Sugar sure is sneaky! It goes by many aliases and lurks in places you wouldn’t expect. Arm yourself with basic knowledge of Sugar-Lingo to beat the system. Only by knowing the names for sugar on nutrition labels can you protect yourself from the hidden enemy!
How Do I Know if a Product Contains Sugar?
Thankfully, food packaging in the US is required to give us certain information. Learn how to decipher food labels to pick safe products.
Don’t pay any attention to the front of the package! Those tasty photos and misleading promises on the front aren’t regulated like the nitty gritty info on the backside. So flip that baby over.
Check out the Nutritional Facts. Especially paying attention to the line showing “Total Carbohydrates” and the indented lines beneath. You’ll be able to quickly see that there are 12g of sugar in one serving of this example product.
Next, you want to check out where those sugars are coming from by reading the ingredients list. They may be naturally occurring (as in the case of lactose in milk) but most often they are added.
Sneaky Names for Sugar
Our enemy goes by many names. To seek him out you’ll need to know these synonyms:
- Cane Juice
- Fruit Juice
- HFCS (High Fructose Corn Syrup)
- anything containing the words ‘sugar’ or ‘syrup’
Be Your Own Detective
Did you know that the ingredients list is written in order with the highest quantities shown first? If any of the first ingredients listed is a sugar alias, you better beware! That ‘food’ is mostly made of junk. Make smarter choices with your money and your health.
What About Carbohydrates?
In the example label above, you can see there are 37g of Total Carbohydrates. Part of this total includes 4g of fiber. Because fiber isn’t easily broken down in the body into sugars, you can subtract that amount to get a more accurate idea of how much sugar your body will be absorbing when you eat this. In general you’re going to want lower carb products to avoid blood sugar spikes and crashes.
It Starts at the Store
Knowing how to choose the right products (and avoid hidden dangers) at the supermarket is an easy step towards better health. Knowledge is power and the processed food manufacturers hope you don’t use your power to see through their tricks. By looking closely at the facts, you will be able to make smarter choices. The groceries you buy today will be the fuel for your body tomorrow. If it’s a product you know will be a temptation, leave it on the shelf. If it’s in your kitchen, you will succumb. Make your life easier by taking away the option.
Have you ever been shocked at the amount of sugar in some “health” foods available? Personally I think cereals are the worst tricksters! Share your thoughts below with our community.