Sugar: how to cut down for good
Posted on 20 August 2018
Sweet as it is, excessive sugar intake can lead to tooth decay, weight gain and various health impingements. Here’s how you should consider the alternatives.
Gayle Landau, a registered dietician at the Wits Donald Gordon Medical Centre in Parktown, explains that fear and guilt is often the reason that people cut sugar out of their diets entirely, which often leads to a relapse and bingeing on sugary foods.
As we know, sugar can lead to tooth decay and affect your health in a myriad of ways, but you should be wary of what you replace your sugar intake with, explains Landau. “Many people replace sugar with large amounts of honey, or cut sugar and use an excessive amount of Xylitol or other sweeteners,” she says. “Whether you are using sugar, honey, syrup or jam, it is still regarded as refined carbohydrate.”
Non-nutritive sweeteners are suitable alternatives, but used in moderation, Landau stresses. And other nutritive sweeteners like Xylitol provide a small amount of energy but are more likely to cause discomfort, including bloating of the stomach and, if taken in excess, it can cause diarrhoea, she explains.
Landau says you should take stock of your sugar intake and make gradual steps to reduce the volume and frequency of your refined-sugar intake, eventually replacing it with water. “In this way, your body can learn to acquire the taste for something less sweet.”
Quick tips to reduce your sugar consumption
- Honour your hunger and feed yourself at reliable intervals, says Landau. “If you allow yourself to get too hungry or your eating patterns are chaotic, you are more likely to seek quick-fix sugary foods more often.”
- Enjoy balanced meals, as this will help you feel fuller for longer. “This includes slow releasing wholegrain carbohydrates at regular intervals, which may help your energy levels, provide fibre and make your meals more satisfying,” she says.
- Enjoy a varied diet that is inclusive of all food groups.
- If you feel that your intake of sugary foods are out of control, or you struggle with emotional or comfort eating, it is recommended to seek help and guidance from a registered dietician.