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It can sometimes feel like nutrition advice changes from one day to the next with the latest dos and don’ts and diet trends.

By far the most important thing to get right is the basic principle of a healthy, balanced diet, and bearing in mind a few key principles of how to do so.

One of those key principles is avoiding too much sugar. Although many love the taste, too much can be bad for you.

But the good news is that when it comes to sugar, seemingly small changes to our habits can make a big difference.

Ditch the added sugar

Too much ‘free’ sugar has been identified as one of the factors leading to people putting on weight. Free sugar is added sugars like refined sugar, syrup, and honey as well as the sugars found in fruit juices.

cup of tea with sugar

Of course, there are also sugars found naturally in food and drink like lactose in milk and the sugars in whole fruits, but these aren’t considered to be a problem. It’s the sugar we add to foods that we need to reduce.

In 2014, there were more than 1.9 billion overweight adults in the world, and 600 million of them were classed as obese, according to the World Health Organisation.

As well as obesity, high levels of free sugar consumption have been associated with increased risk of diabetes, heart disease and cancer. It is also a cause of tooth decay.

To help avoid these problems, try not to add sugar to your food wherever possible.

Switch the sweetness

There are plenty of ways of promoting sweetness without sugar.

Artificial sweeteners such as saccharin or aspartame, for example, don’t contain any calories. There is also a growing trend toward natural sweetening options, such as stevia extract or monk fruit.

Adding fresh, ripe berries helps as ripe fruit notes enhance sweetness perception.

berries

Some common flavours are associated with sweetness – such as cocoa, cinnamon or vanilla powder, and these can be used to dust coffee or a pudding.

Texture is another way of taking the focus away from the sweetness of a dessert – adding chopped nuts or toasted coconut, for example.

If you can’t face your morning coffee without heaping on the sugar, try steaming the milk to enhance its natural sweetness and use cold brew coffee which tends to be less bitter.

Mini-me

Of course, the simplest approach is to cut back on portion size. Done gradually this can be less noticeable than you think.

Reading the label is also key, as even ‘savoury’ products such as pasta sauces and tomato ketchup can have much more added sugar than you may realise.

A healthier future

Good Health & Wellbeing is the third of the UN's Sustainable Development Goals,, and Nestlé is fully committed to creating a healthier future.

By following these simple suggestions, we can all cut back on the amount of added sugar we consume every day. And the less sugar we routinely use, the less we expect whenever we eat or drink.

If you are a Chef, you can find tips for professionals at NutriPro.