Hidden Sources of Sugar

Sugar has been on my mind a lot the past few days since I found out a loved one has high sugar and needs to cut it back and exercise more. My loved one is amped to do what is right but as we started discussing food for a few minutes, it dawned on me that sugar is hiding everywhere and what may seems okay isn't as good as you thought.

But before I continue, I want to clarify I am not writing a diet post or telling anyone what to eat or what not to eat. And I am not 100% sugar free in what I eat. I live by the everything in moderation rule in life. I eat up my freggies, which is easy since I love them so much, but you can also see me with a cookie, some chocolate, or even chips from time to time. But for those who want/need to watch their sugar intake, please beware of the hidden sources.

With that being said, I do have one rule in my life. No aspartame. No fake sugars. Period. This was a health choice I made for myself and committed to it when I stopped drinking diet coke. I did a pantry search and realized this chemical was in a few other things such as pudding mixes (if they claimed to be sugar free). I refuse to eat this stuff and build my body with potentially harmful chemicals. I am not going to get into the aspartame debate today.

And here we go - Onto the hidden sources of sugar!

THE BIG SHOCKER: Children's vitamins. Yep, sugar is probably number 1 on the list of ingredients since I am sure the manufacturers are trying to make them yummy for kids but please read those labels very, very closely. Years ago when our pediatrician suggested vitamins with a bit of iron for darling daughter since her levels were a wee bit low I thought it was wise to follow instructions. Good thing I am a label reader as not only did the bottle I picked up first contain sugar it contained aspartame! Frightening! This product was intended for kids as young as 2 and there was a chemical inside that could have harmful health effects. I must confess, I had to look at a lot of bottles and go to more than one store before I found a vitamin that did not have aspartame.

But for my loved one, children's vitamins isn't the source of added sugar so here is a list of where sugar may be hiding and you may just not realize it, or realize how much of it there is.

  • Sparking Waters: Some are perfectly fine but I have found this takes good looking too. Often, if it is flavored, it has fake sugar. Look before you buy. 
  • Sports Drinks: Yep, there is sugar and yes, I do still consume these but only when I am exercising for an extended period of time. I do not just grab a sports drink and drink it during the day. And I often dilute them down. 
  • Bottled Teas: I prefer my tea plain and naked. A fresh sun tea is absolutely fantastic and refreshing!
  • Fruit Juice: Some may argue it is a natural sugar but often, additional sugar may be added. Plus, I would rather just eat the fruit. And trust me, this is a topic of debate sometimes at home as dear hubby would love it if I bought orange juice. I don't unless it is under special circumstances. And darling daughter will drink hers diluted. And yes, I do give her some diluted juice if she is recovering from being very sick....and that doesn't happen often.
  • Flavored fruit drinks
  • Protein Drinks: Yep, my protein powder is sweetened but I do try to look for those with lower sugar/carb contents.

  • Cereals: We all know the big culprits, those brightly colored kids cereals, but the seemingly healthier choices may also be high in sugar. Raisin Bran comes to mind mainly because dried fruit are high in sugar and there is added sugar on top of that. And if there is icing on your cereal, there is sugar added. Just look for cereals with lower sugar content.
  • Oatmeal: I purchase the plain and season with cinnamon or eat with fruit. And I do understand my mom giving me flavored, sweetened oatmeal when I was young. If nothing else, it helped instill the love of oatmeal!
  • Yogurt: I purchase plain for myself but darling daughter does get flavored, even though it is sweetened. I just make sugar it isn't sweetened with aspartame. I feel this is a good stepping stone to eating plain later in life.
  • Frozen dinners: The light versions may be adding sugar to compensate for less fat.
  • Baked beans
  • Granola bars: I know these are sugary and must confess, I keep some in the house for when I am in a bind. I do have to fall on convenience every now and then.
  • Canned fruit: Many are canned or bottled with syrup. I have taught darling daughter that we look for those canned in natural juices if we do go this route.
  • Dried fruit: Yes, fruit is good for you but when it is dried, the sugar is concentrated. I think this can become an issue if you eat too much dried fruit as eating the whole fruit may fill you up quicker due to water content.

  • Reduced fat peanut butter: Reading this came to a surprise to me but it makes sense. Manufacturers are adding extra sugar to reduced fat foods to make them taste better. Go figure!
  • Salad dressings: Yep, sugar may be the first ingredient listed. Look closely if you are trying to cut back on your sugar intake.
  • BBQ sauce
  • Ketchup
  • Asian sauces
  • Fruit spreads
  • Spaghetti sauce: Yep, prepared sauces may contain added sugar and I recently discovered, homemade sauce is so much yummier!
  • Flavored coffee syrups: I do add creamer to my coffee and try to do so in moderation with vanilla or hazelnut. 

I am fortunate that I don't have to be restrictive in my diet due to health concerns as writing this post made me realize how hard it can be to eat differently if needed for health reasons. I wish my loved one the best of luck in her diet transitions and hope it becomes easier over time. My one piece of advice would be - take small steps. Don't try to eliminate it all at once. And don't beat yourself up if you slip up. We all do. It is human nature.

Daily Gratitude: I am thankful for coffee.
Daily Affirmation: I may not be sugar free but I am the healthiest me that I can be today.


  1. It is everywhere! I am going to check my kids vitamins.

  2. I think unfortunately we just eat too much processed food and it's an ingredient they use in abundance. Good for you being the awesome role model and helping her figure out what's going to work!

  3. It is so hard to find stuff without sugar in it. It really is everywhere. A lot of organic or health products have "evaporated cane juice" which from what I understand is slightly less processed, but it's still sugar and still has the same effect on the body. So hard to avoid sugar!

  4. Nice post! I laughed though when you said you wouldn't be getting into the aspartame debate. Aspartame is one of those things I choose to annoy my friends with, because I think it is so bad for you. :)

  5. It has always and will always baffle me as to WHY sugar is in SOOOOO many foods! Thankfully, I know where it lurks and avoid it at ALL costs! What I truly hate is when you think you're buying sugar free (AKA: some sliced turkey breast from the deli bar) yet, you read the fine lines of the ingredients label and you see DEXTROSE! Are you kidding me?

  6. I had to give up a lot of these things when I first started eating gluten-free last year, and then did even more investigating when deciding to give up sugar for my Whole30 Paleo challenges. I started making my own ketchup and mayonnaise and have given up my beloved Hoisin sauce!

    Yep, lots of hidden sugar everywhere. Good list to get people to start investigating, Erica.


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