Sweet Duplicity

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How can one hide sugar?  I mean, where there is sugar, there are ants, right?  (I wonder if ants differentiate between table sugar, high fructose corn syrup and honey?)  And more importantly, how to bust sugar or cut down your sugar intake when it’s hidden?  If you know the manufacturer’s tricks, you will at least know where the sugar is and in what quantity.  (Tomorrow I’ll have a few tips and recipes for decreasing your sugar intake.  First step – know where it’s hiding!)

  1. One way to hide sugar from consumers is simply to use a chemical name that people might not recognize as sugar.
  2. Another way is to put sugar into products where you’d least expect to find it.
  3. Yet another way (these folks are sneaky people): Because ingredients are listed in order of highest content to lowest content, if a manufacturer uses all one type of sugar then sugar will be higher in the ingredient list than might appear ‘healthy.’  So the manufacturers use different forms of sugar so that no one type of sugar is as high in the ingredient list as would be the actual total of sweetener.
  4.  And lastly, if you label the product ‘healthy’ despite a ton of sugar, then maybe people won’t check for or worry about the high sugar content.

So first off, here is a list of names of sugar:
Agave nectar
Brown sugar
Cane crystals
Cane sugar
Corn sweetener
Corn syrup
Crystalline fructose
Dextrose
Evaporated cane juice
Fructose
Fruit juice concentrates
Glucose
High-fructose corn syrup
Honey
Invert sugar
Lactose
Maltose
Malt syrup
Molasses
Raw sugar
Sucrose
Sugar
Syrup
Again, a manufacturer can use a combination of these sugars so that sugar does not appear to be as dominant an ingredient.  Also know that although it can be argued that honey has some beneficial qualities not possessed by table sugar and high fructose corn syrup has a slightly worse effect on the body than table sugar… all of these are sugar and too much sugar is very bad for you (see Little Sis’ post about the 60 Minutes article on sugar featuring a well-respected MD.)

Check the labels on some products in your pantry that you would think would contain no sugar.  Got any jarred spaghetti sauce in there?  How about peanut butter?  Crackers, soup, bread, salad dressing, ketchup, not to mention your breakfast cereal?  They are putting sugar in lots of places!  And the more sugar you eat, the more sugar you want and the less sweet sugar tastes.  You get used to the high sugar content and something like a strawberry no longer tastes sweet and so lots of people put sugar on their strawberries.

I used to love Kashi Go-Lean Crunch cereal.  It’s healthy, right?  It says so right on the box, right?  Yeah and you know why it tastes so good?  One serving has 13 grams of sugar.  That’s just under 3 teaspoons.  Can you imagine adding 3 teaspoons of sugar into your cereal bowl?  The point is that just because it has other good qualities (like high fiber and protein) doesn’t mean there isn’t a bunch of sugar as well.  And it doesn’t mean that they don’t know the trick of using several sugars.  Kashi uses evaporated cane juice crystals, brown rice syrup and honey.  If you added all of those together as ‘sugar’ – it would land higher on the ingredient list than any of them do as single ingredients.

So if you would like to reduce your sugar intake, you must be aware of the ways that manufacturers hide sugar content.  They want you to eat it, like it, buy it again and eat it some more.  And sugar is incredibly conducive to this business plan.  When we eat it, we like it and we buy it again.  We eat it some more, and some more, and some more.  Tell us where you find unexpected sugar!  I found some in a hug from my eleven year old ‘cool dude’ this morning.  Now that’s a sweet way to start the morning.

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12 responses

  1. This post is awesome. I am on my own mission to de-sugarize my life (I have one heck of a sweet tooth) and I just keep thinking how hard it is to find anything that does not have a lot of sugar in it. Very frustrating.

  2. So glad you liked it! It is indeed very difficult to de-sugarize. I have been rather successful lately until we went on a trip to visit family and of course it is much more difficult to control your diet when you are traveling. I had some apple pie tonight and noticed as I was driving from one relative’s house to another after eating the pie that I was thinking about other sugary treats and thinking maybe I wanted some. It is truly a vicious circle / downward spiral / black hole kind of thing, this ingestion of sugar!! I wish you luck and hope you will share your journey with us!

  3. Pingback: Giving Hidden Sugar the Boot | my sister's pantry

  4. I totally don’t buy Kashi go-lean crunch because of how much sugar in it! However, I was surprised to see that the Regular Kashi Go-Lean (without the crunch) in my pantry still has 6 grams of sugar from THREE sugar sources. That’s 1.5 teaspoons of sugar. Those Rat Bags! I do eat oatmeal or drink green smoothies most mornings, but I thought my no crunch Kashi was safe for the occasional breakfast pandemonium. Bummer.

    • It is so nice to have those go-to’s on busy mornings. We are so used to sugar that we hardly notice it. Even thought I notice more than most from reducing it, I still can eat something and think it’s mighty tasty without immediately realizing, “Uh-oh, there’s a pile o’ sugar in this.” We’ve been using the vanilla almond milk that has 15g. in 1 cup. Yikes! Trying the less sugary kind now.

      • We buy the unsweetened vanilla almond milk in a pinch. It’s really good and only has 35 calories per cup. But have you tried making your own? It is sooo cheap and sooo easy! I do almond or cashew in my blendtec. Cashew is easier because there is no straining involved. And it is delish. You can sweeten to taste if desired, or leave plain.

        Here are recipes for cashew milk http://goodcleanfood.wordpress.com/2012/02/20/cashew-milk/

        And another for almond milk

        http://goodcleanfood.wordpress.com/2012/02/02/random-thoughts-and-almond-milk/

        And…. wait for it….. almond or cashew yogurt. (use the less sugar option for plain and sweeten with fruit)

        http://goodcleanfood.wordpress.com/2012/03/04/almond-or-cashew-milk-yogurt/

      • Great tips Somer – thanks! I’ve been wondering about the cost effectiveness of making my own. Hadn’t considered almond or cashew yogurt – I’ll check it out!

      • It tastes so good, it’s hard to go back to store bought. I still buy whole soy or amande when I’m in a hurry, but they are sooo sugary!

        Oh, and for cost effectiveness, my friend Amanda worked out that it’s about 82 cents for 2 quarts of almond milk if you buy raw almonds from Costco. Cashew milk costs a bit more, but the simplicity and flavor keeps me coming back. I try to buy the cashews in bulk bins when they are on sale.

      • Awesome! I’m in! I have found a bag for straining and am ready to get started. Thanks again. It is so nice to take this journey in community : )

      • Love it too! I’d be one lost vegan without my blogosphere friends!

        Good Luck, and let me know if you don’t die over the taste of fresh almond milk vs store bought. So much better. Remember if you want it creamier, just reduce the water. Some recipes I have seen do 1 cup almonds to 3 cups water. Big range for sure!

      • Wow Somer. Thanks so much! I’m definitely going to look into the yogurt especially. I’ve been trying to reduce dairy for my little man who is plagued by seasonal allergies. He does enjoy fruit yogurt, so maybe this will be a nice option for him.

      • My 8 year old daughter has dairy allergies, she begs me to make it every week.

        There are some other posts on my site about dairy yogurt (before going plant based) you can use a crock pot make it if you don’t have a yogurt maker.

        Just go to the bottom of this recipe page http://goodcleanfood.wordpress.com/under-construction-recipe-page/ (under Gut Friendly). Use the almond or cashew recipe and follow the instructions for regular yogurt in the crock pot, you can also wrap it in fleece blankets and but in a food cooler.

        Good luck! I would love to know how it turns out and if your little guy likes it.

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