Daily tips to cut down on sugar
Try these easy swap ideas to reduce the amount of sugar you eat throughout the day.
Healthier swaps at breakfast
Switch to lower sugar cereals or other breakfast options like fruit or toast (but if you spread on things like jam, marmalade or honey, make sure it’s a thin layer.) How about porridge, made with lower fat milk and grated apple? If you add dried fruit to your cereal, make it just a small handful, as this can also be high in sugar.
Try our healthier breakfast recipe ideas
Lower sugar dessert and pudding swaps
Switch from things like sugary puddings to more refreshing ones like fruit, which also counts towards your 5 A DAY. It’s also a source of vitamins, minerals and fibre which are good for your health.
- Fresh – look out for fruit in season, it can be cheaper.
- Canned – try peach, pear, or pineapple slices in their own juice (rather than in syrup).
- Dried – have a small handful of cranberries or raisins, or a couple of dried apricots / pears.
- Smoothie – you can make your own by blending some frozen fruit, lower fat milk / yoghurt and some 100% unsweetened fruit juice.
And instead of ice cream, try:
- Lower fat yoghurt – make sure it doesn’t contain added sugar. Add fruit for a delicious dessert.
- Lower fat rice pudding – check the label for sugar too.
Or compare the labels on two ready made puddings and choose the one with the lower level of sugars.
More about food labels
At home, don’t go back for seconds on pudding. If you like to have a pudding when you’re eating out, you could always try sharing one. One pudding, two spoons!
Make sure that your kids’ portions of puddings are “me size”. Their portions should be smaller than an adult's.
Can I give my kids fruit? I know it contains sugar, so is it bad for them?
Although it can contain a lot of sugar, fruit is a healthier choice because it also contains fibre, vitamins and minerals. Giving them fruit is also a great way to encourage them to eat their 5 A DAY.
Try to avoid giving the kids foods and drinks with added sugars, which are the ones put in to make them taste sweeter. In the ingredients list, sugar added to food may be called things like glucose, sucrose, dextrose, corn syrup or invert sugar. Fruit juice and honey can also count as ‘added sugars’ as they are sometimes added to food to make them sweeter.
Super snack swaps
We all tend to reach for the snacks in the afternoon, when we need a quick “pick me up”. And at the weekends as well, when we might feel we deserve a bit of a treat.
Things like cakes, pastries, sweets, biscuits, jam, and chocolate can be high in sugar, Opt for ‘lite’ or low sugar versions instead, when you’re at the supermarket. Or swap for unsalted, unroasted nuts, unsalted rice cakes or toast instead.
- Buy smaller packs. Skip the family bags and just go for the normal sized one instead.
- If there’s more than one bar to your chocolate snack, can you share it with a friend? Or put it in the fridge and have the other one tomorrow.
Pack a snack!
If you’re going out for the morning or a day, try taking some healthier snacks with you. It’ll help you avoid the chocolate and cakes on offer in cafes and shops on the way, and can save money too.
I can just about get my kids’ snacking under control at home, then as soon as they go to their nan’s house and she fills them up with all sorts of sugary food because she thinks it’s OK to spoil them sometimes. How can I get her to see she’s making things harder for me at home?
The first thing to do is explain to nan that it’s because she loves her grandchildren so much that you need her help in making them grow up healthy. Tell her what you’re trying to do, and why you’re doing it. You could also try stocking up her cupboards with a few healthier snacks and ask her to give them these. Or get them to take some healthier snacks with them instead.
If you take sugar in tea or coffee, try cutting down or swapping to sweeteners instead. Try some new flavours with herbal teas. Or make your own with hot water and a slice of lemon or ginger.
Pure, unsweetened fruit juice is a healthier option too as it retains the vitamins from the fruit. And it counts as one of your 5 A DAY as well – although it’s only one portion, no matter how much you drink. Choose the ’100% unsweetened’ type as it doesn’t have any added sugar, and drink it with a meal - it’s kinder to your teeth that way!
It’s shocking to hear that more than a quarter of the added sugar in kids’ diets comes from sugary drinks. These include fizzy drinks, milkshakes, sweetened juices and cordials. For all the family swapping to water, milk (ideally semi-skimmed , 1% or skimmed), or sugar free drinks can really make a difference.
You could also try giving the kids small amounts of diluted sugar free squash, cordial or fruit juice. Try to encourage them to have these drinks or fruit juice with a meal to reduce the risk of tooth decay.Water’s always a cool and refreshing drink – and it’s so easy! Try keeping a jug of water in the fridge so it’s always on hand.
My children see sweets as "treats", which I’m trying to get them out of. What else can I give them that they think is just as exciting as a reward?
You don’t have to cut out sugary snacks completely for the kids, just let them have them occasionally. See if they like frozen fruity ice-cubes. Or you could also let them make or decorate their own snack boxes and choose two snacks every morning for the day. Tell them they can eat them when they like, but when they’re finished there’ll be no more until tomorrow.
You could also try giving them stickers or little toys as treats instead - you can buy cheap toys like the ones they get in party bags or out of crackers, in most toy shops. And don’t forget that treats don’t have to be a "thing". Activities and time with you can be just as valuable to them, like a family trip to the swimming pool or the park. Some local authorities have free swimming offers, so it's worth checking their websites for details.