1. Always read the ingredients.
Remember, they don’t have to tell you how much sugar they’ve added to a product. But they DO have to tell you what’s IN the product. That’s why you must read the ingredients list—even for “healthy” or “natural” foods like frozen fruit or flavored yogurt. The ingredient list is where you’ll be able to see in black and white whether or not there’s lots of sugar added. What’s KEY here is that you be on the lookout for added sugar by all its names and incarnations.
2. Learn all the names for sugar.
“Hidden” sugars go by names such as corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, corn sweetener, fruit juice concentrate or puree, molasses, honey, and maple syrup. You may also see a variety of sugars like raw sugar, beet sugar, brown sugar, cane sugar, and, of course, plain sugar. Ingredients ending in “ose” like dextrose, fructose, glucose, lactose, maltose, and sucrose all mean sugar! Read the whole list, and you might find four or five sources of sugar in one product.
3. Don’t fall for so-called healthy sugar!
It’s funny that when everyone got concerned about high fructose corn syrup, certain food manufacturers started crowing about how their products contained nothing but pure sugar as if that made it better! It’s still sugar, everyone! Same for honey, agave nectar, and other natural sweeteners. Sugar is sugar is sugar is sugar.
4. Beware of fruit juice concentrate and puree.
They are especially insidious for two reasons. First, they are made from natural ingredients, so many people think they are healthy, but because the fiber and water of the fruit have been taken out, what you’re left with is basically sugar. Plus, they can be in the ingredients list and the label can still proclaim NO SUGAR ADDED because they are part of the product (this occurs in things like fruit spreads or jams). Don’t buy it!