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Sweet Nothings: The Lowdown on Quitting Sugar

21/02/2014 14:18 GMT | Updated 23/04/2014 10:59 BST

There's been no escaping the attention on sugar in the press of late; it has finally been recognised that sugar is not only damaging our waistlines, but our health too. By now you'll probably have heard a lot of the shocking statistics, so if you've decided to cut down on sugar these tips will help you cope with cravings, find healthy alternatives and monitor your intake.

Look at the labels:

If you've been spurred on to quit the white stuff no doubt you'll know that chocolate, cakes and desserts are largely off the menu, but what about those supposed savoury foods you're enjoying? A can of Heinz Baked Beans contains three teaspoons of sugar, while a 15g serving of tomato ketchup has a teaspoon of sugar, showing even savoury foods have been sweetened up.

Make sure you always look at the labels in the supermarket, and as a general guide try to avoid foods that contain more than four grams of sugar per 100 grams. This will eliminate a LOT of processed foods, but hopefully lead you in the direction of the fruit and vegetables aisle for all-natural and fresh alternatives.

Whole Again:

If you're a fan of white bread, pasta or rice, make the simple switch to their brown counterparts. These 'white' foods have been stripped of pretty much all of their nutritional value and fibre, meaning they release glucose quickly and act like sugar in the body - causing a rapid spike in your blood sugar levels before that inevitable slump, which usually means you repeat the cycle with a quick sugar fix. Brown rice or pasta has a lower glycemic load so it will release its energy slower and maintain stable blood sugar levels. Pair with protein for a balanced meal that will keep you satisfied for longer.

Fat Talk:

For so long fat has been blacklisted by the diet industry, but eating fat does not make you fat! Healthy fats like avocado, nuts and seeds are packed with flavour and nutrients that will keep your nails and hair strong, your skin glowing and you feeling good from the inside out. Try swapping your afternoon chocolate bar for an apple and a handful of almonds for the perfect balance of healthy fats, protein and carbohydrates that will stave off hunger until dinner.

Coco Loco:

Coconut is a sugar-quitters best friend. Not only does it satisfy your sweet cravings but it also has a bevy of health benefits thanks to its high levels of medium-chain fatty acids. These are anti-fungal, anti-viral and great for immunity, whilst also being high in fibre and a great source of energy. Try cooking with coconut oil or snacking on dried coconut flakes for an all-natural sweet treat.

Sweet Fix:

We all crave something sweet sometimes and the good news is that there are ways of satisfying your sweet tooth without eating sugar. Try adding a teaspoon of cinnamon to your diet each day - it has been found to help curb sugar cravings by controlling your blood glucose levels and minimising insulin spikes after eating. Sprinkle it on porridge or sugar-free Greek yoghurt to get your fix.