Learn to look at the label!!
Updated: Oct 28, 2022
Sugar is sweet, right? But did you know that it hides in lots of foods that you may not think are sweet? It's no surprise you'll find it in chocolate and fizzy drinks, but it lurks in some less likely places too. From Marinara sauce to peanut butter, added sugar can be found in even the most unexpected products!
Added sugar is everywhere
Let's not sugar-coat this! Sometimes when we just don't have time, we'll raid the cupboard for a quick snack, often processed food. These are the type of products that often contain added sugar. This can mean that if we're having a busy day, added sugar can make up a large proportion of our calorie intake – up to 17% for adults and 14% for children. Wow, that's a lot of added sugar!
Why is added sugar so bad? Dietary guidelines suggest that calories we receive from added sugar should be less than 10% per day if we want to stay healthy. But the truth is, we don't need added sugar! It triggers glycaemic peaks which cause us to eat more sugar. These are brief surges of energy that are sometimes called a 'sugar rush'. They cause a temporary rise in our blood sugar level, and managing that is important for our health.
There are lots of reasons why added sugar is bad:
Unhealthy weight gain. Too much sugar can mean too many calories, which can lead to weight gain. This can increase your risk of other health problems, like:
Type 2 diabetes. This causes the level of sugar in the blood to become too high and can have a life-long impact on your daily life. From feeling too tired or developing heart and nerve problems, diabetes can mean permanent dietary changes and regular doctor's appointments.
Increased risk of heart disease. Too much sugar can raise our blood pressure, and that puts increased pressure on our heart as it tries to deal with the added intake.
Skin problems. Sugar is an inflammatory food, and body inflammation can take its toll on our skin. As well as making it look dry, it can aggravate existing conditions like acne and eczema.
Fatigue. Your body may be sensitive to sugar and have problems digesting certain foods containing it. The more you eat these foods, the more tired you could feel.
Depression. Sugary comfort food can be a go-to when we're feeling down, but it can also make the symptoms of depression worse if we start to feel guilty after giving in to cravings.
Look at the label!
And the moral of this story is? Yes, you've guessed it – look at the label. Some foods have a quick reference red, amber, green coding to help you keep track of sugar intake, while others display a percentage. Either way, ingredients are always listed, so be on the lookout for added sugars. Get in the habit of checking the ingredients label on everything you buy, and you'll be able to take control of your added sugar intake.