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Sugar is a Hot Topic


Sugar is a hot topic at the moment. I’m sure you’ve seen all the attention it has been receiving in the press following new guidelines from the World Health Organisation (WHO). Their recommendations state that our daily sugar intake should be less than 10% of our daily total energy intake; however, they strongly recommend that we aim for less than 5%.

So what does this mean for you?

This means that each day your daily sugar intake should not exceed more than 25g (6 teaspoons) of sugar per day.

If you already have a low sugar diet this may sound like a very achievable target. However this includes sugar that is found in soft drinks, fruit juice, jam, syrup, honey and fruit concentrate – it is any sugar that is added to a food during manufacturing, cooking or preparation.

So what does 1 teaspoon of sugar look like?

  • 15g/1 tablespoon serving of tomato sauce = 1 teaspoon of sugar
  • 30g serving of Cheerios (6.2g sugar) = 1.5 teaspoons
  • 1 serving (1/3 jar) Bolognaise Sauce = 3.5 teaspoons
  • 1 tablespoon ‘healthy/light’ honey & mustard salad dressing = 1 teaspoon
  • 200ml orange juice = 5 teaspoons
  • 1 pot (150g) low fat fruit flavoured yoghurt = 4 teaspoons
  • Light/low calorie cereal/snack bar = 2.5 teaspoons

So you can see how having a bowl of Cheerios for breakfast with a glass of orange juice followed by a salad for lunch with salad dressing and a bowl of spaghetti bolognaise for dinner quickly takes you to 10 teaspoons. Add yoghurt and a cereal bar as snacks between your meals and before you know it you have consumed 16.5 teaspoons of sugar!

So how do you cut down?

  1. Make your own sauces for pasta dishes and avoid shop bought sauces.
  2. Choose breakfast cereals with no added sugar e.g. Wheat Biscuits, Oats
  3. Use plain yoghurt instead of flavoured yoghurts and add fruit or 1tsp of honey.
  4. Look for salad dressings that do not have added sugar e.g. a light mayonnaise or use olive oil and lemon juice to dress your salads.
  5. Instead of having fruit juice rather have a whole fruit, this way you will be increasing your fibre intake and lowering your sugar intake.
  6. Instead of snacking on cereal/snack bars why not opt for a small handful of nuts, popcorn, rice/corn cakes instead.
  7. Read labels – aim to purchase foods that have 15g of sugar or less per 100g, anything above 15g is considered high in sugar. Anything with less than 5g of sugar per 100g is considered ‘low sugar’.

Does your sweet tooth get the better of you?

Do you adds sugar to your tea and coffee, have a constant craving for chocolate and feel that a meal is not complete unless it is ended with a little dessert – you are not alone. The average Australian consumes 27 teaspoons of sugar per day or 192 teaspoons a week – a higher quantity per capita than in the US, UK and Canada.

Here are a few tips to help you cut down slowly to prevent feeling deprived:

Firstly – don’t go cold turkey, this will leave you feeling deprived, miserable and you’ll fall off the wagon pretty quick. Rather aim to cut down slowly, tackling one meal/bad habit at a time. And give yourself time – it will be tough in the beginning but your taste buds and your body will adjust to the change.

  1. Start by making small changes, if you currently have 2 teaspoons of sugar in your tea cut down to 1.5 teaspoons and once you are used to this cut down to 1 teaspoon and see if you can get down to none.
  2. Feel like you need something sweet after a meal? This is often a habit that needs to be broken – see if you can reduce it down to having something every second day and try and have a healthy alternative e.g. a fruit or swap a milk chocolate bar for a few blocks of dark chocolate. Or go for a low calorie hot chocolate after your evening meal (without the biscuits).
  3. Remember that sugar is added to foods in various forms so always check labels for the following: sucrose, glucose, fructose, maltose, molasses, invert sugar, honey, corn syrup, hydrolysed starch, maple syrup, dextrose.





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