Imagine an hourglass completely filled on one side. Picture that hourglass tilting a full 180°, forcing the sand on one side to slowly pile up on the other.
You’ll slowly start to see a mountain of sand form.
Now imagine that the sand was all the sugar America’s consumed this past year. Boy, that mound of sugar would probably be higher than Mt. Everest!
We love sugar. Its sweetness can comfort us when we’re down; it can also add a nice cherry on top (pun intended) after a hearty meal.
Unfortunately, sugars are bad for the body. They tack on calories that people don’t need if they’re trying to stay in shape. That’s why so many diets abstain from as much sugar as possible.
Or so they think…
There are a lot of foods that people love to tout as “healthy” that are actually stuffed with sugar. You might know sugar by one of its aliases: high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, corn sweetener, honey, molasses, glucose, sucrose, dextrose, or maltose.
Here’s a quick guide to some foods you’ll think twice about when it comes to sugar.
You’ve got to love a salad drenched in some tasty dressing, right? Salad dressing is not always bad for you (especially if it is either oil or vinegar-based).
When you indulge in some French, Catalina, or raspberry vinaigrette, you cancel out the nutritional benefits from the salad with sugar. There are 7 grams of sugar in every two tablespoons of dressing you pour on.
You can spice up your salad organically by mixing in different fruits and vegetables, or even by sprinkling on some low-fat cheese for some added sharpness.
For every two tablespoons of this signature Western sauce, you’re sacrificing 13 grams of sugar! That’s nearly two times the amount of sugar found in some salad dressings!
Foods such as ribs can be coated with barbecue sauce from end to end. That’s why it’s best use herbs and spices to add flavor to the meat, rather than lathering it in barbecue. You can also grill your meat instead of ordering it fried or crispy to skip out on some fat.
I know, this will probably break a lot of hearts out there…
Yogurt itself isn’t unhealthy. There’s definitely a reason behind why so many people turn to it when dieting, including healthy servings of protein and calcium.
The fruit and dairy inside yogurt are what make it so sweet – and so sugary. Yes, even fruit can be filled with sugar.
If you’ve ever had plain yogurt, you’ll know that it isn’t all that sweet. That’s why there are so many flavors blended in to the cup.
Try grabbing some plain or Greek yogurt (reduced sugar), sprinkle in some fruits, and keep your servings from exceeding 1-3 cups a day.
Ready to treat yourself to some nice whole-grain pasta? Make sure you watch out for the sauce.
Sauce can have as much as 12 grams of sugar for every half cup. Depending on how much pasta you cook, you may need more sauce to give the dish some flavor.
There are a couple workarounds. You can add low-fat cheese to your pasta, then add a dab of sauce on the side. You can also buy low-sugar pasta sauce. Keep in mind that pasta sauce, along with the other foods mentioned here, are comprised of more than just sugar, so make sure your ingredients are healthy in multiple categories.
High in fiber, protein, vitamins, and minerals, oatmeal is the perfect breakfast for a cold day. You might notice, though, that the new trend is flavored oatmeal. Your local supermarket probably carries anything from maple brown sugar to apple cinnamon.
Those types of oatmeal add up quick in the sugar department. You’ll have to use the yogurt trick if you want to stave off the extra sugar. Trying buying fruit, then mixing it into unflavored oatmeal until it has just the right kick for your taste buds.
Granola bars are both tasty and packed with whole-grain oats. So why can they be bad for you?
A lot of granola bars have honey, chocolate chips, fruit, cinnamon, and other sweet ingredients inside to enhance flavor.
You can try making your own granola bars at home with fruits only. Or, you could pick out the unhealthy bits of the bar. While that might be time consuming, it could save you some calories.
There a lot of cereals that are straight up unhealthy for you, especially those with marshmallows and chocolate.
Even “healthier” cereals can contain dried fruit, which usually contains more sugar than regular fruit. Remember – cereal is usually grains that are enhanced with sugar to be more appetizing for both children and adults.
One great fruit to mix into your cereal is bananas. Just slice it into the bowl in chunks. You’ll notice that that takes up a lot of space, meaning you have less room for sugary cereal and more room for fruit.
Trail mix seems like the healthy option if you’re looking for peanuts mixed with different flavors. Peanuts are a great source of protein and energy.
However, inside those trail mix bags, there are usually chocolate shells, dried fruits, peanut butter shells, and other ingredients that turn your snack into a cluster of sugar.
If you really have a craving for peanuts, try buying unroasted peanuts and eating those instead. You can eat them along with some healthy yogurt or fruit for a deeper flavor experience.
Protein powder is an awesome way to help build muscles after a workout. However, many of these drinks contain excess amounts of sugar, such as vanilla or chocolate.
Protein shakes – aptly named – can be addictive. You should drink them in moderation if you can.
You can try to water down these shakes by adding more water or milk. You can also drink a smaller amount of shakes and eat more natural proteins, such as meats and grains.