Are you ready for sugar shock? Find out a few places the sweet stuff likes to hide.

Sugar seems to be “having a moment.”

Every “expert” in the diet industry wants you to detox from the sweet stuff, including sugar’s low-calorie counterpart, artificial sweeteners.

Is this really necessary, or is it just the latest version of the war against fat of the 1980s?

Yes and no. I know people hate nutritional gray areas, but “black or white” thinking is generally what gets us into these predicaments. What gives?

For the first time, Americans are now being specifically told to limit added sugars. New Dietary Guidelines recommend we should consume less than 10 percent of calories per day from added sugars. Added sugars are the key words here. Naturally occurring sugars, like those in fruit, are not included.  For someone older than 3, 10 percent of daily calories means eating no more than 12.5 teaspoons, or 50 grams, or  about 193 calories of sugar a day. The problem for many,are hidden sugars.

Unfortunately, no matter what it’s called, sugar lurks in almost everything we eat, especially packaged foods. Where? You might be surprised. Read on to see if a few of the sweetest culprits are in your own refrigerator:

  • Yogurt: What’s not to love, right? Fruit flavoring, a dose of calcium, they are inexpensive… but hold on a minute. What do you think makes that Banana Cream Pie flavored yogurt taste so… well… dessert-like? Sugar! Next time you want a creamy treat, try some Greek yogurt with fresh fruit or honey mixed in. It’s sweeter but still has way fewer grams of sugar than many varieties.
  • Granola bars/protein bars: Somehow, we got the idea that these are healthy foods, and they can be an OK snack to have from time to time. But healthy? Mostly no. Some granola bars have more sugar than their candy counterparts, but people (parents in particular) don’t think twice about consuming them. If you want a good granola bar or protein bar, check the nutrition label or better yet, make your own!
  • Salad dressings: A simple homemade salad dressing is your best choice here. You might be surprised to learn that some packaged dressings contain as much sugar as a donut! Didn’t see that one coming, did you? Neither did we.
  • Condiments: Ketchup, BBQ sauce, ranch dip, pickle relish… they all have added sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, or both. Two tablespoons of BBQ sauce can add up to 10 grams of sugar. And who only eats two tablespoons?
  • Health organizations like the American Heart Association and the American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommend limiting added sugars to no more than 10% of your daily caloric intake. On average, that looks like about six teaspoons for women and nine for men .

What should you do if you want to cut back? Just check the label and the ingredient list. If the first few ingredients include sugar, honey, corn syrup or any kind of syrup, skip it. No matter what they call it, it’s all still sugar… which means it’s going to add up to a lot of calories and no nutrients.

Next time you want to satisfy your sweet tooth, try nature’s candy: fresh fruit. Add a little nut butter for a protein boost.

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