29 Jan 2018  •  Dental Health  •  4min read By  • Natasha Wilcock

How to avoid added sugar at dinnertime

Following on from my blog ‘How to avoid added sugar at lunchtime’, this blog will look at no-added-sugar meal planning strategies for dinner.

Many people get home from work in the evening and are too tired to cook so fall back on takeaways or convenience foods such as ready meals, which are often high in added sugar. It is possible to make healthy, delicious meals quickly and easily in the evenings and avoid that unwanted sugar hit. In this blog we’ll look at some of the most common ways that added sugar gets into the evening meal and some quick and easy recipe ideas for avoiding this.

Sugar is recognised as a major contributing factor to obesity, poor health and dental disease in the UK. Tooth decay, requiring extraction, is the leading cause of hospitalisation in children aged five to nine (500 children hospitalised each week!) and one third of children leave primary school overweight or obese. A home-cooked meal in an evening is a great step towards improving our own and our children’s health.

3 worst dinner ideas
  • Takeaways – Usually lacking in vital nutrients such as vitamin C, fibre and selenium, there is no way of knowing for sure what goes into a takeaway. Indian and Chinese meals are commonly loaded with sugar.
  • Ready meals – A joint investigation by The Telegraph newspaper and Action on Sugar shockingly revealed that some ready meals contain more sugar than a can of Coca-Cola!
  • Pre-made soups, sauces and lashings of condiments – Ready-made pasta sauces, curry sauces and stir fry sauces are usually so palatable because they are loaded with sugar.

Check the ingredients but why not have a go at making your own?

No added sugar meal ideas that are quick and easy
Chicken / Halloumi stir fry (serves four)
  • 1 broccoli head chopped into small florets
  • 1 courgette – chopped
  • 1 pepper – chopped
  • 1 bag of baby spinach
  • 2-4 cloves garlic *
  • 2 inches ginger*
  • 1 small onion* for extra speed blend these three ingredients to use as a paste.
  • 1 packet of halloumi / 2 chicken breasts – cubed
  • A good splash of soy sauce
  • Fry in a wok or large frying pan

Serve with some brown basmati rice. Brown rice has more fibre than white rice so turns to sugar in the body less rapidly.

Beef stew – Pop in the slow cooker and come home to a wonderful smelling dinner! (serves four)
  • 500g stewing beef
  • 3 onions roughly chopped
  • ½ celeriac – cubed
  • ½ swede – cubed
  • 1 courgette – cubed
  • 300g passata
  • 1 beef stock cube
  • 3-4 tsp mixed herbs
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
  • Pour in water to just below the level of the meat and veg (usually around 500ml) and cook on low for 6-7 hours or high for 3-4 hours.
Tomato sauce base

Place tin/s of tomatoes into a saucepan along with dried mixed herbs, sea salt, freshly ground pepper and olive oil. Simmer for 20-30 minutes and the tomatoes will naturally sweeten and thicken, creating a delicious sauce.

What about that post dinner sweet tooth?

Try brushing your teeth! You don’t need to wait until bedtime to brush your teeth. Brush them part way through an evening if you get a craving for a sweet snack, it’s surprising how much a fresh, clean mouth will put you off eating something sweet and sticky! Just make sure you leave at least 15 minutes after your evening meal before brushing as brushing too soon after your dinner can be detrimental to the enamel on your teeth.

If you really do need to have something sweet, try a little bit of dark chocolate. Get the darkest you possibly can, aim for around 85%. Dark chocolate is surprisingly satisfying without being moreish, you will only need a little bit!

I hope this has given you inspiration for cooking some tasty meals, let us know how you get on!

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