SugarSugar. It causes weight gain, it plays havoc with your hormones, it messes with your blood sugar levels, it can lead to diseases such as diabetes and we all ought to cut back. But how can you cut back on the sweet stuff if you don’t know where it’s hiding? Because it is hiding, in a lot of the food we eat on a daily basis!

It’s recommended that an adult consumes no more than 30g sugar per day. That’s approximately 6 teaspoons. Firstly, let’s get one thing straight. Sugar is sugar – no matter where is comes from. It can be white, brown, ‘unrefined’, raw, honey, maple syrup or agave! It’s still sugar – it still has the same effect on your body. Granted – tucking into an apple is healthier than a mars bar because of its other components – but fructose (the natural sugar in fruits) is still sugar! In fact, there are around 56 different names for sugar – another reason it’s sometimes difficult to spot on the ingredients list! All carbohydrates, contain sugars and manufacturers also add sugar to products to make them taste better. It’s everywhere and it’s almost impossible to completely avoid! So, without getting bogged down in the science behind why sugar is so bad for us, first know how to spot the high sugar items and learn how to make healthier (and more savoury!) choices.

 Table of Nutritional Information

  per 100g per 45g bar
Energy 1858kJ 443kcal 836kJ 199kcal
Fat 22.9g 10.3g
of which saturates 14.8g 6.7g
Carbohydrate 55.2g 24.8g
of which sugars 34.8g 15.7g
Fibre 6.3g 2.8g
Protein 4.2g 1.9g
Salt 0.02g 0.01g

Above is the nutritional information for a well known cereal bar which is marketed as a healthy option. It’s the Gluten Free Eat Natural Bar, Cranberry Macadamia & Chocolate. If you have a look at the ‘of which sugars’ line, you’ll see that one bar contains 15.7g sugar – that’s approximately 3 teaspoons and half of your RDA!

If you take a look at the ingredients list:

Dark Chocolate 20% (Cocoa Mass, Sugar, Cocoa Butter, Emulsifier: Soya Lecithin), Shredded Coconut 18%, Vine Fruit 16% (Currants, Sultanas), Glucose Syrup, Crisped Rice (Rice, Sugar), Dried Cranberries % (Cranberries, Sugar, Sunflower Oil), Brazil Nuts 6%, Honey, Macadamia Nuts 3%

 You’ll see FIVE lots of added sugar – that’s on top of the natural sugars in the fruits that are never listed. All in all, that makes for one sugary snack!

Other culprits of high sugar – other than the obvious chocolate/sweets - include fruit flavoured yoghurts (often also up to 3 teaspoons in that tiny pot!), breakfast cereals and ready-made sauces – particularly sweet and sticky stir fry sauces!

It’s now quite easy to see how following a ‘low fat’ diet, and opting for foods marketed as ‘healthy’ and ‘fat free’ can bump up your sugar intake and leave you craving puddings and chocolate, low in energy and unhappy! Imagine a standard day – cereal for breakfast (2 – 3 teaspoons), a cup of tea or coffee (1 teaspoon), a mid morning yoghurt (2 teaspoons), a shop bought soup for lunch (1 teaspoon), a healthy mid afternoon cereal bar (3 teaspoons) with another cup of tea (1 teaspoon) and then a home cooked stir fry with sweet and sour sauce for dinner (3 teaspoons)…

Where possible, learn to make your own sauces, switch to a plain Greek yoghurt and sweeten naturally with a handful of fresh fruit, swap sugary cereal bars for oatcakes and nutbutter and ditch your cereal in the morning for a protein based breakkie such as eggs and smoked salmon.

For more advice on cutting back on your sugar intake, get in touch with one of our expert trainers.