There was an article published in The Guardian a few weeks ago about seven foods that are marketed or commonly perceived as healthy but are in fact fact full of sugar. Here I run through them and talk about alternatives for each.
1. Pasta Sauce
Bottled sauces are full of sugars with some simple pasta sauces containing the equivalent of as many as 6 teaspoons of sugar. In all reality, a simple pasta sauce is easy and cheap to make at home. Here are my two favourite recipes for easy pasta sauces. You can use these as a base for any sauces and add different flavours if you wish.
Shop bought soup is another product that has unnecessary amount of sugar in it. In all reality, sugar is rarely an essential ingredient in any soup recipe. Soup is also a very simple dish to make. Again it can be batch cooked and frozen for convenience. Here is my favourite soup recipe that takes 15 minutes to prepare and is full of healthy spices and protein.
3. Ready Meals
These are similar to sauces and soups in the amount of sugar that is added. That is before you have looked at the salt or trans fat contents. Processed foods have been designed to last longer than normal, in a packet. It stands to reason that they won't have the same nutritional value. Sugar, once again is used as a flavour enhancer - remember that it is so addictive as it stimulates the same sensors in the brain as cocaine or heroin.
The problem with processed foods is that they are convenient. I try to show all my clients that real food can be just as convenient. For example, a dish of fish with freshly steamed vegetables takes less time to prepare than many ready meals. Your freezer is your best friend when it comes to convenience as you can save leftovers or batches of food that you have cooked up to be pulled out as your own 'ready meal'.
fruit yoghurts are shockingly high in sugar with statistics ranging from 23 to 13g per serving. This is a huge amount and so unnecessary. It is much healthier to use a plain, natural yoghurt and add fresh frit to sweeten it. You could even try a drizzle of honey if you prefer although fruit is definitely best.
5. Flavoured Water
This is another one where I am quite clear with my clients about the dangers. We all need to be drinking plenty of water, particularly as our bodies are roughly 60% water. However, we do not need to be adding sugar to the most basic liquid on the planet. If you really don't like the taste of plain water, I recommend adding fresh fruit. Try slices of lemon, lime or orange, maybe fresh berries like blueberry or strawberry or even herbs such as mint. Infuser bottles are very popular now, meaning that you can prepare a bottle of water with fresh fruit infusing in it to carry with you during the day. I love these by Infruition, and particularly their Classic as I love glass bottles (more on that another day!).
6. Cereal Bars
These have long been sold as a healthy snack and even as a breakfast replacement. With sugar levels ranging from 12 to 20g per bar, it's not difficult to see why they aren't. Try my recipe for banana bread with no sugar added or for a savoury snack, these egg muffins work well.
Ketchup is a store cupboard item in most households but with nearly 3g of sugar per tablespoon, it's easy to be surprised at how unhealthy it really is. My favourite alternative is the Hemsley and Hemsley Probiotic Ketchup in their book, The Art of Eating Well.
For more information about hidden sugars and how too manage this in your diet, please get in contact with me to book an appointment.