The 'Healthy' Foods That Are Actually Packed With Sugar
The 'Healthy' Foods That Have A Shockingly High Sugar Content
Sugar is hiding EVERYWHERE. From yogurts to pastas - and even to salads - this toxic and addictive ingredient sneaks into everyday foods that are supposed to be healthy, ruining any original nutrients and negatively impacting our bodies. In this post, learn about sugar's role in the food industry and why it's so prevalent, as well as how to identify and reduce the extra and hidden added sugar content in food and from your diet in general. Low-sugar living starts here!
Sugar is super toxic. 😨 It’s as simple that. Sugar ruins our skin, makes us age, causes dreaded muffin tops, destroys our organs and is linked to an increased risk of many diseases, including obesity, heart disease, type 2 diabetes and EVEN CANCER. 😵 Many of us already know this really so we try to minimize our sugar consumption - but thanks to sneaky food companies, the actual sugar content in any given food is often shockingly higher than it seems, making it hard for us to estimate exactly how much sugar we’re consuming.
However, before we get into how to detect these hidden sugars (and the foods with the highest hidden sugar), we need to talk a bit about sugar to help you understand the food industry.
Sugar is Super Addictive. 🍧
As you probably already know from your cravings, it can be hard to minimize your sugar intake because, simply put, sugar is highly addictive.
People try to simply stop eating sugar and fail all the time.
🤔 Guess why?
Hidden Sugar Content In Food.
Well, the food industry wants to keep you hooked on whatever they’re selling, so they take advantage of sugar’s addictive nature and add it to everything. 🍬 That’s why, when you reach for that Vitaminwater - a supposedly healthy choice - you’re actually reaching for a whopping 32 grams of sugar, all condensed into one 20 oz. bottle. That’s right. 🥤
In This Article:
What Sugar Does to Us.
This sugar deception leaves us on a nightmarish roller-coaster ride of sugar cravings, one that we don’t know how to bring to an end. Energy ups and downs, skin breakout, mood swings - you name it, it probably happens. 🎢
The exact reason for our cravings is quiet complicated, so if you want to know more about it then check out my post: Why You Are Obsessed With Sugar (& How To Fix It)
How We Can Stop It.
It may sometimes seem and feel impossible, but there is a way to break the cycle (and I have some experience to share). 💪 Before we get into that though, let’s talk even more about the function of sugar in food manufacturing to get and even clearer picture of what we’re dealing with.
Sugar And The Food Industry.
Did you know that sugar is the MOST prevalent food additive out there? It’s found in around 81% of food at your local grocery store! Crazy. ☹️
Now you might be wondering, “Isabelle, if sugar is so bad for our health, then why does the food industry keep including so much sugar in our food?”
Well, we touched on this before, and the answer is that they want you to keep coming back for more and more of their product, and the easiest most cost effective way to do that is to dunk a load of sugar into everything they make. 💳
In fact, a study in 2007 found that 94% of rats tested would rather choose artificially sweetened water over cocaine (after being sensitized to the drug). JUST WOW… no wonder they keep on adding sugar to everything. 🐀
Why Food Manufacturers Use So Much Sugar
While there are many reasons for the high sugar content in food, to break it down in a food science perspective sugar plays a cheap important role in food manufacturing because of its many functional properties.
🍔 Sugar Adds Colors & Flavors.
Sugar is a key component for color and flavor. The Maillard reaction is a chemical reaction between amino acids and reducing sugars that gives browned foods their desirable flavor; and caramelization is fundamental to the formation of color in some food products and can’t happen without the addition of sugar.
Carmalization is used in a wide variety of products including sauces, candies, breads, jams, and dessert wine (Kroh, 1993). It also adds a particular flavor to foods like baked goods, chocolate, coffee and some meats.
🍨 Sugar Adds Bulk and Texture.
Sugars provide bulk and texture to foods which translates to a satisfying mouthfeel. Sugar plays a key role in multiple chemical reactions that form our favourite textures in many baked goods, ice creams, candies, and jams and preserves.
🍱 Sugar Helps Ferment Certain Foods.
Sugar helps in the fermentation process that produces certain foods like yogurt, sauerkraut, vinegars, wine, beers, and sour cream.
🍓 Sugar Helps Preserve Food.
Sugar helps in preserving foods. The hygroscopic (tending to absorb moisture from the air) nature of sugar plays a crucial role in reducing water activity in foods, which helps in preserving and extending the shelf-life of food products. Sugar also prevents baked good from becoming stale and it also preserves color.
