Sugar has been creeping into many products that you may think of as sugar free or low in sugar. The first step to decreasing added sugar in your diet is to know what to look for. Common names used in place of “sugar” on the food label include brown sugar, cane crystals, cane sugar, corn syrup, crystal dextrose, high fructose corn syrup, honey, malt syrup, maple syrup, molasses, and white sugar. Remember, the ingredients are listed in order of highest percentage found in the food item. The higher sugar is on the list, the more the product contains. I always shoot for less than 10-15 grams of sugar in anything I buy.
Similar to any diet, decreasing sugar is a process. Here’s what to do: decrease or cut out sugar sweetened beverages and “sugary foods” (i.e. Dessert foods), eat whole fruit when you get sweet cravings, start slowly, use natural sweeteners (i.e. Honey, agave, maple syrup) instead of sugar substitutes, and be aware of what you are putting in your body!
8 Sources of Hidden Sugar
- Granola bars – Make sure you read the label. Less than 10 grams of sugar is best. My favorite are kind bars with 4-5 grams of sugar.
- Salad dressing – Sugar is added to many dressings. The best way to avoid this is to make your own! Olive oil with balsamic or lemon, garlic, and herbs is always delicious.
- Yogurt – To counteract the tartness of yogurt many brands add sugar. Especially the kinds with fruit! Shoot for less than 12 grams of sugar. My favorite is Siggi’s with 10-11 grams of sugar (plus 14 grams of protein).
- Dried fruit and fruit juices – While fruit does contain natural sugar some fruit products have even more added! Look for unsweetened dried fruits and stick to about two tablespoons for a good amount of natural sugar. Fruit juices should be avoided if possible. Why not just eat whole fruit for the extra fiber?!
- Tomato sauce – Those tomatoes aren’t as sweet on their own. Look for low sugar tomato sauce or better yet make your own. Make a big batch and freeze the extra. Perfect.
- White wine – Okay, I’m guilty because white wine is my favorite. The dryer the wine, the less sugar. Avoid the Reislings and Moscatos if possible. Red wine is even better for all those flavonoids.
- Milk alternatives – Almond and soy milk can be filled with extra sugar if you aren’t careful. The taste may take some getting used to, but the unsweetened versions of your favorite milk alternatives are great.
- Bread – If it doesn’t say 100% whole wheat chances are there is extra sugar. That doesn’t mean some brands that are 100% whole wheat don’t have extra either. This is when your label reading skills will come in handy! Less than 5 grams of sugar per slice is ideal.