Fight your sugar cravings

With obesity and diabetes on the rise, it’s important to cut back on sugar in our diet. We show you how with these smart tips

If your shot at good health is a daily glass of fresh fruit juice, it might be time to change that habit. According to the Health Promotion Board (HPB), a glass of juice is not as healthy as you think – it actually contains as much sugar as a sweetened drink. In order to make a cup of fruit juice, more fruits have to be added and this means more sugar is consumed. What’s more, dietary fibre in the fruits, which can help to slow sugar absorption in our body, is thrown into the trash during the juicing process. So instead of drinking juice, we should choose to eat whole foods such as fruits and vegetables in their natural form as they contain less sugar.

Desserts and sweetened drinks are another top sugar contributor in Singaporeans’ diets. Many local drinks use condensed milk and sugar syrup that are high in sugar content. A kopi (coffee with condensed milk) from the coffee shop contains 15g of sugar, which amounts to three teaspoons of sugar.

For a healthier choice, consumers can choose alternatives with less sugar such as kopi-o (black coffee) or kopi-o kosong (black coffee without sugar).

According to the HPB’s guidelines, added sugar intake should not exceed 10 per cent of our total calorie intake. This translates to about 40–55g (8–11 teaspoons) daily. Added sugar refers to sugar that is added to food or drinks during manufacturing, cooking or at the table. Apart from sweetened beverages, consumers should also reduce the intake of sugar-laden foods such as cereals, pancakes and chocolates. You should also keep sugary snacks out of the house and office – you can’t snack on things that aren’t there.


  • Check the ingredients list for anything ending with “ose” (for example: glucose, sucrose, fructose, lactose, maltose). These include different forms of sugar such as honey, agave, molasses and syrups like corn and rice syrups.
  • Avoid products that have a lot of added sugar. You should also skip foods that list “sugar” as the first or second ingredient.
  • Learn what common terms used in relation to sugar mean:
  1. a) Sugar-free: Less than 0.5g per serving
  2. b) Reduced sugar or less sugar: At least 25 per cent less sugar per serving compared to a standard serving size of a similar product.
  3. c) No added sugars: No sugar or sugar-containing ingredient is added during processing.


  • Instead of adding table sugar, use spices such as cinnamon or nutmeg. These will sweeten and enhance the flavour of food, hence reducing sugar cravings.
  • Instead of a fruit yoghurt, which may be laden in fruit concentrate that is high in sugar, mash in your own fruits to sweeten and flavour a plain yoghurt.
  • Do not substitute artificial sweetener for sugar. This will do little to alter your desire for sweets.