When the package says “No Sugar Added”…

Consumers are trying to make healthier choices, and food companies are making it harder on them with misleading advertising. Consider a box of granola bars that says “naturally sweetened and “no sugar added” – when in fact you look to the ingredient list and see brown rice syrup and honey listed within the first four ingredients!

This kind of false advertising makes us so frustrated for our clients!

In the eyes of a dietitian, sugar is sugar no matter what form it comes in. Sugar is a generic name for sweet carbohydrates and has many aliases; glucose, fructose, cane sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, molasses, dextrose, malt syrup, caramel, brown rice syrup, honey, maple syrup… the list goes on and on. At the end of the day, sugar in any form is sugar.

Since honey and Agave are advertised as healthier alternatives to sugar, it is important to know that both are mostly fructose. Having more fructose makes them sweeter, meaning people can use less, and they have a lower glycemic index, which is why people feel healthier. However, in some studies, higher fructose consumption has been linked to higher triglycerides levels in the blood and contributes to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. It can also cause gastrointestinal distress in people with a sensitive gut.

The Bottom line:

All forms of sugar provide roughly the same number of calories (15 to 20 calories) and carbohydrates (4-5g) per teaspoon.

The plan:

Be in control of where added sugar is coming from.

Instead of flavoured yogurt, add frozen berries (ingredients: blueberries, blackberries, strawberries) to plain yogurt (ingredients: milk and bacteria cultures). Once the berries melt, the sweetness of the juice sweetens the yogurt, and it is delicious! You now have something that has five ingredients that you know versus 15+ in the store-bought version with lots of added sugar.

Don’t worry about sugars that naturally occur in fruits – when you consume them in their whole form, they are accompanied by vitamins, minerals, and fibre making them a healthier option. Pairing them with a protein source will help satisfy you for longer and manage your blood sugar levels.

Enjoy whole foods and try to make as many of your own dressings, sauces and granola bars as possible.

Keep in mind:

Treats are just as the name suggests; they are a treat for you and meant to be enjoyed mindfully. While we want most of your calories to come from nutrient-dense whole foods that nourish and support your body, treats can definitely be included for the enjoyment and balance of life.