Cut down on sugar in 3 easy steps

I recently wrote an article on why sugar is not the enemy. The key message was that sugar is not the bad guy, but the amount we consume of it and that we should look at our nutrition as a whole and not single out specific foods as either good or bad. Since most of us tend to consume too much sugar, I have summarised 3 of the tips I give my clients when we discuss ways to decrease the amount of sugar in their diets. 

1.Stop adding sugar to tea and coffee. You could simply go “cold turkey or slowly start reducing the amount you are using until you eventually add nothing. When you abruptly stop adding sugar to your beverages, your tastebuds initially rebel against the new taste and you may find the beverage tasting terrible. Know that this is only a brief phase. After about a week, the sugar-less beverage starts to taste less terrible. After the second week it starts to taste okay and from the 3rd week one is usually used to the new taste and starts to enjoy it. Therefore, you only need to hold on for about 21 days to achieve this!

2. Stop drinking soft drinks. This includes artificially sweetened beverages. The very sweet taste of these drinks makes our taste buds “numb” to the taste of sugar, meaning that they taste less sweet to those who drink them regularly than to those who do not. Consuming sweet beverages also makes us crave more sweetness, leading to the consumption of sugar-containing foods. Better options are of course water, but also herbal or fruit-based teas (unsweetened of course). Water can be flavoured with fresh fruit and herbs (e.g. lemon, orange, berries, mint, lemon verbena, cucumber) to make it more interesting. Fruit juice is not a good substitute for soft drinks since it contains roughly the same amount of sugar, even if it is all natural.

3.When baking, use less sugar than the recipe suggests. Most recipes contain a much higher amount of sugar than necessary. I have found that one can easily reduce the amount of sugar by at least 30-50% in most cake, muffin and biscuit recipes.

These changes may initially be challenging, but you will find it gets easier with time and eventually you will not be able to consume soft drinks or sweetened tea or coffee any more. It is just about giving your taste buds (and your expectations) some time to adapt to the new taste experience.


Ursula Rausch is a registered dietitian at Nutrition A-Z with a speciality in diabetes management, women’s health, digestive health and weight management.  Being bilingual, Ursula consults both in German and English. 

Leave a Reply