I have had a lot of interest in my blog about how to reduce your sugar intake to the maximum of 30g per day recommended by the NHS in the UK.
How much sugar should I eat a day?
Added sugars shouldn’t make up more than 5% of the energy (calorie intake) you get from food and drink each day. This is about 30g of sugar a day for those aged 11 and over.
Fruit juice and honey can also count as added sugars, as they’re sometimes added to foods to make them sweeter.
Fruit juice is still a healthy choice (one 150ml serving counts towards your 5 A DAY). However, the sugars can damage your teeth, so it’s best to drink it with a meal and no more than one serving a day This is because sugars are released during the juicing process. Sugars in whole pieces of fruit are less likely to cause tooth decay because they are contained within the food.
I recommend diluting fruit juice with water to reduce the acidity and sugar intake. I find that a 30% to 50% dilution is far more refreshing than pure juice.
It would be best if you didn’t cut down on fruit as it’s an important part of a healthy, balanced diet and provides roughage which is important for gut health.
My Top Tips for reducing sugar intake
- Cut out all fizzy drinks – don’t even go for the low-calorie ones, they are bad for you in different ways. Stick to water and fruit juice.
- Cut out sugar in tea and coffee – best to gradually reduce to zero.
- Don’t eat cakes and biscuits between meals
- Watch out for hidden sugar in things like baked beans, tomato sauce and cheaper types of bread.
- Wine and other alcoholic drinks can contain a lot of sugar – generally, the smoother they taste the more sugar they contain. See below.
- Sugar wasn’t always a cheap ingredient and cooks had to find natural alternative ways to sweeten food. Add the stems of Myrrhis odorata – (sweet cicely) to rhubarb to make it sweeter without adding so much sugar.
How many tablespoons is 30g of sugar
A tablespoon of white refined sugar is approximately 15g, so there are two tablespoons of sugar in 30g.
Are there good sugars and bad sugars?
This is a good question. Technically no, all sugars are the same, be that the sugar you put in your tea or the sugar in an apple but that’s purely on a technical level.
When you eat an apple or another piece of fruit you consume the natural sugar it contains but also benefit from all the fibre and other nutrients.
With refined sugar, it’s possible to consume a lot more calories much more quickly than you can from natural sources.
Finally, refined sugars are not pure, they are made white to trick you into thinking they are pure but in fact, they contain other compounds and are very highly processed. For this reason, many of us like to use natural unrefined sugar or honey or other natural plant-based sweeteners when cooking. For example, a tomato sauce can be cheaply sweetened with sugar when produced commercially but when you make it at home you can add a lot of sweetness simply by sweating down and caramelising onions and then topping up with honey if necessary.
How much sugar is there in a glass of wine?
A single bottle of wine can contain your full maximum 30g daily allowance of sugar.
Are sugar and Carbohydrates the same thing?
In summary, yes sugar and carbohydrates are the same thing.
Carbohydrates take the form of either sugars or starches (“complex carbohydrates”); but, a starch is simply a long chain of sugar molecules strung together, so they both end up as the same thing once they enter your bloodstream (the only difference is that you need digestive enzymes to break up a starch).
It’s important therefore to understand that if you are trying to lose weight, simply cutting out sugar-rich food and replacing it with starch-rich foods like potatoes, bread and pasta is just swapping one sugar for another. Always try and each a balanced natural diet with the appropriate number of calories to match your daily activity level. Losing weight is just a matter of consuming fewer calories than you will burn each day.
Finally, you’ll be pleased to know that the hardest part of reducing your sugar intake is getting started. As you reduce your intake your taste starts to change and you won’t want overly sweet food, instead you start to appreciate the more subtle flavours in your food and drink.
Why 36 grams of sugar?
Interestingly while the medical guidance in the UK is for you not to eat more than 30 grams of sugar a day, in the US the recommend is currently 36 grams. There is a higher level of obesity in the US, so my advice is to go with the UK recommendation. The extra 6 grams may not sound like a big difference but over a year that’s over 2KG more, or a whole extra bag of sugar per person.
30 grams sugar to tablespoons (tbsp)
30 grams of white refined sugar is 2 tablespoons (tbsp).
You may also be interested in my blog about salt, which includes a picture of what 6g of salt looks like.
Jamie Oliver Sugar Rush
This is a great educational video for anyone who wants to learn about sugar in the diet and how itcan cause type 2 diabities and tooth decay.