I have a little confession to make, before I even start explaining the subject. Even though I am not a sugar junkie myself, I have two little cookie monsters in the house, who I think may have traces of addiction to the “white stuff” and because of that (and also because I care about my retirement residence 😉 ), I have to make sure that the nutrition choices I make for them can offset and repair the damage caused by sugar intake. And yes, I am probably exaggerating calling my kids addicts, as the amount of sugar they consume is rather minimal compared to the average national consumption data, however I do have to face sugar craving episodes from time to time and I would like to eradicate them.
So just to get it straight: I am not judging your grocery cart fillings, whatever they may be. I am just hoping you will reconsider your food choices when it comes to these commonly bought food items:
1. Main stream flavoured yoghurt with fruits. A “healthy” snack recommended by dieticians that makes me question their mental abilities. Have you seen a nutrition label on a flagship Danone product for kids called Danino? Guess what is the second ingredient in it? Easy to guess, right? The strawberry flavoured kind contains 9g of added sugar. That is 2 teaspoons in a bottle smaller than your large double double! Plus these types of yoghurt are nothing but a highly processed diary products that can trigger autoimmune reactions even in an otherwise healthy person with all the additives, colours and flavour enhancers. Yum… :/
THE FIX: Choose unprocessed, naturally fermented yoghurts and kefirs. They do not have to be diary based, but even if they are, they are a good option. Coconut and nut milks work just fine too. They are full of probiotics, which heal the gut and strengthen your immune system. If you like yogurts with fruits, just place some at the bottom of your cup and pour the natural yoghurt over the top with a drizzle of maple syrup or raw honey.
2. Breakfast cereal can be made up of up to 56% sugar (!!) Looks like Kellog’s and Quacker (Pepsico) are in a real competition trying hard to produce the worst breakfast cereal in the world. Check out this comparison based on Environmental Working Group’s report. And for your family’s sake, dump that stuff in the garbage, where it belongs!
THE FIX: Try making your own oatmeal. You can garnish it in 500+ ways and I guarantee that even the pickiest eater will find a version that he/she likes. You can even make it in a slow cooker the night before to have it ready for the morning rush. Now, how easy is that?!
3. Baked goods – from breads to muffins and anything in between, not only they are comprising of starches, which are broken down into simple sugars by our bodies, but have a lot of refined sugar added. Take a look at this “healthy” whole grain muffin from Timm’s . Nutritional information reveals that it contains 26g sugar in 115g. That is almost 7 teaspoons of sugar on top of starches it’s made out of! Feeling sorry for your pancreas yet? You should be, if you eat muffins!
THE FIX: Try limiting store bought breads and try as much as you can from cookies, muffins and other baked “goodies”. If you love your bread too much to part ways, I suggest picking a sourdough loaf or sprouted grains (without nasty additives). If you like to bake, try making your sourdough starter and bake your own breads. Trust me, the smell that fills the house when a fresh loaf is cooling down on a rack is priceless. To me that is a smell of home! I am a baker myself, and if my kids crave muffins, I bake my own replacing sugar with xylitol. I found it works great in baked goods and does not affect blood glucose levels or the intestinal microbiome.
4. Fruit juices – that is a REAL problem, in my opinion, as majority of consumers are certain that those are a perfectly healthy option for kids. After all, who would have thought of filling up the cartons of apple juice or orange juice with sugar, since the fruits the juices are coming from are already so sweet? Well, what if I told you that most of the big players in food industry figured exactly that. Pepsico’s Tropicana juice, which is one of the most popular brands in Canadian supermarkets contain 27g of sugar per cup. That equals to almost 7 teaspoons. Would you drink a cup of tea with 7 teaspoons of sugar in it?
THE FIX: Buy all natural juices without added sugar and dilute them with water. Try serving them with foods containing fiber or protein, which will slow down insulin surge making it bit easier on your pancreas. Better yet, make your own juices incorporating vegetables along with fruits, like apple and cucumber.
5. Granola – you may think that combining healthy grains, nuts, seeds and dried fruits is a smart breakfast choice, but our food industry has successfully managed to mess up even that. Badly. Just take a look at this nutritional information sheet for a plain regular granola bar. Those “healthy” bars are 1/3rd sugar! They may seem like a great source of minerals like iron or magnesium, however the truth is, your body has to utilize much more essential nutrients to get rid of the consequences of ingesting this much sugar than it gains from such bars.
THE FIX: Make your own granola bars replacing sugar with dates, natural nut butters or little bit of natural, raw honey. Or snack on homemade trail mixes. A nut, seed, shredded coconut, cocoa nibs, chia, goji berries combination is my personal favourite. If you scrap the nuts, you can even send it with your kids to school.
6. Ketchup and condiments – can be up to 38% sugar. I think this may come as a surprise for some of you, but actually ketchup and tomato sauces in general are usually loaded with sugar. Heinz, the most recognizable brand in the Western hemisphere, lovingly stuffs you with 4g of sugar in each tablespoon of their regular ketchup. Now tell me, for how many kids ketchup is a favourite condiment? Mixes well with pretty much everything, especially those artificial, trans-fat galore fries people religiously line up for at the chain with the clown.
THE FIX: Making your own ketchup is not that difficult. There are many recipes on the internet and I encourage you to try some out. When buying sauces, try to look for those without additives, only with honest, basic ingredients you can pronounce. Yes, they are out there, trust me. You just have to make a different turn in isle 6 and start reading the labels. 🙂
Now, I would like you to take a closer look at your average day and add up all the sugar you have consumed without even realizing it. I hope you finally come to a conclusion as to why your waist keeps expanding in spite of your rigorous dieting.