Added sugars, such as table sugar, honey and syrups, shouldn't 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. Below are some simple tips to help you gradually cut down on the amount of added sugar in your diet:
Many breakfast cereals are high in sugar. Try switching to lower-sugar cereals or those with no added sugar, such as:
plain wholewheat cereal biscuits
plain shredded wholegrain pillows
Swapping a bowl of sugary breakfast cereal for plain cereal could cut out 70g of sugar (up to 22 sugar cubes) from your diet over a week. Porridge oats are cheap and contain vitamins, minerals and fibre. 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. Or you could try our apple-pie porridge recipe.
For a more gradual approach, you could eat sugary cereals and plain cereals on alternate days, or mix both in the same bowl.
Many foods that we don't 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. A third of an average-sized jar of pasta sauce (roughly 150g) can contain more than 13g of sugar, including added sugar – the equivalent of three teaspoons of sugar.
When eating out or buying takeaways, watch out for dishes that are typically high in sugar, such as sweet and sour dishes, sweet chilli dishes and some curry sauces, as well as salads with dressings like salad cream, which can also be high in sugar.
Nearly a quarter of the added sugar in our diets comes from sugary drinks, such as fizzy drinks, sweetened juices, squashes, and cordials. A 500ml bottle of cola contains the equivalent of 17 cubes of sugar. Try sugar-free varieties, or – better yet – water, lower-fat milk, or soda water with a splash of fruit juice.
If you take sugar in tea or coffee, gradually reduce the amount until you can cut it out altogether, or try swapping to sweeteners instead. Try some new flavours 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 our teeth.