Cut down sugar intake gradually

Cookies with labels stating their high content of sugar, calories and saturated fat in Santiago, Chile.
Cookies with labels stating their high content of sugar, calories and saturated fat in Santiago, Chile.PHOTO: AGENCE PRESSE- FRANCE

There are ways to manage one's sugar intake even without the new US nutrition labels.

Mr Zee Yoong Kang, the Health Promotion Board's (HPB) chief executive officer, said that consumers can look out for the Healthier Choice Symbol (HCS) on food products.

It has revised the HCS sweetened beverage guideline so that drinks carrying the symbol do not contain more than 6g of sugar per 100ml, instead of 7g per 100ml.

The new guidelines took effect in schools in January. For the rest of the population, the guidelines will start in September.

Mr Zee said the HPB has partnered the beverage industry to ensure that packaged drinks containing less sugar than regu- lar sugar-sweetened drinks in the same category are available to consumers by increasing the market share of such products.

Ms Bibi Chia, principal dietitian at Raffles Diabetes and Endocrine Centre, said that to cut down on sugar, one should eat more wholesome foods like wholegrain, fruit and vegetables which are high in fibre and vitamins. And avoid sugary, high- caloric, pre-packed foods like cookies and beverages.

Dr Lim Su Lin, chief dietitian at the National University Hospital, recommended cutting down the sugar intake gradually to allow the tastebuds to get used to it. For instance, start with "reduced sugar" products before moving on to "no added sugar" products.

If you still crave sweet treats, Ms Rddhi Naidu, a dietitian from Parkway East Hospital, suggested choosing dark chocolate with 70 per cent or more cocoa content instead of the regular version. And when baking, replace half of the required sugar with fruit purees, which add natural sweetness and moisture to the product, she said.

Ultimately, it is about shifting behaviour over the long term for sustainable change, said Mr Zee.

Timothy Goh

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 19, 2016, with the headline 'Cut down sugar intake gradually'. Print Edition | Subscribe