You Need to Avoid These 7 High Sugar 'Healthy' Summer Foods


These 7 'Normal' Summer Foods Are Actually Sugar Bombs - Isabelle McKenzie.png

7 High Sugar Summer Foods To Avoid

Summer is a time for fun, but with the warm nights and bbq parties comes the time-old diet conundrum: what should you eat at a party that won’t ruin your diet? Maybe you choose the marinated chicken instead of the ribs, salad instead of macaroni, and a fruit pop instead of berry pie. These are all light, healthy Summer foods right? The problem is that the food on your plate might not be as low in sugar and calories as you previously thought! Yep, those healthy summer foods could be sugar bombs! In today’s post, find out why and what you can do about it (free recipe guide anyone?)!

Summer is a time for fun, but with the warm nights and bbq parties comes the time-old diet conundrum: what should you eat at a party that won’t ruin your diet? Maybe you choose the marinated chicken instead of the ribs, salad instead of macaroni, and a fruit pop instead of berry pie. These are all light, healthy Summer foods right? The problem is that the food on your plate might not be as low in sugar and calories as you previously thought! Yep, those healthy summer foods could be sugar bombs! In today’s post, find out why and what you can do about it (free recipe guide anyone?)!

I love summer! I pretty sure we all love the summer season; the hot weather, beach days, outdoor gatherings and so much more.

It’s also a time for summer socializing at parties chock full of buffet tables of your fave foods: grilled meat, ice cream, lemonade, chips and cupcakes.

But many of us try to stay away from the super sugar laden, calorie filled, foods and drinks at parties and instead, go for lighter choices that aren’t as bad in an attempt to try and stay healthy - not just because we want to look good, but also because we don’t want all the negative side effects of too much sugar.

We want to FEEL good, and we want to still be full of energy and life to enjoy our fun in the sun.

So, you try and balance your plate or what you serve. You pick marinated grilled chicken instead of grilled ribs, a cob of corn and salad instead of a side of creamy macaroni, a glass of iced tea instead of soda, and for dessert you opt for a plain fruit popsicle instead of cupcakes.

You think you’re eating a low sugar (and relatively low calorie) meal, you’re so proud of yourself. And you should be - you’re taking a step towards the right direction.

But this meal might be high in hidden sugar and not as healthy as you previously thought!

Some foods we opt for that we think of as ‘healthy summer foods’ are actually foods high in sugar, and as we all know that is not a good thing. Excessive sugar consumption can cause long-term damage to skin, constant cravings (which means to many trips to the dessert table), low energy and a weakened immune system (not good for summer fun), bloating and weight gain (which are no good for hot weather style), insomnia, and the list goes on!

This is why we need to think smart and get ahead of what is going to be tricking us at the buffet table this summer.

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7 Sugar-Free Summer Ready Recipes Guide

Yummy, actually healthy and delicious sugar-free alternatives to some of your favourite hidden sugar ‘healthy’ summer foods.

Fruit Pops, Whipped Cream & Berries, Sugar-Free BBQ Sauce, Marinade, Dressing, Dips, and more.

And below, I have the perfect list for doing just that, along with alternatives to opt for instead.

If you're the host of the summer party, I’ve also included some healthy alternative recipes to those hidden sugar foods to use for your awesome summer party, so you can share the health!

1. Yes, Fruit Popsicles are High in Hidden Sugar (and Corn Syrup)

Many people think that if they opt for a fruit pop, it’ll be a healthier choice. It’s just fruit after all, right?

Well no. Take, for example, those red, white, and blue pops, or Firecrackers.

You may think, “oh they only have 6 grams of sugar, that’s not too bad”. Well, I’m sorry but it’s all from corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, and refined sugar. Not even from natural sugars.

You see, even the so-called lower sugar pops aren’t really healthy summer desserts - especially if they’re full of the toxic and artificial corn syrup and high fructose corn syrup.

