You may be shocked to learn that foods you thought were healthy are actually full of sugar and could be making you fat! Watch out for these twelve foods the next time you go shopping or eat out!
By now, you have probably heard the horrible news. Just like me, you might sit for a while in a state of denial. But the facts keep nagging at you and playing through your mind.
- Sugar is addictive.
- Sugar contributes to cancer.
- Sugar makes you fat.
- Sugar causes diabetes.
I like sugar. I like it a lot. But I’m also scared of it because I know what it can do. (Read 10 Reasons Why Sugar is Bad For You).
But here’s the deal. There is SO MUCH hidden sugar in things we eat. Things we THINK are healthy, but are actually swimming in sugar. Almost all packaged food has added sugar, and some of it has way more than you would ever imagine. I’m going to tell you a bunch of things to look out for when you go shopping so you can make smarter choices when it comes to what you feed your family.
First, there are a couple of things you need to know. 1 teaspoon of sugar equals 4 grams. So when you see the grams of sugar in food, divide that by 4 to figure out how many teaspoons that is. That will give you a good visual as to how much sugar you are actually eating. Secondly, there are 12 grams of sugar in a tablespoon. So once you hit 12 grams of sugar, picture a tablespoon full of sugar.
Back in the 80’s, we all got really scared of fat. Low-fat diets proliferated, along with newly developed low-fat foods all over America. We thought we were being healthy when we bought these foods. Unfortunately, we were just making ourselves fatter. Why? It’s because almost every single low-fat variety of food has MORE sugar than the regular, full-fat version. This is still true today. Pick up any bottle of regular salad dressing, and then its low-fat or fat-free brother, and look at the sugar content. I guarantee it will be higher in the low-fat or no-fat version.
Here are more foods to avoid that you probably thought were healthy:
Yogurt. A 6 oz. container of Tillamook vanilla yogurt has 21 grams of sugar. That’s over five teaspoons. I find that shocking. Use unsweetened Greek yogurt topped with fruit instead.
Granola. Most granola has about 8 grams of sugar in a serving. You might not think that is so bad, until you read the label and see that a serving is only 1/4 cup! That means that if you eat just 3/4 cup of granola, you will have eaten 24 grams of sugar, or 6 teaspoons! I have a policy to NEVER buy granola from the store. I make my own instead using my Healthy Banana Granola recipe or this Homemade Sugar Free Granola. (If you use this recipe, bake at 250 degrees, not 350, and don’t add the raisins until the end).
Breakfast, Energy, and Protein Bars. Most of these are just candy bars that are trying to appear healthy. They can have up to 30 grams of sugar in them, so read your labels and be very careful!
Applesauce. A small container of Mott’s applesauce contains 22 grams of sugar! Those cute little 1/2 cup containers that we give our kids have more than 5 teaspoons of sugar! Use unsweetened applesauce instead. Although still relatively high in sugar (11 grams), at least it is natural sugar and not added corn syrup!
Pasta Sauce. It’s made of vegetables, so it’s healthy, right? Well, not when there’s a bunch of added sugar or corn syrup. Some brands have up to 10 grams of sugar per half cup. Make your own instead. It’s super easy when you use my Perfect Pasta Sauce. This recipe makes a lot, so I just divide it up into quart-sized freezer bags and freeze it.
Energy Drinks and Vitamin Water. These products are a scam. Yes, you can get energy from the 32 grams of sugar in them. No, your body cannot absorb the synthetic vitamins. With almost as much sugar as a can of soda, you’re only fooling yourself if you think these are healthy in any way, shape, or form.
Barbecue Sauce, Teriyaki Sauce, and Ketchup. All of these have a boatload of sugar, with some brands having up to 14 grams of sugar in only 2 tablespoons. Be careful when eating out. That “healthy” teriyaki chicken over a bed of brown rice is loaded with sugar.
Fruit juice. It’s made of fruit. It’s natural, so it’s healthy, right? Not when all the fiber has been stripped out and all you are left with is the sugar. A single 8 oz. cup of orange juice contains 24 grams of sugar. That’s six teaspoons.
Baked beans. Just because they are beans doesn’t mean they are healthy. So many varieties have added sugar and corn syrup. A single cup can have up to 20 grams of extra sugar!
Milk. An 8 oz. cup of milk has 12 grams of sugar. If we follow the recommended daily allowances for this, we will be consuming between 36 and 48 grams of sugar! Try to get your calcium from other sources, like leafy greens. I switched to drinking unsweetened almond milk years ago.
Dried fruit and canned fruit. Again, it’s fruit, so it’s healthy. Or so we think. Dried fruit has high levels of concentrated sugar. Even a small amount adds significantly to your sugar intake. Just 1/4 cup of raisins has 29 grams of sugar. One cup of canned peaches has 30 grams of sugar. If you do buy canned fruit, make sure it is packed in water, not syrup.
Fruit smoothies. Skip the banana strawberry smoothie at Jamba Juice. It has 60 grams of sugar! Don’t buy bottled smoothies at the store, either. Make your own at home, and use water or unsweetened almond milk as the base.
The bottom line is that we all need to be more aware of where sugar hides in our foods. The obesity epidemic is caused much less by fat and much more by sugar (which gets converted to fat in our bodies). Challenge your ideas of what we’ve been taught is “healthy,” and read those labels!
To learn more about sugar and how it affects our lives, I highly recommend the documentary “Fed Up.” You can find it on Netflix.
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