Lisa Dunbar's Health Hacks: How to cut down on your sugar intake

Top tips from the Dundalk-based health and nutrition coach

Lisa Dunbar


Lisa Dunbar


Lisa Dunbar

Lisa Dunbar is a health and nutrition coach from Dundalk

There has been a lot of controversy surrounding sugar recently. The main issues are with the type of sugar and the sheer amount of it we are eating.

The World Health Organisation recommends that we consume a maximum of about 25g (roughly 6 teaspoons) of “added sugar” per day. It is reported that in Ireland we consume on average quadruple that amount! I also regularly meet people who consume over 10 times that amount!

By the way, “added sugar” means sugar that has been added to food either by you (e.g. in your tea) or by the food manufacturer (i.e. in the ingredients). It also includes fruit juices (NOT whole fruits) and sugar substitutes such as honey and syrups.

Here are a few tips in case the recent hype has got you thinking about cutting down on your sugar intake:

#1 Don’t Drink Your Sugar

The first place I always encourage people to look when it comes to their sugar consumption is at their drinks. Most 500ml bottles of fizzy drinks contain about 13 teaspoons of sugar! That’s more than double your recommended daily intake…in one drink!

#2 Reign In The Sweet Treats

We are all aware that some of the most sugar-laden foods are things like sweets, biscuits, chocolate and cakes. I don’t expect anyone to completely give up the treats that they love. Just try to avoid eating these foods mindlessly, and purely out of habit. Eat them less often, and enjoy eating them when you do!

#3 Have Healthy Snacks  To Hand

I’m sure you’ve heard that you should never go food shopping on an empty stomach, right? Well that’s because we tend to make VERY bad decisions when we’re hungry! If you always have healthy snacks at the ready, such as fruit, nuts, seeds, plain yoghurt , plain crackers, then you will be much less likely to snack on sugary junk foods.

#4 Keep It Real

I’ve noticed more and more people turning to “diet” and “sugar-free” drinks and foods, which often contain artificial sweeteners. This is NOT the solution to the sugar epidemic! I feel very strongly that artificial sweeteners are not food, so we shouldn’t be eating them. Apart from that, what artificial sweeteners tend to do is reinforce our love of sweet things and make our taste buds and bodies crave them even more!

So remember, eat less sugar, cos you’re sweet enough already!

Lisa is a Nutrition and Health Coach based in Dundalk. Having used diet and lifestyle changes to help recover from physical and mental health challenges, Lisa is now on a mission to motivate others to live a healthier life. See: or follow Lisa at: This article also appears in the print edition of this week's Dundalk Democrat.