We all know that we should not be eating a lot of sugar when we are trying to lose weight; and that candy, cakes and cookies have tons of sugar and should be avoided! However, there are a lot of foods that may seem fine to eat, but actually have tons of hidden sugar. Having one item with some extra sugar might not make a big difference, but you would be surprised how quickly the calories add up throughout the day. Also, the more sugar you eat, the more sugar you crave. Sugar is a drug! When we eat foods with high percentages of sugar,( a serving size with more than 9-10 grams) throughout the day, we are training our brains to always want very sweet foods. So consequently, when we eat foods with very low sugar, that are healthy and clean, they don't taste good to us.
Obviously, the more processed the foods you eat are, the more potential hidden sugar there can be. Americans average eating 160 lbs of sugar each year! But only 29lbs comes directly from the sugar bowl. The rest is from processed foods.
So the most important thing to do to limit our sugar intake, is to eat food in as natural a state as possible. This is a basic tenant of clean eating, so I know you have heard me say that many times before.
So this weeks challenge is to really tighten up your diet by finding foods that have added sugar and substituting them for low sugar or non sugar versions!! Here are some sugar detective clues you can look for to rid your diet of unwanted sugar!
**SUGAR DETECTIVE CLUE***
Look for these sneaky words that sugar disguises itself as...Also, although honey and raw sugar sound healthier then table sugar they are processed the same way as sucrose and should not be overeaten. •beet sugar
•corn syrup solids
•fruit juice concentrate
•high-fructose corn syrup
**SUGAR DETECTIVE CLUE**** Any foods that say "low fat" will most likely be high in sugar to make up for the lost flavor from the low fat content. These items usually have the same calorie count or higher, as the regular "full fat" variety so beware.
COMMON FOODS THAT HAVE HIDDEN SUGAR Sodas... We all know regular sodas have sugar but did you know that these are the number one offenders with 10 teaspoons of added sugar!!!click to read my blog about giving up soda Ketchup...can be 20 percent sugar or more! Use mustard (but check label for clean ingredients) instead. Salad Dressing-bottled or packaged- use teaspoon of olive oil and balsamic or red wine vinegar with lemon and spices for your salad instead Yogurt- Yogurt seems healthy but flavored varieties even vanilla can have up to 27 grams of sugar in a small container!! choose plain non fat Greek yogurt (Oikos is awesome) instead! Cereal- Cereal often has 12-15 grams of sugar in even so called healthy varieties. Choose plain oatmeal instead of flavored oatmeal in packages. You can add your own cinnamon and fresh fruit on top. Fruit Juice- is loaded with sugar. Have a fresh piece of fruit instead, which will give you fiber as well and drink water! Jarred Spaghetti sauce- Sugar is added to tomato products to enhance the flavor of the tomato especially if they're picked before they are ripe. Check the label of any tomato product you buy, only buy it if it doesn't have any added sugar. Instead, make a pot of homemade sauce, using only canned tomatoes, without any added sugar, and use it the entire week over chickenbreast or steamed veggies. White bread with brown crust- There is often a lot of added sugar and high fructose corn syrup in bread. Check the ingredients carefully and pick a brand that is 100% whole grain with a small amount added sugar but NO high fructose corn syrup Protein bars- These are glorified candy bars, often with 11-15 grams or more of sugar. Plan ahead and bring a your own clean protein packed snack with you, like a low fat string cheese and an apple or 3 egg whites and a couple whole grain crackers. (check nutrition label on crackers for no added sugar!) Canned veggies and fruit- Canned fruit is often packed in a sugar syrup. Always go for the fresh fruit. If you are looking for a convenient vegetable option, frozen is a much better choice than canned vegetables. Canned Soup- Make a big pot of homemade broth based soup on the weekend without any added sugar and lots of delicious spices and enjoy it the entire week. Frozen Dinners- Frozen meals often have added sugar to add flavor. Prepare homemade meals over the weekend and warm them up throughout the week.
The weather is getting chilly and it's the perfect time for a pumpkin latte, but beware sugar detectives... Coffee Drinks- These are loaded with sugar and fat. A pumpkin spiced latte at Starbucks is 380 calories, 13grams of fat and 49 grams of sugar!! That's 11.6 teaspoons! Have a plain coffee or green tea no sugar instead.
There are many sugar substitutes on the market. Most of them are not healthy for you and should be avoided. The two most dangerous are Saccharine and Aspartame. Aspartame is sold as Nutrasweet. Foods with Aspartame sometimes say "may contain phenylalanine on their labels." Avoid all foods with Aspartame in them.
If you feel you must use a sugar substitute Stevia in the raw is probably the best choice. It comes from the Stevia plant and is available at most food stores such as Jewel and Whole Foods. It does have an after taste that I do not like, but, it is a better choice than any of the other sugar substitutes.
It's important to change your taste buds to enjoy foods without high levels of sugar in them. It will take about a month ( or two) but your taste will change and you will begin to crave sugar less and enjoy the taste of naturally sweet foods such as fruits and vegetables even more.
So when you shop this week, put your detective cap on and search out those hidden sugars...
.... and maybe you should avoid the Halloween Candy Aisle altogether!