Is there sugar hiding in your everyday foods? Absolutely! Nutritionist Anne Swain from The Whole Kitchen breaks it down.
Added sugar can be found in almost every processed food and can contribute to weight gain, digestive issues, skin problems, poor sleep quality, brain fog or more serious health conditions.
The good news is that once you recognise the highly additive nature of sugar and remove it from your diet, many of the above conditions will start to change. As you start to stabilize your blood sugar, you lose the afternoon sugar cravings, you will have more energy and start to appreciate how sweet real food can be, like carrots and tomatoes!
Here are my tips on how to navigate 5 foods that are commonly high in sugar:
1. Fruit Juice
It might sound unbelievable but even freshly squeezed juice can have as much sugar as soft drinks! Fresh juice will absolutely give you more vitamins, and it is natural sugar, right? The reality is that the body sees all sugar as the same and deals with it as such. Even a “green juice” can vary in quality; some consist of mainly fruit with a token green added. So choose carefully next time you are at the juice bar!
- Add mainly veggies (the greener the better) with only 1 piece of fruit for sweetness.
- Add lemon and ginger to give a lovely refreshing taste.
- Swap juice for smoothies – to keep fibre intact.
- Eat whole fruit – one or two pieces daily – to get all the fibre and health benefits.
2. Energy Bars
As convenient as they are to grab and go, many are packed with sugar, additives or artificial sweeteners. Make sure you read the nutrition label and choose wisely.
- Look for the least number of ingredients (and make sure all ingredients are real food, not chemical compounds!).
- As a general rule: No more than 5-6g of sugar per bar.
3. Breakfast cereals
Most commercial cereals are so full of sugar that you might as well be having a chocolate bar for breakfast! And I’m not just talking about Coco Pops but the “healthy” granolas also contain high sugar levels from dried fruit, added sugar and being toasted with honey.
- General rule: No more than 5-6g sugar per serve.
- Choose the one with the highest fibre.
- Add your own fresh fruit for sweetness.
- Make your own granola – pack it with nuts and seeds.
- Or try one of The Whole Kitchen’s low sugar granola options.
4. Flavoured or reduced fat yogurt
If you eat dairy, yoghurt can be a great source of probiotics to support gut health. But any flavoured, reduced fat or yoghurt with added fruit means more sugar. When you remove the natural fats from dairy, sugar content increases, raising blood sugar and leading to sugar cravings & fat storage. Additionally, vitamins A, D, E & K are found in full fat dairy. When you remove the fat you remove the vitamins.
- Go for unsweetened, full fat Greek, natural or coconut yogurt.
- Add berries for sweetness.
5. Sauces & salad dressings
Readymade options from the supermarket are often full of hidden sugars – think chili, BBQ, tomato sauce and even balsamic vinegar dressing.
- General rule: choose one with no more than 5g sugar per 100g.
- Make sure sugar isn’t in the top 5 ingredients on the list.
- Or try making your own!
Every small change you make towards a lower sugar lifestyle will add up to big rewards in your health. Knowledge is power and understanding where sugar is hiding allows you to make better choices, feel better and reach your health goals.
Most importantly, enjoy the journey!