However, we often assume that certain foods are low in sugar. Maybe they’re packed with protein, too, or they make a nutritious lunch (like a salad) more satisfying. But, let’s take a closer look at the food labels, shall we? Call it dextrose, dextran, corn syrup, whatever — the following foods sneakily jack up the sugar factor, leading to that sugar-fueled spike (and consequent crash) that leaves you wanting more. Luckily, we have some tasty creative alternatives, so read on:
Go Greek! Packed with protein! Sorry, but that fruit-at-the-bottom yogurt is loaded with sugar. Because, that fruit is pretty much...jelly. (Yeah, we were in denial, too.)
“Your breakfast shouldn’t out-sugar frozen desserts, but it can with sugar content upward of 20 grams,” says Carolyn Brown, MS RD of NYC-based Foodtrainers.com. “Do the add-ons yourself. Look for yogurt with less than 10 grams of sugar, then add fresh fruit and a few drops of stevia for sweetness,” she says. “Add extra flavor for no calories with cinnamon or mint or organic extracts, like coconut and almond.”
Not only is that margarita pre-made mixer from the grocery store fluorescent, but you’re essentially sipping on liquid sugar. Yum? Think again. “Even a vodka tonic likely has more sugar than a cookie — did you think of it as dessert?” Brown asks. No, we didn’t.
She recommends a swap — vodka soda with lemon, lime, or cucumber, and maybe even the occasional dirty martini. “When it comes to margaritas, we are loving Sinless margarita mix made with Stevia,” she says. “Only 5 calories per serving.”
You’ve seen those ads: Everyone’s so happy eating salad. It’s healthy, right? Here comes the sad faceL Add salad dressing, dried cranberries, and additional fruity toppings like canned Mandarin oranges, and salads can pack an additional 30-40 grams of sugar. That’s 7-9 teaspoons, more than your daily recommended amount of 25 grams.
We know, mixed greens are boring as hell. But, no salad dressing? “Stick to basic olive oil and lemon or add balsamic vinegar for some sweetness,” Brown says. Also, an FYI: “Dried cranberries are soaked in sugar to get rid of the tartness…crazy!” she says. “So organic raisins are a better alternative.”
Peanut Butter (And Nut Butters, In General)
We grew up on PB&J, come on. It can’t be so bad. Nut butters are packed with vital protein, but here’s the deal: Many brands, even natural and organic varieties, add sugar when it simply isn’t necessary. So, just change things up a bit. “Look for sweetened varieties (maple or honey roasted) or think of sweet peanut butter as your sweet for the day,” Brown says. “You can have two UNREAL peanut butter cups for only 11 grams of sugar, so when it comes to your actual, non-dessert peanut butter, keep it to less than 5-6 grams.”
Why does bread need to have sugar? Oh, it doesn’t. “’Brown breads are notoriously thought to be healthy, and are sweetened with molasses,” Brown says. “Skip the sugar and make a sprouted grain bread your new staple,” she says. “Ezekiel is higher in protein and nutrients, and it’s super filling — even their cinnamon raisin bread is nutritionist-approved.”