body, they all add to the sugar load. You’ll usually find added sugar in supermarket-bought sauces, soups, juices and dairy products which could mean you’re eating far more sugar than realised and it may be time to cut back. It’s vital to maintain a healthy diet year-round, and cutting entire food groups is never the way to go, which is why it’s important to consider how you can make changes that are sustainable for your lifestyle and most importantly, make you feel good.
Super-nutritionist Amanda Hamilton shares her top tips to curb the cravings, reduce your sugar intake and ensure you can maintain a healthy lifestyle with added superfoods.
Whilst “superfoods” isn’t a formally defined nutrition term, it’s a useful way to highlight which ingredients are especially nutrient-dense, particularly helpful when so many of us are trying to look after our health in busy and stressful times. Superfoods contain higher amounts of key nutrients, meaning a little goes a long way and replacing high sugar foods with healthful options can help a person get all of their essential vitamins and minerals without the added calories.
Part of breaking unhealthy breakfast habits is making life easier on busy mornings. So many of us turn to sugar-laden cereals or lacklustre toast and jam as they are quick and easy. However, kids and adults alike love these overnight oats which require just a few minutes of prep the night before. You can take it on the go or eat at home when you can steal a quick 5 minutes of peace from the kids, partner or pet!
Beyond breakfast, sugar is most likely to sneak into our diets through snacks or puddings. Here are some ideas that deliver a true win-win, all the taste without the guilt, and superfood boosted.
I’m a huge fan of acai, not only for the taste but because it scores low on the GI index, so it is ideal for those people managing blood sugar or simply looking to curb cravings. It is also rich in anthocyanins, plant compounds that give acai its deep purple colour and act as antioxidants in the body. It’s often found only in sweetened acai bowls, but for the real benefits, have it without the sugar! It can be prohibitively expensive to buy fresh so much more practical to buy as part of a powered blend. Add to smoothies for an easy boost or make your own acai pudding bowl with added chia seeds.
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So many of us crave a bit of a chocolate hit. Rather than fight the urge, add some cacao into your life. You can add it to the overnight oats, or it’s a perfect partner for fellow superfood, maca in a snack ball, or try chocolate covered chickpeas.
The nutrition world has fallen in love with adaptogens of late, ingredients that work to counteract the effects of stress in the body. Maca powder is one of the best known and easiest to incorporate into a recipe due to its malty flavour. Grown in the mountains of Peru, it has been called “Peruvian ginseng” where maca’s benefits have been long valued. It has also been traditionally used as an aphrodisiac but this evidence is more anecdotal, so, you’ll have to create your own experiment instead!
Cooking from scratch means you can control how much sugar is in your food, but sometimes we just don’t have time in a busy day. Prepping ahead can help, and it might actually be therapeutic.
I suggest at least preparing one large batch of soup each week. Soup is uniquely versatile, pretty much any vegetable leftovers can be thrown in and can still taste great. Salads can be prepared using pre-chopped vegetables and pre-washed salad leaves too if you are running short on time. Adding toasted nuts and seeds as a salad topping boosts levels of immune-supporting zinc and selenium.
The best way to beat sugar cravings is to not have them in the first place! That means getting ahead of hunger and eating – and snacking – mindfully. Choose ingredients wisely and you’ll feel more satiated. This includes balancing healthy carbs with protein to keep you feeling fuller for longer, and maximising your nutrient intake so your body gets what it needs. Superfood powders are a convenient way to increase your nutrient intake without the fuss. Last but not least, for parents with fussy eaters, involving kids in the process of preparing new foods often means that they are much more likely to give new ingredients a try – our breakfast, snack and pudding suggestions all lend themselves to the involvement of children. Just don’t expect them to be as enthusiastic about clearing up any mess!
Article by Amanda Hamilton, in collaboration with Bioglan Superfoods.
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