Sugar-free or Low Sugar Diets

Added sugar contains no essential nutritional value, hence often termed as ’empty calories’.

Sugar may have harmful effects on metabolism and contribute to all sorts of diseases. It is also bad for teeth as it provides digestible energy for the bad bacteria in the mouth.

Added sugars, such as table sugar, honey and syrups, shouldn’t make up more than 5% of the energy you get from food and drink each day. That’s about 30g a day for anyone aged 11 and older.

  • high in sugar – 22.5g or more of total sugar per 100g 
  • low in sugar – 5g or less of total sugar per 100g.

Many of the recipes on this site help to consider a lower sugar intake, even in the case of cakes, in some instances reducing the quantity or omitting sugar completely from the meal. 

There are lots of different ways added sugar can be listed on ingredients labels:

  • sucrose
  • glucose
  • fructose
  • maltose
  • fruit juice
  • molasses
  • hydrolysed starch
  • invert sugar
  • corn syrup
  • honey.

When people consume a lot of sugar, it can cause resistance to the hormone insulin, which can progress to diseases such as Diabetes. Sugar can be addictive for a lot of individuals which may be down to the huge dopamine release in the brain. As a result, it is also a large factor in obesity, as you lose control over the consumption because the calories from sugar aren’t as fulfilling.

Cutting down on sugars during meal-times can be achieved through a variety of ways.

Top tips to consider when lowering sugar from meal times include:

  • Breakfast switching to lower sugar alternatives or removing sugar. Replacing the sugar for natural sugars in dried fruits or real fruits or alternating days with/ without sugar. Use low sugar spreads or reduce them
  • Lunch – Try whole grain or granary bread in place of white for sandwiches. They are higher in fibre. Add a low sugar condiment as opposed to sauces high in sugar for sandwich spreads. Swap cakes for fruit scones or currant buns. Choose to make your own granola or cereal bars as there can be lots of hidden sugars in the ones available on the high street
  • Snacks – Choose oat-cakes, oat biscuits and low sugar alternatives in place of biscuits. Choose low sugar drinks such as fruit teas, milk or remove sugary drinks completely and drink water. This will also help prevent tooth decay as sugar should really be left for main meal times. Juices can contribute to your 5 a day so be careful not to undo good if this forms an essential part of your daily dietary intake
  • Main meals and desserts – should be eaten together. You may decide not to have desserts with a daily meal and even reduce sugar in those desserts which you do consume. If eating tinned fruit, try those which are canned in juice rather than syrup. Eat low sugar rice pudding and try not to consume sugar unless needed.