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Sneaky Sugars

We’re not going to sugar coat it for you. White sugar is just plain evil. Often compared to being similar to drugs, sugar is a highly addictive substance that, with over-consumption, destroys your health. It offers zero nutrients and leading research now identifies it as the main cause of the growing obesity and chronic illness epidemic worldwide.

Have we frightened you away yet?! Hold tight.

What’s even scarier is that we’re not just talking about your typical sugary-junk food. Sugar is found in the sneakiest of places; hidden in sauces, dressings, soups, cereals, condiments, baked goods and especially anything labelled “low fat” (more below). Perhaps without even knowing it you are consuming a lot more sugar than you think everyday!

Despite our attempts at forgoing the 4’oclock sweet-treat, remember, sugar goes far beyond the sweet stuff. A significant amount of sugar is added to anything packaged, processed or generally not a whole food. The even more difficult dilemma? There are so many names for sugar that you may not be able to pin point if it’s in your food at all! Read your labels and look for ingredients that end in “-ose” such as glucose, maltose, fructose, high fructose corn syrup, etc. All of these ingredients are sugar in its various forms.

Here’s just a few of the sugar-laden culprits you may not have thought twice about:

+ Bottled sauces. Canned and jarred pasta sauces are a big offender. Tomato sauces can have as much as 10 grams of added sugar per 1/2 cup serving. Instead use unsweetened options, or better yet, make your own. Blend up tomatoes with garlic and herbs to make a simple unsweetened tomato sauce.

+ Condiments. Salad dressings and our favourite dipping sauces of all varieties are another big one. Everyone’s much loved ketchup is sweetened with high fructose corn syrup and half of its calories come from its sugar content! Try using real tomatoes crushed up with garlic and oregano or sugar-free salsa instead.

+ Yogurt. Low-fat or fruit flavoured yogurt can have as much as 16 grams of added sugar. Non-fat yogurt can have as much as 19 grams of natural sugar (lactose) per cup compared to the 11 grams in a cup of full fat yogurt. Choose natural greek yogurt instead, and add your own fruit.

+ Cereal. Packaged cereal is one of the worst offenders, and especially scary if our kids are eating bowls of this sweet stuff daily. Loaded with processed sugar and additives, we suggest whole oats or muesli without dried fruit or honey roasting. Top with bananas and berries instead.

+ Fruit juice. Processed bottled juices are just as bad as a soda. Don’t be fooled by the healthy looking labels! Opt for water with your favourite citrus slices or simply make or buy fresh juices and smoothies made in front of you solely with real fruit and vegetables.

+ Non-dairy milks. Flavoured almond or soy milks can have as much as 16 grams of added sugar per cup. Always go for the unsweetened variety, and add a few drops of honey, cinnamon or vanilla to sweeten if you like.

It’s time to get informed and start taking your health into your own hands! The easiest way to avoid excess sugar is to eat fresh, whole foods (not packaged) and carve out some time in the week to plan meals ahead of time. Know your labels and know your food. Whether it’s cooked by you or someone else, focus on food rather than packaged junk and convenient ingredients!