Now you see: sugar is a really cheap way for them to achieve many things they need for food manufacturing. Most popular food companies don’t care about your health; they care about their profits. 🤑
The food industry sneaks so much sugar into our diet that the average American eats 3 pounds of sugar every week.
Hidden Sugar In The Average Diet.
You might think you’re a healthy eater most of the time - minus your slice of occasional party cake, caramel popcorn on theater night or Netflix treat binge. 🍿
But, as you probably well understand at this point, sugar lurks literally everywhere and not just in the obvious places like chips and cookies.
Sugar is hiding in some so-called ‘nutritious’ go-to healthy foods - like the aforementioned vitamin water - full of enough sugar to satisfy a massive sweet-tooth. 😋 It’s no wonder an average American consumes more than 17 teaspoon’s of sugar daily, which is three times as much added sugar as what’s recommended. I think we can certainly cut back.
So now we know that sugar is being added to our food, all we have to do is check the labels, right? Well, no.
The Other Names For Sugar.
To make things even worse (I know, how much worse can they actually get? 🙄), food manufacturers often hide the large sugar content in a given food by listing it under several different names on ingredients lists.
Bottom Line: Manufactures often use several different kinds of sugar so they can hide the real amount and trick you into thinking something is sugar free. 🕵️
You might have difficulty navigating the nutrition label on the foods you look at, but trust me it’s super important to recognize all the possible names of sugar which can be found in the ingredient list, and well worth the time spent investigating.
The most popular alternative names for added sugars being used include:
corn syrup solids
fruit juice concentrate
evaporated cane juice
and the list goes on and on…. (though, you can find a full printable list in my Cut The Sugar Program).
You may have been told that some of these - like agave - are ‘healthier’ forms of sweetening. Sorry, but sugar is sugar and it all breaks down during digestion and raises your blood pressure just the same.
🏷️ How Food Labeling Ingredient Order Relates To The Sugar Content In Food.
It’s also important to note that the earlier on in the ingredient label that sugar is mentioned, the larger amount of sugar is in the food. This also means that is the label has more than one type of sugar high up on the list, then you’re basically about to buy a sugar bomb. 💣
To Sum All Of This Up: We’re In For A Challenge When It Comes To Our Sugar Consumption
Food companies will stop at nothing to make their product your habit - from sneaking large amounts of chemicals and sugars into your food, to influencing studies to downplay sugar’s role in health degradation.
It’s crazy, but true.
In fact, in 2016 a team of University of California researchers uncovered a phony Harvard conspiracy, paid for by the sugar industry to downplay evidence of the terrible health consequences of sugar, particularly in its role in the epidemic of heart disease, and instead re-focus it on naturally-occurring fats.
Disgusting behavior, right?!
But, all is not lost. 🌱
How To Take Control Of Your Sugar Cravings and The Sugar Content In Your Food
Just by taking the time to familiarize yourself with the problem by reading this article, and by getting to know sugar’s other names, you’ve already taken a massive leap towards breaking both the food manufacturer’s and sugar’s grip on you. 💪
However, to make it easier for you, I’ve researched the main foods branded as ‘healthy’ that are actually usually loaded with sugar and additives.
If you know the worst offenders, you’ll be more armed to avoid or investigate them in the grocery aisles. Andiamo, or let’s get going!
19 ‘Healthy’ Foods With A Hidden High Sugar Content
1. Put That Yogurt Cup Down… Flavored and Low-Fat Yogurts 🍦
OMG - I’ve been tricked by this one more times than I can say: I grab a quick healthy snack or breakfast a low-fat yogurt, cuz it’s a healthy option, right?
Yogurt can be a super, probiotic boosting, highly nutritious snack. But unfortunately, not all yogurts are created equally.
If you’ve been a reader for a while, you already know how anti low-fat I am, because LOW-FAT CAN’T BE TRUSTED. I believe in good fats and bad fats, and just like many, many, many other low-fat products, low-fat yogurts are laden in sugar added to enhance the flavor lost by stripping the food of fat.
One serving of low-fat yogurt can contain as many as 30 grams of sugar — that's 60% of your daily limit. 😨
Also, low-fat yogurt doesn't even have the same health benefits as full-fat yogurt; full-fat yogurt is higher in protein, and the fat in yogurt is a good fat, which you miss out on with the low-fact varieties.
Oh… and those flavored yogurts? A sugary nightmare! 😱
Although some varieties (of fruit flavoured yogurt) contain some naturally occurring sugars, they can also contain a large amount of added sugar.
In fact, the average fruit-flavored yogurt can contain close to 32 grams of sugar per 6-ounce serving, and the nutrition label doesn’t reveal how much of that is added sugar.
