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10 Ways to Cut Out Sugar in Your Diet

According to Affinity Health, a leading provider of high-quality healthcare, diets overloaded with sugar have been linked to various health issues. But cutting sugar out of your diet can be difficult, especially with sugar hiding in many foods we eat.

Sugar may be sweet, but its effects on our health can be bitter. Excess sugar consumption can lead to weight gain, obesity, and an increased risk of chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and some malignancies. Sugar can also contribute to tooth decay and upset the hormonal balance that regulates hunger.

“It’s important to note that not all sugar is bad. Sugar found naturally in fruits, vegetables, and dairy is not as harmful as added sugar in processed foods, as it comes with other important nutrients,” says Murray Hewlett, CEO of Affinity Health. “Remember, moderation is key.”

Are You Looking to Cut Sugar Out of Your Diet?

Affinity Health lists 10 simple ways to help you reduce sugar in your diet:

Read Nutrition Labels

The American Heart Association suggests that women restrict their added sugar consumption to 25 grammes (approximately six teaspoons) per day and men limit it to 36 grammes (nine teaspoons) per day. Knowing where sugar may be hiding will assist you in meeting these objectives and beating added sugar at its own game of hide and seek.

 

Many processed foods contain added sugars, often listed under various names. Get in the habit of reading nutrition labels, and look for terms such as “high fructose corn syrup”, “rice syrup”, “agave nectar”, and “cane sugar”.

Choose Whole Fruits Over Fruit Juice

Fruit juice may seem healthy, but it can be high in sugar. Whole fruits contain fibre, which can help slow down the absorption of sugar, whereas fruit juice lacks that fibre and can cause a spike in blood sugar levels. Instead of fruit juice, opt for whole fruits to benefit from the natural sugars they contain.

Watch Out For “Low-Fat” Or “Fat-Free” Products

Low-fat or fat-free products often contain more sugar to compensate for the lost flavour. When fat is removed, the taste and texture of the food can change, so manufacturers add sugar to improve the taste. This can lead to increased calorie intake, particularly from added sugars.

Don’t Skip Meals

Skipping meals can lead to overeating later, making you more likely to reach for sugary snacks.

 

Find Sugar-Free Alternatives

Many popular snack foods, like sweets and chocolate, have sugar-free alternatives that can help curb cravings.

Avoid Sugary Drinks

Soda, fruit juice, sweetened coffees, and teas can contain a shocking amount of sugar. On average, a glass serving of juice or cola contains roughly 30 grammes of sugar – nearly eight teaspoons. Instead, opt for water, unsweetened tea, or sparkling water with a squeeze of lemon or lime.

Cook At Home

When you prepare your meals, you have complete control over the ingredients and sugar content. Drizzle fruit purees on top of fat-free Greek yoghurt for a nutritious dessert. Make fruit purees out of naturally sweet fruits like mango. Instead of sugar, use spices to enhance the flavour of dishes, such as vanilla extract, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves, allspice, mace, cardamom, and star anise.

Experiment With Natural Sweeteners

Instead of reaching for the sugar bowl, try using natural sweeteners like honey. Alternatively, use sugar substitutes that don’t raise the sugar level in the blood, such as Aspartame and Stevia. Be sure not to consume high amounts of artificial sweeteners, as excessive intake can cause digestive issues.

Be Mindful of Your Portion Sizes

Even healthy foods can be high in sugar if you overeat them. Learn to “eyeball” your meal to determine how much is too much and how much is just right.

To reduce your serving size:

  • Use a smaller dish, such as a luncheon or salad plate.
  • Learn how to provide the proper serving size.
  • Don’t order second helpings or leave other food on the table to tempt you.
  • Store leftovers in single-serving containers for quick meals.

Get Enough Sleep

Lack of sleep can increase your cravings for sugary foods because it disrupts the balance of hormones that regulate appetite, specifically ghrelin and leptin. Ghrelin, also known as the hunger hormone, increases when you’re sleep-deprived, making you feel hungrier, while leptin, the hormone that makes you feel full, decreases. This hormonal imbalance can make you crave high-calorie, sugary foods. Additionally, lack of sleep can lead to fatigue and low energy levels, making sugary foods an easy source of quick energy. Be sure to get seven to eight hours of sleep per night.

What Foods Are High in Sugar?

Some of the top foods with high sugar levels include:

  • Soda and sports drinks
  • Chocolate and sweets
  • Packaged fruit juice
  • Breakfast cereal
  • Granola bars
  • Frozen meals
  • Canned soup
  • Ketchup and BBQ sauce
  • Bread and baked goods
  • Yoghurts sweetened with syrups, and fruit purees

“By making small changes in your diet and being mindful of the sugar content in the foods you eat, you can cut out sugar and improve your overall health. Remember, moderation is key, and it’s okay to enjoy a treat in moderation,” concludes Hewlett.

About Affinity Health 

Affinity Health is South Africa’s leading provider of health insurance, offering you a range of options at affordable rates including access to the widest national provider network. We understand the importance of having medical insurance that meets your needs, your budget, and your lifestyle. Our range of healthcare products are designed to protect you and your family when it matters the most. We strive to always give our clients peace of mind and the highest standard of service at all times. For more information, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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