Eating too much sugar can expose you to a lot of negative health problems like diabetes, liver issues, obesity, high blood pressure, heart disease, cavities and much more.
There are two main types of sugars to look out for in your diet:
- Naturally occurring sugar comes from food like corn, peas, sweet potatoes, fruits, dairy, rice and whole grains. This kind of sugar is ok to include in your diet. Naturally occurring sugar takes longer to digest so it makes you feel full for longer and also regulates your blood sugar.
- Added sugar is added when food is processed, and it can be found in food items like cake, candy and soda. This type of sugar is digested quickly, which means you may experience a quick burst of energy and then crash later.
One thing that many people may not know is that added sugar can also be hidden in many other common foods and condiments that we consume on a regular basis. Hidden sugar can be found in food you don’t expect, like sauces, salad dressings and yogurt.
Your intake of added sugar should be less than five percent of your total daily calories per day, and the American Heart Association recommends no more than 35 grams of added sugar per day for women, and 36 grams for men. The challenge is that food manufacturers are not required to list whether the sugar in their food product is naturally occurring or added. Some key words to look out for on an ingredient list include: corn syrup, glucose, fruit juice concentrate, molasses, dextrose, fructose, corn sweetener, lactose, maltose, sucrose, syrup, malt sugar, brown sugar or honey.
Here is a list of some common foods where you may find hidden sugars:
- Pizza and pasta sauces
- Condiments like ketchup, relish, honey mustard, BBQ sauces and others
- Stir fry sauces, like teriyaki
- Salad dressing
- Packaged bread, including whole grain options
- Yogurt, especially those that are sweetened with added fruit
- Cereals, granola, flavored oatmeal and muesli
- Protein bars, meal replacement shakes
- “Low calorie” drinks, including coffee, energy drinks, blended juices and smoothies and teas
- Frozen foods
Consuming high quantities of added sugar can be very detrimental to your health and overall well-being – some side effects and health risks associated with sugary foods includes:
- Craving even more sugar! Sugar is habit-forming, which means that the more you eat, the more you are going to want to have.
- Feeling lethargic and losing focus is a big side effect of consuming sugar. You initially experience a “sugar high” after having something sweet, but after a couple of hours your energy will tumble down, which can also affect your concentration, mood, cravings and digestion.
- Consuming too much sugar increases your risk of high blood pressures, diabetes and obesity.
To actively chose healthier foods and avoid hidden sugars in your diet, here are some alternate options to consider:
- Use natural sweeteners like raw honey, dates, stevia, maple syrup or coconut sugar to achieve the taste that you are looking for.
- Ease off of your sugar addiction by eating more healthy fats from sources like avocado, raw nuts and seeds, dairy, coconut oil or olive oil. Healthy fats can really help you reduce your sugar cravings.
- Sugary foods are most commonly consumed at breakfast – think pancakes, waffles, granola, canned fruit, coffee, etc. Stick to breakfast options like scrambled eggs, cottage cheese, plain yogurt and oatmeal sweetened with raw fruit or natural sweeteners to ensure a healthy start to your day with plenty of protein.
- Be smart about the types of snacks you choose throughout the day. Instead of protein bars, flavored yogurt or roasted nuts opt for snacks like hard-boiled eggs, fresh squeezed juice or snack size packs of raw trail mix.
- You’ve heard this one before, but don’t drink your calories! Stick to unsweetened refreshments like water, club soda, herbal tea, coconut water, plain coffee or kombucha.
- Make your own sauces when you have the chance and switch your salad dressing to plain olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice, salt and pepper.
Be vigilant about your diet and what you are eating and take the time to learn how to read ingredient labels, so you know how to avoid added and hidden sugars. If you are looking to make a healthy lifestyle change contact our team to learn about the incredible weight loss programs and services offered at A New Me!