Are you thinking about improving your eating habits? Have you put reducing sugar intake on your to-do list this year? If so, you’re not alone. According to a recent survey, 70% of Canadians report looking for foods that are low in sugar. But what’s the best way to go about it? Do you need some new and creative ideas? If yes, then read on.

Sugar 101

With all the attention on sugar in the media in recent years, you are likely aware of the following advice:

  • Reduce added sugars. Added sugar sweetens foods and provides calories with no nutritional benefit. The World Health Organization recommends that all sources of added sugars be limited to less than 10% of total calories per day.For someone eating 2,000 calories per day, this would be a maximum of 200 calories or 13 tsp of added sugars. For someone eating 1,500 calories per day, this would be a maximum of 150 calories or 9 tsp of added sugars.
  • Continue to enjoy foods with naturally-occurring sugar.Foods such as fruit and milk products contain  naturally-occurring sugar. These foods are nutrient-rich and part of a healthful diet. 

You’ve probably also heard great tips on how to reduce added sugar without obsessing over grams and teaspoons:

  • Eat regular meals that include protein and fibre to prevent you from feeling overly hungry and reaching for a sweet pick-me-up.
  • Read ingredient lists to know what is in your food. Look for all sources of sugar such as agave nectar, cane sugar and molasses.
  • Buy plain versions of healthful foods, such as cereal or yogurt, and add the sweetener yourself.
  • Limit top sources of high sugar foods, such as pop, energy drinks, sports drinks, grain-based desserts (e.g. cake and cookies), fruit drinks and candy.
  • Pay attention to the portion size, and listen to your hunger cues to determine how much you need to be satisfied.

If you’re looking for some creative ways to slash some added sugar from your diet, consider these ideas.

Try savoury swaps for sweet foods

 One overlooked strategy to decrease added sugar is to use a savoury swap for traditionally sweet foods. This offers a new way to enjoy foods you love. Here are a few examples.

Oatmeal

Rather than topping your bowl of oats with spoonfuls of brown sugar, tap into your adventurous side and try this version of steel cut oats with avocado and fried eggs or join the savoury oatmeal bowl trend.

Yogurt

Yogurt does not always need to be paired with fruit. Put a savoury spin on a yogurt bowl or make it the base of a tasty veggie dip.

Toast

While toast and jam remains a classic, you might just love having options such as ricotta toast and hummus avocado toast in your repertoire.

Granola bars

Need a grab-and-go snack? These DIY granola bars feature herbs rather than sugar as the flavour booster. Want something a little less fussy? Try making a savoury granola like this curry coconut version.

Muffins

Muffins do not have to be as sweet as cupcakes to be delicious. Bake these cheese muffins and you’ll see what I mean.  Or use your muffin tins for something unexpected like these muffin tin eggs.

Pancakes

Vegetables in pancakes? Yes please, especially those topped with tzatziki or green onions. Need a recipe to impress? Try crepes with savoury fillings such as spinach and mushrooms.

Trail mix

Many trail mixes like traditional GORP feature dried fruit or chocolate for sweetness. Step out of the box with this Cajun-inspired mix or try your hand at making spicy pepitas.

Bottom line

 While reducing added sugar can improve your diet, I would encourage you to avoid a black-and-white approach. You don’t need a 100% sugar-free diet. Consider what nourishes and satisfies you, and make your overarching goal a healthy relationship with food.

 AFLCA members

 Are you looking for practical nutrition tools for your clients? Log in to the AFLCA Members section of the website and order free resources today! A great option to compliment this blog is  Sugar: The Sweet Stuff.



Share this post

Jaclyn Chute, RD

Registered Dietitian

Jaclyn (BSc, RD) is a registered dietitian and Project Manager at Dairy Farmers of Canada. She believes eating should be both nourishing and satisfying, and is passionate about helping others develop a healthy relationship with food.

Sign up to receive Nourish Move Thrive updates twice a month!