Are you trying to lose some extra weight, but it’s just not working? You can make a big difference by really looking at what you eat, and focusing on cutting out excess sugar. This is one sure way to shed some layers. Unfortunately, many foods and drinks in the shops advertise themselves as being ‘healthy’ and yet are filled with sugar. So, even if you think you are eating ‘healthy’, some of these cleverly marketed foods are wolves in sheep’s clothing. Check out the list below of 6 seemingly harmless foods to avoid and what to eat instead. By just avoiding these 6 foods, you’ll cut out a lot of excess sugar, and you’ll be one step closer to a healthier (and slimmer) you.
Why it’s a good idea to Avoid Excess Sugar
Excess Sugar is one of the biggest reasons for weight gain. But, even apart from weight gain, excess sugar is just plain old bad for your health for many reasons.
As Dr. Axe summarizes:
A great deal of research has shown that removing sources of excess sugar from your diet not only helps with weight loss, but can also reduce your risk for common health problems like type 2 diabetes, digestive problems, autoimmune conditions and more.
Researches have also found that sugar can be addictive, and can lead to unhealthy eating habits. You may not even realise how the sugar in foods leads to cravings. I noticed this, particularly with cereals. I’d find myself eating muesli as a snack, and having to eventually force myself to stop. It just tasted so gooooood. I wonder why?
Sadly, even those trying to be healthy and avoiding the ‘bad’ foods, are still consuming excess sugars. This is because many of the so-called ‘healthy foods’ contain lots of sugar too. The clever marketing messages on the packages help sell these products, with words like “fat-free” “healthy” “fitness” and many others. Busy consumers see those messages and buy without a second thought.
In an interesting article by Dr. Axe on why women struggle to lose weight, he points out:
Sugar is another culprit in healthy foods. “Good” foods like yogurt, salad dressings and tomato sauce are often packed with sugar, leading to more cravings, headaches and more. It’s also one of the reasons you’re struggling to lose weight.
If you want to lose excess weight or be healthier in general, just avoid sugar and you’ll be winning!
How to Spot the Hidden Sugars
We all know that a can of coke has a lot of sugar in it. But, did you know that many seemingly ‘healthy’ breakfast cereals have even more? There are hidden sugars in many seemingly ‘healthy foods’, so don’t be fooled!
SugarScience recommends limiting daily sugar to 6 teaspoons (25 g) for women, 9 teaspoons (38 g) for men. This may seem pretty easy to do, but only if you’re looking at the nutrition facts label. Not the messages on the packaging.
Seriously, don’t even bother looking at the messaging on the front of packages. Just go straight to the Nutrition Facts Label, and see how much sugar the product contains for every serving or 100 grams. And avoid products with a high amount of sugar, simple as that.
Under carbohydrates, you’ll see the Total Sugar amount in grams.
I keep it very simple for myself and just avoid anything with more than 5 grams of sugar for every 100 grams. I have found this to be a solid standard when grocery shopping.
Of course, every now and again, I’ll indulge in a something like a bar of quality chocolate. But besides treats, nothing I buy will have more than 5 grams per 100 grams. That is, except for whole fruit and vegetables.
It’s important to remember that fruits and vegetables contain sugar too. Some fruits have a very high sugar content. However, these are the exception, because they are whole products that provide a ton of essential nutrients along with the sugar they contain. So get your sugar from these whole and nutritious products, instead of high-sugar processed foods with less (to no) essential nutrients.
That said, don’t forget that some fruits are high sugar. I personally don’t gobble down lots of fruit, and instead, stick to 1 or 2 fruits a day. Back in the caveman days, I can imagine that fruit was not freely available when anyone wanted some. I can imagine them discovering fruit trees and bushes along the way, and it’d be a wonderful sweet surprise that they’d devour and love. And then they’d carry on their journey, eating their vegetables and meat. So in my world, fruit is a wonderful dessert I enjoy at breakfast or as a snack in the first half of the day. The second half of the day I focus on meat and veg, which has less sugar.
We are all unique, so everyone has their own ideas of what being healthy means. I love the caveman approach to my eating. Nice and simple 🙂
Let me know what tips and tricks you have for keeping healthy? Would love to know!
So, ignore the marketing messages displayed so beautifully on the foods you eat and turn to the nutrition label. Focus on only buying foods with as little sugar as possible, and you’ll be one step closer to a healthier (and slimmer) you!
6 ‘Healthy’ Foods to Avoid and What to Eat instead
Below are 6 seemingly harmless ‘healthy’ foods, that can contain excessive amounts of sugar. Check out the list below, and next time you’re shopping for any of these products, check out the nutrition label and see if any of them contain more than 5 grams of sugar per 100 grams.
If any do, start looking for healthier alternatives.
NOTE: Of course there are low sugar healthier options of some of the below items. This post is just to make you aware that, if you buy any of the below items, check out the nutrition facts label and make sure it’s not high in sugar.
1) Breakfast Cereals
Many breakfast cereals have a ton of sugar in them. It’s actually pretty insane!
