SugarThere is sugar in almost everything, but added sugar is one of the very real reasons behind our expanding waist lines.

One of the problems with sugar is that it is addictive. In simple terms, when we eat sugar, receptors in our brain reward centre make us feel good. In fact, it makes us feel so good, that it tends to be the first thing we reach for when we feel tired, stressed or really hungry.

This in itself is a cruel trick of nature because loading up on sugary food will inevitably make us feel tired, stressed or really hungry after the good feelings wear off…and so the cycle begins!

"A diet high in sugar doesn’t just lead to us getting fatter, it can also promote the onset of nasty diseases such as metabolic syndrome and diabetes along with causing gut problems and putting a strain on our liver. It’s also incredibly bad for your teeth!"

Here are five simple ways to cut back on the white stuff.

1. Quit ‘flavoured’ food

Flavoured yoghurts, flavoured porridge, flavoured coffees and flavoured crackers are all packed with extra sugar.

For example:

Quaker Oat So Simple Porridge, Golden Syrup Flavour contains around 2 teaspoons of sugar (7.7g) per sachet compared to the Original sachet which contains next to nothing (0.3g) and no added sugar. This means that the Golden Syrup Flavour’s sugar content is virtually all added sugar.

da841d0d57317454 doughnut or apple xxxlargeSainsbury's Mixed Red Fruit Yogurt contains over 3 teaspoons of sugar (13g) per 125g pot compared to Sainsbury's Greek Style Natural Yogurt which contains just 1.5 teaspoons of sugar (6.2g) for the same amount, again this is from natural sugars and no added.

If you want to add some sweetness, add fresh fruits! Yes, fruit contains sugar, but it is natural sugar and fruit also contains fibre, to keep you full, along with a whole host of vitamins and minerals. Winning! You can also add a big sprinkling of cinnamon, not only is it sweet but it may also curb sugar cravings throughout the day.

2. Make your own

This might sound daunting and time consuming but sometimes, you do have to make a little more effort if you want to achieve your body goals. Pasta sauces, stir fry sauces, marinades and ready meals are all loaded with added sugar. Spend 30 minutes batch cooking a huge pot of tomato sauce, portion off and freeze. (Try this: ) Get creative with spices, herbs, vinegars, citrus fruits and oils to create your own marinades for meat and fish. Opt for curry pastes and build them up yourself with chopped tomatoes or coconut milk instead of buying the jars of complete sauce. Throw a load of old vegetables in a pot of boiling water, add a couple of stock cubes and a cup of lentils or quinoa and you have a sugar free soup! Cooking from scratch needn’t be time consuming.

3. Ditch the soft drinks

44 teaspoons of sugar in a cinema sized cokeEveryone knows Coca-Cola is jam packed with sugar but what about the ‘healthier’ options? Shop bought smoothies, juices and flavoured water?

Volvic Touch Of Fruit Lemon And Lime has a whopping 13.7g of sugar in 250ml! That’s almost 3.5 teaspoons of sugar!

Why not slice your own lemons and lime and push them into your water bottle? Simple solution!

Before you reach for the diet, no added sugar options that contain a bunch of artificial sweeteners, consider the fact that sweeteners still make us want sugar!

4. Watch out for "healthy snacks"

Those cereal bars that look super healthy are actually also packed out with sugar.

The ‘diet friendly’ Go Ahead Raspberry Yoghurt Breaks Cereal Bars contain over 3.5 teaspoons of sugar (14.4g) in each pack of two slices. Not only that, they actually contain 3 different types of added sugar in the ingredients!

Eat Natural Dark Chocolate Cranberry And Macadamia bars are all natural and must be healthy though, right? Wrong. These cleverly marketed bars contain over 4.5 teaspoons of sugar (18.3g) per bar!!! The ingredients also show us that the dried fruit in these bars also contains added sugar (as if dried fruit isn’t naturally sweet enough?) and 3 other forms of added sugar. Hmmm…

5. Learn how to read labels

This sounds pretty simple doesn’t it? But most people skip past the sugar content and head straight to the number of calories. 4g of sugar is approximately 1 teaspoon. Ideally we should be aiming for no more than 6 teaspoons per day – which sounds a lot until you start reading labels. Anything under 5g of total sugar per 100g is low in sugar. Also, remember that sugar has many, many names:

  • barley malt
  • beet sugar
  • brown sugar
  • buttered syrup
  • cane-juice crystals
  • cane sugar
  • caramel
  • carob syrup
  • corn syrup
  • corn syrup solids
  • date sugar
  • dextran
  • dextrose
  • diatase
  • diastatic malt
  • corn syrup solids
  • date sugar
  • dextran
  • dextrose
  • diatase
  • diastatic malt
  • ethyl maltol
  • fructose
  • fruit juice
  • mannitol
  • molasses
  • raw sugar
  • refiner's syrup
  • sorbitol
  • sorghum syrup
  • fruit juice concentrate
  • glucose
  • glucose solids
  • golden sugar
  • golden syrup
  • grape sugar
  • high-fructose corn syrup
  • sucrose
  • sugar
  • turbinado sugar
  • yellow sugar

Once you get into the habit of checking labels and watching your sugar content it will become second nature. Your body will thank you for it in the long run!

Sarah is an Advanced Personal Trainer and Nutritional Therapist and is available for 1:1 sessions. To book your free consultation contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. View her profile, here