Sugar is lurking everywhere, which makes it difficult to avoid sugar if you don’t know where to look. Shay Klomp Bueters, Integrative Nutrition Health Consultant and the founder of Contagiously Healthy, explains how to avoid Sugar Sabotage.Shay has also been through her own personal sugar addiction battles to overcome infertility and burnout.
1. What are healthy foods? Have a look at the foods you are eating, not just the obvious ones such as cookies, chocolate bars and ice cream. The question is what are the not so obvious sugar containing foods which might very well be touting they are “healthy” “natural” “gluten free” “vegan” … the list goes on. To keep it simple, if it is a packaged product it is questionable.
2. Read ingredient labels. What you will need to do is have a look at the ingredient labels looking for any of the 61 names for sugar. I highly recommend printing it out and enlist the whole household! It can be a fun activity for kids who can read already.
Before we go any further I want to highlight that The World Health Organization recommends the maximum amount of free* sugars you should eat in a day are:
Adults and children - 25 grams or 6 teaspoons of sugar per day
To put this into perspective
A 12oz can of coke contains 39 grams or nearly 10 teaspoons of sugar
A regular sized snickers bar contains 27 grams or 6.75 teaspoons of sugar
*Free sugars refer to monosaccharides (such as glucose, fructose) and disaccharides (such as sucrose or table sugar) added to foods and drinks by the manufacturer, cook or consumer, and sugars naturally present in honey, syrups, fruit juices and fruit juice concentrates.
Did you know that the Netherlands ranks 3rd worldwide on daily sugar consumption consuming on average 102.5 grams or 24 teaspoons of sugar a DAY! The country that consumes most sugar is, not surprisingly, the United States of America, at a astonishing rate of 127 grams or 30 teaspoons per day, with Germany coming in 2nd at 103.5 grams or 25 teaspoons a day. (Source: 2014 Euromonitor Study.)
Okay, and back on track to the 3rd top tip:
3. Becoming aware of the Unusual Suspects, which are those foods which are touted or disguised as being healthy, although unfortunately contain some shockingly high amounts of sugar.
If you eliminate anything from your diet let it be this! As mentioned above, a 12 ounce can of soda contains the equivalent of nearly 10 teaspoons of sugar! Again the World Health Organization recommends maximum 6 teaspoons a day. Therefore this amount of sugar, in liquid form, makes the blood sugar skyrocket and causes an insulin reaction in the body, which can lead to diabetes or insulin resistance.
A serving size of ketch up is 17g, that is one of the little presized packages, which contains 4,25 teaspoons of sugar. The question is do you normally only use one little presized bag of ketchup normally it is minimum 3 with the French fries and another one the hamburger which brings the 4,25 teaspoons of sugar up to 17 teaspoons rather quickly! I admit, I am not such a ketchup fan, although for my family, I have recently discovered a new brand of sugarfree (with no other added sweeteners) called Bio Bandits, which you can find at your local Albert Hein and in different locations all over Europe.
And in March of 2018 one of the main grocery store chains in the Netherlands, Albert Heijn, started with their own sugar-free ketchup and mayonnaise,
Yogurt – in particular flavored yogurts.
An example would be Activia. The flavored Activia yogurt has 17 grams or 4 teaspoons of sugar and 5 grams of protein, whereas Greek Yogurt has 6 grams or 1.4 teaspoons of sugar and 15 grams of protein.
On a personal note, being an American living in the Netherlands, I didn’t realize how spoiled for healthy choices we are until a trip back to the USA a few years back.
My son was 2 years old and had an eye infection with which he had to take antibiotics for, knowing the benefits of probiotics in feeding the good gut bacteria; I went to the Good Food Store to get some yogurt which he loves. Much to my dismay there was absolutely NONE without sugar.. Mostly processed sugars, and the healthier versions still had agave or honey… I was shocked! In the Netherlands the yogurt with no flavorings is just that with no added sugars at all!
Packaged Sauces – such as BBQ and Spaghetti sauce
BBQ Sauce, let’s again break it down to a serving size of 17 grams which contains 1,5 teaspoons of sugar. To get a visual, think of the little 17 gram ketchup packages you get when eating out. Is this how much BBQ sauce you will find on a rack of ribs for instance? Most likely minimum 4 packages equating to your daily maximum of 6 teaspoons of free sugars per day.
The majority of pre-made spaghetti sauce contains 2,5 teaspoons of sugar in ½ cup serving size. Again, something where you think you are eating healthy, tomatoes, vegetables, and possibly didn’t even realize there were free sugars added. One of my favorite homemade spaghetti sauce recipes is from the I Breath I’m Hungry blog. And I try to add real ingredient when possible, as well as substitute the red wine vinegar with lemon juice.
Did you realize in opting for the healthy salad option, that there is 4 teaspoons of sugar in just 50 grams of salad dressing! When possible, I always ask for dressing on the side, or even better opt for oil and a squeeze of lemon.
I hope this has provided some insights on where you might find some unsuspecting sugars lurking in your kitchen, along with some suggestions on how to remove the sugar sabotages to empower you on your journey to live your healthiest, happiest life!
Shay was invited to join the Sugar Summit hosted by Sugarwise, an international certification body for sugar claims, which took place at the European parliament in Brussels. She is passionate about creating Sugar Awareness and feels education is what is lacking, as when we know better, we do better.
After over 10 years in a 9-5 as the Director of an International Trade Organization, she went back to her roots graduating from the Institute of Integrative Nutrition in 2015. Contagiously Healthy came to fruition in 2016. Shay was chosen as 1 of 9 social entrepreneurs for the Amsterdam City Fellowship to combat childhood obesity in the city of Amsterdam. She has given nutritional workshops at corporations in the Netherlands; ASR Verzekering via High Five, Oracle, Cisco. In organizations and schools; The Impact Hub, the “Zo Blijven Wij Gezond” Festival, The International School of Amsterdam, and the Amsterdam International Community School.