Finding & Removing Hidden Sugars in Your Diet
When it comes to removing sugar from the diet, some items are easy to identity and remove like jam, table sugar, honey, cakes, lollies, frozen desserts and soft drink. But many sugars are actually ‘hidden sugars’ – these are sugars that are added to foods that you may not even notice. Nearly a quarter of the sugar we eat is actually hidden away in processed foods. For example, a serving of pasta sauce could harbour nearly five teaspoons of sugar. And 80 percent of the calories in some popular sauce varieties come from sugar – even soups and salad dressings contain sugar!
Empty calories from added sugars can lead to weight gain and spikes in blood glucose levels. The good news is that cutting down on sugar may be easier than you think. Here are five simple ways you can start cutting sugar from your diet.
1. Read Nutrition Labels
Take note of foods with high amounts of sucrose, glucose, dextrose, lactose, maltose, brown rice syrup, fruit juice concentrate, corn syrup, molasses, and other forms of sugar added to foods. On the flip side, be aware that some sugars naturally occur in foods. The lactose in milk and the fructose in fruit, for example, will show up on a nutritional facts panel as “sugar” even though no sugar is added.
2. Use Natural Sweeteners
Many foods that come pre-sweetened, like cereals, yogurt, salad dressings, or alternative milks (rice, hemp, soy, etc.), can have surprising amounts of sugar, so you might want to try the unsweetened version. To cut sugar even further, try sweetening cereal with a sliced banana or a handful of berries. And here’s another trick: try dropping a whole date or a few raisins and a few drops of vanilla extract into a carton of unsweetened milk. It adds lots of flavour with just a trace of sugar.
3. Enjoy Naturally Sweet Flavours
Fruits are a preferable substitute for sugary desserts. Sweet spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, or clove can add sweet notes to fruits, cereals or yogurt in place of sugar.
4. Cut Back On Liquid Sugar
Cut back on soft drinks, sweetened coffee and tea drinks, and fruity drinks like lemonade. Instead, try a herbal tea or add some citrus peel or a slice of fruit to water for a calorie-free beverage.
5. Visualise Sugar Intake
Every four grams of sugar that are listed on the nutrition facts panel is equal to one teaspoon of sugar—or about one sugar cube. So next time you’re at the grocery store looking for a cold drink, review the nutrition label and visualise how many sugar cubes you’d be consuming.