How to cut back on sugar: Healthy Diet Plan

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Five tips for cutting back on sugar

1. Cook from scratch

Harissa vegetables with quinoa

Cooking at home rather than eating at a restaurant or fast-food outlet is the single most effective way to control the levels of added sugar in your diet. It seems obvious that cakes and pastries contain the sweet stuff, but did you know that many processed and packaged foods also contain hidden sugar, including supposedly savoury items? Try making your own pasta sauces and dressings, and opt for homemade salad bowls or soups rather than buying ready-made options. There’s lots more recipes like this harissa vegetable stew with quinoa in our Healthy Diet Plan.

2. Opt for naturally sweet fruit and vegetables

Pear and peanut butter crunch ryvita

As you wean yourself off ‘free’ sugars (the type we are advised to cut back on), choose natural sources of sweetness like fresh fruits or naturally sweet veg, such as sweet potatoes. This will help your palate adapt and will keep you energised so you don’t experience a sugar crash. Naturally sweet fruit and vegetables, such as fresh berries, are packed with vitamins, minerals and fibre.

We have lots of clever snack and sweet treat suggestions, designed to complement a healthy, balanced diet, that will stop you craving sugar. Try our pear & peanut crunch for a filling afternoon snack.

3. Eat enough protein and fat

Winter breakfast has with eggs

Include protein and healthy fats in all of your main meals – these macronutrients take more time to digest so they keep you fuller for longer, which is crucial for curbing cravings and keeping you satiated. Eggs and oily fish are rich in protein and healthy fats. Some research has suggested that a satisfying breakfast may help you to make better food choices later on in the day, so you may find yourself less likely to reach for the biscuit tin. You’ll find delicious, hearty breakfast recipes in our latest plan, including this hearty winter breakfast hash.

4. Reach for the spices

Cinnamon-scented rice with pomegranate seeds

Try swapping the sugar in recipes with spices as these will boost flavour so you won’t miss the sweetness. We’ve used warming cinnamon in our lighter rice pudding with pomegranate – it makes for a healthier treat but still leaves you feeling satisfied.

5. Switch to less refined carbs

Puy lentils and veg with seared salmon fillets

Starchy foods like white pasta, rice, bread and potatoes convert to glucose in the body and can impact our blood sugar levels. It’s best to choose wholegrain carbohydrates instead, and enjoy potatoes with their skins on, for the added fibre. This slows down the rate at which our body breaks down food, reducing blood sugar spikes. Try our puy lentil with seared salmon for a high-fibre meal.

Find out more about our latest Healthy Diet Plan.

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All health content on is provided for general information only, and should not be treated as a substitute for the medical advice of your own doctor or any other healthcare professional. Any healthy diet plan featured by BBC Good Food is provided as a suggestion of a general balanced diet and should not be relied upon to meet specific dietary requirements. If you have any concerns about your general health, you should contact your local healthcare provider. See our website terms and conditions for more information.

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