Those syrups are worse for you than sugar itself, having an even worse effect on metabolic health and weight control because their glucose and fructose are not chemically bound to each other (while they are bound together in cane sugar). Excessive intake of fructose poses unique health risks because, unlike glucose, it’s metabolized in the liver.

In an ideal world, you should just make your own homemade popsicles with fresh fruit because you just can’t trust the ones you receive at a party.

Store-Bought Popsicle Alternative:

So, as an alternative I suggest you make fresh homemade sugar-free fruit pops and if you’re not hosting just bring them with you to the party - I’m sure the hosts will be super happy for the help. In fact, I have an awesome berry sweet popsicle recipe made with fresh fruit and no sugar!

I named them ‘Power Pops’, because they are so good for you too!

You better hold back some for you, because everyone in the hot weather will want them over ice cream - check out the recipe here! You’ll also find a printable version of the recipe in my 7 Sugar-Free Summer Ready Recipes Guide, which has all my fave tried and tested alternative actually healthy summer foods to the hidden sugar and calorie foods I’m covering in this blog post.

2. Is Frozen Yogurt Low in Sugar or Sugar Free? Not always.

Don’t give into the hype!

Frozen yogurt is a still highly processed, sugary treat (yep another ‘healthy’ summer food tarred by the hidden sugar brush). Frozen yogurt, (as yummy as it is, does not offer all the same health benefits as regular yogurt, and is definitely not guilt-free.

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Sugar-free fruity power pops Recipe + craving tips

They are ridiculously easy to make, SUGAR-FREE, low carb and easy on the wallet (the only hits you take are the Sweet Drops Liquid Stevia Vanilla Crème, and the purchase of the popsicle molds if you don’t have any).

I know, I'm sorry - I love hitting the fro-yo station as much as the next person, but only as an occasional treat. While yes, most frozen yogurt is usually nonfat or very low in fat, the calories still add up. Most nonfat "original" or "plain" frozen yogurts have about 30 to 35 calories per ounce with about 20g of sugar.

This means that a large 16-ounce cup weighs in at 380 calories and 76g of sugar - before you add any toppings, making it a high sugar food.

Yes, milk has naturally occurring lactose sugar which should account for about a third of that – 50 grams is still a lot of sugar!

Also, many frozen yogurt brands contain genetically engineered corn syrup and other processed sugars. Oh… and if you go for a tart flavor frozen yogurt, assuming that “tart” implies unsweetened, well it’s actually the worst offender. Popular tart frozen yogurts like raspberry have way more sugar than regular ice cream or frozen yogurt.

An addition of lemon juice or citric acid is where the tart flavor comes from, not from a lack of added sweeteners.

Well, is fruit flavored frozen yogurt low in sugar?


A single serving container of fruit-flavored yogurt can have up to 39g of sugar. If you ignore the naturally occurring lactose sugar that’ll still leave around 5-7 teaspoons of added sugar — MORE THAN A SERVING OF ICE CREAM!

Healthy Frozen Yogurt Alternative:

Instead of fro-yo, opt for plain yogurt and add some fresh fruit from the fruit salad. If there is no plain yogurt just opt for a small scoop of ice cream and fruit.

If you are hosting the party, then you should try my favourite sugar free option: berries and sugar-free sweetened cream! This is my fave sweetened whipped cream option - it’s still healthy, sweet and won’t make you feel like you’re missing out on anything.

You’ll also find the recipe in my FREE 7 Sugar-Free Summer Recipes Guide.

3. Is Barbecue Sauce Healthy?

Who doesn’t like summer barbecues and all the BBQ sauce that comes with them?

Well, BBQ sauce is seriously loaded with sugar! 2 tablespoons of it can contain around 14 grams of sugar, or over 3 teaspoons. Yuck! No wonder you feel lethargic after eating your grilled BBQ veggies! I thought veggies were supposed to make you feel good? Looks like sugar can really ruin the benefits of any previously healthy summer food!

To make it worse, 40% of the weight of some BBQ sauces can sometimes be pure sugar.

