You’ve Been Sabotaged by Hidden Sugars
You have been working on our diet and doing well. You are working towards a healthy diet and clean eating. You are even working toward goals like 5k runs and staying consistent with your group exercise program. The problem is you have been told by your doctor that your sugar levels are still not in a good range. You have removed soda, processed sugars, and sweets. Now you are left wondering where the sugar is coming from.
It is no surprise that chocolates, fizzy drinks, sweets and cakes are loaded with added sugar. But there are other culprits that you might not associate with added sugar. These culprits are the foods that are packed with large amounts of added sugar, AKA HIDDEN sugar.
Why Are Sugars Being Hidden?
Food manufacturing companies have become wise about the outcry of added sugar by health practitioners, and with clever marketing, have mastered the art of disguising the sugar in their products so that consumers do not know how much sugar they are really eating.
They add sugar into foods to enhance the taste, especially in reduced fat foods, as foods without fat are bland, and do not taste so good. This means that foods you may believe to be healthy because they are labeled low fat, are actually worse for you as they are loaded with added sugar – which keeps you hooked and going back for more.
In the US today, adults are consuming around 22 teaspoons of sugar a day, way over the American Heart Association’s recommendations, who recommend that most women should consume no more than 6 tsp. or 100-calories a day of sugar and that most men should consume no more than 9 tsp. or 150 calories a day of sugar.
This amount of excessive sugar consumption can lead to a number of health issues including fatty liver disease, leaky gut, metabolic diseases, diabetes, cancer, high blood pressure and even Alzheimer’s or dementia. This is why it is so important for us to know what hidden sugars are and how to detect them.
What Are Hidden Sugars?
So, what are hidden sugars, you ask. They are syrups and sugars included in beverages or foods during their process or preparation period. Added sugars don’t include those naturally occurring sugars such as you will find in fruits and natural milk. If you are wondering about how much sugar is in your foods, look at that labeling and take note of the ingredients that end with “ose” – those are typically the sugar ones.
Look at these names on food labels signifying there are added sugars in your foods:
- Anhydrous dextrose
- Brown sugar
- Confectioner’s powdered sugar
- Corn sweetener, Corn syrup and corn syrup solids
- Fruit Nectars
- High-fructose corn syrup
- Invert sugar
- Malt syrup
- Pancake syrups
- Raw sugar
- White granulated sugar and other sugars
There are other names too, such as cane juice, crystal dextrose, liquid fructose, fruit nectar, sugar cane juice, evaporated corn sweetener, etc.; names that aren’t recognized by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) as ingredient names.
Where Are Hidden Sugars?
The top hidden sugars are:
- Energy and sports drinks
- Candies, desserts, and snakes like pies and cakes, doughnuts, pastries
- Sweetened fruit drinks and teas, like fruit punches and iced teas
- Dairy products like yogurts and ice cream
It might seem obvious to you that these are the typical sources of where you could expect to find sugar but believe it; they are far from the only foods today responsible for the huge sugar consumption in the world.
Don’t be fooled by the labeling that has “natural” written all over it. Some manufacturers will label their foods with things like “cane juice as added sweetener” or words like ‘fruit juices’, or ‘molasses’, or ‘beet sugar’. These are all types of sugars too. You will find extra sugar added to thousands of foods and beverages in your local grocery store. These include organic and natural foods that you will find even in health shops.
And ouch! Look here! Below are some so-called “health foods” that have heaps of sugars packed into them that you might not have known about:
- Your “healthy” cereals, such as oats
- Even “whole grain” bread, but all packaged bread
- “Healthy” granola type bars
- “Health” drinks, coffees, blended teas juices and teas
- Most protein and energy bars and drinks are not healthy snacks. They may contain vegetable protein and some vitamins, but they are also exceedingly rich in refined flour and added sugar products.
- Sweetened dairy products like flavored and frozen yogurts, low-fat ice cream or flavored kefir
- Sauces, dressings, and condiments like bottled tomato sauces, relishes, ketchup
- All condiments and salad dressings, especially the so-called low fat ones are filled with sugar. Mayonnaise and honey and mustard salad dressings are delicious but could be deadly, because of the hidden sugar which has been added to them.
- Soups ranging from basic tomato sauce to a spicy curry delicacy, and including soups, have big amounts of added sugar.
- Dried fruit and fruit bars, etc.
These “healthy” options taste just as good if not better than their less healthy alternatives because scientists in the food industry have got the ratio of fat, sugar and salt in their products just right to make them tasty enough for you to want more and more.
How to Avoid Buying Foods with Hidden Sugar Content
Ideally, we should cut processed sugar out of our diets entirely, but we all know that’s not realistic for most people, myself included. However, here are some tips that will help you avoid added sugars as much as possible:
- Start to use (in moderation) natural sweeteners like coconut sugar, natural honey, stevia, and maple syrup
- Try and not give in to your sugar habit – rather eat more healthy fats like olive oil, coconut oil, nuts, seeds and avocado
- Keep tabs on your sugar, especially at breakfast time when waffles, pancakes, granola bars, cereals, fruit juices, dairy products with added sugars, coffee and teas come out
- What snacks are you eating? Remember that roasted flavored nuts, sweetened yogurts, and “healthy” protein bars do actually contain a lot of sugar – concentrate on delicious boiled eggs, fresh fruits or fruit juices made with fresh fruit only
- Try and stay away from downing your calories in the form of drinks that contain so many added sugars – stick with drinks like water, club soda, green tea, kombucha, herbal teas, etc.
- Eat and drink your own homemade sauces and salad dressings, using natural ingredients like olive oil and lemon juice, etc.
The best thing you can do in your quest to reduce your sugar intake and minimize the amount of added sugars you consume is to read your labels. Check the labels of products thoroughly, including the amount of the sugar product, whatever it may be called, in the item you want to purchase. Also check the nutrition facts on packaged foods – you could be surprised by the lack of any real nutrition in the product.
One heaping teaspoon of sugar is equivalent to 4 grams of sugar, and on average up to 16 grams is added to a product, equal to 4 teaspoons of granulated sugar. This is just in the hidden added sugar from processed, off-the-shelf foods, not the obvious added sugar from cakes, sweets and deserts. So you could be overloading your body without even realizing it.
Lastly, don’t buy anything which is labeled low fat, as it could do your body more harm than if you eat a full-fat product.
Small Changes Can Make a Big Difference
You may feel that all this checking on labels is going to a lot of trouble, and sometimes time- consuming, but if want to stay healthy and prevent the dangers related to excess sugar, then it is worth all the trouble for the benefit to your health and well-being.
Small changes can make a big difference, however. Cutting back on sugar and using an alternative, such as stevia or dates, can make you feel better and your body will thank you for it.
Your ‘sugar highs’ should become a thing of the past and your energy levels should be more consistent. These alternatives also aid weight loss, as they either actively burn fat or speed the process up where sugar would only slow it down. Plus, they taste delicious and help you become a little more experimental in the kitchen.
If you are looking for more tips and support, join me over on my group page, The Village – A Natural HEALing Community, to get tons of information and tips to help you take your HEALTHY EATING and ACTIVE LIVING to the next level.
HEAL GOOD. FEEL GOOD. DO GOOD.