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How to Cut Down on Sugar in your Diet

Added sugars, such as table sugar, honey, and syrups, should not make up more than 5% of the energy you get from food and drink each day. That’s about 30g a day for anyone aged 11 and older. 


Many breakfast bowls of cereal are high in sugar. Try switching to lower-sugar cereals or those with no added sugar, such as:

  • Plain wheat biscuit cereal
  • Plain shredded wholegrain cereal
  • No-added-sugar muesli
  • Plain porridge
  • Wholemeal toast
  • Plain natural yogurt topped with chopped fruit
  • Porridge oats are cheap and contain vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Make porridge with semi-skimmed, 1%, or skimmed milk, or water.

If you usually add sugar to your porridge, try adding a few chopped dried apricots or a sliced or mashed banana instead.

If you add sugar to your cereal, you could try adding less. Or you could eat a smaller portion and add some chopped fruit, such as a pear or banana, which is an easy way of getting some of your 5 A Day.

Main meals

Many foods that we do not consider to be sweet contain a surprisingly large amount of sugar. Some ready-made soups, stir-in sauces, and ready meals can also be higher in sugar than you think.

When eating out or buying takeaways, watch out for dishes that are typically high in sugar, such as sweet and sour dishes, sweet chili dishes and some curry sauces, as well as salads with dressings like salad cream, which can also be high in sugar.

Condiments and sauces such as ketchup can have as much as 23g of sugar per 100g roughly half a teaspoon per serving. These foods are usually served in small quantities, but the sugar count can add up if eaten every day.


Healthier snack options are those without added sugar, such as fresh or tinned fruit (in juice, not syrup), unsalted mixed nuts, plain popcorn, rice cakes, and crackers topped with lower-fat cheese or lower-sugar yogurts.

If you are not ready to give up your favorite flavors, you could start by having less. Instead of 2 biscuits in 1 sitting, try having 1. If your snack has 2 bars, have 1 and share the other, or save it for another day.

If you’re an “all-or-nothing” type of person, you could find something to do to take your mind off food on some days of the week.


Nearly a quarter of the added sugar in our diets comes from sugary drinks, such as fizzy drinks, sweetened juices, milkshakes, and cordials.

A can of regular cola contains 7 teaspoons of sugar (35 g). Try swapping to water, sugar-free or no-added-sugar drinks, or lower-fat milk.

If you take sugar in tea or coffee, gradually reduce the amount until you can cut it out altogether, or try swapping in sweeteners instead. Try some new flavors with herbal teas, or make your own with hot water and a slice of lemon or ginger.

Like some fizzy drinks, fruit juice can be high in sugar. When juice is extracted from the whole fruit to make fruit juice, sugar is released, and this can damage your teeth.

You could try flavoring water with a slice of lemon, lime, or a splash of fruit juice. But watch out for the sugar content in squash or cordials with added sugar. Some can contain up to 3 teaspoons of sugar in each glass.


Work out some ground rules. Do you need to have dessert every day? How about only having dessert after your evening meal, or only eating dessert on odd days of the month, or only on weekends, or only at restaurants?

Do you have to have chocolate, biscuits, and cake every day? If you had this type of sugary snack less often, would you actually enjoy it more?

Less sugary desserts include fruit fresh, frozen, dried, or tinned, but choose those canned in juice rather than syrup – as well as lower-fat and lower-sugar rice pudding, and plain lower-fat yogurt.

However, lower fat does not necessarily mean low sugar. Some lower-fat yogurts can be sweetened with refined sugar, fruit juice concentrate, glucose, and fructose syrup.

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