Of course we're aware that biscuits, cakes and soft drinks are generously laced with sugars or sugar like products. But when you're buying packaged and processed "convenience" foods it's a real challenge to decrease your sugar intake as it's been added to so many foods.
It's possible to avoid the obvious ones if you're determined, but as David Gillespie says in his blog How Much Sugar here:
"A smoker is addicted to nicotine. Nicotine is found in cigarettes, cigars, tobacco, nicorettes and insecticide. It’s not the kind of thing you’re likely to come across by accident. In fact anyone consuming it, is doing so very much on purpose.
If you decide that you no longer wish to be addicted to nicotine, there is a very short list of things you should stop doing:
Do not put cigarette in mouth.
If you discover a cigarette in your mouth do not light it.
Do not drink insecticide.
There. Done. Now you just need to wait about three weeks for the addiction to pass. Easy.
A Sugarer (the collective noun for people addicted to Sugar – and yes I did just make that up) has a much more daunting task ahead of them.
The active ingredient (from an addiction point of view) in sugar is fructose. Thanks to the marvels of modern food production, fructose is now embedded in almost every single food item on the supermarket shelf. Imagine how hard it would be stop smoking if everything you ate or drank contained the addictive ingredient.
Giving up fructose is far harder than giving up nicotine. You still have an addiction to fight but before you even get that far you’ve got to pick your way through a minefield of fructose filled foods."Well said David! Visit his informative website and blog for further information, Sweet Poison is (here)
I was shopping this morning and dare I say, feeling just a little smug, after all I choose mostly fresh foods, and cook from scratch. I enjoy cooking (mostly ... when I have time). I'd been rabbiting on about hidden sugars and just out of curiosity had a look at some baby foods marketed as first solids, all pure, nothing added. All had at least 1 teaspoon of sugar per serve! Not just the fruit mixes, but the vegetable ones too. I hate to think what that does to the little ones emerging teeth, and so often you see young mums feeding their children convenience foods, then a fruit juice if not a soft drink that has been decanted into a baby bottle.
A browse through my pantry was in order now ... and were there any surprises?
You bet! The innocent looking and very handy herb blends have between 2 and three teaspoons per hundred grams, and are also stuffed with salts. I'm regularly adding a teaspoon or more of unnecessary sugar to meals that wouldn't be there if I'd used fresh herbs, and I don't want to think about that extra salt.
I knew tomato sauce was laden with salt and always choose the low salt option, but discovered that for each 20 ml (a modest sized dollop) there is one whole teaspoon of sugar. It's very easy to have double that at a barbeque, without really trying. However, if I chose my favourite Eggplant Pickle, there's a whopping two teaspoons per serve. Ouch.
What you can do
Sugars aren't always labeled to be consumer friendly, so you'll need to check out the labels of all foods very carefully if you want to cut down on those secreted away in foods.
There are a number of alternative names for sugars to look for on package labels - glucose, fructose, sucrose, lactose, maltose, corn syrup, dextrose.
No added sugar
What exactly does that mean? Simply that the manufacturer hasn't added any extra sugar to the product he's purchased. However, the product itself could be positively stuffed with sugar (or salt, or MSG or whatever) and the label may be seen to be true and accurate.
I remember hearing about a rather scrumptious juice available at a juice bar here which claimed to have no added sugar. It emerged that whilst the juice bar didn't add sugar on the premises, their suppliers had already laced the beverage with generous quantities of sugar, but called it (correctly) fructose. I'd use the word obfuscation for that practise.
As David cited, all of these extra sugars are creating massive health problems when they're over consumed, and as I've found, it's extremely challenging to be aware of all the food items where sugar is stashed, even when you're a relatively savvy consumer.
Given that the negative health effects may increase the risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes, leading to insulin resistance, not to mention tooth decay, I think it's worth being a wary consumer. How about you?