At the start of 2016 I made a choice to change my lifestyle, which included a lot of diet and nutrition changes. Nothing extreme, just a shift in focus from consuming ‘whatever was convenient’ to consuming organic, whole foods that were as close as possible to their most natural state. This decision came from a lot of research into the effects foods can have on our body, in particularly those containing sugar. But cutting back on sugar was no easy task. It’s hidden everywhere! It’s no wonder we’re all addicted to sugar these days.
We all use to fear fat, because well, we were led to believe “fat makes you fat”! But recent research has come out and proven that this is not the case at all. Fat actually makes up an essential macro nutrient component in a balanced diet. But when I say fats, it’s in reference to good fats, such as avocados, fish, nuts and olive oil. These are monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats which, when consumed in moderation are part of a healthy, balanced diet.
However, what this research also found is that the real culprit leading to things like obesity, type II diabetes and fatty liver disease, is in fact sugar! Sugar is addictive and consuming too much can have a negative impact on your health! Before making an effort to cut back on my sugar intake and change my nutrition, I was seriously feeling the effects of a high sugar diet – fatigued, lethargic & constant victim of the dreaded 3pm slump.
Not all sugars are created as equals, fructose is the sugar that is hiding in many of our foods and is the sugar we should be avoiding! Why? Because it passes directly to our liver and promotes fat storage and on top of that, it is addictive; therefore we eat more of it because we are unable to recognise we are full.
So I know after I discovered this, I was right on board and ready to cut back on sugar and hopefully you are the same! But as food manufacturers continue to find new ways to sneak sugar into your foods without you realising, its important you are aware of exactly the tricks they are using on food labels!
- “No Added Sugar” claims. Manufacturers label their products with this phrase to try and convince you their product is better for you because it doesn’t have any “added” sugars. But what does this phrase really mean? It means that the product only contains naturally occurring sugars (i.e. those sugars present when the product is being made). Fruit juice is a common example of this and just because it doesn’t contain any added sugar, it is still fairly high in naturally occurring sugars. “No added sugar” doesn’t mean the product is low in sugar or even a healthy choice, it just means no sugar was added in the making of the product.
- Dividing up the total amount of added sugar into different ingredients. The ingredients list and nutritional panel on the back of a food is the first place you should check to determine the sugar content of the food. But manufacturing companies are making it harder and harder. Ingredient lists are in decreasing order by weight – so the first ingredient is the major ingredient and the last ingredient is much smaller. Manufacturers have started listing different types of added sugars as the 6th, 7th and 8th item on ingredient likes to trick you into thinking there’s no significant amount of added sugars, but when you add up the total, sugar is the number 1 ingredient of the food!
- 60 names for sugar! ‘Free sugars’ are sugars that are removed from their original source and added to foods to sweeten or as a preservative for longer shelf life. Now there is an estimated 60 different names for these ‘free sugars’ that we need to be aware of when scanning the ingredients list! Companies no longer just list sugar, they are using names like maltose, molasses, honey, malt extract, raw sugar, fruit juice, corn syrup, modified carbohydrate and evaporated cane juice.
So make sure at your next supermarket shop, you keep these tricks in mind and always check the ingredients list so you can be assured no hidden sugars are sneaking their way into your foods!