For example, simple single 6-ounce container of Yoplait Red Raspberry has whopping 19 grams of sugar and lists sugar before raspberries on the food label! Remember what I said before about food labelling? WOWZA!
If you really do love the flavor of berries and yogurt, then you should just simple buy no-sugar added plain Greek and add a few fresh berries - you’ll have more control of the sugar content in your food.
I also would like you to note that you should also avoid the low-calorie yogurts that include artificial and alternative sweeteners.
The taste of something sweet can still set off the sugar cravings and many artificial and alternative sweeteners can be made from toxic chemicals that are very harmful to your body.
2. Good Old Granola… Well, Maybe Not. 🤔
Granola: who doesn’t love the stuff? The flavours, the textures, the contrast between the milk… Mmm.
But unfortunately, I now enjoy my favourite brand of granola, Love Crunch, as a treat.
We all know that cereals like Cocoa Puffs and Froot Loops are loaded with sugar and are super unhealthy. But listen up: if you’re eating granola as your healthy breakfast cereal alternative, you’re most likely getting a large dose of SUGAR too! Yep - granola is usually posted as low-fat super healthy food, but it’s surprisingly high in both sugar and CALORIES.
The main ingredient in granola is oats, and of course, plain rolled oats are a balanced healthy option containing good carbs, protein, fat and fiber.
However, the oats in granola are ruined, by being combined with honey, syrups, nuts, chocolate, dried fruits and added sweeteners, all of which increase the amount of sugar and calories.
Let’s take a ‘healthier’ granola like Nature Valley Oats ’n Honey Granola for example. Just 1 cup contains 480 calories and has 24 grams of sugar - pretty much the whole of your recommended amount of sugar for the entire day. 🙅♂️
If you really love having granola more regularly than a treat, try instead using a no-sugar, low-sugar or only-honey-added granola as a condiment, sprinkling it as a tiny sweet touch on plain yogurt.
Or an even better healthy sugar-free option would be making your own granola from oats and egg-whites, blended with water, pitted dates, spices or cocoa, and shredded coconut. I make it all the time, my whole family loves it and it is sugar-free.
3. Hydrating After A Workout With A Sports Drinks & Fruit Juice Is a No-No
Sports drinks can so often be mistaken as a healthy choice for those who have just finished a grueling workout.
Well, remember our good friend, Vitaminwater? Yeah, these drinks are a BIG NO - before I even get to the sugar, I have to warn you about the myriad of harmful ingredients these drinks tend to contain:
Sports Drinks Contain High levels of Taurine (which regulates the amounts of water and minerals in the blood). 🚴
Too much taurine, esp. combined with other ingredients in energy drinks, can be harmful, and can possibly lead to dangerously low blood pressure.
Sports Drinks Contain Way Too Much B Vitamin. 💊
Yes, B vitamins are extremely important for good health, but too much of a good thing can be harmful. Energy drinks tend to contain extremely high levels of B3 (niacin) and B6, which in excess are known to cause issues like skin conditions, gastrointestinal problems, liver toxicity, blurred vision and nerve damage.
Sports Drinks Contain Ginseng, Gingko Biloba, and Guarana. 🌿
These herbal substances are pretty much safe on their lonesome, but they can become dangerous when combined with caffeine and sugar. Research has suggested that they can cause high blood pressure, heart palpitations, headaches, fatigue, insomnia, swelling, dehydration and kidney failure.
Sports Drink Contain Too Much Caffeine. ☕
Most drinks that promise you energy contain way more caffeine than your average cup of joe or your regular latte. Instead of boosting energy, too much caffeine can cause you to crash and feel fatigued. Consuming caffeine like this can cause a whole host of health issues including digestive issues, dizziness, irritability, nausea, dehydration, withdrawal, and headaches.
Sports Drinks Contain Harmful Sugar Substitutes. ☠️
Oh, yeah… these ‘health and fitness’ boosting drinks contain nasty sugar substitutes like high fructose corn syrup!
To compound all of this, sport drinks contain high amounts of added sugars.
A standard 20-oz (570 ml) bottle of a sports drink will contain 32 grams of added sugar and 159 calories, which is equivalent to 8 teaspoons of sugar.
Sports drinks are therefore in the category of ‘sugary drinks,’ linked with obesity and metabolic disease - just like soda and FRUIT JUICE.
Oh yeah, you heard me right: fruit juice! 🍎
Fruit juice is loaded with sugar (and I mean LOADED).
Orange juice is perhaps the worst in the sugar department, containing 10 teaspoons, or the same amount as a can of soda. 🍊
Of course, like whole fruit, fruit juice contains vitamins and minerals needed for health.