And because of the messaging on many cereals, consumers buy them without a second thought.
I get particularly annoyed at cereal boxes covered in marketing messages like ‘high in fibre’ ‘high in vitamins’ ‘healthy breakfast’ when they still contain so much sugar. Sure, they may contain fibre and vitamins, but they also contain lots of added sugars. So it basically cancels each other out. Regardless of what other nutrients these cereals contain, you’re still eating a lot of sugar, which is totally counterproductive when you’re trying to be healthier.
Even many mueslis contain lots of sugar, it is nuts! Muesli is accepted by many consumers as a healthy breakfast. I thought so, until I checked out the total sugar content of my favourite muesli brand, and was horrified at how much it contained. Almost 10 grams of sugar for every 100 grams! That means that 10 % of this ‘healthy breakfast’ is sugar… that is not healthy in my books.
Here is an example:
Of course, the above cereal has got quite a bit of fibre, minerals and vitamins. That is great. BUT, it is also 10 % sugar. For every 40 gram portion you eat, you’re also eating 2 teaspoons of sugar. I am sorry guys, but if you want to be healthier, having 2 spoons of sugar in your first meal of the day, does not sound like a good idea. And that’s just eating it plain, without milk, sugar and fruit on top.
Healthy Alternatives: Natural Muesli or Oats.
Instead, pick a natural muesli or some oats for breakfast. Add some natural yoghurt, fresh fruit and nuts to it. Sure, fruit contains sugar too, but eating whole fruit also offers a ton of essential nutrients too. You can also opt for low-sugar fruits.
The example above shows you how drastically you can reduce your sugar intake by simply choosing a natural cereal instead of a processed one. The natural muesli above only has 1.6 grams of sugar for every 100 grams. A big difference compared to the 18g in the above cereal!
2) Health Bars
Health bars, also known as protein bars, fitness bars and granola bars, are another sugar culprit!
Labelled as ‘healthy foods’, but yet many of them contain ridiculous amounts of sugars. And, to top it off, they’re so convenient, making them even more popular purchases for those trying to be healthier.
So next time you’re getting your box of healthy bars to have for breakfast or a snack, read their nutrition labels. I have looked at many, and there are very few that have a low sugar content.
Healthy Alternatives: Nuts
Instead, enjoy a small bag of nuts. That way you’ll be getting a better dose of nutrients without all the extra sugar.
3) Fruit Juice
Fruit juice has often got an incredibly high amount of sugar. This is because it’s made from fruit, of course. Some even have extra added sugars.
Even though fruit juice seems healthy, it’s not the best option. It’s very concentrated sugar, but with none of the fibre you’d get from eating a whole fruit. You’re basically just drinking sugar with a few vitamins.
Healthy Alternatives: Water. Water with lemon or cucumber slices. V8.
Instead of a glass of concentrated sugary fruit juice, the best choice is water. Fresh water. If that seems too boring to you, add some lemon or cucumber slices to jazz it up.
Alternatively, you could buy the veggie drink V8, which is much lower in sugar and super tasty!
Get your fruit fix from whole fruits instead. You’ll be getting the fibre and other essential nutrients your body needs at the same time.
4) Flavoured and fat-free yoghurts
I read a Times Article years ago on Fat-Free and Low-Fat foods. The article enlightened me on the fact that, when fats are taken out of foods, their structures are broken and other foods need to be added to replace those missing fats. Often it’s sugar that is added, to make up for the loss in flavour when fats are removed. How bad is that!
Fat has been given such a bad rap for so long when it’s sugar that is actually what we need to watch out for.
Dr Axe puts it nicely:
When you eat foods that are low or no-fat, other ingredients are added in so that the food tastes like its full-fat counterpart. Those extra ingredients don’t add in the nutrients that have been stripped away, however, so you end up craving more because, despite the fact that you just ate, your body is still lacking in the vital nutrients it needs. You end up eating more calories than you would have if you’d just eaten the full-fat product.
Simply put, try to avoid low-fat or fat-free products, and yoghurts are a great place to start.
Flavoured yoghurts will often be high in sugar, and some even have additional flavourings. Fat-free and low-fat will often have added sugars too, or other additives to make up for the fats that have been removed.
Flavoured yoghurts can seem healthy. Like a lovely strawberry yoghurt may sound good right? It’s probably better than a chocolate yoghurt, but believe me, you’re still likely getting a whack of sugar too!
Here is an example:
Healthy Alternatives: Natural or Greek Yoghurt with fresh whole fruit and raw nuts.
Instead of flavoured and fat-free yoghurts, go for a natural or Greek yoghurt and top it with fresh fruit and nuts. Natural Greek yoghurt is a much healthier option, with less sugar and more protein.
If you want some sweetness, top with fruit. Fresh whole fruits contain sugar but they are also jampacked with nutrients. Fresh strawberries also have less sugar (4.9g) per 100g gram than the above strawberry yoghurt.
Sprinkle nuts and seeds on top for extra nutrients and crunch!
