Where's Your Sugar Hiding?
I often say that sugar is one of the biggest enemies to general health, weight loss and fitness gains. You've heard it all before and you don't really want to hear me harp on about how bad it is for you.
But here’s the thing I really want to say. In all my sugar free fanfare and craziness - I still want my clients to enjoy food. I‘m not opposed to the obvious sugar choices like a donut, a cupcake, a brownie. You KNOW those are full of sugar. Every now and then you should enjoy these, and eat them without guilt. I did it after my last competition prep. It was fun. And delicious.
2015 - I picked up a copy of Sarah Wilson’s I Quit Sugar book and started as an experiment. I was already eating pretty ‘clean’ - but wanted to know how I could boost my health and commit to my fitness goals.
2016 - I was a sugar free convert. Judgments and all. My friends weren’t fans of going out to brunch with me. This sans-sugar tyrant was no holds barred in my approach to telling everyone where they were going wrong.
2017 - I decided to compete in first ever fitness competition which meant a whole diet revamp and calculated approach to nutrition for specific goals.
Today - I understand nutrition overhauls are not easy, and want to empower others to take an educated approach to their own nutrition.
What I am passionate about is getting you educated about what you’re putting in your body when the sugar is not so obvious. The ‘healthy’ granola bowl you ordered for breakfast is so sweet it could be classified as candy. The ’nutritious’ yoghurt you just had for a mid-morning snack totals about 4 teaspoons of sugar. The salad dressing you slathered all over your mixed greens for lunch is heavy in sugar content. The energy beverage you had on the way home from the gym has the highest sugar content of all you’ve consumed all day - but it is only flavored water, it must be healthy right? One or two teaspoons of sugar won't always hurt, but when you start to see how much sugar is in all of the below seemingly 'healthy' foods, it's easy to see how the sugar content quickly adds up!
Here’s my name and shame list of high sugar foods and my suggestions of what you can try instead.
1. Quaker’s Simply Granola Oats - Honey and Almonds (1 cup) = 20 g of sugar. You want to start your day with something easy and you love the efficiency of a bowl of granola.
TRY THIS INSTEAD: 1 cup of Quaker's Plain Oatmeal and flavour with cinnamon and fresh berries. Super easy for your morning ritual! If you need some extra sweetness, add a drizzle of organic brown rice syrup on top. If you're on the go, I have found unsweetened steel cut oatmeal at Pret-a-Manger and it was perfect.
2. Starbucks Grande Chai Latte with 2% milk = 43g of sugar. I get it, having a warm beverage on the way to work is like a little bliss before you start the day. But this sugar content is so high, I am actually offended. Seriously, do you really need this much sugar in your diet first thing in the morning? It can lead to an insulin spike that can throw off your metabolism and set you up for failure for the whole day.
TRY THIS INSTEAD: Grab yourself a pack of Yogi Tea Spiced Chai Teabags. Make it before you leave the house and add some unsweetened nut milk or full fat dairy. You won't experience the sugar slump that you would if you went for a commercial latte option. If you're on the run and don't have time to make a tea before you leave the house, pick up a spiced tea or an unsweetened Matcha Latte on unsweetened nut milk. These options are far better for you and will help with your reduced sugar intake.
3. Pret a Manger Blueberry Muffin (128g) = 35g of sugar. You're on your way to work and you want a quick snack to ensure your mid morning won't be a hangry nightmare. Again, this option is a carby sugary overload that will completely rack up your sugar grams in one hit.
TRY THIS INSTEAD: Grab yourself some sourdough toast, spread on some organic unsweetened almond butter and throw on some fresh bluebs - and voila! A delish morning snack that is more nutritious than the commercially made muffin.
4. Newman's Own Honey Mustard Dressing (4 tablespoons) = 10g of sugar. You know you want a healthy option for lunch so you pick up a green salad with grilled chicken. Super good for you right? Well yes, but where you should be cautious is the sugar content in the dressing. Just 4 tablespoons will see you downing ten grams of sugar. You're undoing all your hard work.
TRY THIS INSTEAD: There are so many options to keep your salad tasty without feeling like you're eating a plate of grass. One of my favourite combos is mixing some olive oil and BRAGG apple cider vinegar in a small mason jar to pour over my greens come lunch time. Another option is lemon juice, and some low sugar balsamic vinegar.
5. FAGE Total 2% Strawberry Yogurt (150g) = 16g of sugar. You have a bad case of 3.30-itis... you're hungry and need something to tide you over before you hit the gym after work. I'm all for eating yogurt as a snack but my top tips would be to opt for an organic full fat option, as well as a plain variety without any added sugar.
TRY THIS INSTEAD: Keep yourself satiated with full fat yogurt, chia seeds and fresh berries. You could even make it the night before in a mason jar, pop it in the fridge and let the chia seeds work their magic so you have a filling chia yogurt pudding for your afternoon slump.
6. Vitamin Water Dragonfruit (500ml) = 32g of sugar. You're on your way home from the gym and grabbed a Vitamin water because not only are you thirsty - it also tastes delicious. I hate to break it to you, but other than the Chai Latte from Starbucks, this baby has more sugar than anything you've consumed all day.
TRY THIS INSTEAD: You want something sweet, you want to be hydrated and you wouldn't mind some extra nutrition. My answer? Organic kombucha. A fermented tea drink that is good for your gut, has a little fizzy buzz and just enough sweetness that you feel like you're having a treat. Stick to the organic ones, and those that are lowest in sugar.
7. Prego Traditional Italian Pasta Sauce (1/2 a cup) = 10g of sugar. It's dinner time and you wouldn't dream of having added sugar in your meal. Or would you? Along with your tasty pasta dish, the tomato sauce you're enjoying with it has contributed to you exceeding your daily sugar intake.
TRY THIS INSTEAD: Although I wouldn't tell you to rid yourself completely of your tomato sauce indulgence, opting for a basil pesto more often will see you consume less sugar. If you have a blender, it's super easy to make your own.
8. RXBAR Protein Bar Peanut Butter (52g) = 15g of sugar. You've been told countless times that these are great for you, so you down one after dinner every night for a healthy dessert. But what you should know is that whether it's refined sugar or maple syrup or honey or coconut sugar that is used to sweeten a commercial treat, it's still sugar.
TRY THIS INSTEAD: Grab an apple, slice it up and enjoy it with 2 tablespoons of organic, natural unsweetened nut butter. You'll still get your sweet fix from the fruit, and you'll also get some more good fats.
Here are just some of my healthier snack swap suggestions. I hope you got some value out of this post. If you have a comment, question or any feedback, I would love to hear from you. Email me at hunterandsoulnyc(@)gmail.com and be sure to follow me on Instagram @tashahunter.