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How To Slash Your Sugar Intake In 5 Simple Steps

Research has found that sleep-deprived people on average consume 385 calories more per day than those who slept longer!

Suspect you’re hooked on the sweet stuff? Cutting down can be difficult, but is totally possible with these 5 simple steps...


1. Who says we need to quit all sugar? Be savvy with what you give up!

The current recommendations are that we cut back on free sugars to just 5% of total energy intake, which equates to 30g per day. To put this into context 1 tbsp. honey comes with as much as 17g free sugar. Therefore that drizzle of honey you add to your porridge could be hitting your maximum intake of free sugar before 9am! Free sugars are typically concentrated sugars and are often added to our food to enhance flavour with examples including caster sugar, maple syrup and even coconut sugar.

There is a lot of confusion as to whether we need to hold back on fruit consumption due to the sugar content. You may have heard rumours such as ‘bananas make you fat’ or that ‘fruit is high in sugar therefore unhealthy’. However this is simply a myth, fruit sugar is locked into a fibrous matrix, which can help to slow the release of sugar into the blood stream and keep us full. Fruit also comes with key vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, which support health. 


2. Preparation is the key to success

Whilst hunger is our body’s natural reaction to needing nourishment, cravings on the other hand are specific for certain types of foods. Cravings tend to be psychological rather than physiological, for example brain-imaging studies have shown that foods such sugar can induce euphoric feelings. Interestingly any emotion, whether negative or positive could potentially trigger a craving.

If you have the right food to hand you’re more likely to make healthier choices when those sugar cravings hit. Whilst many of us have sugar cravings, we rarely indulge in consuming sugar off the spoon. Instead we crave a combination of sugar with fat, which provides the moreish effects, such as chocolate!

Good lower sugar alternatives:
  • Swap your 3pm cake or biscuit for PRESS London low sugar Cacao & Matcha Energy Bar
  • PRESS London Greenhouse 1 for a green vegetable juice with a hint of sweetness
  • Apple or banana dipped in almond butter
  • Opt for raspberries or strawberries, both of which are extremely low in sugar
  • Low fat, unsweetened popcorn. Try adding spices such as paprika or cinnamon for extra flavour


3. Don’t deprive yourself of sleep! 

If you’ve ever found yourself munching your way through sugary quick fix foods after a sleepless night, then science can explain why. 

Research has shown that sleep deprivation is associated with an increase in appetite. Research published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, concludes that when sleep is restricted, our satiety hormone, leptin, decreases and our hunger hormone, ghrelin, increases.

Lack of sleep may do more than just increase appetite; it has been shown to affect our food choices as well. Research from King’s College London; found that sleep-deprived people on average consume 385 calories more per day than those who slept longer.                                     

Sleep deprivation has also been shown to increase cravings for quick fix foods such as sweets, salty snacks, and high calorie starchy foods by as much as 45%! These foods are often relied on for an instant boost of energy, which may result in a blood sugar crash, leaving us worse off.


4. Eat mindfully 

If you’ve ever polished off the tub of ice cream in front of the TV without realising… then you have engaged in mindless comfort eating! 

Mindful eating is one of the strongest tools to have in your box to provide a healthier relationship with high sugar comfort foods. Mindful eating isn’t about restriction or cutting food groups, instead it increases awareness over eating habits and can be key to managing hunger and fullness cues.

Give these techniques a go!
  • Eating more slowly - put your knife and fork down between each bite, savour the flavours and allow your brain time to register your fullness cues
  • Chew! - try choosing 15-30 times, notice the flavours & textures of your food
  • Eat without distraction - many people mindlessly eat in front of their TV, laptop or phone without registering the flavours and whether they’re full or not. Focus on your food and I promise you will experience your meal more intensely - especially the pleasure of it, leaving you more satisfied.


5. Buy small packs & and surround yourself with slow eaters 

The larger the pack the more we eat - it’s just a fact of life. Science has proven this over and over again. One study gave two sizes of popcorn (medium and large) to a group of people in a cinema, one batch was stale and the other batch was fresh. Those given fresh popcorn ate 45.3% more when provided with large containers in comparison to medium containers. What’s even more shocking, is that those with the stale popcorn still ate 33.6% more when provided with large containers 1.

This goes to show that we can still overeat from larger packets, even when the food is stale! 

What’s more we tend to mimic the behaviours of whom we’re surrounded by and may eat more or less sugar depending on whom we’re with. While we may not be aware of it, others actually set the pace at which we eat as well as how much we eat.



By leading London Nutritionist, Lily Soutter BSc (hons) Food & Human Nutrition, Dip NT

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