5 Sugar-Slashing Tips & Tricks: Reading Nutrition Panels, Identifying Hidden Ingredients & More

Jan 27 2021
Question@2x Hi Hungry Girl,

I'm trying to scale back the added sugar in my diet, and I'm wondering if you have any tips for where to start. The obvious sweets are easy, but what else should I be keeping an eye on?

Sweet Enough Already
Answer@2x Hi Sweet,

You're on the right track -- naturally occurring sugar (from whole foods like fruits and vegetables) can be a good thing, but there's a lot of sugar being added to food you might not suspect. Grab your magnifying glass (OK, maybe just your reading glasses) and get ready to do some snooping...

Become a Label Sleuth

Checking the nutritional panel on foods is a good place to start, but it doesn’t always distinguish naturally occurring sugar from added sugar. A new guideline requires it, but some manufacturers still have time to update their labels. If it DOES break it down, take note of how many grams of added sugar there are per serving, AND whether the serving size is realistic for you. If you know you'd likely eat two servings at once, double those numbers. But don't stop there...

Learn the Lingo

The next stop is the ingredients list, and this is where things get sneaky. A quick scan might leave you thinking "nope, no sugar here," BUT WAIT... It might be lurking under another name. Here are sugary suspects to look out for: evaporated cane juice, sucrose, fructose, glucose, corn syrup, dextrose, agave nectar, honey, molasses, fruit juice concentrate, AND maple syrup. Some of these sources affect the body differently, so it’s up to you to decide what you're OK with and which you'd rather avoid.

Don’t Discount the Unexpected

Donuts and cupcakes are no-brainers, but many unsuspecting processed foods have sugar added to them. Check the labels on products like sauces, salad dressings… even bread. Will it take you a bit of extra time? At first, yes, but eventually you'll know which products best fit your dietary preferences.

Go Half & Half

If you’re not ready to skip added sugar entirely, look for reduced-sugar or low-sugar options. You can even buy both regular and no-added-sugar options and mix them! This is a good strategy to help your taste buds adjust to food without excess sugar, without sacrificing enjoyment.

DIY in the Kitchen

Start with unsweetened foods and ingredients, and sweeten to taste. This way, you’re in control. I love natural calorie-free sweeteners like those made with stevia and monk fruit. So instead of high-sugar flavored yogurt, get the plain kind and add your sweetener, flavored extract, and/or mashed fruit. Instead of bottled smoothies, break out the blender. You can even make DIY sauces and salad dressings. There are soooo many options!

Chew on this:

Happy National Chocolate Cake Day, January 27th! If you like to bake but want to scale back your sugar, check out this Chocolate Mug Cake by Lily’s!

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