If you don’t make most of your foods from scratch, chances are your cupboard is full of processed foods that contain a lot of refined sugar.
Many processed foods, like tomato sauce and canned foods, rely on refined sugars to help preserve them, and for taste.
But refined sugars are full of calories, and eating too much of it could lead to weight gain, major health issues, and it can even affect your mood.
Most people are aware that sugary treats like sweets, biscuits, and soda are high in sugar, but you would be surprised to know that a lot foods and drinks that seem healthy have high quantities of sugar.
Many people assume that fruit-flavoured drinks are healthy. But they actually contain high amounts of sugar, and low amounts of actual fruit.
A lot of the cereals your children eat are also loaded with sugar – even the ones that claim to be healthy!
Discovery Vitality’s Health Active Kids South Africa 2014 report card found that the average child ate 50g of sugar daily, while the figure was double for adults. That means many children are eating 12 teaspoons of sugar a day, while adults are consuming 24.
A World Health Organisation (WHO) report from the same year recommended that the average adult eats around 25g of sugar, or the equivalent of six teaspoons.
If you want to cut back on the amount of refined sugar you put into your body, then these substitutes will help.
Not only is raw honey loaded with antioxidants, but its naturally sweet taste is probably one of the easiest substitutes for refined sugar. You can add honey in your tea, and your morning oats. Extra bonus: honey can soothe a sore throat and help you sleep better. Just because honey is considered a better option than refined sugar does not mean you should go overboard at meal times. You generally need less honey than you would were you using refined sugar.
Ditch the white sugar the next time you are making muffins or scones. Use fresh cranberries instead. Puréed bananas can also be used in place of sugar when baking a banana loaf. This fruit gets sweeter as it cooks. You will need to adjust some of your other ingredients when baking with sugar substitutes, but there are lots of recipes online.
Sauces and salad dressing
Store-bought sauces and salad dressing are loaded with sugar. It’s better to make your own spaghetti sauce, and use grated carrots instead of sugar, and your own salad dressing (use lemon juice, olive oil, and a some orange juice for taste). And instead of piling on the tomato sauce on your burger, replace it with onions (caramelised), which taste sweeter when cooked.
Instead of grabbing a chocolate bar or sweets when you are wishing for something sweet, reach for fruit, which contain a healthier sugar known as fructose. If your kids find fruit plain and boring, then get creative. Frozen grapes make for a great treat on a hot day, and some people say they taste like candy. You can also freeze fruit in an ice-cube tray and top with sparkling water for a healthy popsicle. You can also use fruit to make a tasty smoothie bowl. Alas too much of a good thing is indeed bad, and eating a lot of fruit can up your calorie and sugar intake. Always keep in mind your daily sugar intake allowance per day.