Even if you check the label of your sauce and choose the sauce with the least amount of added sugar, they are usually still quite sugary so you’ll have to watch your portion size.

Healthy & Sugar Free Barbecue Sauce Alternative:

I suggest you make a sugar-free barbecue sauce and bring it to the party if you’re not the host.

I actually have a recipe for a really good sweet and tangy barbecue sauce that is sugar-free, but it still tastes like the sauce we all know and love in my FREE 7 Sugar-Free Summer Ready Recipes Guide.

4. Yes, Even Marinades Are High in Hidden Sugar

Whether you’re vegetarian, vegan or omnivore, I'm sure you’ve used or eaten marinade before at a cook-out, be it on chicken or veggies.

Here is the thing: salt and oil are the two basic ingredients of any marinade, but many people add soy sauce or sugar as additional taste booster.

Adding a sweetener adds to the complexity of the marinade you’re making - whether it’s ketchup, honey, agave, barbecue sauce, molasses, or soft drinks.

This means that when you decide to eat those marinated chicken or veggies, you could be consuming a bottle of soda, excessive amounts of hidden sugar or bucket loads of ketchup.

A soft drink used in a soda-based marinade usually contains carbonated water, a sweetener, and a natural or artificial flavoring.

The sweetener may be a sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, fruit juice, a sugar substitute, or some combination of these. Big NO, NO!

Healthy Alternatives for Marinated Foods:

Instead opt for a plain cooked meat option, shrimp, or plain cooked veggies. Just go for salad if you can’t find anything. If that sounds boring, don’t worry, I've got you covered.

You can still make a delicious marinade without it having ANY added sugar.

I’ve put together some really yummy marinades for both meat and veggies over in my FREE 7 Sugar-Free Summer Ready Recipes Guide.

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7 Sugar-Free Summer Ready Recipes Guide

5. Is Corn a Healthy Summer Food? It Must Be, Right?

Yes, corn is fiber rich. But it's very high in starch, which can spike your blood sugar, making it a hidden sugar food. For those of you who want to lose weight, corn has been shown to sometimes prevent weight loss when consumed in excess.

In the short term, this blood sugar level spike usually causes lethargy and hunger, and sometimes is followed by frequent urination, fatigue, increased thirst, blurred vision, and headaches.

That will certainly be a summer party pooper!

Persistent high blood glucose levels can lead to complications in diabetes, including nerve damage, vision loss, kidney damage, kidney problems, and an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.

Also, the safety of GMO corn is a concern, especially since corn is one of the most genetically modified crops in the world, with 92% of the corn crops in the US in 2016 being genetically modified (GMO).

I believe that genetically modified crops have an unhealthy effect on both humans and the environment, and that we should need to stay away from them.

Studies have proven it. They’ve linked the consumption of genetically modified corn with toxic effects on the kidneys, liver, and other organs in animals.

If you’re concerned about eating genetically modified crops, look for products that have a ‘non-GMO’ label.

Corn Alternative for Summer Parties:

Look for corn with a ‘non-GMO’ label, and eat it in moderation. Other than that, I know there is no true alternative to corn when it comes to flavour. But what I do like to have as a sweet and savory side instead of corn on the cob in the are my Mozzarella Watermelon Skewers with a Lime Drizzle, yum! This recipe is included in my FREE guide of course!

6. Dressings and Dips with Hidden Sugar

You wouldn’t think of pouring corn syrup or cane juice onto a bowl of crunchy greens, but you could be!

Many salad dressings and dips are loaded with these and other sweeteners.

Salad dressings are usually full of sugar to make people who don’t like veggie eat them up. Low-fat dressings are particularly the worse culprits for filling your bottle of dressing up with sugar, to provide flavor to make up for the loss of fat.

All this sugar ruins the benefits of the salad’s healthy summer leafy greens!

Take for example, Kraft Lite Catalina Dressing: it has 8 grams of sugar in 2 just tbsp.!

