Monday, 19 January 2015

BECOME A HEALTHIER YOU; How to Cut Down On Your Sugar Intake

Overweight and Obesity

Overweight and obesity are risk factors for Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressuresome cancers and cardiovascular diseases like heart disease and stroke. 

One of the contributing factors of obesity is a diet high in calories. that mean high in fat or high in sugar. In this article, I share tips to help you cut down on sugar, especially added sugar intake, so you can achieve the recommended amount of added sugar in your meals.

For men and women, the recommended amount of sugar added to food, also known as added sugar is at most 70g and 50g, respectively. This recommendation however varies depending on your age, body size and how active you are. To know your exact recommendation, do consult a dietician or nutritionist.

For everyone

When Shopping

  1. Read food labels to identify what the added sugars in a product are. They are usually shown on the labels as sucrose, glucose, fructose, maltose, molasses, hydrolysed starch, invert sugar, corn syrup and honey. When you see the added sugars, check how much of them are contained in the product. A food which contains 22.5g of sugar per 100g of the product is very high in sugar while anything below 5g is low.
  2. Swap products with high sugar content like fizzy drinks, sweetened fruit juices, and squashes with low sugar ones like natural fruit juices and water. Because you are more likely to reach for those high sugar drinks when they are in your stores, it is a good idea to avoid stocking your food stores with them.

When preparing meals

  1. For meals such as porridge, cereal and homemade drinks like ‘Sobolo’ (Bisarp, hibiscus), swap table sugar for chopped fruits and squeezed fruits juices to meet your taste preference. The fruits will not only improve the ‘taste’ of your food, but also provide you with nutrients such as Vitamin B and C. In the end, you will meet the recommendation of eating 5 portions of fruits and vegetables a day.
  2. If you drink tea, coffee or chocolate drinks, gradually cut down on the sugar you add till you can drink these beverages without sugar.
  3. When thirsty, reach out more for water, natural unsweetened fruit juices, and less fizzy drinks and sweetened fruit juices, which are high in sugar.

  4. When looking for something to munch in between meals, grab a fruit, vegetable, or nut and avoid toffees and chocolate.

  5. If you are the type who likes to eat desserts after a main meal, decide the number of times in a week or month you will take your desserts. This way you do not eat dessert every day as this is an unhealthy habit. Also when choosing your desserts, pick the ones that are low in sugar content.

  6. When eating high sugar foods such as cakes, ice cream and chocolate, try to eat smaller portions.

For people who have BMI 25 and above / Overweight and Obese people

If you are overweight or obese, you need to take additional steps.

Apart from cutting down on foods high in sugar and fat, you should also do more physical activity, and  increase your consumption of fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains and nuts. Also make it a point to get enough sleep, reduce or cut out alcohol consumption and adopt a no smoking habit.

Keep in mind that a dietician or a nutritionist can design a healthy lifestyle plan for you.

For children

Obesity can occur at any age, so as much as possible, we should not introduce children to foods high in sugar. Children who are given high sugar foods at an early age develop a preference for those sugared foods and thereby increase their risk of obesity and its related problems.

A healthy lifestyle is the best investment anyone can make. We wish you the best in your journey to become a healthier you in 2015

Photo Credit: Kofimusings

About contributor
Irene Danquah, ANutr holds a BSc Biochemistry from the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), Ghana and an MSc Public Health Nutrition from the University of Southampton, UK. Irene is member of the UK Association for Nutrition (AfN) and the Ghana Nutrition Association. She is on the UK Voluntary Register of Nutritionists (UKVRN) as an Associate Nutritionist. Like the World Bank, Irene also believes "Nutrition is an investment issue and improved nutrition is one of the major drivers of economic growth - World Bank, 2006". 


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