Sugar has been used as a base ingredient for centuries as a way of enhancing flavours in many foods. As consumers we would expect to find it in all baked goods, sweets and biscuits but there is often so much more present in our food than we think.
When buying packaged food for example, we appreciate that there are plenty of “hidden” ingredients, but sugar is one of the most common. 80% of packaged food contains added sugar, which makes it a difficult substance to avoid. Worryingly, various foods have had more and more hidden sugars added to them over the decades to make them tastier and to ensure consumers will continue to buy. The perfect amount of added sugar to increase the sweetness of a product to just the right level, and to ensure return custom, is known as the “bliss point” within the food industry.
When we consume sugar, a chemical called dopamine is released into our body which is why we experience this pleasurable sensation. We enjoy this feeling and continue to seek out more sugary foods (even if it’s a hidden sugar!). It’s this control of the brain’s reward and pleasure centres that make sugar so addictive and hard to give up.
Tip: If a word ends in ‘ose’….it’s sugar
Our five reasons to quit or reduce sugar in your diet:-
1. Your mind stays sharp
2. It lowers your blood pressure
3. Lowers the risk of diabetes
4. You have less craving
5. You have MORE energy
Where to Look…
1. Sauces, Condiments and Dressings
Jars of pasta sauce can be full of sugar and the same applies for ketchups, BBQ sauces, salad dressings and various other condiments.
2. Canned Vegetables
Beans, peas, tomatoes to name just a few, contain sugars to enhance flavour and prolong their shelf life. Just because it says organic vegetables doesn’t always mean sugar-free!
3. Snack Bars
Typical healthy-looking snack bars often look like they’re good for you due to their packaging; however, they can actually be full of hidden sugars. Fat-free or diet foods may look and sound healthy, but naturally when something is taken out of a product (e.g. fat), something else is added.
4. Breakfast Cereal
Many cereals are also full of hidden sugar. If it’s brightly coloured and tastes sweet, then it shouldn’t come as a surprise that it contains high levels of sugar. Some healthy-looking breakfast cereals contain more sugar than a slice of cake!
Many breads, especially white breads, have sugar added to them. Processed, “healthier” brown alternatives on the supermarket shelves can also be full of hidden sugar and worse than white bread. It can be hit and miss but aim for 4g of sugar per 100g. Alternatively, head to your local bakery for healthier options or better still, make your own, we do and it is SO much better!
6. Dried Fruit and Smoothies
Fruit contains the naturally occurring sugar fructose. When fruit is dried, the sugar becomes concentrated; therefore dried fruits can end up being a source of highly concentrated sugar when you start to snack on them. Smoothies are the epitome of healthy living, but they can also be sugar traps, especially ones from the supermarkets which can have extra sugar added in. Fruit smoothies are high in fructose and the fibre gets pulverized, meaning it can’t act as a barrier and slow down absorption. When you buy or make smoothies, opt for the ones with 2/3 vegetables and 1/3 fruits.