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Sugar-Free Salad Dressings & Dips Alternatives:

If you’re at a party, don’t use the dressing and dips. Try to bring your own to avoid adding unnecessary sugar to an otherwise healthy meal. Buy a simple no-sugar-added vinaigrette or make your own sugar-free dressing.

I have four really good sugar-free dip recipes of all kinds of flavors and one of my favourite dressing recipes for you to check out in my free guide!

7. Is Iced Tea Good for You?

Everyone loves a cup of ice tea in the sweltering summer heat! I mean, hot tea is good for you so isn’t iced tea just the same? Nope!

Iced tea is a tea that has been chilled and then usually sweetened with sugar or flavored with syrup. We know from flavored coffee how sugary syrup can be! However, 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 and homemade iced tea recipes can contain around 30 grams of sugar per 12-oz (340 ml) serving!

Healthy Sugar-Free Iced Tea Alternative:

Opt for regular tea and ask for ice (no hidden sugar please!), find iced tea that doesn't have any sugar or syrups added, or make your own. I share my fave sweet ice tea recipe in my FREE guide - it’s sugar free, yummy, and hydrating.

It’s useful to note though that if you’re only used to drinking iced tea with artificial or added sugar, drinking iced tea without added sweeteners can shock your tastebuds.

Even though my iced tea recipe contains sweet fresh fruits to naturally sweeten it, you may want to add a little raw honey. Slowly decrease the amount every time you make it until your tastebuds adjust to the naturally yummy sweetness.

BONUS Hidden Sugar Summer Food: Bread Rolls

Your bread roll could be packed with sugar!

I know some people already avoid grains and wheat because of the way they affect our blood sugar levels and of course because they contain gluten and while whole-grain bread has many benefits and can be a part of a low-sugar lifestyle, we need folks to also note that a lot of breads are sweetened with refined white sugar or worse corn syrup.

Especially be careful of gluten free breads, which nearly all list sugar as a main ingredient. And don’t forget: organic breads are not immune from added sugars!

For example, Franz Nine Grain Bread has 8 grams of sugar in just 2 slices, and Rudi’s Gluten-Free has 4 grams of sugar in 2 slices.

Sugar-free Bread Alternative:

Read the label carefully and find bread roll that’s sugar-free or just make your own. King Arthur Flour has a really yummy sugar-free bread recipe: Crusty European Style Hard Rolls Recipe, which you can experiment with and adapt any way you like.

This summer we are going to take a stand for our health and still enjoy all the scrummy good foods summer brings.

Let’s try and prepare our own home cooked sugar free healthy summer foods when we can - it’s always best to know exactly what you’re eating. Check the labels of your store bought food for added sugar and use swap-outs.

You’ll have all the healthy energy you need to enjoy all the fun you can while this super cool season lasts, and look good on your low sugar diet.

I really believe that being healthy in life doesn’t mean we can’t have anything we love.

We just need to balance when, what, and how much we eat! If you break the rules a little, don’t feel guilty.

Just recognize it and move forward. The most important thing is that we know what’s in our food so we can balance everything out. What you don’t want to do is to binge eat on everything, and feel horrible from all the junky foods in your system!

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.

If you are trying to stop consuming so much sugar and have problems with sugar cravings head over to my post on When You Should Stop Eating Sugar + How To Do It, it’s full of the right advice to help you crush sugar and still enjoy life - with all the treats it has to offer!

Don’t forget to pick up your FREE 7 Sugar-Free Summer Ready Recipes Guide:

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It’s full of the yummy, actually healthy and delicious sugar-free alternatives to some of your favourite hidden sugar ‘healthy’ summer foods.

You’ll find recipes for Fruit Pops, Whipped Cream & Berries, Sugar-Free BBQ Sauce, Marinade, Dressing, Dips, Mozzarella Watermelon Skewers, and my Sweet Iced Tea. You won’t even notice the difference!

Don’t eat sugar if it’s not necessary for the treat you want to eat.

What I want to prevent is you working to eat healthier only to end up eating tons of sugar that you didn’t even know was added, and end up with all the side effects from it.

We got this.

That’s it for now,

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