Unfortunately, despite seeming like a healthy option, these vitamins and minerals come with a dose of sugar and not much fiber. 😭
You see, it takes a whole lot of fruit just to make one simple single glass of fruit juice, so you get way more sugar in a glass of juice than you would get by eating whole fruit. This makes it easier to consume a large amount of natural sugar. Oh, and too much fruit juice has been linked to weight gain and a higher risk of diabetes.
So with that, if you need to hydrate, just stick to water. If you want a does of fruit flavour, choose whole fruit in place of fruit juice.
4. Green Means Healthy Right? How Green Juices and Smoothies Can Be Bad For Your Health
A cup of green juice must be healthy - after all, it’s green, which means vegetables… right?
Sorry, but nope. 🙅♂️
When you drink your next green juice, make sure to check out the label. The very first ingredient will tend to be apple juice, so the sugar content of what you’re drinking is actually really high.
As you now know, too much fruit is not a good thing, esp. when it’s had the important fiber blended or juiced out.
For example, drinks such as Naked Juice Green Machine Sport ‘zero added sugar,’ on their labels, but don’t be misled: a close look at the label reveals 53 grams of natural sugars and 270 calories in one 15-ounce bottle.
Compare that with a 15-ounce Coke which contains 49 grams of sugars—almost the same amount.
Geez. 😬 The reason for the sugar overload is the fruit-to-veggie juice ratio.
Oh, and if you thought the green smoothies were safe because ‘they’re not juice’ - think again.
Green smoothies are often full of fruit and dairy. Unfortunately, dairy and fruits have a lot of natural sugars - which would be okay in single separate servings - but since the fruit is blended into liquid, you probably add more fruits to drink into your blender than you would eat.
It gets worse when you buy commercially produced smoothies - they tend to come in large sizes and can be sweetened with things like fruit juice, ice cream or syrup, which increases their sugar content.
Some can be as crazy high as over 97 grams of sugar in a single serving.
Blending fruits with yogurt in the morning can still be a great way to start your day, but only when carefully considered for nutritional balance, calories, and sugar content.
If you’re buying a smoothie, try to find a well-balanced one. Check the ingredients and make sure you watch the portion size. However, the best way to have a well-balanced health smoothie is to make it yourself. 🥤
Drinking smoothies can even give you fab skin glow, I have a list of the best fruit to blend up over at my little blog post on 12 Easy Diet Changes For Better Skin You Need To Try.
Here are 5 steps for creating a well balanced smoothie.
1. Start with a liquid base. Never use juice as your liquid base, use filtered water with a bit of yogurt for creaminess or your favorite milk substitute.
2. This might seem obvious but never add sweeteners, including ‘natural’ sweeteners like honey, maple syrup, and agave. Don’t add dates because, as you’re already eating fruit, you don’t need the extra sugar. 🍯
3. If you have to have a sweetener, only ever use a low glycemic organic stevia. Personally I love Vanilla Crème Sweetleaf Stevia drops.
4. Use the 60/40 ratio. Use 60% greens and 40% fruits. Usually it would be around 3 cups of leafy greens and 2 cups of low sugar fruit to make 2 servings in a recipe. I highly recommend using cucumber, because it’s high in water content - so it’s low in calories but still gives a smoothie some bulk.
5. Try and use low sugar fruits and if you do use a high sugar fruit - like a banana 🍌 - try to make it your only fruit. I suggest as lower sugar fruits, that you use berries. They have less sugar than the average fruit and lots of fiber, and you may add one other low sugar fruit such as apple or some other kind of berry.
5. Sipping On Sweet Soy Milk… Why You Should Avoid Some Alternative Milks
Soy, almond, cashew and dairy-free alternative milks have become super popular, especially with low-lactose and vegan diets catching on in recent years. 🥛
What makes these milks sometimes worse than cow’s milk is they contain something you don’t tend to find in plain dairy: added sugar! Unless you check specifically, both the vanilla and the original milk varieties of popular brands will tend to have added sugar to improve the flavor.
Blue Diamond Almond Breeze Original Almond Milk has 7 grams of sugar in just one cup! 😵
To avoid these added sugars, look carefully at the products for being marked as unsweetened, but make sure to be careful of chemical sweeteners - if you don’t recognize something on the label, look it up.
The safest sweeteners to have in your alternative milk would be Organic Stevia and/or Monk Fruit Extract.
My favourite alternative milk options are Califa Farms Coconut and Almond Blend, Califa Unsweetened Original Almond Milk and Califa Cashew Homestead Style Nut Milk.
You’ll notice I left out soy milk, and that’s for a reason.
