8 tips to cut down on sugar

17th August 2014

Sugar really isn’t good news for your dental health. Frequent sugary attacks on your teeth cause rapid decay, which leads to cavities and thus increases the likeliness for fillings and other dental treatment.

You’re ‘sweet tooth’ can end up costing you greatly in terms of dental treatment, not to mention the list of other negative consequences of over consumption. An excess of sugar puts strain on your liver increasing the fatty acids in your blood (which may be stored as fat) and it increases the chances of a number of metabolic diseases (e.g. diabetes & heart disease). Not to mention, it’s impact on your sleep, concentration and energy levels. The list could go on.

The problem with sugar is that it’s not easy to moderate. It’s woven into our daily habits, our social fabric and well, it tastes good!

Laura Thomas, the founder of www.happysugarhabits.com, helps individuals get control over their cravings and find freedom with sweet food. Being once dominated by an insatiable ‘sweet tooth’ (and with enough fillings to show for it), Laura found herself out of control with sweet food.

Laura truly understands the real life practicalities, nutrition requirements and here she offers her top 8 tips for cutting back without feeling like the joy is being taken out eating, addressing some of the the trickier social & emotional challenges when it comes to long term lifestyle change.

Look at drinks first

Drinking sugar is often a habit rather than necessity. The Sugar Tax should help you think twice about buying that sugar ladden drink. The sugar in tea, the fruity drink with lunch or the soft drink when socialising. If going without is particularly tough at first, look to cut down the amount of sugar gradually to allow a natural shift in your taste preference for it. For example, half the teaspoon of sugar going into your tea or use a smaller juice glass in the morning.

Find lower sugar substitutes of your favourite foods

Quite often there can be a big difference in sugar content between brands of the same food. Spending a little time researching and finding the ones that don’t have as much added sugar, shaves off a few grams that can make a difference if you’re eating these products daily.

Be mindful of total sugar (especially fructose)

Although fruits and natural sources of sugar have nutritional benefit and are healthy in many respects, they are still sweet and you’re likely to still experience powerful cravings when excessively consuming them. Fructose, which is found in refined sugar and fruit sources is the more addictive part of sugar that we desire the most. To start managing your cravings, be mindful of the total amount of sweet food in your diet (including fruit), the quantities you’re consuming and how often you’re eating it. Read more about smoothies HERE

Avoid hidden sugar

It goes without saying, avoid sugar that you don’t know you’re eating. Double check sauces, dressings, cereals, soups etc. Look to make your own where you can and cut back on processed foods as much as possible.

One thing at a time

When you first start looking to cut back on sugar and you realise you’re eating a lot of it, the whole prospect can be somewhat depressing. Start by making one change at a time. A lower sugar topping for your porridge or an effort to make your own salad dressing. Small changes over time are more sustainable than a drastic all or nothing approach.

Consider your use of sugar

It’s very common for people to use sugar as a stress coping mechanism. It’s accessible, cheap, quick and easy. Take note if you’re consuming sugar in response to emotional hunger. Seek to build in other coping mechanisms that don’t involve sweet food e.g. some yoga or a run, something relaxing like a walk or a simple breathing exercise.

Embrace the savoury foods you love

To avoid the doom and gloom feeling of eating less sugar, embrace your favourite savoury foods in all their forms. Try new combinations of them, be more experimental with foods and try to enjoy the process of finding savoury alternatives that you really get excited about.

Work through social challenges

Often it’s the social side of sugar that be particularly challenging. The birthdays, weddings and numerous annual occasions that are closely associated with excessively sugary food. Seek to understand if you’re eating sugar because everyone else is, or if it’s closely tied to the joy you feel at these events and celebrations. Building awareness of your sugar habits in social situations is the first best step to adjusting them.

Bow Lane Dental will help you kick the habit.

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