Do you really need to quit sugar?

Thinking about quitting sugar? Here are some tips on the best ways to manage sugar intake.

There is a lot of noise in the media around sugar. While most eating plans and ‘diets’ have great principles around eating healthier – including lots of fresh produce and cutting back on processed foods – banning, shaming and isolating foods as the sole cause of diet-related health issues is not supporting people to select a wholesome diet.

When diet plans and lifestyles promote ‘quitting sugar’ we need to look more closely at what that means. There are some sugars (better known as carbohydrates) that we can all definitely cut back on in our diets. However, there are others that should be included to provide lasting energy along with required vitamins and minerals.

Simple sugars

First we need to look at what ‘sugars’ in our diet should be removed or avoided. Most people think of sugar as the sweet white crystals added to tea, coffee, baking, chocolates and confectionery. Sugar (or sucrose) is just one member of the carbohydrate group.

White cane sugar is often called a ‘simple sugar’ and it is this sugar which can be reduced in our diet. This sugar is widely used in the food manufacturing industry to make cakes, biscuits, confectionery and chocolate, as well as added to sweeten sauces, spreads, soft drinks, cordials, and added in cooking and at the table.

The following simple sugars are not essential in the diet and can be reduced:

  • White table sugar (sucrose)
  • Brown sugar (light and dark)
  • Honey and maple syrup
  • Agave syrup
  • Coconut sugar
  • High-fructose corn syrup

Some people may find the above list surprising, and perhaps have been told that some of the sugars on this list were good to have as a sugar replacement. But these are all simple sugars and add little nutritional value to the diet.

So while simple sugars are not solely to blame for the growth of obesity and diet-related diseases seen in the community, when combined with foods high in fat and salt, low fibre foods and poor activity levels they can lead to weight gain and poor health.

Sugar cubes in a bowl

“White cane sugar is often called a ‘simple sugar’ and it is this sugar which can be reduced in our diet.”

Complex carbohydrates

The other form of carbohydrates, often called complex carbohydrates, includes:

  • High fibre and wholegrain cereals including multigrain breads
  • Fibre-enriched or wholegrain breakfast cereals
  • Brown rice
  • Oats, barley, quinoa
  • Legumes

Whole grains and high-fibre or low GI carbohydrates (which means their energy is absorbed more slowly) are great for bowel regularity and increasing satiety (feeling full), and can help reduce your risk of bowel cancer, diverticulitis and haemorrhoids. Other great sources of carbohydrates foods include fruits and dairy foods (milk and yoghurt). All these carbohydrate foods provide sustained energy, as well as proteins and essential vitamins and minerals.

It is agreed the average person eats too many simple sugars from processed foods, sweetened drinks, confectionery and treats. These foods can be reduced or avoided. It is okay to indulge in sugary foods from time to time for special occasions including celebrations or parties, as long as these are not every day, or happening several times a week.

Complex carbohydrates from wholegrain breads and cereals, fruits, and dairy foods (low in added sugars), can be enjoyed and included in the diet at every meal and snack over the day.

Recommended reading - Delicious breakfast ideas

Lifestyle

6 healthy Father’s Day breakfast ideas

This Father’s Day, surprise the special men in your life with a delicious (and nutritious) breakfast

Read more
Recipes

Breakfast burrito recipe

Start the day out right with this nutritious, filling and oh-so-tasty breakfast wrap.

Read more
Lifestyle

Macadamia summer breakfast in a jar

Start the day out right with the creamy crunch of macadamias and a fresh fruity mix.

Read more
Recipes

Stuffed breakfast mushrooms recipe

Start your day out right with this filling, flavoursome breakfast.

Read more
Recipes

Breakfast tacos with chipotle sweet potato and trumpet mushroom recipe

Put a fresh, Mexican-inspired twist on your morning with these colourful tacos from My New Roots

Read more
Recipes

7 Mother’s Day breakfast ideas

Feel like treating your mum this Mother's Day? Try these 7 recipes for beautiful, healthy breakfasts

Read more
Lifestyle

13 weekend breakfast ideas

Savour those lazy weekend mornings with these nourishing, comforting breakfast ideas.

Read more
Recipes

Breakfast quinoa recipe

This breakfast packs a delicious healthy morning punch.

Read more
Recipes

Avocado smash recipe

Avocados are an Australian breakfast staple. Try an Italian twist on your avocado smash.

Read more
Recipes

Simple berry bircher recipe

A bircher muesli that takes 2 minutes to prepare - leave overnight and enjoy for breakfast.

Read more
Recipes

How to make pancakes

Pancakes can be as simple or as fancy as you like. Here's a basic pancake recipe to get you started.

Read more
Recipes

Acai bowl recipe

Acai bowls are healthy enough for breakfast and tasty enough for dessert.

Read more
Recipes

Papaya, Coconut and Flax Smoothie Recipe

Fresh and light, this papaya and coconut smoothie whisks you away to a tropical island

Read more
Recipes

Banana buckwheat pancake recipe

There's nothing quite like pancakes for breakfast. Enjoy this wholesome recipe from Lesh Karan.

Read more
Recipes

Minty lemon and banana hot cakes recipe

What Sunday mornings were made for – luscious, wholesome pancakes, with the perfect amount of zest

Read more

For full functionality of this site it is necessary to enable JavaScript. Here are instructions on how to enable JavaScript in your web browser.