I remember when I was a teenager, my mom would bring home huge bags of licorice and as she was devouring it my dad would make some comment about her "diet" and my mom would fire back by saying "It's okay; it's fat free."
In the 90's, the low fat food craze was in full swing. Everything labeled low-fat would fly off the shelves because it was considered "healthy" to eat. During that time, fat was considered the enemy in weight gain and disease. So what did food companies do? Well, they were worried that their food wouldn't taste good without fat so they added sugar, and tons of it, to their products to make them taste good. It worked! As their profits grew, people got fatter and fatter and more addicted to their products.
What we know now is that sugar not only makes us gain weight but it is also a culprit of inflammation in the body and the cause of a host of diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and many others. Also, we now recognize that healthy fats, such as avocado, olive oil, coconut oil, or nut butters can improve our health.
If you are trying to eat clean or reduce your sugar consumption to improve your health and/or lose weight, learning how to read the ingredients list on packaged food is key. It might surprise you to find out that your favorite foods have sugar in the ingredients list. Don't forget, ingredients are listed in order of greatest to least. So if sugar is the second ingredient on that list, you can bet that there is a whole bunch of it in that product. But as sugar has been added on the naughty list, food companies have gotten crafty about hiding it in their ingredient list by calling it by a different name. In fact, there are 61 different names for sugar including corn syrup, sucrose, dextrose, maltose, rice syrup, fructose, and glucose just to name a few.
Here are 5 sneaky foods that you may be surprised to find have sugar in them:
1. Nut butters
Unfortunately, a larger number of nut butters have sugar in them even if they are labeled natural so don't be fooled. Read the label and look for a nut butter that only has nuts and possibly salt on the ingredient list.
2. Deli meats
Most deli meats have sugar in them. It is usually not a huge amount and you are better off choosing a natural brand. I recommend that you read the labels and choose a brand with minimal sugar. I tend to buy nitrate free deli meat because of the research that links nitrates in food and cancer.
3. Canned soups
You wouldn't think that a wholesome chicken noodle soup would be loaded with sugar but some of them are! I know that I never saw my grandma add sugar to her homemade soups and they were delicious. Once again, read the label.
4. Whole grain breads
Most breads have some form of sugar in them. A great alternative is to use Ezekiel bread. This type of bread has ZERO sugar in it! I love the way it tastes. Try using this bread to make french toast and instead of drowning it in syrup, top it with sugar free cinnamon apple sauce.
5. Spaghetti Sauce
The Paleo community has been preaching about this one for a long time. Most sauces you find at the store will have sugar in them but thanks to health conscious consumers you may find one or two brands that don't have sugar in it. You can also easily make your own sauce.
I could list so many more but I hope this list helps you understand that you have to do your due diligence when purchasing food. I definitely do not ban sugar from my diet 100%, but I try as hard as I can to minimize it for mine and my families long term health.