We all know we should eat less sugar, and yet we can't stay away from it. And you might find the claims on your food packaging confusing.
So what do you have to know, in order to choose what you eat?
Does it contain sugar?
Have a look at the table of nutritional values. Mostly you will find the amount of sugar per 100g or ml of the food. To give you an idea, Coke, which is considered a very sweet drink, contains 10,5g sugar for each 100ml and Minute Maid Orange Juice has 11.5 g/ 100ml. Water has 0g.
An orange has 9g/100g and dates have 63g/100g.
Sugar has 100g/100g
Sweet food should be eaten occasionally and with moderation. Especially "free sugars", sugar that is added in your food, should be avoided while the sugar in fruit is mostly ok.
Often seen on food packaging, these sugar-related claims have different meanings, which is not always clear. Here are the three most common ones:
NO ADDED SUGARS
This claim is used on products where no sugars are added. That includes normal sugar, but also unrefined cane sugar, syrups, honey, coconut blossom nectar etc, which have very similar nutritional values. You might still find sugar in this product, when it occurs naturally in the ingredients like in fruits. An apple does not contain ADDED sugar. Some products can actually be very sweet, even without added sugars, for instance smoothies, dried fruits and energy balls.
NO REFINEd sugar
This means that sugars have been added to the product, but not refined white sugar. This claim can be used on products where unrefined cane sugar, honey, agave and maple syrup, coconut blossom nectar etc has been added. Usually it means that the sugar used is of a better quality. This is better than industrial sugar, but should still be eaten with moderation.
If you want to avoid sugar alltogether, you should look for SUGAR-FREE. This applies to products with less than 0,5g sugar per 100g. But carefull, these products are often intended for people that may not eat sugar, but still want something sweet. They often contain sweeteners such as sorbitol or aspartam, which are belived to be even worse for our health.
4 tricks to reduce sugar
- Drink water / do not drink sweet drinks. Those drinks are just pure excess sugar. If water is too boring have a coffee or tea (in moderation) or a nice herbal tea.
- Some food are for special ocacsions: Candy and cake are for birthdays and parties, not for evary day.
- Home made is always better! Industry adds lots of "hidden" sugars in food that is not even supposed to be sweet like sauces, prepared meals, marinades... By cooking yourself you kow what's in your food.
- Replace over-sweetened industrial foods with more reasonable / better quality alternatives. By comparing nutritional values on the labels you will see that jam or cornflakes or chocolate can have very different amount of sugar. And the sweetest one is rarely the tastiest!