There’s no way to sugarcoat it: we’re consuming too much sugar. You wouldn't believe where sugar is found sometimes, from bread to salad dressing, dressed up in disguises like corn syrup, maltodextrin and sucrose. We often focus so much on avoiding fat, that we forget food companies compensate with this loss of flavour with salt and sugar.
The World Health Organisation recommends us to keep our sugar intake to 5% of our daily calories. For example, someone on a 2000-calorie diet, the guidelines mean a sugar limit of about 100 calories, or six packets of sugar.
Here are some of the most shocking hidden sources of sugar that you wouldn't expect!
It may not shock you that cereals with the words “fruit” or “chocolatey” on the box contain added sugar; but somewhat less obvious are “healthy,” “whole grain” cereals and granolas that can contain up to 15 grams of sugar in less than a cup. Check the box of cereal to see how much sugar is in there, and notice that brands tend to suggest very small serving portions which is often not the amount we actually eat!
All yoghurts contain some sugar in the form of lactose (milk sugar); it’s the added sugar typical of “fruit” yoghurts that you need to watch out for. Look for added sugar or high fructose corn syrup in the ingredients list. Instead try Greek yoghurt. In roughly the same amount of calories as regular yogurt, Greek yogurt has double the protein and much less sugar.
Sauces and Marinades
Adding sauces (e.g. barbecue, teriyaki, jerk) to grilled meats can add lots of flavour with minimal fat, but in some products, sugars can account for 80% of the calories! Just a two tablespoon serving of barbecue sauce can have 12 grams of sugar. When dining out ask for "half sauce" and consider making your own sauces at home to cut the sugar.
Salad dressings, particularly light and fat-free versions, are loaded with salt and sugar to compensate for the flavour lost by cutting out the fat. Some brands pack in as much as 9 grams of sugar per serving! Be wary of ketchup-based dressings (French, Russian, Thousand Island) and fruity vinaigrettes (raspberry, pomegranate), as they typically include added sugar. Always ask for dressing on the side, and choose varieties with less than 2 grams of sugar per 2-tablespoon serving.
Unfortunately hidden ingredients such as these means we do need to be more aware of looking what is actually in our food. Just because something says 'fat free' or 'light' doesn't always make it healthy. Keep a balanced diet and everything will be dandy!
The Bootea Team xx