The Welsh Government have recently announced new restrictions on the placement and price promotion of high-fat, salt and sugar foods. They’ll be rolled out in the next two years, the idea being to curb “impulse buys”. On the back of this, Hannah Collins offers her own personal tips on giving up added sugar.
I’m not someone with a lot of vices: a non-smoker, moderate drinker and I don’t do hard drugs. Caffeine and ASOS are my main addictions. But around 4 pm on a weekday, like clockwork, the craving for something sweet hits me. I’ve also never been someone obsessive about diet control, or denying myself life’s little pleasures, but when I thought about all the other hidden sugars in processed food and the fact these hunger pangs were clearly cruxes rather than deficiencies, I wondered what life might be like going cold turkey and give up added sugar. How would my physical and psychological health change?
I’m not alone in this: 84% of people in Wales told Public Health Wales they want to be healthier this year, with 57% agreeing with things like sugar taxes to help them achieve that. So, after some research, I’ve undertaken the 30-day no added sugar challenge. Some hardcore sugar-cutters might go full hog, but I’ve opted to keep eating anything with natural sugars because I think it’s important to maintain a balanced diet, as well as commit to something sustainable.
The biggest revelation has been that after only a week, the cravings disappeared. Sure, I have to resist anything wafted under my nose, but the desire for something sweet out of nowhere is gone. It turns out, sugar makes you want more sugar, while no sugar makes you want… no sugar. My energy levels haven’t dipped either, as I’d feared – in fact, I’m generally more clear-headed, and less bloated.
The hardest part has been avoiding the hidden stuff: I was halfway through a sausage sandwich before remembering the ketchup I slathered on it breaks the rules. On the plus side, I’ve gotten used to inspecting ingredients for the unexpected. While I’ll gradually reintroduce the odd treat back into my diet when the 30 days are up, long-term, I’m optimistic this brief fasting period will improve my awareness of what I’m putting in my body.
Added sugar substitution tips:
- Zero-sugar fizzy drinks are obviously available, but avoid artificial sweeteners with sparkling water plus ice and strawberries, lemons or lime. It’s water, but… better.
- Switch from sugary cereal and milk to zero-fat yoghurt with no added sugar muesli and raisins/sultanas. An easy extra protein source.
- For a chilled, naturally sweet snack, pop some grapes or carrot batons in the fridge.
- Cow’s milk is surprisingly sugary. Try switching to no-sugar oat milk (available from Alpro). You’ll never want to drink an iced latter without it once you switch.
words HANNAH COLLINS