As a devout TCMer, you eat well, workout and, overall, take care of your body. Still, you can't help but notice bouts of hyperactivity or lethargy you experience throughout the day, especially after meal times. As a smart, health-conscious individual, you're on to something when you consider your sugar intake. But then you tell yourself that you're not a cupcake-o-holic (minus the infrequent indulgence, as you should) and eat fruit in minimal quantities. So it simply can't be.
But it can. Because sugar seeps into way more foods than you think, including foods that you might think are harmless or neglect to really about -- like that sauce on your all-natural chicken breast. Now, by no means do we suggest stressing about this possibility or going apeshit on your pantry and eliminating everything that contains a gram of sugar. Rather, we hope to educate you on the items that might be causing those daytime peaks and valleys, and give you the opportunity to make smarter, more calculated decisions at the food store, out to eat or at home.
Now, let's look at some of the culprits.
Unless you buy plain, Greek yogurt, chances are sugar is probably seeping into your yogurt, and it's likely not from all natural sources (i.e. blueberries in your blueberry flavored yogurt.) This is especially true if you're buying non-fat or low-fat yogurt, which again, is neither 100% natural or healthy. Take Yoplait Thick and Creamy Vanilla yogurt, for example. In just 6 oz., this little container packs 28 grams of sugar. If you're dying for some sweet fruit taste, try Kalona Super Natural Organic 2% Yogurt in Peach, which contains 8 grams of sugar in 6 oz.
Dried & Candied Fruit
Dried fruit doesn't necessarily have more naturally occurring sugar than fresh fruit, but more sugar can show up per serving since there is more pieces of dried fruit per serving. The dehydration process removes so much water that it reduces the volume of each piece considerably. For instance, one cup of grapes has about 104 calories, while one cup of raisins has over 434 calories. That's not because the raisins have added sugar, but because the raisins take up a lot less space than the fully hydrated fresh grapes. In this case, it's best to just eat these dehydrated fruits in lower quantities. With that being said, some dried fruits that are naturally bitter do have sugar added to them to soften the taste (like cranberries.) These too, should be eaten in minimal amounts, if not avoided entirely. Candied fruit, of course, has added sugar and should be avoided or traded in for a piece of real fruit.
Whether granola or protein, that vanilla flavored protein bar you're buying, coated in "yogurt" is likely 1% yogurt and 99% sugar! Make sure to look at the bars' ingredients or stay away from them completely. And remember - opting for bars with artificial sweeteners is no better. These chemicals have other harmful effects that could provoke disease. If you must have a bar, look for one with high protein and either honey, maple syrup or fruit providing the low dose of its sugar.
That whole wheat, sprouted grain cereal is healthy, right? Sounds like it, but only if it's not loaded with sugar! Often times, even the seemingly healthy renditions of cold cereal have large volumes of added sugar, even if it's organic evaporated cane juice, which is yes, still sugar! The same goes for hot cereals, like oatmeal. Oats lower bad cholesterol, control blood pressure, and may help reduce the risk of type two diabetes, which makes for a great breakfast or even desert choice. Just opt for those with a low sugar content or buy regular oats and add just a teaspoon of organic maple syrup or local honey to lightly sweeten.
Are you a sauce person? I am, too, but be wary of what and how much you're using. One fourth of a bottle of ketchup is sugar. Can you believe that? So much for the lycopene from those healthy tomatoes! Not to mention that two tablespoons of another fan favorite, barbecue sauce, has more than 10 grams of sugar. From mustard to fresh basil and olive oil to horseradish or even ricotta cheese - there are so many other wonderful ways to top your favorite foods that won't spike your blood sugar and send your Pancreas into overdrive.