Tag Archives: dietitian sugar

Sugar addiction and how to stop eating sugar.

The guys over at Coach Magazine asked me some questions about sugar recently and this is the article that they then wrote. It’s created quite a bit of chatter over on Twitter, so have a read and see what you think:

Sugar Addiction and How to Stop Eating Sugar 


Is there really such a thing as sugar addiction? And how can you cut down on the sweet stuff?




30 MAR 2016
 Sugar is on almost everyone’s hitlist, with the government even stepping in to take action against it in its last budget with a tax on soft drinks that contain too much added sugar. However, that tax is two years away and sugar will continue to be responsible for diseases such as obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular issues, so to get some advice on how people can kick their sugar habit now, Coach began by speaking to British Dietetics Association spokesperson Priya Tew.

Is sugar genuinely addictive?

“Addiction is a strong word, so I wouldn’t call sugar addictive. However, sugar has been shown to stimulate the areas of the brain that are linked to addiction, the opiate receptors and the reward centre. So some people are more susceptible to this and may find they crave sugar more than others.”

Why do we crave sugar at certain times of the day, like the mid-afternoon snack?

“This is due to habit for some people, tiredness for others and sometimes thirst. Think about these things first to work out if you are actually hungry or not. Try having a drink, [and] if you still want something then choose a healthy snack that includes protein to help keep you satiated. Peanut butter on toast or hummus with vegetables sticks, for example.”

How can you recognise what food has sugar in it?

“Reading the list of ingredients on a food label will help with this – however, sugar can be found in a variety of disguises. Syrups, glucose, sucrose, fructose, honey and agave are all forms of sugar. It is helpful to remember that there are added sugars, and sugars that are found naturally as part of a food. It is the added sugars that we want to be reducing – but not cutting out [all sugars] completely. So sugar that is naturally found in fruit, natural yogurts and milk is OK.”

 You can read the full article here.

How to cut down on sugar

Ok so first things first. Sugar is NOT the enemy. (Runs and ducks under cover). Seeing any single nutrient or food as the baddie However I completely agree that eating less sugar is something to be encouraged for MOST people. Notice I didn’t say ALL people. For some who are focusing on weight gain eating food that contain sugar can be useful and necessary. 

Dietitian UK: Top 3 myths about sugar

The new WHO guidelines are that we shouldn’t be eating more than 10% of our total energy intake as free or added sugars. These are sugars that are added to foods as well as sugars naturally found in honey, fruit juices, fruit concentrates and syrups. So it does not include the sugar naturally found in foods such as fruit, vegetables, milk and some yoghurts for example. 

Why do we need to reduce the sugar? The research shows a link between sugar and obesity. This makes total sense. Too many calories = weight gain. Sugar = calories. This is  not saying that sugar is the main or only cuplrit in the obesity crisis, it is one of them. Sugar is also linked to dental caries. Again, it’s a widely known fact and yet we still eat it.

Personally I don’t jump on the band wagon of “sugar cleanses” or completely cutting out sugar. I wouldn’t find that sustainable. What I promote is reducing your sugar intake alongside finding a healthy lifestyle that is sustainable in the long term. If your meals taste horrible you won’t stick to it. Cooking from scratch, steering away from jars of sauce, snacking on fruit and veggies, switching to a sweetener, altering how you bake and drinking unsweetened beverages are all things I’m in favour of. 

Cut down on:

Adding sugar to drinks and cereals/food.

Using honey.

Fruit juices and soft drinks.

Jars of sauce and condiments such as tomato sauce – look at the labels and see how much sugar is added!

Ready meals, soups and desserts. 

Cereal bars, biscuits, cakes, sweets and processed foods.

Sugary breakfast cereals.


Instead :

Check the labels of foods and look for a lower sugar option. 

Get creative in the kitchen and bake up some low sugar treats. You can use fruit to sweeten baking in cakes and flapjacks and make main meals such as lasagne without any need for sugary sauces.

Switch to a sweetener. Many now come from natural sources and can be used in baking.

Wean yourself off sugary foods. If you have sugar in your drinks try gradually adding less over time. Go from 2 tsp, to 1 tsp to 1/2 tsp to 0 tsp for example.

Choose a wholegrain, low sugar cereal and add some fruit to bring in the sweetness.

Make your own versions of sauces, they are not only lower in sugar but usually cheaper too.

Try not to have sugary foods to hand or you are more likely to eat them!

Allow yourself to have sweet treats on occasion, it is impractical to cut things out entirely. Even dietitians eat cake and chocolate 😉



Sugar: the top 3 myths.

 There has been a lot of talk and hype around sugar lately and let’s be honest, it’s been pretty confusing. It certainly has made me stop and think, which sent me scurrying back to the literature and research base on the topic. As a dietitian the scientific evidence is always key as is how it is interpreted. Here is a summary of what I have been reading lately and my thoughts.

 Dietitian UK: Top 3 myths about sugar


Myth 1: Sugar is bad for you

Sugar is actually needed by the body in order for it to function. The brain needs glucose. The problems comes when you overconsume sugar as excess sugar = excess calories leading to weight gain. 


Myth 2: Fructose is better for you

Fructose is metabolised differently to glucose. Most sugar is broken straight down into glucose in the bloodstream, leading to a rise in insulin levels. 

Most fructose (50%) is converted to glucose and ends up in the circulation.

(15%) is stored as glycogen in the liver/muscles

(25%) is converted to lactate

(1-3%) is converted to fat


Myth 3: Natural sugar is better than added sugar

Sugar is sugar. The difference is the rest of the food. Added sugars are usually found in processed foods which contain less nutrition than natural, unprocessed, whole foods such as fruits, vegetables and milk – all of which have natural sugar in them.


So to summarise we do need sugar, so let’s not demonise it, but we don’t want to be having too much of it. All sugars have the same nutritional value providing 4kcals per gram or 16kcals per tsp. Watch that sugar spoon 😉