How To Avoid Hidden Sugars

November 20, 2018

Written by Laura Ballantyne

We all know that too much sugar in our diets can have detrimental effects on our health, and to keep the obvious like chocolate, soft drinks and lollies to a minimum. However, it’s the hidden sugars that have also lead to at least 50% of the Australian population consuming more added sugar than the daily recommendation and can be extremely hard to avoid.

Did you know there are at least forty different names used on food labels for added sugar?

The names sugar can be listed as on the ingredients lists on food packaging include:

Sugar, glucose, sucrose, fructose, dextrose, maltose, glucose syrup, lactose, molasses, syrup, malt extract, raw sugar, brown sugar, honey, golden syrup, rice malt syrup, maple syrup, modified carbohydrate, corn sweetener, corn syrup, fruit juice concentrates, high-fructose corn syrup, invert sugar, cane crystals, cane sugar, crystalline fructose, evaporated cane juice, corn syrup solids and malt syrup. 

To check for sugar in packaged food, you need to look at the ingredients list and the nutrition information panel. Ingredients are listed in order of weight. Therefore, the closer an ingredient is to the start of the list, the more of that ingredient is in the product. Sugar may be listed more than once in the ingredients list under one of the many different names we listed above.

The nutrition information panel lists how much sugar is in each serving of the food and in e100g of the food, showing the weight in grams. It’s best to compare the sugar content of different products using the ‘per 100g’ column, rather than the serving size column.

Note: the sugar value in the nutrition information panel does not separate natural sugar and added sugars.

Best ways of trying to avoid hidden sugars:

  1. Eat wholefoods- as close to how it appears in nature! Not in a packet, bottle or wrapper.
  2. Avoid processed foods- try to cook your food from scratch. Nourish your body with natural foods that are nutrient-rich.
  3. Learn to read labels- for the packaged foods that we buy, opt for products with natural ingredients, and as close to their purest form as possible. A rule of thumb is to go for real food ingredients, and less ingredients are better than more.
  4. Convenience is not always best. Where you can eat fresh foods and prepare foods yourself, do! There are far more hidden sugars in pre-prepared food. When you are making it, you know exactly what is going into it.

We know sugar is found in the products like processed and packaged foods (bakery goods, sweet treats, and sugary drinks) and up to 32% of the added sugars in our diets come from soft drinks, energy and sports drinks, and fruit juices. These are the obvious things. The less obvious culprits we need to watch out for hidden sugars are in products such as:

  • Sauces, condiments, stir fry sauces, pasta sauces
  • Salad dressings
  • Breads
  • Yoghurts
  • Muesli and cereals
  • Alcoholic drinks
  • Protein and muesli bars

Be Fit Food meals and snacks contain no added sugars, no artificial sweeteners, and are refined sugar free, meaning we have no hidden nasties!