The Sweet Spot: How to Find Hidden Sugar

Sugar is hidden in many different foods, under many different names. Here’s how to recognize it on that nutrition label…
Published March 3, 2017

It’s easy to avoid added sugar when you can see it – cakes, doughnuts, and chocolate are fairly obvious. But did you know that sugar could be hiding in foods such as soup, pasta sauce and even salad dressing? What’s trickier is the fact it won’t be labelled as “sugar” on the ingredients.

Check your labels

Your first step is to read the food label carefully, as even supposedly healthy foods – like bran and muesli – can sometimes contain large amounts of sugar. You can also find sugar in foods such as bread, fruit juice, pickles, and ketchup.

It may not even be labelled as sugar, but could be given another name such as:

  • glucose
  • maltose
  • dextrose
  • sucrose
  • fructose
  • fruit syrup
  • honey (which is little more than liquid sugar)

And don’t forget that alcohol, which is the chemical cousin of sugar, can upset your blood-sugar levels in the same way as any other sugar and should be consumed only occasionally and not to excess.

How to eat less sugar

Your first step is to cut out obvious sugars, such as sweets or cookies, then check food labels to avoid foods with hidden sugars.

Next, try to replace sources of sugar in your diet with low-sugar alternatives:

  • Sweeten breakfast cereals with fresh fruit, like strawberries or sliced banana
  • Add grated apple to porridge to replace sugar or honey
  • Dilute fruit juices with sparkling water
  • Make it a habit to have fruit for dessert or as an afternoon snack (try chopping it up so it looks visually appealing and is easy to eat)
  • Avoid sugar alternatives like honey or maple syrup as they can also disrupt your blood-sugar levels

It will get easier; the less sugar you eat, the less sugar you’ll want!