Soy products have been related to being the root cause of some thyroid disorders, reproductive system problems and allergy related symptoms, especially in individuals who have been using soy products from an early age.
There ARE actually some cases in which you can have some soy, but that’s a bit complicated so I won’t get into it in this post (I’ll likely do a whole blog post on that in the future, so keep and eye out).
For now, I recommend you simply avoid soy altogether.
Oh, and before I forget - if you’re a chocolate milk fan (both dairy and non-dairy), you should avoid any variety of that too. ☕
I know it’s often branded as a ‘healthy’ sweet drink, but it really should only be used as a treat.
Yes, plain unsweetened cocoa is a healthy antioxidant and milk itself is a rich source of nutrients that are great for bone health, including calcium and protein. But it’s been packed with sugar, destroying any benefit you would originally get.
6. Avoid Bread = Avoid Sugar (Yes, Even Gluten Free)
You may already avoid grains and wheat - maybe because of the way they affect our blood sugar, or maybe because they contain gluten - but you should read on nevertheless. 🔍
While whole-grain bread has many benefits and can be a part of a low-sugar lifestyle, we need to note that a lot of breads are sweetened with refined white sugar, or worse, corn syrup - even the whole wheat ones.
For all of you gluten free eaters, you should be especially careful. Nearly all gluten-free breads literally list sugar as a main ingredient!
Also, don’t forget that organic breads are not immune from added sugars.
For example, 100% Whole Wheat Bagels from Thomas has 7 grams of sugar each, Franz Nine Grain Bread has 8 grams in just 2 slices and Rudi’s Gluten-Free has 4 grams in 2 slices.
SO folks, next time you want to make a sandwich, read the label carefully to find bread that’s sugar free.
7. Snacking… Check Those Protein and Snack Bars
If you love packing a good old fashioned protein bar with you to work for a healthy, protein-full snack, you need to think again!
Protein bars may seem like a healthy alternative to junk foods, but many are sweetened with refined sugar and/or artificial sweeteners (which are just as bad, if not worse).
Foods that are packed with protein have been linked with increased, so it makes sense that protein bars are marketed as a healthy snack - especially for weight-loss.
I mean, there are some healthier protein bars on the market, but many contain around 30 grams of added sugar - similar to a chocolate bar. 🍫
Listen to this: many of the main ingredients in Clif Builder’s Protein Peanut Butter Bar are different types of refined sugar; beet juice concentrate; brown rice syrup; and dried cane syrup - you’ll be eating 5 teaspoons of sugar in just one small bar.
The same goes for those so-called ‘healthy-and-quick’ grab and go breakfast of cereal bars.
Just like protein bars, these cereal bars are usually just sweet old candy bars in disguise. Many don’t even contain much fiber or protein, and of course, are loaded with added sugar.
When choosing a protein bar, please read the label and avoid those that are high in sugar.
However, I recommend you opt for a healthier, high-protein yogurt instead.
8. Salads are Surely Safe from Sugar, right?!
How can there be anything wrong with a fresh and low-calorie salad?
Well, salad in its raw form is good for you, but it’s that creamy drizzle on top that’s loading you up on sugar. Otherwise known as the salad dressing!
Salad dressings are usually full of sugar, to make people who don’t like veggies want to eat them up. 🥗
We talked about low-fat previously, and low-fat dressings are particularly bad culprits for filling your dressing bottle up with sugar to provide flavor and to make up for the loss of fat.
Take for example, Kraft Lite Catalina Dressing - it has 8 grams of sugar in just 2 tbsp!
All this sugar ruins the benefits of the salads leafy greens.
To make it worse, it’s not just dressings you have to worry about; sugar is also lurking in other common additions to your greens, like balsamic vinegar.
To make your sugar-free shopping a little bit simpler, I’ve put together a whole list of everyday innocent looking foods that are hiding a surprising amount of sugar, in my ‘27 Hidden Sugar Foods to Watch Out for Checklist + Guide’
It’ll also shed some light on the things that are ruining the health benefits of our salads, sandwiches, soups and other healthy foods we love.
This certainly teaches us to be careful when reading the label - always double-check the nutrition facts!
9. Craving Spaghetti and Marinara Sauce?! Might as Well Be Sugar Sauce 🍝
Added sugars are even hidden in foods that we would never ever even consider sweet - like spaghetti and marinara sauce.
Yes, tomatoes have natural sugars, but quit a few brands raise the roof on sweetness by adding sugar to make you eat and crave more of it.
OMG, this is getting annoying!
To ensure you aren't loading up on your daily sugar intake, I would suggest simply making your own - it’s very easy with the right recipe. If you really hate cooking, check the label of a pre-made sauce and pick one that doesn't have sugar on the ingredients list.
