Trying to tide back how much sugar you eat can often be difficult. Most people start with the obvious things such as cutting out desserts, snacks, sodas, and other sweet treats. The only issue is that many of your favorite foods may contain lots of hidden sugar that you’re unaware of. With this in mind, here are a few things you should watch out for whenever you’re trying to manage your sugar intake.
Canned, Pre-Packaged, and Dried Fruits
While a healthy choice in and of itself, fruit contains quite a bit of sugar on its own. These sugars aren’t the same as processed sugars. However, most pre-packaged or prepared fruits are far worse and can contain a huge amount of added sugars. Canned fruit and fruit cups are usually packed in syrup. Oftentimes, a single 1-cup serving can have close to 40 grams of sugar just due to the syrup. Draining off the syrup will reduce the sugar content, as well as buying fruit packed in water, but it’s still always best to just eat fresh fruit.
Many dried fruits also have added sugars. However, even those that don’t are still quite high in sugar. This is because eliminating the water from the fruit means that the sugar is more concentrated, leading to much more sugar by volume. For instance, just a single one-serving box of raisins contains nearly 30 grams of sugar. You could cut this number in half by instead eating a half cup of fresh grapes, which would also make you feel fuller due to the fiber in the fruit.
“Healthy” Processed Snacks
Some processed snacks, such as granola bars and protein bars, may try to advertise themselves as a healthier snack option. But take this label with a grain of salt. Many of these processed foods contain just as much sugar as a regular candy or chocolate bar, so it’s best to steer clear of them if you’re watching your sugar intake. The best snacks for watching your sugar intake should be whole, unprocessed snacks, such as raw fruit or nuts.
Ketchup, Barbecue Sauce, and Other Condiments
Ketchup, barbecue sauce, pickle relish, and other condiments make a great addition to burgers, hot dogs, and other dishes. The only issue is that many of your favorite condiments contain quite a bit of added sugar. Mayonnaise and most yellow mustards are safe as they typically don’t contain sugar, but you should obviously stay away from honey mustard. Relish and barbecue sauce are some of the worst offenders, as they contain around 6 grams of sugar per tablespoon, while ketchup usually has around 4 grams. The good news is that you can find many alternatives, such as ketogenic- and diabetic-friendly options, with less or even no added sugars that taste just as good. You may not even notice the difference.
Many people turn to salads when they’re watching their weight or simply trying to eat healthy. All of those leafy greens are definitely good for you – that is, until you decide to slather them with salad dressing. Many of the sweeter-tasting salad dressings like fruity vinaigrettes, Thousand Island, and Catalina have anywhere from 5 to 8 grams of sugar in just two tablespoons. Ranch and other similar dressings have far less sugar, but still contain enough to be a significant addition to any salad. However, if you’re looking to limit your sugar intake and eat healthier, you’re always better off making your own dressing with vinegar, lemon juice, or olive oil. A light dressing on a fresh salad can make the healthier choice all the more smart and satisfying.
There’s a lot to look out for when it comes to reducing your sugar intake. Apart from the usual suspects, such as desserts and sweets, pasta sauces, flavored yogurts, granola bars, and breakfast cereals are also things you should avoid whenever trying to watch how much sugar you eat. Nonetheless, limiting your sugar intake isn’t all that difficult, nor is it impossible. The most important thing is to always pay careful attention to the ingredients list and nutritional information so you can make a better informed decision on what you eat. Keep an eye on your regular food labels, set a limit on how much added sugar you are willing to take in, and keep track of your meals each day. Cutting out excessive sugar will not only lead to a healthier you, but a happier you.