Ask the Dentist: Cut down on the white stuff in 2016

Dentist Lucy Stock of Gentle Dental Care in Belfast argues that we should say no to sugar – and not just for the sake of our teeth

Knowing that you have a pre-planned treat to look forward to can help you avoid giving into temptation

SUGAR has been the hot topic of 2015 and most of us are beginning to realise how it is is not only bad for our teeth but also for our general health. If your New Years resolution is to cut out the white stuff then here are some ideas to help.

First of all, calculate how much sugar you are eating at the moment. Write down your food diary for a typical week day and then one weekend day and tot it up. There are sugar calculator apps that can be downloaded to help with this. The World Health Organisation has set out guidelines which suggest we limit our intake of sugar to 25g (around six teaspoons) for an adult per day. At the moment the average person is actually eating 100g a day.

Get into the habit of reading food labels. Sugar lurks behind these words in the ingredient list: molasses, organic cane sugar, fruit juice concentrate, malt sugar, corn syrup, honey, syrup, and words ending in 'ose' dextrose, lactose, maltose, fructose, glucose, sucrose. Now you will be ready to clean out the cupboards. Try replacing packaged foods for more natural alternatives. This will also help to prevent you from reaching into the biscuit tin out of habit.

After identifying the sources of sugar in your diet, decide what to cut out completely and what to cut down on. It may be unrealistic to go cold turkey on sugar so work out some ground rules. By setting boundaries you can control your sweet tooth instead of it controlling you. If you usually eat sweets after lunch and dinner, start by taking it down to one meal a day. Maybe pick a day or two a week for sweet treats. Just knowing that you have a pre-planned treat to look forward to can help you avoid giving into temptation.

Only one in 10 of us will achieve our New Year resolution goal. Psychologists have found we're more likely to succeed if we break our resolution into smaller goals. Those who fail tend not to have a plan, which makes the resolution feel like climbing Mount Everest. Try keeping a written progress diary. Treat any failure as a temporary setback rather than a reason to give up altogether. Tell friends and family in order to boost support. Good Luck!


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