Did you know that sugar has the same addictive properties as tobacco and alcohol? The more sugar you eat, the more you need to satisfy your cravings. Sugar is one of the leading culprits behind the childhood obesity epidemic and can be found in an alarming number of our favorite foods. But there are many ways to kick the sugar habit for good and spot hidden sugar in popular food products. Here are a few tips:
- Eat your fruit! Kids might like to start off their days with a glass of orange juice, but even 100% fruit juice is a sugar shock to your body. When fruit is juiced its fiber and most of its nutrients are lost, while its sugar content becomes more concentrated. This explains why, after we drink juice, our blood sugar spikes! It is much healthier to cut up some fresh fruit to get some natural sweetness.
- Avoid sugary beverages such as soda and sports drinks. Instead, flavor your water with your favorite fruits. You can easily buy a sport’s water bottle with a fruit infuser.
- Eat plain or Greek yogurt and add your own fruit. Sugar naturally occurs in lactose so nonfat plain yogurt has approximately 12 grams of naturally occurring sugar (6 grams in nonfat Greek yogurt), whereas nonfat strawberry yogurt contains 25 grams of sugar. This means there’s an extra 13 grams of added sugar in the flavored yogurt!!
- Get your kids involved to find alternatives to sugary snacks by grocery shopping and cooking together. Make funny faces out of fruit slices, fruit and cheese kabobs, smoothies, yogurt popsicles, hummus and raw veggies, whole-grain crackers or rice cakes with almond butter, or whole-grain English muffin pizzas.
- Read food labels carefully. Manufactures love to trick us into believing there is less sugar in a product by using clever food labeling. For example, if a manufacturer wants to sweeten up some crackers, it can either do this by labeling 15 grams of “sugar” or, 5 grams of “malt syrup,” 5 grams of “evaporated cane juice,” and 5 grams of “glucose.” You get the idea.
- Also, watch for hidden sugars found in food products like breakfast cereals, breakfast bars, pasta sauces, ketchup, salad dressings, soups, and other canned goods. Here is a list of the most common names for hidden sugar in food products: Cane juice, Dehydrated cane juice, Evaporated cane juice, Cane juice solids, Cane juice crystals, Dextrin, Maltodextrin, Dextran, Barley malt, Beet sugar, Corn syrup, Corn syrup solids, Caramel, Buttered syrup, Carob syrup, Brown sugar, Date sugar, Malt syrup, Diatase, Diatastic malt, Fruit juice, Fruit juice concentrate, Dehydrated fruit juice, Fruit juice crystals, Golden syrup, Turbinado, Sorghum syrup, Refiner’s syrup, Ethyl maltol, Maple syrup, Yellow sugar, Sucrose, Maltose, Dextrose, Fructose, Glucose, Galactose, Lactose, High fructose corn syrup, Glucose solids.
- Stay away from artificial sweeteners and use natural sweeteners in small doses, such as stevia, lucuma powder, palm sugar, raw honey, molasses and artichoke syrup.
- Finally, if you’re a self-professed sugar addict, it’s best to go cold turkey when trying to kick the sugar habit. Otherwise, you keep triggering the addiction center in the brain. Of course, this is much easier said than done so don’t give up if you suffer a setback. Just try again tomorrow.