One of our previous health messages discussed sugar, the various names used for different sugars, and where sugars can be found in manufactured food, some obvious, and some, not so obvious.

And with Sugar Awareness Week coming up between 30 October and 5 November, we thought it was a good time to think about sugar swaps to help reduce the sugar in your diet.

Some handy tips about how to reduce your sugar intake:

  • Replace sugary cereals with shredded wheat, whole wheat (like Weetabix) biscuits or porridge
  • Use mashed banana, stewed berries or apples/pears to sweeten natural yoghurts or plain cereals. Remember, although these fruits also contain sugar, they also provide vitamins and fibre and, increase blood sugar more slowly – and for longer – than refined sugars
  • Sweet spices such as cinnamon, ginger or nutmeg can also change the taste of plain foods so the lack of sugar is less evident
  • Sugary drinks can provide a lot of calories, and their sugar content can do a lot of harm to young – and growing – teeth. Replace fruit juices, smoothies, milk-shakes and  sugar-sweetened drinks (like cola) with milk, water, or sugar free drinks
  • Replace sugar-sweetened snacks, like cakes and biscuits with: cut-up pieces of fruit, vegetable sticks like carrots, or wholemeal bread roll spread with mashed banana
  • Replace ice-creams, jelly and sugar sweetened puddings with plain yoghurt- perhaps sweetened with stewed fruit, cinnamon or vanilla essence (only use small amounts of these or the taste will be too intense)
  • Reduce the portion size of sugary treats and, how often you have them – perhaps restrict them to weekends only

Recommended sugar intake limit:


Under 4 are recommended to avoid sugar sweetened food and drink altogether

4 to 6 years  should have no more than 19g of free sugars a day (5 sugar cubes)

7 to 10 should have no more than 24g of free sugars a day (6 sugar cubes)


Should have no more than 30g of free sugars a day (7 sugar cubes)

Click for more information about how sugar affects your health

Here are some fun facts to maintain your determination:

The more you cut back on sugar…

  • The more sensitive you are to the taste of it – so the less you need
  • If you “distract” the taste buds – such as providing a savoury alternative to the expected sugary offering, you’re less likely to be aware that sugar intake is reducing
  • You need to try new tastes at least ten times to decide if you like them


Have a look at the NHS Change4life site for recipes and ideas and download the Sugar Smart app to see how much sugar is contained in the foods you are buying.

For more information about how to get involved with Sugar Awareness Week, or just become more informed, have a look at the Action for Sugar website.


Article published October 2017

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