21One way to be healthier and try to lose weight is to reduce  sugar intake. In 2012 the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics stated that on average, adults in the United States consume 14.6% of energy from added sugars. This is too much as the recommended sugar intake is 5% (conditional)-10% of total energy intake or 6-12 teaspoons according to the World Health Organisation. Sugars provide 4kcal/g of energy and can be considered empty calories contributing only calories but no other useful nutrients like fibre, vitamins and minerals. Below are some tips on how to make better food and drink choices which are lower in sugar.

Fizzy cold drinks are packed with sugar. Read the labels and you will see some can contain up to 10 teaspoons of sugar. The best swap out would be to drink water which contributes no calories and will hydrate you well. Otherwise, you could swap it out for diluted fruit juice by adding half water to your fruit juice which helps dilute the natural fruit sugars so that your body can process them easier and the sugar content will be less. You can even try make your own homemade iced tea by adding fresh or dried fruit to steeping tea and allow it to cool.

Breakfast is said to be the most important meal of your day as you start your metabolism, break your overnight fast and prepare your body for the day ahead. Majority of breakfast cereals are very high in sugar which will spike your blood sugar level and make it difficult for you to concentrate and function well. Swap out sugary cereals for better options like higher-quality cereals (read packaging carefully), oats, eggs (just not fried please) and lean meats.

Sauces and condiments are a surprising source of sugar that consumers don’t think about. But once you start reading labels you could be rather shocked at how much they actually contain. There are so many so it’s not always very easy to avoid. The best way to reduce the sugar intake is to rather make your own. For example instead of a bought tomato sauce, swap it out for homemade tomato relish from tomatoes and onions. This can be time consuming so try find a local market that might sell them. Otherwise reduce your amounts that you use when choosing commercial brands.

Yoghurt is thought to be a healthy snack and it can be due to the calcium, proteins etc. However, most flavoured yoghurts are another source of hidden sugars. Swap them out for plain yoghurt and add fresh fruit, dried fruit or nuts to it for flavour rather. The fruit may contribute natural sugars but then at least you are gaining the benefit from the fibre and vitamins and minerals inside them. Take care when buying low fat options of dairy as manufactures often increase sugar and salt content in lower fat products to improve the taste. Read the labels when choosing.

Ice cream. Unfortunately ice cream is high in sugar which may not be a huge surprise but healthier swaps for ice cream may be a pleasant surprise. Freeze peeled cut up bananas and blitz them in a strong blender and you will be impressed at the similar texture and delicious taste. Or swap out the conventional ice cream for a fruity sorbet. They are made from more water and normally fruit juices which should be lower in sugar. Making your own would be better as some store bought sorbets can still have high sugar contents.

Reducing sugar (essentially a High-GI empty-calorie) can really help you to lose weight and be more healthy. It can also be tricky but it is not impossible.