Sneaky sugars: don’t get caught out

 

Sugar; is there anyone left not aware of its negative effects on our health? Reported as having many health risks, such as contributing to heart disease, obesity, type 2 diabetes and certain cancers, sugar is still inherent in real food, making us hardwired to enjoy sweet, sugary treats. Of course, this deep ingrained desire has been exploited by the ready availability of processed sugary foods on every street corner. Yet we can make better choices and ween ourselves off the processed sweet stuff. We know what to do, right? Cut down or cut out cakes, candy, chocolate, muffins and definitely sodas. Well, job done, right? But hold on, it’s not quite that simple.

The perils of hidden sugars

We all tend to forget about the hidden sugars that are so much harder to spot. Even people who are health conscious may be eating sugars that they are not aware of. Sneaky sugars are everywhere, and with labelling not as simple or clear as it might be, it can be difficult to spot. It’s worth bearing in mind some 74% of packaged foods in supermarkets contain sugar.

Some examples of hidden sugars and their alternatives:

Boxed cereals Choose oats or quinoa flakes
Salad dressing Make your own with olive oil & vinegar
Brand Yogurt Stick to plain Greek yogurt
Fruit Smoothies Better to eat the whole fruit
Sodas & Diet Sodas Drink fruit flavoured water
Energy/sports drinks Drink water – add electrolytes if required
Fruit juice Eat the whole fruit
Packaged Soups Homemade minus the additives is better
Pasta sauces A can of chopped tomatoes + spices and herbs is cheaper and avoids hidden sugar + salt
Lattes + Flavoured Lattes Drink black coffee, or add a dash of milk – or switch to tea
Ready Meals/Frozen Dinners Home cooked ingredients are healthier
Ketchup and other condiment sauces Watch the portion size – a couple of tablespoons of ketchup contain the same amount of sugar as a glazed doughnut

 

The quickest, safest and easiest way to avoid hidden sugar is to prioritize single, whole ingredient foods in your diet. A piece of fish, an orange or a handful of nuts have no ingredients or additives list. Real food doesn’t need a barcode!

A study by Which? found some ready meals had more sugar content than vanilla ice cream, which is about as sugar laden as can be imagined. And don’t be fooled if a product is advertised as ‘healthy’, you still must read the label.

Sugar names to watch out for
  • corn sugar
    • dextrose
      • fructose
        • glucose
          • high-fructose glucose syrup
            • honey
              • maple syrup
  • agave syrup
    • invert sugar
      • isoglucose
        • levulose
          • maltose
            • molasses
              • sucrose

Whatever your favourite processed sugar laden food, responsibility as to how much you consume lies with you. It’s a food company’s duty to its shareholders to sell as much as possible – the duty to control how much we consume as we look after our health lies with us.

Each time we have a sugar rush it will be followed by crash. This merry-go-round only stops if we choose to take control, feeding our body foods that are nourishing and satisfying rather than lacking nutrients and loaded with empty calories.

If you are fighting the sugar war to win, don’t just cut down on the more obvious sweet treats, take aim at the bigger challenge, the sneaky hidden sugars in our diets. By substituting sugar for lean proteins, complex carbohydrates and healthy fats we can feel fuller, feel better and in time become healthier.

 

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Iris is the founder of No Targets Just Routine. She has researched food since 2009 and believes “Happiness is real food shared with loved ones.”

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