Finding Hidden Sugar In Food

By: Tracy Madden Email
By: Tracy Madden Email

Sugar Recommendations

The American Heart Association recommends a daily limit on added sugar.  Click here for additional information.

Eating healthy can be tough. First we counted calories, then fat, carbs, and sodium. Now we're being told to watch the sugar. The reason? The average person consumes 170 pounds of added sugar every year. With Type 2 Diabetes and Obesity skyrocketing, it might be time to retrain our taste buds.

With two careers and two young boys, meal time is a challenge for the Curtis family.

Still, they were game to keep a food journal for a week. They knew we'd share it with registered dietitian Marilyn Wadum, but they didn't know what she would be looking for ... sugar. Wadum said "Our family was so typical."

The Curtis family earned high marks for plenty of milk and fresh fruit for their children, those items contain natural sugar.

But it's the grab and go processed food with added sugar that concerns Marilyn. While it's no surprise candy bars or soda is sugary, there's plenty of hidden sugar we need to be aware of, even in so called healthy foods. How do we find it? Marilyn Wadum said "Instead of worrying so much about the food label, let's look at the ingredients. What do they make the product from? If sugar or syrup or molasses is in the first three ingredients that qualifies it as a high sugar food."

We can still eat those foods, but Marilyn suggests we view them as treats. Adults get one treat a day. Children who are growing and have a faster metabolism get two treats a day.

If that sounds strict, Doctor Gary Anthone says it's for a good reason. The Director of Bariatric Surgery at Methodist knows too much sugar messes with everything else we eat. Dr. Anthone said "Sugar actually not only adds calories in terms of what you eat in sugar calories, it also causes the other calories you eat to be stored as fat."

We can break the cycle by retraining our taste buds. Marilyn Wadum suggests removing one sugary item from our diets at a time. Try replacing the frosted granola bar with unsweetened corn flakes.
Marilyn Wadum added "Retraining taste buds is really weaning them off a little bit at a time. After two to three weeks you will get a new taste preference."

Looking over the results of their food diary, the Curtis family sees work ahead. Terri Curtis said "Talking about it, it really does make sense now." Matt Curtis added "It's something we can use with the kids now. We only have two treats now based on the sugar content so they have to choose wisely."

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