5) Snack Packs
This is referring to those ‘healthy’ snack packs of nuts and fruits. Also known as trail mix.
I was recently very surprised to discover that many of these ‘healthy’ snack packs have a crazy amount of sugar in them! I’d popped into a store and grabbed one of the only ‘healthy’ things in the shop, a fruit and nuts snack pack. As I ate it on route, I noticed straight away that it was ridiculously sweet. So I checked the back and was horrified to see that it contained around 40g of sugar for every 100g. I checked the ingredients and saw it actually had honey pieces added, which were likely the biggest reason for this. Either way, these healthy looking snack packs seemed like harmless snacks, perfect to gobble up as a snack. But having over 40g of sugar as a snack, that’s 10 teaspoons, is definitely not healthy. It’s insane!
After that experience, I started looking at the sugar content of these ‘healthy’ snack packs.
Here is another example:
Of course, these snack packs contain nutrients too, like essential vitamins. Nuts and fruits are healthy foods. But still, these convenient little packs, that most of us gobble up in one go, often contain a lot of sugar.
So next time you’re grabbing a bag, check out the amount of sugar on the nutrition label and select with care.
Healthy Alternatives: Get a packet of plain raw nuts and a whole fruit instead.
A pack of raw nuts will give your body a ton more nutrition. They’ll be much lower in sugar, and still give you a healthy dose of good fats, protein and other essential nutrients.
A fresh whole fruit is another healthy alternative.
6) Healthy Chips
The other day I popped down to the supermarket and walked through some of the ‘healthy’ aisles to see what I would consider as ‘healthy food’. I could imagine many consumers trying to be healthy and lose weight and was thinking about what they’d grab and throw into their trolly, on a quest to eat better.
I came across a packet of apple chips. This looked like a super healthy snack! I mean, it’s just apples, right? Wrong! Even though the ingredients are just apples, the nutritional label reveals all.
This blew my mind!
A fresh whole apple has about 10g of sugar per 100g. So that’s reasonably high, but still with many many nutrients and fibre added. So how on earth can a packet of apple chips contain so much extra sugar? More than 80% of this packet is sugar! This little packet was 20g, and would easily be one quick snack I’d gobble up in one go. And for every 20g packet, you’re basically eating over 5 teaspoons of sugar. That is crazy! Am I missing something? How is this possible? If anyone knows, please comment!
Many of these fruit and veggies chips are also so thin and processed, with hardly any nutrition left in them after being processed.
Instead: Eat fresh fruit.
Instead of a packet of these ‘healthy chips’, get a lovely fresh fruit instead. Eating a crunchy delicious apple and some walnuts is just as convenient as one of these packets, with a lot less sugar and a lot more nutrients.
Here are some other foods to watch out for.
Ketchup and other readymade sauces. Frozen dinners. Healthy cookies. Sushi. Margarine. Flavoured instant oatmeal. Sports drinks. Jams. Salad dressings. Baked beans. Diet sodas. Iced teas. Some wheat bread. Canned soups. Some readymade smoothies. ‘Natural’ fruit sweets. Dried fruits and fruit rolls.
Spot the Culprits and Eat Healthier!
Cutting out excess sugar is a sure way to lose some excess weight and be healthier in general.
Start looking at the nutrition labels of the foods you buy. Ignore the marketing messages on the packaging, and go straight to the nutrition label. Look at the amount of sugar on the label. And if it’s got more than 5g of sugar per 100g, consider looking for an alternative. There are so many yummy foods to eat that will nourish your body, and excess sugar is simply not one of them.
This post is not about never eating sugar again. Food is to be enjoyed and there are many wonderful foods to indulge in that contain lots of sugar. Oh, I know! I love a freshly baked Italian pastry or Gelato! I mean, we’ve still got to live, enjoy and be merry. It’s just about finding a balance.
Just eat healthy low-sugar 90% of the time, and indulge the other 10%.
Avoid excess sugar by choosing healthier, less processed foods for your everyday eating. Then, the other 10% of the time, enjoy indulging in the sweet pleasures. But, indulge in real treats, like a homebaked rustic fresh apple tart or a bar of incredible chocolate. Something yummy! Don’t waste those sugar coupons on your ‘healthy’ everyday foods, that makes no sense.
I hope that you enjoyed this post and that it’s inspired you to pay closer attention to the foods that you fill your basket with regularly. Even the ‘healthy ones’. Luckily there is so much tasty healthy food to eat instead. So enjoy shopping and trying new healthy alternatives instead! Happy eating!
If you found this article useful, please share it – It’d be great to help others who struggle with weight or health issues but aren’t making progress because they don’t know the simple things to look for. Knowing to check the sugar content on nutrition labels can help them make better decisions, and become healthier and happier versions of themselves in no time! 🙂
Other posts you may find useful:
- Easy Breakfasts: Rolled Oats with Fruit and Yoghurt
- 5 Ways to Read Food Labels for Healthier Eating
- Crazy Delicious Crustless Spinach Quiche