Some not-so-sweet facts about sugar in our food
You start your morning with a healthy workout, drink a large glass of cold water and grab a yogurt and a bran muffin for breakfast. You are trying so hard to fit healthy fitness and nutrition into your busy schedule. But there is something hidden in that yogurt and bran muffin that you might not be taking into account, so much sugar. Maybe you got lucky and grabbed the right bran muffin, and the right yogurt, but unless you’re checking all of the labels, maybe not.
Did you know that bran muffins sometimes have up to 25 grams of sugar per serving? Bran muffins are just an example of what sounds like a healthy food and yet is packed full of hidden sugar. Yogurt is another item that seems healthy and yet is often filled with sugar. Yogurt has 13, 18, even 25 grams of sugar… my favorite had: 23 grams of sugar. Let me put this into perspective for you: M & M’s have 27 grams of sugar per serving. If you’re like me, then your reaction to that information was likely throwing your hands up in the air and muttering shoot (or something more colorful) as you realize that now you have to worry about that piece of information and be ever more vigilant about what comes home from the store. And then I began combing my cupboards and fridge for more sugar monsters that I didn’t know about. I found sugar hiding in the cereal that I buy, in the spaghetti sauce, and in my almond milk, just to name a few.
Am I giving up sugar? Nope, I’m not. My perspective is to be more cautious about these hidden sugars so that when I’m indulging in something with sugar for a treat I know it, expect it, and enjoy it. I would rather eat a delicious cinnamon roll, slice of cake, or chocolate chip cookie to get my sugar intake, then to unknowingly eat it in my morning yogurt or bran muffin when I think I’m making healthy choices.
So, what do we do now? A healthy rule for buying things lower in sugar is to look at labels for items that have less than 8 grams of sugar per serving. If you’re buying something that is 8 grams or less, that is a relatively low sugar item. Obviously the lower the sugar the better, and natural sugars are better for you then refined sugars. So choose those bran muffins that have 7 grams of sugar per serving, pick that yogurt that has 8 grams, even if you have to initially add a bit of real maple syrup to it as your sugary taste buds adjust. As you are checking that label and looking for those 8 grams of sugars or less, give the ingredients a quick scan as well. Look to see if an item that you’re buying has sugar in the first three ingredients. The ingredients listed on labels are in order of how much is used in that food. So if you look at a label for a yogurt and it lists: Low fat milk, sugar, strawberries… that means that there is more sugar in your yogurt then there are strawberries. If you look at the bran muffins and they say 8 grams of sugar and the ingredients list: Oat bran, blueberries, whole rye flour, white grape juice concentrate… that means that your muffins are a healthy choice and a full of bran and blueberries, and flour and they are using fruit sugars to sweeten them. These healthy items are out there, often right next to each other; we just have to know how to pick the right ones. So Remember, 8 grams per serving or less, and check the first three ingredients!
By Nikai Sullivan