Eat This, Not That: How to Avoid Sugar that Sneaks into Your Diet
Sugar is in almost everything we eat - and it can be labeled with so many different names. While it is naturally found in many foods, like fruits, veggies, dairy and grains (wheat, rice, oats, cornmeal, etc) - these types of sugars are generally beneficial to our diets and help energize our cells. It’s added sugar that causes health problems and and found to be harmful.
It’s recommended, by the American Heart Association, that 6 - 9 teaspoons of sugar is healthy for our daily diets. Each teaspoon of sugar is equal to about 4 grams and 16 calories. Since most food labels only show these numbers in grams and not teaspoons, let’s break that down.
If you drink a regular soda pop, which is around 33 grams of sugar - that’s 33 grams divided by 4 - which is about 8 grams of sugar. With just one drink, we have almost maxed out our daily recommended amount of sugar. Yikes!
Some foods are sneaky, with claims to be healthy but loaded with unwanted sugar. Check out our list of foods to double check the next time you’re at the grocery store.
Yogurt - yogurt is great. It's packed with protein, calcium and probiotics (good bacteria for your gut). But flavored yogurts are packed with sugar. In a study done by the British Medical Journal (BMJ) , yogurt had 10-16 grams of of sugar. Yikes! Alternatives: Get plain yogurt and add your own fruit toppings. And Vanilla is not plain yogurt… Sorry folks.
Juice - even the all natural stuff, it’s loaded with extra sugar. And sports drinks are a nightmare when it comes to added sugar. Alternatives: instead of juice, try water infused with fruits like lemons, lime and strawberries. You can get creative as you want. This avoids added sugar and wasted calories.
Sauces - BBQ sauce, ketchup, marinades, tomato sauces. You name it and it probably has a good amount of sugar in it. Alternatives: Instead buy condiments that have no added sugar. For pasta sauces, marinades, etc, try making your own once in a while and freeze the rest of the sauce for later use. You'll save money and have a homemade sauce. Win-win!
Granola bars and other "healthy" snack bars are great when you're on the go and need a healthier snacking option. But most bars and granola on the shelves are packed with sugar. chocolate coated and full of dried fruit (which can have added sugar). Alternatives: Avoid fruit filled bars and granola bars filled with chocolate and candy pieces.
Dried fruit - Who doesn't love a dried mango or dried cranberries. They are portable and easy to travel with but can also be loaded with sugar for added flavor. Make sure you check the label before buying and when possible, grab dried fruit with no added sugar. Alternatives: Fresh fruit when possible.
Salad dressing - There is no better way to ruin a good healthy salad than with the salad dressing. It can really make or break the calorie counts and amounts of sugar. Alternatives: Use olive oil and vinegar or make your own. It's simple and easy and you can feel like a chef when you've made a great salad dressing that’s actually really good. Try this recipe to get you started.
Here’s to great food without the unwanted sugar! Cheers!