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Where to Start Reducing Sugar


This week on the podcast we had three great caller questions with a 'where to start' theme. One of these questions was "where to start with reducing sugar?"

This was such a good question! I have answered in depth on the podcast (you can listen here wherever you get your podcasts from). However, for an easy reference for you I thought this was worthy of a blog for you, along with some helpful links to other resources and recipes I have.

When it comes to reducing sugar, the goal is NOT to cut sugar out completely. It is also not to go 'cold turkey' either. The reason I say the goal is not to cut sugar out is specifically in the terminology. This is important from a physiological perspective. Words create our being.

When we say to cut out sugar completely, by default this means all forms of sugar. This includes natural sugars from fruit and dairy, for example. Yes, we want to reduce added sugar down to the very minimum. The current World Health Organisation Guidelines are for a maximum of 12 teaspoons a day; ideally six for an adult, of added sugar. I would still impress that a singular focus on 'just cutting sugar down' can take away from the bigger picture of overall nutrient density. This can be seen in products or recipes that use artificial sweeteners (for example). A cookie is still a cookie at the end of the day.

Is it better to have a cookie with a reduced level of sugar (which is still natural), along with other more nutrient dense ingredients such as almonds and flaxseeds or to have a low calorie cookie packed full with artificial sweeteners?

Given that I have created two healthier, low sugar options for cookie mixes of the former here….that really answers this question right!


The reason that I do not suggest trying to go ‘cold turkey’ with sugar is due to the strong dopamine response it stimulates. Foods high in sugar, sodium, fat and additives stimulate the release of a large amount of dopamine. This gives a rush of reward and a ‘high’. You want to repeat that experience and overtime need more and more of these nutrients to experience that same reward. You will also crave this feeling after time as well.

When we attempt to go ‘cold turkey’ with sugar, it is highly likely going to stimulate a withdrawal that is not sustainable. A consistent, more steady reduction in sugar is going to help the brain adjust to the decrease in dopamine in a more manageable way.

So my three top places on where to start reducing sugar:

1). Knowledge is Power

There are so many hidden and added sugars in our food. This was a huge driver for me in setting up my own food brand. While the onus of this shouldn’t be on the consumer, the more you arm yourself with knowledge of this the better! Start by reading the ingredients list and when in doubt just pop an ingredient into Google – not that Google is the source of all information but in terms of basic facts like this it is not going to go too wrong. In my Sugar Reduction Guide I have some extra tips on reading labels, different names for sugar and much more!


2. Add Protein

As a general guide I recommend having a source of protein each time food goes into your mouth. This is more so when you are looking to reduce sugar intake. Because dopamine is made from tyrosine, getting more of this amino acid from food could potentially boost dopamine levels in your brain (in the absence of sugar or the same amount of sugar as you are used to). 


When we think about 'adding' something this also helps from a mindset perspective. We are not just 'taking something away'. From a practical perspective this looks like adding some nuts to your cookie instead of have two or three. 


3. Breakfast

Having a breakfast which contains some protein and healthy fat will significantly
support your metabolism throughout the day. You are ‘breaking the fast’ from
overnight. What you put in your body to do this can either start you on the blood
sugar up and down roller coaster or substantially reduce it/minimise it. You want
the smallest amount of sugar intake at this time of day as possible – added or

I have many breakfast ideas in all my cookbooks and both our DJK muesli
options are an excellent ready to go choice (exactly why I made them!). Below is an example of a breakfast I had while on a work-travel trip. I take my paleo bread with me as it's high protein and fat!




These are just some simple places to kick start your journey. I would highly recommend my sugar reduction guide for more info and recipes. Other helpful links are below too!



*Sugar Reduction Guide


xx Dr Julie 

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