Sugar is a hot topic in the health world. Even with the ‘sugar tax’ now in place, it’s easy to stumble across the next sugar-related headline. While most people understand that too much sugar can be bad for your health, many people are unaware of the levels of sugar they consume daily, as well as which foods are a hidden source of sugar.
With children in England reported to consume ‘twice as much sugar as recommended’, it’s a good time to look at your family’s own sugar consumption and see if it can be improved. Could a sugar detox help your family to live a healthier life?
How much sugar is too much?
According to a Public Health England survey, children consume ‘more than a year’s worth of sugar in just 6 months’. This is a worrying figure, with sugar consumption being linked to obesity and poor dental health in children. It’s also said to increase the risk of diabetes and cancer.
It’s recommended that children aged 4-10 have no more than the equivalent of 5-6 sugar cubes a day, but the reality is that they consume the equivalent of as many as 13 a day. With soft drinks, cakes, sweets and biscuits among the top sources of sugar content – it might be time to think about what your family eats in a day and how you can cut down on sugar.
Hidden sugar sources in your diet
While sweet treats are clear and obvious sources of sugar in your diet, there are others that you might not be so familiar with. Ready meals, ready-made sauces and even store-bought sandwiches could all be adding to your family’s sugar intake without you realising.
The Change4Life Food Scanner app (available on Apple and Android devices) can be a good way to check your food before you buy to help you avoid foods that are high in sugar. Being more vigilant about your shopping habits is a simple step to take to reduce your family’s sugar consumption.
How to do a sugar detox
A sugar detox doesn’t have to mean cutting out sugar completely. Sugar is naturally present in many foods, such as fruit, milk and honey. However, cutting back on refined sugar is recommended, as much of it is unnecessary for our bodies. Some things you can do to reduce your family’s sugar intake include:
Stop drinking sugary drinks
Soft drinks are notoriously high in sugar, and while many manufacturers have been seeking to reduce their sugar content, many are still high enough to be considered eligible for the sugar tax. While you can switch to sugar-free alternatives, swapping to water and natural fruit juices is recommended.
Make treats a treat
If you like to treat yourself often, you might want to think about cutting back. A bar of chocolate or sweet bakery treat now and then might not seem like a lot, but they can contain much more sugar than you realise. Limit treats or swap to healthier treats instead.
Cook from scratch
When you order takeaways or buy ready made or processed food, it can be difficult to know exactly what’s in your food. Many supermarkets will add sugar to their ready meals and sauces, which contribute highly to your sugar intake. Cooking from scratch resolves this problem – as you’ll know exactly what you’re putting into your food. Try making more meals at home and use leftovers for lunch to avoid the temptation of those high street lunches.
Reduce your alcohol intake
Alcohol is also very high in sugar, and drinking too much adds unnecessary calories, as well as being problematic for your health. Look to cut down on your intake, sticking to low-sugar drinks and sugar-free mixers on the occasions that you do drink.
If you’re concerned about your family’s nutrition, NHS Choices has some excellent advice on sugar to help you reduce your intake and help your family live healthier lives, so start giving that sugar detox a try today.