Learn to Spot Hidden Sugar and Banish it From Your Diet

Learn to Spot Hidden Sugar and Banish it From Your Diet

Cutting down or giving up sugar comes with many health benefits, such as lessening the risk of Type 2 Diabetes and obesity. Pure white sugar contains little but empty calories. From a very young age, we may be used to using sweet foods to reward ourselves, making it an even harder habit to break.

Although it may be tempting to try and give up the sweet stuff cold turkey, it’s inadvisable. The first step in breaking a sugar habit is to see how much are currently eating.

1. Log your food and spot the patterns

For at least one week, write down everything you eat, the time, how it made you feel, and how hungry you were on a scale of 1-5 (5 being starving).

At the end of the week, you need to go back through your diary and highlight each food item that has sugar in it. This is a bit like playing detective. Go back and read the food labels, or use Google.

Can you notice any patterns in your eating? Are you starting the day with a big of sugary cereal? Is sugar sneaking into your “healthy” low-fat lunch? Do you crave sugar during an afternoon slump? Or do you tend to sit down with sweet snacks in front of the TV after dinner? Perhaps you don’t eat much sugar, but all your drinks are full of it.

2. Learn code names for sugar

Be aware that sugar has many different aliases on the ingredients label. In fact, there are at least 56 different names for sugar. Look out for these when you're looking at ingredients labels:

1. Barley malt

2. Barbados sugar

3. Beet sugar

4. Brown sugar

5. Buttered syrup

6. Cane juice

7. Cane sugar

8. Caramel

9. Corn syrup

10. Corn syrup solids

11. Confectioner’s sugar

12. Carob syrup

13. Castor sugar

14. Date sugar

15. Dehydrated cane juice

16. Demerara sugar

17. Dextran

18. Dextrose

19. Diastatic malt

20. Diastase

21. Ethyl maltol

22. Free Flowing Brown Sugars

23. Fructose

24. Fruit juice

25. Fruit juice concentrate

26. Galactose

27. Glucose

28. Glucose solids

29. Golden sugar

30. Golden syrup

31. Grape sugar

32. HFCS (High Fructose Corn Syrup)

33. Honey

34. Icing sugar

35. Invert sugar

36. Lactose

37. Malt

38. Maltodextrin

39. Maltose

40. Malt syrup

41. Mannitol

42. Maple syrup

43. Molasses

44. Muscovado

45. Panocha

46. Powdered Sugar

47. Raw sugar

48. Refiner’s syrup

49. Rice syrup

50. Sorbitol

51. Sorghum syrup

52. Sucrose

53. Sugar (granulated)

54. Treacle

55. Turbinado sugar

56. Yellow sugar

3. Plan for smart swaps

This process in itself is usually insightful. Now that you’re more aware of your sugar intake, it’s time to make an action plan. Start with one meal or one snack and come up with an alternative.

If you are used to eating cereal with orange juice for breakfast, are you willing to swap to a bowl of oats and cup of green tea, or a high protein option of eggs? Choose something that you like, not something that you think you should eat. “Shoulds” are not very helpful when trying to make lifestyle changes.

4. Make changes slowly

Stick with this change for a week. Continue to write down what you are eating. When you feel you have mastered one change, go ahead and plan to make another. Perhaps your snacking habits need a makeover.

Don’t be fooled into substituting a product made with artificial sweetener. Our bodies don’t know what to do with these foreign substances, and they don’t re-train our brains not to crave something sweet. Opting for snacks like a handful of nuts, which are naturally high in protein and low in sugar, can help.

5. Show yourself compassion

When making any lifestyle change, try to see it as a journey. There may well be bumps in the road. Don’t take small slip-ups as big failures. Sometimes they can be warning lights that you need to address the stress in your life.

Maintaining a food journal can help you track your progress. Cutting back on sugar doesn’t need any expensive supplements or equipment. Enlist support from family and friends, and start today.