Sugar is Sugar & Tips to Reduce Your Added Sugar Intake

There are so many different forms of sugar available to us these days, from the demonized white sugar to the glorified concentrated fruit juice, that makes it more difficult for the consumer to identify healthier alternatives. Just because a sugar claims to be more natural doesn’t always make it better. At the end of the day, sugar is sugar and we need to be aware of how much we are consuming.

My hope would be for the Canadian government to introduce labels that separate naturally occurring sugar and added sugar so people can get a better idea of how much sugar they are actually ingesting.  To give you an idea, added sugar can be found in breads, cereal, tomato sauce, lunch meat, jerky, snack foods, baked goods, sauces, and instance rice packages – basically anything that comes in a package! It can be named under sugar, honey, dextrose, high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), brown rice syrup, agave… the list goes on. The more sugar you eat, the more addictive it is, which makes it difficult to enjoy simple whole foods such as an apple,  kale, or carrots in their natural state. Added sugar causes us to crave more processed, higher sugar foods.

There are articles out there that suggest concentrated fruit juice as a good way to reduce the sugar, or adding a full cup of honey in place of sugar. However, we disagree and believe there are many other ways to reduce the sugar content of baked goods. When baking at home, pureed fruit such as bananas or prunes can be a great alternative. One trick that I love doing is to not add the sugar to the recipe if called for, but sprinkle the sugar on top during the last few minutes of baking and broil it so it caramelizes to give you sweetness with every bite. I do this often when I make baked oatmeal:

Adding three medium pureed bananas mixed into the oatmeal and 2 tbsp of brown sugar broiled on top gives each of the 12 servings of oatmeal more than enough sweetness. Plus, you get the added benefit of a little more fiber and potassium!

A great exercise we tell our clients to try for a week is the No Added Sugar Challenge. This can be easily done by looking at the ingredient list of packaged foods and eating whole, single ingredient foods so you know what you are putting in your body. If you need some added sweetness, the only sugar substitute we do endorse is stevia.

Here are some more simple tips and tricks to help you reduce add sugar intake!

  • Buy ripe bananas, peel, cut and freeze them. Once frozen, blend with plain Greek yogurt, milk, peanut butter and coco for delicious Banana Ice Cream dessert!
  • Bake apples with cinnamon
  • Substitute ½ cup of sugar with 2 medium mashed/pureed bananas or 4 pureed prunes
  • Mix flavoured yogurt with plain or add your own sweetness by adding ½ cup frozen mixed berries to plain yogurt. As the berries thaw, they will sweeten up the yogurt!
  • Add no more than 1 cup of fruit to your smoothies (if weight loss is your goal) and unlimited vegetables
  • Use whole single ingredient foods. For instance, dinner could be homemade Greek salad with homemade dressing (olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt, and pepper) mixed with cooked quinoa (cook in a rice cooker) with chicken baked with lemon juice, white wine, garlic and Greek seasoning (try epicurious for no salt added, or Elaine’s amazing spice creations)