HEALTH AND WELLNESS
5 NOT-SO OBVIOUS FOODS WITH HIDDEN SUGAR
A few days ago, I viewed a tweet with this saying to the right on strength and food comsuption and then watched a short clip on “What does sugar do to our brain?” on the Today Show. As a trainer who works with clients on weight loss, it really struck a chord. All the hard work and consistency cannot negate the other 23 hours of what goes into your body. I believe a lot of people think that they are making the right choices but just aren’t aware of what they are actually getting in each bite. There are many threats to our food—from pesticides, hormones, antibiotics, fat, salt and genetic modification. So why focus on sugar? Because it’s highly addictive, it keeps us coming back for more and it’s in practically everything!
The American Heart Association says that we should consume only 3-9 teaspoons (tsp) of added sugar per day, however the average person consumes 22 tsp per day. I took five foods—a few mentioned on the Today Show and a few from my own home—and here is what I found. It should be noted that 1 tsp = 4 grams (g) of sugar, or one sugar packet.
5 Foods with Hidden Sugar
1. Dried Fruit
• In my pantry: Dried cranberries for salad—yum!
1/3 cup = 26.2 g of sugar or 6.5 tsp of sugar
• Substitute: 1/2 cup of halved strawberries with only 3.5 g, not even one tsp of sugar, or other fresh whole fruit or vegetable.
2. Protein Bars
• In my pantry: Clif® Bars – 1 bar has 21 g of sugar or roughly 6 tsp of sugar! This bar is made to digest quickly and be light on the stomach, leaving you feeling hungry quickly if you are not racing or training—not a good choice for a snack.
• Substitute: Reach for a hard-boiled egg or almonds.
3. Greek Yogurt
• 6 oz. Chobani® Vanilla Nonfat = 20 g = 5 tsp
• Substitute: Chobani Plain = 7 g = a little less than 2 tsp (add fresh fruit for a little added natural sweetness)
4. Pasta Sauce
• 1 cup Ragú Traditional Spaghetti Sauce = 12 g = 3 tsp
• Substitute: fresh or canned diced tomatoes = 2.1 g = less than 1 tsp
5. Flavored Instant Oatmeal
• Maple and Brown Sugar = 13.1 g = 3 tsp
• Substitute: old-fashioned oatmeal = 1 g, add ¼ cup of blueberries = 3.7 g = less than 1 tsp
The list above goes with more obvious culprits such as soda, sweetened tea, ketchup, sauces and dressings. Start checking your labels closely and note the serving sizes.
If you would like more insight on how we ended up at this point of processed foods and excess sugar, I recommend the book Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us, by Michael Moss.
Remember, don’t deny yourself sugar or you will crave it that much more. Instead, be aware and practice moderation.