Although, I know from experience that it’s nearly impossible to find a good marinara sauce without refined sugar added to it.
10. Yes, Sushi Can Be High In Sugar 🍣
Many people believe that when they go out for a Japanese dinner, it’s a healthy option - but it’s not always.
Think back to the last time you ate sushi. Do you remember craving sweets after eating it? This may be because the rice traditionally gets mixed with sugar.
Before I started research for my Cut The Sugar course, I never would have thought that something so savory like sushi could have so much sugar.
But it does, SO be wary.
11. Let’s Ketchup! Why You Should Watch Out For BBQ Sauce & Ketchup 🍔
Yum! BBQ sauce can make the BEST tasty marinade or dip.
Unfortunately, though, it’s seriously loaded with sugar. A mere 2 tablespoons of it can contain around 14 grams of sugar, or over 3 teaspoons. Yuck!
To make it worse 40% of the weight of BBQ sauce may actually be pure sugar. Whoah!
Just like BBQ sauce, ketchup is also often loaded with sugar.
Just one tablespoon of your average ketchup contains 1 teaspoon of sugar, one sixth of your allotted daily amount. 🍅
So, make sure you aren't getting too much sugar by checking the label and choose the sauce with the least amount of added sugar… and remember to watch your portion.
12. Flavored Coffees and Iced Teas Are Terrible For Low-Sugar Diets
Everyone loves a cup of flavored coffee, am I right? #TeamPSL ☕
BUT, this popular trend means more hidden sugar to watch out for.
Let’s take Starbucks, for example.
One 2% Milk Grande Cinnamon Dolce Latte with no whip has 39 grams of sugar - which amounts to around 9 1/3 teaspoons of sugar.
That’s not even the worst part; a large flavored coffee in some coffee houses can contain up to 25 teaspoons of sugar. What the what?
Well, maybe a harmless cup of iced tea must surely be safe? 😲 Nope.
Iced tea is a tea that has been chilled and then usually sweetened with sugar or flavored with syrup, and we know from flavored coffee just how sugary syrup can be!
Although, unlike flavored coffee, iced tea is popular in various forms and flavors all around the world, so this means the sugar content can vary. But I’ll tell you this: most commercial iced teas can contain around 30 grams of sugar per 12oz. (340 ml) serving!
With all of this considered, it's probably best to stick to coffee without any flavored syrups or added sugar, and if you love tea, opt for regular tea or find iced tea that doesn't have any sugars or syrups added.
13. Yes, Even Pre-Made Soup Isn’t Sugar Safe
Soup - what could be wrong with soup? 🍲
I mean come on; who would ever associate soup with sugar? Soup’s supposed to be healthy, it heals our flues and helps with weight-loss. Not always.
Now, when your lovely cup of soup is made with fresh and healthy ingredients, it's a wonderfully healthy choice, filled with nutrients and health benefits.
And yes, the vegetables in soups have natural sugars, which are fine to eat.
I love to make homemade soups, and my mum loves them. I’ve never even thought about adding sugar to mine!
However, pre-packed soups tend to have a lot of added ingredients, including SUGAR. What’s even crazier, is that even those of you who opt for making your own soup could accidentally be consuming unwanted sugar.
The Trojan horse here is the broth - they also tend to contain added sugar! This is yet another example of a hidden sugar content in food that’s supposed to be ‘safe’.
So next time you’re buying soup or broth check, for added sugars; look at the ingredients list for things like sucrose, high fructose corn syrup, barley malt and dextrose. 👀
14. Feeling Fruity! Canned Fruit and Added Sugar
Yep, we’ve touched on this before - all fruit contains natural sugars.
But, what you need to keep in mind here is that MANY canned fruits are peeled and preserved in super sugary syrup. To make it worse, this process destroys the fruit’s fibre, can strip heat-sensitive vitamin C and adds a bunch of sugar you don’t need.
So, next time you want a fruity snack, opt for whole, fresh fruit - the best (and tastiest) kind. If you really want canned fruit, look for a variety that has been preserved in juice and contains no added sugar.
15. Canned Baked Beans = A High Sugar Breakfast
Well, well. Another savory food that is surprisingly high in sugar. Baked beans! 🍽️
An average cup of baked beans contains over 4 teaspoons of sugar.
It can be really hard to find a sugar-free can of baked beans, so if you can, opt for making your own sugars free baked beans. If you’re really not into cooking, look for a low-sugar version of baked beans and eat them ONLY as a treat!
