The sweet spot: how to find hidden sugar

Sugar is everywhere, including unlikely culprits like pasta sauce and salad dressing...
Published 18 November, 2015

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 that it won’t be labelled as ‘sugar’ on the ingredients. Sugar is hidden in many different foods, under many different names.  

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

It may not be labelled as sugar, but could 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, 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 biscuits, 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! Get started with these 6 simple ways to cut down on sugar