We all know that junk foods like cake, candy, ice cream, and cookies are high in sugar. However, there are healthy foods and drinks that are surprising sources. Let’s uncover where sugar is hiding, and find low sugar solutions that will help you eat well and spend less.
#1 - Fruit Juice
The Low Sugar Solution: Eating a piece of fruit is a much better choice than drinking the juice because you also get filling fiber. If you love juice, try to limit yourself (and your kids) to ½ cup per day. If you love fruity flavors, try unsweetened flavored waters and seltzer, or add a squeeze of lemon or lime to your water. For even more tasty suggestions see: “5 Simple Drinks”
#2 - Sweetened Drinks
- Bottled Coffee Drink : 9 1/2 ounce bottle = 124 grams of sugar = 31 packets
- Soft Drinks / Soda: 20 ounce bottle = 65 grams sugar = 16 packets
- Flavored Milk: 16 ounce Chocolate Milk = 54 grams sugar = 13 ½ packets
- Bottled Iced Tea: 16 ounce bottle = 48 grams sugar = 12 packets
- Sports Drinks: 16 ounce bottle = 28 grams sugar = 7 packets
The Low Sugar Solution: Make water your first choice for drinks. You can also buy and order drinks plain (i.e. black coffee, plain milk, and unsweetened tea). If you are craving sweet, add the sweetener yourself and taste as you go. Aim for just a few teaspoons (packets) of sugar or honey to start, and try to reduce your intake over time while your taste buds adjust. To flavor milk, add chopped fruit and blend into a fruit smoothie. Or, use 100% cocoa powder instead of chocolate syrup or drink mixes to make a healthier chocolate milk.
#3 - Flavored, Sweetened Yogurt
The Low Sugar Solution: Buying plain yogurt and adding fresh fruit such as ¼ cup of strawberries will help you save over 4 teaspoons of sugar, bringing your total down to just 10 grams! If you desire more sweetness, add a drizzle of fruit preserves or honey, or a sprinkle of brown sugar. Add vanilla extract or cinnamon for even more flavor without adding sugar.
#4 - Sauces
- Barbecue Sauce: 2 Tbs = 15 grams sugar = 3.5 packets
- Spaghetti Sauce: ½ cups = 12 grams sugar = 3 packets
- Ketchup: 2 Tbs = 8 grams sugar = 2 packets
The Low Sugar Solution: Read food labels, paying close attention to “Added Sugar”, and choose brands that are the lowest in sugar. Perk up foods with herbs and spices like garlic, onion powder, and oregano, which are naturally sugar free. Use vinegar for dipping fries or fish sticks. Vinegar is also a great way to thin out ketchup or barbecue sauce so you can use less. Try other condiments like mustard, salsa, hummus, or tahini, which add flavor without a lot of sugar.