Sarah Wilson’s I Quit Sugar began a movement to ditch sugar and eliminate it from our diets. Here are six tips to get you started

Words Sabrina Nunez

Start Out Small

It would be crazy to say that you could ditch sugar in one fell swoop and not go a bit mad. Instead, try reducing your intake to half the amount. I Quit Sugar’s site is loaded with tips on how to do so. It is also important to reduce, and eventually cut out, artificial sweeteners and empty calories. This means reducing spoonfuls of sugar in your tea or coffee, sodas, cocktails, limiting post-dinner snacks, and keeping an eye on store-bought sauces as they are usually loaded with sugar.

Substitutes

You don’t have to completely give up sweet tastes to ditch sugar. Opting for healthier alternatives is key to maintaining sanity. Spices like cinnamon are full of flavour, which can transform something like Greek yoghurt or porridge. Wilson recommends Stevia, a natural sweetener that comes from a plant and is 300 times sweeter than regular sugar and has zero calories. Be wary though as it is often loaded with extra ingredients to extend its shelf life or reduce its bitter aftertaste. Rice malt syrup is another alternative, made from brown rice with no fructose. This one should still be monitored and eaten in moderation because it is made of glucose.

Don’t Jump on the Juicing Trend

Juice detoxes are unhealthy for a number of reasons, but they ultimately strip valuable nutrients from your diet and leave you with a sweet concoction that’s not totally great for you. Instead, you should opt for whole fruits and keep serving sizes in mind so as not to overindulge. Whole fruits are completely healthy because they have natural sugar that hasn’t been refined or processed. Smoothies are okay because they don’t grind the nutrients out, rather they whip things into a thicker consistency. We recommend adding nuts, seeds, water and leafy greens to make them even more filling and to keep you from consuming too many fruits.

Read and Understand Your Labels

Don’t be fooled by healthy claims plastered all over the packaging. For example, when packaging claims an item is ‘low-fat,’ the product’s taste is altered because there is less fat. This leads to an increase in sugar to compensate for the taste. Ingredient lists are also guilty of disguising sugar under other names like dextrin, dehydrated cane juice, agave nectar, muscovado and treacle to name a few. As always, short ingredients lists are typically better because they have less unnecessary and unhealthy items.

Meal Planning

This one goes quite well with reading your labels because you’ll learn how you can start eliminating and replacing ingredients. Meal planning means you’ll be making your own food, thus controlling how much sugar goes into everything you eat. Overall, making foods from scratch yields healthier results than pre-bought items, while meal planning just helps you stay organised.

Everything in Moderation

Like with anything in food, moderation is the key to success. To ditch sugar is not a diet, rather a lifestyle change that will take dedication. Understandably, it will be difficult at the start, but by knowing what is and isn’t healthy, what does and doesn’t agree with your body, and by taking these small steps, you’ll be on the right track.

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