Weight Watchers Get Healthy Freestyle Journey – Week 20
Hidden Sugar Bombs Uncovered
Can you believe it’s MONDAY already and time once again to reflect on the past week?! In the recent weeks we have looked at the benefits of shopping at farmer’s markets, milestones, how to stay motivated, the smart use of free foods, some tactics for dining out, surviving the holidays while dieting, the benefits of a 5% weight loss, diabetes, the importance of exercise, starting an exercise routine, beginner exercises, and exercising in the summer heat. Since beginning my weight loss journey in January, Valentine’s Day, Easter, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and Memorial Day have come and gone. Did you know that ketchup, one of America’s favorite condiments, has as much as 6 grams of added sugar in a single ounce! I knew it had some but never dreamed that it had that much. After releasing how much sugar was in ketchup, I set out this week to find out where else sugar was hiding in other foods and drinks that my family consumed.
Uncovering Hidden Sugar Bombs
Hidden sugars are commonly disguised as other ingredients on food labels. Learning how to identify sources of hidden sugar can save you hundreds, even thousands of calories. Plus, consuming lots of added or hidden sugar has been associated with problems including diabetes, heart disease, obesity, cancer, high blood pressure, and cognitive disorders, such as dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. Sugar is now even linked to cancer and many other conditions tied to impaired immune function.
First before uncovering the hidden/added sugars, I want to clarify what added sugar is: The U.S. Department of Agriculture states, “Added sugars are sugars and syrups that are added to foods or beverages when they are processed or prepared. This does not include naturally occurring sugars such as those in milk and fruits.” There are at least 61 different names for sugar listed on food labels. These include common names, such as sucrose and high-fructose corn syrup, as well as barley malt, dextrose, maltose and rice syrup, among others.
There’s even been parallels found between sugar overconsumption and drug abuse, indicating that sugar cravings work in similar ways to cravings for alcohol and other substances. You’ve probably noticed that the more sugar you have, the more you want. Just like cocaine, sugar is very habit-forming. It causes changes in our brains by releasing dopamine and other endorphins. Our brains have built-in, appetite-controlling mechanisms that let us know when we’ve had enough to eat and therefore should stop. This causes most foods to stop being appealing after some time. Sugar works differently, keeping us wanting more and more. Even when we’ve consumed lots of calories.
Added sugar is hiding in 74% of packaged foods. Studies and surveys have found that the major food and beverage sources of added sugars for Americans are drinks like regular soda, energy drinks, sports drinks, fruit drinks, and sweetened teas, candy, dairy and non-dairy desserts like ice cream and pies, and refined carbohydrates like cakes and doughnuts. These sources of sugar might seem pretty obvious, but they aren’t the only foods responsible for our increased sugar consumption.
- Cereals, both hot and cold (some have as much as 20 grams of sugar in just a 3/4 cup serving)
- Packaged breads, including “whole grain” varieties (your sandwich could have 12 grams of sugar just in the bread)
- Snack or granola bars (one breakfast bar made with “real fruit” and “whole grains” has 15 grams of sugar.)
- Non-dairy milk (opt for the unsweetened ones)
- “No Sugar Added” foods and drinks (many will use fruit juice from concentrate to sweeten them)
- “Lower calorie” drinks, including coffees, energy drinks, blended juices and teas
- Energy, Protein, and meal replacement bars (compare brands and make sure you get a low sugarone, many are just candy bars in disguise)
- Protein powder (make sure the one you get is unsweetened and has zero grams of sugar per scoop)
- Jerky (skip the bbq, teriakyi, or honey mustard flavors and opt for plain versions)
- Sweetened yogurts and other dairy products (like flavored Greek and regular yogurts, one leading brand of yogurt contains 7 teaspoons of sugar per serving. )
- Smoothies and alcohol mixers (a 12 oz margarita and even fruit and veggie only smoothie can have up to 60 grams of sugar)
- Bottled flavored water (don’t be fooled by the images for fruit and coconuts on the label)
- Tonic Water (so that Vodka Tonic has 8 teaspoons of sugar per 12-ounce serving)
- Juice (opt for fresh fruit over this concentrated source of sugar)
- Lemonade (with 40 grams of sugar per can this is no better for you than a soda)
- Frozen waffles or pancakes
- Nut butters (peanut, almond, and other nut butters have sweeteners added. Look for natural brands made with only nuts)
- Jams and Jellies
- Bottled sauces, dressings, condiments and marinades (like salad dressing, tomato sauce, ketchup, relish, or teriyaki)
- Dried fruit and other fruit snacks (often they add sugar to dried fruit and one package of fruit snacks can have 25 grams of sugar, look at these as candy not produce)
- Restaurant foods, where sugar is used in sauces, various desserts and dressings for extra flavor
- Gummy Vitamins
- Packaged Fruits (canned fruits like mandarin oranges in light syrup have about 39 grams of sugar per 1-cup serving, you can cut down on the sugar some by draining the liquid)
Not all sugar is inherently bad, and not all types of “sugar” are created equal.
Added sugar is the real problem, not sugar found naturally in things like fresh fruit, vegtables, and dairy. Fructose, the type of natural sugar found in modest amounts in real foods is generally not something to worry about when eaten as part of a balanced diet because it is metabolized differently than when ingest high amounts from processed foods.
American Heart Association (AHA) recommends no more than 9 teaspoons (38 grams) of added sugar per day for men and 6 teaspoons (25 grams) per day for women. The AHA limits for children vary depending on their age and caloric needs, but range between 3-6 teaspoons (12 – 25 grams) per day.
On average, Americans consume 66 pounds of added sugar each year!
Think about how would you support others, and give yourself the same advice.
How my freestyle weight loss week went:
This week was pretty quiet on the homefront. With just one appointment and shopping to do on Friday the rest of week was spent catching up on things around the house and on our blog. The rain we had the first part of the week made it easy to pull weeds and get the garden in order. We continue to be vigilant about looking for tomato worms and powdery mildew on our plants, both of which are very likely to appear this time of year.
Last week, I also continued with my new exercise routine and continue to work on adding to the time and reps I do. This Sunday was Father’s Day so I went to visit my Dad and do some chores that he wanted to be done. I didn’t get home until nearly 9 pm as it was after 7 pm when I got the new sensors and cameras installed and their security system updated. They are now as secure as Fort Knox! However, before fixing a late dinner at home, I took the time to step on the scale and was pleased that I had lost almost three pounds this week for a 37 lbs total lost so far. My mom made it to forty pounds a few weeks ago and it’s within my grasp! Until next week… Remember to stay positive and keep looking forward.
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Where are you on your journey? What item were you most surprised to discover contained hidden sugar?
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I am not a medical professional. The contents of this website are for educational purposes and are not intended to offer personal medical advice. You should seek the advice of your physician or another qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.