Sugar-free guide to London
Dining out when following a sugar-free or low-sugar diet can be challenging. Even if you manage to resist the temptation of the dessert menu, hidden sugars are an ever-present threat to our healthy lifestyles. Fortunately, in the wake of the sugar tax, and shocking statistics about how much sugar we’re consuming, many restaurants are altering their menus to suit low-sugar diets and are giving consumers greater choice.
People choose to cut down on sugar for a variety of reasons, and no one can ignore the figures. A recent report by Public Health England, the National Diet and Nutrition Survey (NDNS), revealed that Brits are consuming almost three times the daily recommended amount of sugar. The official recommendation from the government is to limit sugar to no more than 5% of someone’s diet - around 30g of sugar – each day. However, the NDNS showed that sugar forms up to 14% of UK citizens’ diets.
If you’re worried about making the wrong choices when dining out, here are some top tips for healthier ordering:
- Don’t over-order – One of the biggest issues Brits face when dining out is over-ordering, and this, in turn, can mean eating a lot more sugar (and fat) than you need. Be sure to check with the wait staff how big the portions are before you order.
- Choose light, fruit-based desserts – Instead of an indulgent chocolate fudge cake or creamy cheesecake, look for fresh, fruit-based desserts. The main sugars in these desserts will occur naturally from the fruit, rather than being overwhelmed with refined sugar. Alternatively, opt for a savoury dessert.
- Bulk up your meal with vegetables – Rather than snacking on bread, add vegetables to bulk up your meal.
- Be wary of your drinks order – Many cocktails and soft drinks have a high sugar content. Ask the restaurant about low-sugar options like Kolibri to accompany your meal.
Sugar-free dining in London
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As a diverse and exciting city with its finger firmly on the pulse of the latest food trends, London is an excellent place to enjoy low-sugar dining experiences. Many restaurants of all backgrounds and cuisines offer alternatives that are free from refined sugar, giving customers greater choice and control over how and what they eat when dining out.
Free from dairy, refined sugars, additives and chemicals, Farmacy’s menu is a sight to behold. This Notting Hill eatery doesn’t scrimp on flavour, with chocolate chip waffles, macaroni and cheese, tacos and delicious house burger on the menu. This is one restaurant where you don’t have to feel guilty about indulging. Over in Belgravia, Indian restaurant Amaya offers tapas-style dishes and always has two indulgent sugar-free desserts on its menu – strawberry granita and poached pear.
Excitingly, some chain restaurants are hopping on the low-sugar bandwagon. Leon’s menus allow customers to choose low GL (glycaemic load) options to show how much their dishes can increase blood sugar levels. This is a fantastic example of a company working to provide more choice to those trying to avoid sugar.
At Covent Garden’s Neal’s Yard, Wild Food Café serves raw, vegan and foraged foods. The restaurant’s dessert menu, however, is where the real prize is for health fanatics. All of their desserts are sweetened with coconut sugar, agave nectar, maple syrup, dates, dried figs or fresh fruit, providing delicious dishes without refined sugar.
If you’re cutting down on sugar but still craving comfort food, head over to Apres Food Co. This restaurant aims to serve great-tasting comfort food, from delicious fried breakfasts and risottos to steak pies and curries, without any nasty processed ingredients or additives and a wealth of flavour. Apres Food Co uses no refined sugars and offers exceptional desserts including chocolate fondant cake, sticky toffee cake and sundaes.
It’s great to see so many restaurants getting on board with low-sugar diets and seeking out exciting alternatives to give consumers more choice. As the trend continues to grow, and consumers become more and more aware of what goes into their food, and their bodies, I predict that we’ll see more sugar-free restaurants opening in London and across the UK.