There’s something hidden in your food, and its out to destroy your health and your dreams of owning a set of chiseled 6 pack abs or a slender waistline.

Ever wonder why the rates of obesity, diabetes and heart disease are skyrocketing?

According to the Human Sciences Research Council, the average South African consumes 25 kilograms of sugar and similar sweeteners a year, the bulk of which is concealed in processed foods and fizzy drinks.

They do say chiseled abs are made in the kitchen, and it is in the kitchen that one has to start making the lifestyle changes that will benefit your health and give you that waistline you can be proud of.

If you are ready to start moulding the body you wanted, here are 6 tips that will help you get a kick-start.

1. Eat clean
Banish processed foods and ingredients, and opt for food in its most natural form whenever possible. Simple things like orange juice have added sugar, colourants and flavourants. In more complex foods, such as cereals, and sauces there can be even more artificial additives.

2. Do not drink away your health
Most added sugars we consume are in juices, fizzy drinks, flavoured coffees and iced teas. Tasty alternatives include herbal teas, mixing sparkling water with a freshly squeezed juice pulp and, best of all, water.

3. Skip artificial sweeteners
Sweetness is a hard addiction to quit and while artificial replacements can cause a temporary high, they feed your palate’s bad habit.

4. Learn the code names
Added sugars are often well disguised on ingredients list, labelled as sucrose, corn sweetener, fruit-juice concentrates, fructose sweeteners, dextrose, or other words ending in “-ose,” – the chemical suffix for sugars. Give these products a pass.

5. Add flavour, not sugar, to your cooking
Spices and herbs can deliver an amazing taste without the kickback of sugar – add cinnamon or vanilla in your morning coffee instead.

6. Have ready-made meals or snacks on hand, always
Have a ready-to-drink smoothie, nuts, dates or plain yoghurt on hand for when a craving strikes.

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