We’ve all heard of ‘Stoptober’, ‘Movember’ and ‘Veganuary’ but as far as I’m aware, February has never had its own catchy strapline….until now that is, but which one to choose?
Cancer Research UK are calling it ‘Sugar-free February’ and the British Heart Foundation are asking us to ‘Dechox’ this month, while ‘Fizz-free February’ is being promoted as part of the national Sugar Smart UK campaign.
It might sound a little confusing but although each campaign has it’s own name and focus, they have one BIG thing in common, the idea that for the month of February you should try, one way or another, to reduce your sugar intake.
There are various risks associated with excessive sugar consumption and lately there has been much media focus specifically on the damage it does to children. Tooth extraction under anaesthetic is one of the most common reasons that children aged between five and nine are admitted to hospital and Public Health England recently warned that the average child has consumed 18 years’ worth of sugar by the time they are 10. When you consider those statistics combined with the fact that 79% of fizzy drinks contain six or more teaspoons of sugar per can, which is more than the recommended daily intake for a child, it’s not surprising that ‘Fizz-free February’ is a nationwide campaign.
Unfortunately tooth damage is only one of the issues you can expect to face if your diet is high in sugar and the risks aren’t limited to children. Increasingly obesity is being linked to eating too much sugar and the Cancer Research UK website states that maintaining a healthy weight cuts the risk of developing 13 types of cancer. Now, that’s quite an incentive to make some sugar swaps!
Taking part in one of the campaigns mentioned above is obviously a great way to reduce your sugar intake and the details for each are on the websites but if cutting something out entirely seems a little daunting, we’ve listed some great ‘sugar swaps’ below to help you. Don’t forget to look at food labels when you’re shopping, sugar is often hidden in foods you wouldn’t expect like ketchup or baked beans. Even the smallest changes can make a positive difference.
10 sugar swaps
- Swap fizzy drinks for water with a slice of lemon, lime or orange.
- Ask for sugar-free syrup in your coffee or try herbal tea instead.
- Switch ice cream for natural yoghurt with fresh fruit.
- Have a handful of mixed nuts instead of a chocolate bar.
- Try baking a sugar-free version of your favourite cake.
- Nibble on celery sticks and hummus rather than sugary cereal bars.
- Sugar-free jelly is a good alternative to regular jelly.
- At breakfast serve eggs with wholegrain toast instead of sugary cereal.
- Swap all bedtime drinks for water.
- Spread 100% peanut butter on your toast instead of jam.