When you reach for a cookie, you’re probably aware that it’s not the healthiest snack.
What you might not know is that foods you don’t even think of as sweet — like, ketchup, bread, crackers, and yogurt—can be loaded down with sugar (and its evil twins, refined carbs and artificial sweeteners), causing you to gain weight and putting your health at risk. I researched these sneaky sugar sources for my new book, Sugar Free 3, and wanted to share my findings.
Food scientists often engineer products to have just the right amount of sweetness to make you crave more… and more… and then stick it in everything from soft drinks to spaghetti sauce. “It creates a pleasing mouth-feel and tastes impossibly delicious when combined with other ingredients, like fat and salt,” says health journalist Max Lugavere. “Sugar is complicit in the hyper-palatable nature of packaged foods, which are easy to over-consume — they’re so tasty and convenient — and yet they are not satiating at all.”
It’s true, food manufacturers (or Big Food, as the collective is referred to) spend countless dollars on research and development to create foods that taste so good that you become a reliable repeat customer. “A lot of us have developed a sugar dependence—feeling sugar highs and lows,” says registered dietitian Keri Glassman, who explains: “The more we have, the more we want. But this dependence can disrupt sleep, leading to fatigue and increased consumption of other calories, which causes a whole host of health issues.”
And yet we keep consuming it. Logically, you may know that sugar is bad and can lead to adverse effects, but your reward center drives you to just keep eating. So why do we blatantly ignore the health experts — or even our own common sense?
The scary truth is, many of us don’t even know when we’re eating added sugars because they are snuck into surprising food. Some of top sources of hidden sugars:
Pasta Sauce: They taste savory, but can have as much sugar as a chocolate chip cookie (10 grams or more) per half cup.
Bottled Salad Dressing: In a just a few tablespoons, you can consume more than 5 grams of sugar…way more, if you pour it on.
Yogurt: It contains calcium, protein and naturally occurring sugar from the milk. But the fruit varieties often have a whopping amount of sugar too.
Granola Bars: They have a health “halo” because they sound super healthy, but most are packed with high-fructose corn syrup—a big NO NO.
Beverages: Teas, energy drinks and even some flavored seltzers can be teeming with sugar or artificial sweeteners—and in liquid form, it’s easy to gulp them down.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) calculated that here are over 60 different names used for “sugar” on food labels— with covert monikers such as dextrose, barley malt and sucrose. Check out my new book, Sugar Free 3, for a complete list of sneaky sugar aliases, plus tips on how to kick sugar, curb cravings, lose weight, get healthier-skin, sleep better and supercharge your health!