16. Oatmeal Makes for A Healthy Breakfast… Or Maybe Not
Oatmeal, like granola, is supposed to be a definite health food.
But unfortunately, flavored oatmeals are very commonly packed with sugar.
One 73g container of Nature Valley Protein Oatmeal - Mixed Berry Crunch has 18 grams of sugar! 🤢
If you want to jazz up your daily oatmeal, I suggest adding fresh berries and spices. AND, if you must add sweetener, try to use stevia or monkfruit instead of sugar.
17. Let’s Get Cracking: Crackers And Sugar
This snack doesn’t even taste sweet, but the reality is that many crackers have sugar added to them.
Ritz Bits Cheese Cracker Sandwiches have 4 grams of sugar in just 8 crackers - and how many of us really eat just 8? 🙃🤫
For a sugar-free alternative, try making your crackers, or find sugar-free crackers by checking the label (my favourite is the original flavour crackers from Crunchmaster).
18. Frozen Diet Meals? More Like Frozen Sugar Blocks.
As I’ve mentioned a few times now, one MASSIVE reason why low-fat, low-calorie, manufactured meals don’t work in helping most people lose weight is because the super large amount of sugar and artificial additives used to make these meals taste ‘good’!
Take Healthy Choice’s Sesame Chicken - this meal has a whopping 23 grams SUGAR.
And I thought this was supposed to be the healthy choice.
Err on the side of caution and try to always make your own meals - home cooking is often easier, cheaper, and faster than you think. 💰
However, if you really must go store bought, make sure you carefully scan the ingredient list and the sugar content to make sure you’re not about to blow your sugar limit out of the water.
19. Nut Butters Are A Sneaky Source Of Added Sugar
There’s no denying that peanut butter is popular. 🥜
The familiar comfort food has gone crazy with more variations than ever: from creamy to chunky, to chocolate, cookie, salted caramel, and other dessert flavors. This means some peanut and other nut butters and spreads are now loaded with sugar.
But, did you know most brands add a little sugar to their regular nut butters? It’s sad, but true. 😭
A lot of people are buying regular nut butters without realizing how much sugar is really in them, let alone the sweet alternative flavours.
Big brands like Jif and Peter Pan generally add around 2 grams of added sugar to the 1 or 2 grams of natural sugar from the peanuts or almonds per serving, and ‘specialty’ butters like the MaraNatha Caramel Almond Spread can hit 11 grams of sugar per serving.
For a better nut butter, try one with no added sugar, like Justin’s Classic Almond Butter.
What Is The Best Alternative To Sugar?
Now you see how sneaky sugar is, you might be asking yourself, “can sugar be replaced with another ingredient?”. And the answer is: YES!
If you’re willing to eat way less processed food and prepare more meals at home, then you can most definitely control the sugar content in your food.
Simply replace sugar in recipes with other options that’ll reduce your overall daily sugar intake. Try substituting with fruit puree in instead of refined sugar. 🍌
For example, pureed dates in a brownie recipe can help to limit the use of oil and sugar, and actually makes your brownie more caramel-ly… yum!
There also is another benefit of using fruit puree: you have fiber accompanying the natural sugar in the fruit which helps to modulate blood sugar during digestion.
It can sometimes be hard to find yummy tasting recipes that are sugar free, so I’ve put together some awesome tips and tricks to finding the best ones in my Cut The Sugar Program. Also, I have some tasty sugar free recipes right here on the blog, including this one for my favourite sugar free jam! 🍓
Steer Clear of Artificial Sweetener (Well, Artificial Anything)
One thing to note when you go searching for sugar-free foods and recipes, is that you should watch for ones that contain artificial sweetener.
Most artificial sweeteners have detrimental effects on the body, so it’s best to completely avoid them. If you do still want a good sugar alternative, I do have a more natural option for you.
I like all-natural pure stevia, because it is the purest and healthiest sugar-free sweetener out there.
I also find it doesn’t make you crave sugar either - as long as you only use it in moderation.
My favorite is the Vanilla Crème SweetDrops by Sweetleaf Stevia.
Are you as shocked as me? 😲
Now you really see how sneaky sugar is, I really hope for your health’s sake that you’ll be wary of processed foods.
You simply can’t control the sugar content in food that’s store-bought.
Just the fact that you have read this blog post means you’re taking your first steps to a healthier and low-sugar/sugar-free you. 🙏 I don’t know where you are in your journey to cutting out sugar, but what I do know is you’re here - making a difference - and if you are having problems with sugar cravings, it is okay.
My Sugar Journey 🗺️
I’ve also been through my own journey with a miserable sugar obsession, health problems, and self-confidence and body breakdowns - but I have come out of it a person who can control what she eats and a healthier, more well balanced, happier person.
