How to cut back on sugar without noticing

Too much sugar can lead to weight gain and obesity, a risk factor for coronary heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes. Here are 6 small changes that you'll hardly notice, but which can help you cut back on sugar and trim thousands of calories from your diet.

1. Stop adding sugar to tea, coffee, cereal and porridge

Swapping coffee with sugar for coffee without sugar

Do you add sugar to your breakfast cereal or to sweeten hot drinks?

Cutting out just a teaspoon of added sugar every day can make a difference. Remember that honey and syrup are still sugar too. 

If you skip a teaspoon of sugar more than once a day (for example if you stop sugar in your tea and on your cereal), then you can multiply the effects below.

Sugar saved in 3 months: 90 teaspoons

Calories saved in 3 months: 1,440 calories - the equivalent of 6 standard size (45g) chocolate bars

2. Replace sugary cereals with plain wholegrain cereals

Exchanging your daily bowl of sugary cereal for wholegrain cereal with no added sugar

Many breakfast cereals contain sugar - even the ones you might not immediately think of as sugary. And remember, if they make health claims such as "high in fibre" or "with added vitamins", that doesn't mean they're not high in sugar. 

So swap your daily bowl of sugary cereal for wholegrain cereal with no added sugar - check the ingredients list to make sure yours comes without added sugar. If your new cereal seems a bit boring at first, add natural sweetness with fresh fruit like banana, berries or grapes.

Sugar saved in 3 months: 209 teaspoons

Calories saved in 30 months: 3,344 calories - the equivalent of 14 standard size (45g) chocolate bars

3. Swap sugary cola for diet

Swapping sugary cola for diet

Phera Laster / Via Flickr

Swapping a can of cola for a diet or sugar-free cola every day could cut back your sugar intake by more than a kilo a month - that's a whole bag of sugar. 

Sugar saved in 3 months: 796 teaspoons

Calories saved in 3 months: 12,649 calories or 52 standard chocolate bars

4. Swap sugary squash or cordial for the no-added-sugar kind

Swapping sugary squash or cordial for the no-added-sugar kind

You might not think of still drinks like squash or cordial as being sugary - especially if it comes with claims about the fruit content - but many are high in sugar. Watch out for flavoured waters, which can be sugary culprits too. 

If you're in the habit of drinking a 250 ml glass of cordial each day, swapping for no-added-sugar could save you:

Sugar saved in 3 months: 555 teaspoons

Calories saved in 3 months: 8,880 calories or 37 chocolate bars

5. Swap low-fat fruit yoghurts for low-fat natural yoghurts

Swapping flavoured low-fat yoghurt for plain low-fat yoghurt

A yoghurt might be "low fat" or even "fat free", but if it's flavoured, the chances are it will contain added sugar. Plain or natural yoghurt still contains some sugar, but these are milk sugars found naturally in the milk it's made from, and come with nutrients such as calcium. 

If you have a daily 150g pot of low-fat yogurt (or even one that's not low-fat) every day, swapping for low-fat natural yoghurt could save you:

Sugar saved in 3 months: 351 teaspoons

Calories saved in 3 months: 5,616 calories or 23 chocolate bars

6. Choose tins of fruit in juice rather than syrup

Replacing tinned fruit cocktail in syrup with tinned fruit cocktail in juice

Reyhan Dhuny / Isabelle Boucher / Via Flickr

Tinned fruit can be a quick and convenient way to contribute to your 5-a-day, but make sure you get the kind that's tinned in natural juice rather than syrup. 

If you have tinned fruit cocktail in syrup three times a week, swapping for the kind in juice could save you:

Sugar saved in 3 months: 104 teaspoons

Calories saved in 3 months: 1,664 calories or 7 chocolate bars

If you do all 6 of these things you could save:

Sugar saved in 3 months: 2,105 teaspoons

Calories saved in 3 months: 33,593 calories or 141 chocolate bars

More useful information