I’m sure we have all heard the phrase “sugar is bad for you” somewhere along our health and fitness journeys, I know I definitely did! But what I have learnt through my own journey is that natural and unrefined sugars provide us with some essential energy sources such as glucose and fructose... these are sugars that our body thrives off! But it’s the refined and the processed sugars that are doing us more harm than good!
The problem with refined sugar?
It’s actually energy draining, it causes weight gain, increases an unhealthy level of glucose into the bloodstream which in turn spikes your insulin levels (sometimes leading to diabetes) and worse, it leaves you wanting more!
But the problem is, it can be extremely hard to find healthy food alternatives that don’t have processed and refined sugars in them! Especially with the fancy packaging and misleading product information, it can be really easy to believe what we’re buying for ourselves and our families is really “healthy” when in fact it can be quite the opposite.
But for all my GF’s out there who are determined to see through the crap and find healthier alternatives to refined sugar foods - I’ve decided to dedicate an entire blog post to HIDDEN SUGARS in common household food staples, and how you can find a healthier alternative!
Are you ready!?
Have I shocked you yet? This food surprised me the most when I started doing my research…. Yoghurt is a great way to get in your daily source of calcium and protein, however most flavoured yoghurts are actually FILLED with refined sugars.
Next time you’re grocery shopping and reach for the yoghurt, take a second to read the nutrition panel and ingredients! There’s definitely no need to be scared of sugar! But I encourage you to be mindful and know the difference between refined and unrefined sugars so you can make better choices when grocery shopping! If you find a good healthy (refined sugar free) yoghurt but need a way get your sweet fix, then just add fresh fruit to make it sweeter! My favourite thing to do is mix fresh berries and healthy granola with mine!
2. GRANOLA BARS/ MUESLI
These are classically misleading! We think granola bars are great healthy lunch box fillers and snacks, however most granola bars contain A LOT of refined sweeteners. Additionally, most are topped with chocolate chips or a yoghurt coating which adds even more refined sugar to the mix!
DIY granola bars! As you guys know, I love creating my own healthy alternative recipes, so I am all for getting creative in the kitchen and baking your own granola bars. The benefits? You’ll know exactly what’s going into them and have the opportunity to use your own unrefined sugar alternatives to make them delicious! Check out my favourite sugar alternatives below!
Juice! How bad can it be, right? But fruit juice is perhaps the most consumed, misleading hidden sugar culprit of all! I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but shelf life fruit juices are often not made of fruit at all! In fact, most of these juices are made up of flavour and colour additives to make it taste like fruit, but are packed full with preservatives and unhealthy amounts of refined sugar. You may as well be drinking a glass of coke for breakfast!
I definitely love a good refreshing juice myself, so if I’m ever craving one I’ll make sure I look specifically for cold pressed juices that are made up of 100% real fruit! Always make sure that you’re checking the ingredient list and nutrition label before you buy! If it’s got anything other than fruit or veggies, you can bet it’s not as healthy as it seems! I also love to get creative and make my own juice concoctions at home, which is helpful as I get to know exactly what is going into my drinks!
4. SAUCES AND DRESSINGS
Hands up if you love your tomato or BBQ sauce? Or perhaps you’re a lover of salad dressings? Well I’ve got bad news, these guys are packed full of sodium (salt) and refined sugars! But luckily, these are easy to find healthy alternatives for!
Next time you head for your pre-made french dressing, try making your own salad dressing instead! All you need is a squeeze of lemon, olive oil and a dash of salt and pepper and you’ve got yourself a simple, healthy salad dressing! The best part? You should have all of these ingredients in your fridge and pantry already! For sauce, I love blending my own tomatoes and spices together to create my own tomato sauce however you should be able to pick up a “no added sugar” sauce from your local supermarket!
It should be no surprise to all of us that flavoured children's cereals are packed full of sugar, however even the “healthier” ones manage to sneak it in! So, no matter what the box promises you (“fat free” usually means it’s packed with sugar GF’s!) make sure you read the nutrition label and ingredient list so you know what you’re getting in your next cereal buy! I guarantee a lot of your favourite cereals… the first or second ingredient is refined sugar!!
I love taking out cereal all together and swapping it for my homemade granola recipe available in my eBook Find Your Healthy: Beginners Guide to Intuitive Eating + Healthy Living Recipes and adding it to my favourite coconut yoghurt and fresh fruit! Other healthy breakfast alternatives include bananas (they have heaps of fibre and potassium!) or fresh homemade smoothies, sugar free muesli, or eggs!
My favourite sugar alternatives include:
Rice malt syrup
100% pure maple syrup
100% pure honey
So there you have it ladies! In my opinion these are the top 5 biggest hidden sugar culprits that we should be extra aware of in our next grocery shop! Remember, don’t believe everything you read! What you read on the front of the packet is not always truthful and can be extremely misleading. So make sure you are reading the ingredient list on the back (I sound like a broken record now!). Also, do your research to find healthier alternatives or better yet make your own healthy version so you know exactly what is in it!
If you’re looking for some delicious healthy alternative recipes to your favourite foods and sweet treats, my ebook Find Your Healthy contains over 40+ healthy but DELICIOUS recipes to keep you on track and satisfy your cravings, without having to sacrifice taste!
See you in the next blog post!