You see, a couple years back my heavy reliance on sugar and my inability to stop craving it hurt my health in so many big ways.
I had a sugar habit, and my inner reasoning told me clearly that when I desperately and what seemed irrationally (hint: not so irrationally -- more induced and calculated by the food industry) craved it, this was something harmful and negative to me.
But that nagging craving would eventually become completely overwhelming, so I ignored the reasonable side of my brain and indulged my habit. Sugar had total control of me. 😟
Never, ever, ever, did I realize what I was doing to myself. Sugar was a comforter.
Sugar was something to share with loved ones, to celebrate with, to dive into when you were feeling down or tired, or when you needed a quick pick-me-up.
It triggered a pattern of destructive eating and self-sabotage. 😔
Before I knew it - and long story short - it was a bit of a mind body disaster. I gained weight, I felt inflamed and sick, and my hormones went way off balance, and I began to struggle in my own mind.
I felt insecure, stuck, stressed, out-of-control and unhappy. I was tired of being at war with my body.
The problem became obvious to me that sugar was the root of the problem, but how was I to know that the low fat yogurt I was buying for the weight side of thing was a poison that fed my problem?
Desperate, I hit my super high-tech research machine (or Google, as some people like to call it). 💻
There were days and weeks of research, and I came to realize that all that DIET food that I thought were nutritious was actually poisoning me and causing/inflaming my sugar binges!
I set about working on my diet, carefully weeding out the hidden sugars and committing to a super-healthy eating plan.
I would find myself able to keep to my plan for several days, sometimes even as long as two weeks, but then I would hit a bump and the cravings would feel overwhelming. 😋🍟😋
You guessed it - I would end up having a sugar binge. I wondered what I was doing wrong. Just cutting out sugar from my diet alone wasn’t enough.
How did other people live so harmoniously with sugar?
So, as a last ditch effort I started experimenting with different methods and techniques that would help with the interrelationship between my mind, my established habits and current attitudes, and sugar.
I realized that my mind and body had a lot to say!
👉 But here’s the thing.
I searched and searched for an all-encompassing program that would clearly guide me, step-by-step, with these three elements: how to change every day destructive patterns and behaviors, how to tweak my diet, and the mind-body connection.
But, I literally couldn’t find anything.
So I had to knuckle down, and I went on a quest to change my life. It all started with tons of research.
I started ploughing through masses of information containing different ideas, methods, and lifestyle practices, and I began testing them on myself (well, and my unassuming family).
Bingo! I stuck with it and was able to distill what actually, really, really worked into one effective and proven plan, and out of desperation, I developing my own system that would help me heal myself and my sugar addiction, a system that would end up becoming my Cut the Sugar Program.
What YOU Can Do
It goes to show that when you put your mind to something, you can get past any mental or physical obstacle and thrive - even when it seems insurmountable.
That was four entire years ago, and I haven’t looked back!
So remember: you’re not alone in this.
Lots of people are also struggling with sugar reliance/addiction - maybe just like you - or just like I was, but something is preventing them from breaking it:
o They don’t realize how much sugar they actually consume
o They don’t believe that their sugar consumption is tied to an obsession or addiction
o They’ve tried to quit eating sugar but found it too hard
I know the majority of food companies don’t care about our health, but we need to take a stand.
We need to:
Read thoroughly through labels when buying packaged foods.
We need to:
Memorize those hidden sugar names.
We need to:
Try and prepare your own home cooked meals when we can.
Only by banding together for our principles and for our health, can we make a difference.
You can manifest any positive change in your life - and by spreading awareness about issues we all struggle with, manifest positive changes in the lives of others.
It’s always best to know exactly what you’re eating, and if you have problems with sugar cravings head over to my post on When You Should Stop Eating Sugar + How To Do It or reach out to me.
As you now, know I’ve been through it myself - with the right advice we can crush our sugar cravings and reduce the content in our food, while still enjoying our lives!
to make your sugar-free shopping a little bit simpler, I’ve put together a whole list of everyday innocent looking foods that are hiding a surprising amount of sugar, in my ‘27 Hidden Sugar Foods to Watch Out for Checklist + Guide’.
It’ll also shed some light on the things that are ruining the health benefits of our salads, sandwiches, soups and other healthy foods we love.
The fact is…
Added sugars aren't a necessary nutrient in your diet, and they can cause serious harm if eaten in large amounts on a regular basis.
Whether you’re headed out to eat or simply grocery shopping, it’s good to check the labels of what you buy and carefully pay attention to the food you’re eating - even the savory.