How do I achieve a low sugar lifestyle?
Guest Blog: Anushka Malcolm
Reducing the intake of added sugar is a healthful idea for most Australians who commonly consume too much. When we talk about lowering sugar intake we don’t mean in its natural state like fruit, veggies or dairy but in it’s added forms such as chocolates, pastries and sauces. Excess sugar consumption is linked to several harmful health outcomes like heart disease, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and dental cavities.
Here are five tips from our expert nutritionist, Anushka Malcolm, to support you on a journey to a low sugar lifestyle:
1. Re-train your tastebuds
The first step to achieving a low sugar diet is to re-train your taste buds. When you’re consuming a diet with lots of sugar, your tastebuds become accustomed to it and require more sugar to get the cravings satisfied. Retraining your tastebuds to be less sensitive to sugar can take a few weeks of low sugar eating.
If you’re having teas and coffees don’t add sugar, skip the sweet snacks and ditch desserts, avoid chewing gum and lollies (even if they’re sugar fee), trade your sweetened yoghurt for a plain Greek style, if soft drinks (even sugar free) are on the menu then swap them for herbal tea or water. When we have a lot of sweet things our tastebuds and brain begin to expect it and crave it so limiting sweet flavour is the first step to a low sugar lifestyle.
2. Grocery overhaul
Next we want to create a fridge and pantry that sets us up for success. If we go shopping our aim is to bring home nutritious foods. I like to see an abundance of vegetables and fruit, with legumes, whole grains, fish, lean protein from animal sources such as eggs, poultry and meat, healthy fats like nuts, seeds, cold-pressed oils, herbs, spices and fermented foods to provide an array of essential nutrients.
We want our kitchen environment to be one that’s filled with healthy options and not loaded with sugar glazed donuts and ice creams. Rather than having those “sometimes” foods on hand opt to buy them only when they are needed. It’s 2023 and we’re putting diet culture behind us so of course, you can still enjoy these foods however make them a conscious choice not a boredom binge at home.
3. Habits that cause cravings
Step three is to challenge the daily habits that might be causing sugar cravings. If you always eat sweets while driving home from work then you may have conditioned your brain to crave sweets when you get into the car. The same goes for if you’re eating sugar while watching tv, on your computer on lounging on the couch. If you’re going to eat the sweet thing then eat it at the table, mindfully without the distraction of screens.
4. Reframe your mindset
When we put the focus on foods we are “not allowed” to eat it makes us want them more. We need to reframe the way we are approaching our plate and make the focus filling up on nourishing foods. Instead of telling yourself ‘I can’t buy a sweet from the bakery’ try swapping that for ‘I’m going to do more healthy baking at home’. Instead of ‘I’m not allowed to eat jelly snakes’ try ‘I’m going to enjoy fruit as a yummy snack’. When we make the focus about adding more healthy foods, we will naturally crowd out the less nourishing options.
5. Try to eat less added sugar
We can achieve a low sugar lifestyle without “quitting sugar” by aiming to eat less added sugar. You’ll find added sugar in things like lollies and chocolate, condiments, sweets and cakes, pre-made meals, ice creams, soft drinks, milkshakes to name a few. Thankfully, there are some fabulous sugar free options on the market these days, as brands are becoming more conscious of the needs of consumers.