Do you have a sweet tooth? Or, as far as sugar goes, could take it or leave it? (If you can leave it, I’m jealous.)

There’s a 99% chance you’re consuming more sugar than you think. And it’s not your fault. Food manufacturers sneak sugar into more foods than you can imagine.

It’s not just in the obvious suspects, like candy, cookies, cake, soda and pastries. It’s hiding where you’d least expect it.

Sugar is a carbohydrate that’s naturally found in many foods, including lactose (in milk) and fructose (in fruit). These aren’t necessarily the big problem for your health. It’s the processed and added sugars that pose the biggest dangers, and it’s not as easy as you may think to avoid them.

Low-fat “diet” foods often contain plenty of sugar to make up for the lower fat content and bland taste. Processed foods in general have added sugar, including canned soups and ready-made sauces like ketchup. You may not realize, but even bread can be a victim of sugar! That’s why checking your food labels is key to ensure your diet isn’t falling victim to sugar.

What Does Sugar Do to Your Health?

There are a litany of black marks against sugar — it causes obesity, increases the risks of heart disease, cancer and diabetes, and even premature aging. And if that’s not enough to help you steer clear of too much sugar, there are those daily frustrations to deal with like cravings, increased appetite, bloating and gas, moodiness, unstable energy, brain fog, stubborn belly fat, and of course, the struggle to lose weight.

Your thyroid and your blood sugar are intimately linked. That’s why I always encourage my clients with hypothyroidism and Hashimoto’s to minimize processed sugar. Keeping your blood sugar stable is critical not only to your health, but to curb cravings as well. If you have a compromised system, you cannot afford to have your stress hormones or insulin levels thrown off balance by sugar.

Too much sugar essentially spikes your blood sugar levels and then leads to a big dip. You might get a sugar high in the short term but it’ll be followed by a crash that affects your mood and makes you crave more sugar. This vicious cycle is one of the main reasons why sugar is so heavily linked to obesity. The more sugar you eat, the more sugar you want.

High Fructose Corn Syrup Versus Fruit

One of the main concerns to our health is high fructose corn syrup. Fructose in fruits isn’t all that bad and this can fool you into thinking that high fructose corn syrup can’t be that dangerous either.  In reality, it’s one of the worst types of sugar you can consume. It’s a major ingredient in lots of foods these days as it’s cheap to produce. It’s definitely one to watch out and stay away from as much as you can.

Why is it a problem? Our ancestors didn’t eat fructose other than the amount that was naturally included in fruit and some vegetables. Your liver can metabolize fructose to a large extent but when it reaches the tipping point, it starts turning it into fat instead. This is where the health problems begin. In the modern world, many of us eat more fructose than our bodies can handle.

Eating too much fructose can make your liver inflamed and start building up fat. It also encourages uric acid to be produced, which raises your blood pressure and can even lead to gout. More worries  it also affects blood lipids and cholesterol levels, which can lead to cardiovascular problems and type 2 diabetes.

Even fruit juice can contribute to this as it is high in fructose. According to studies, its fructose content can encourage the body to store abdominal fat, especially the type that surrounds your organs. You’re better off choosing whole fruits rather than fruit juices or dried fruit. You’ll also get more fiber to offset the sugar spike.

TIP: Mix natural sugars with protein to balance your blood sugar levels and to stop the sugar from being absorbed into your bloodstream as quickly. For example, team a piece of fruit with a handful of nuts or some yogurt (as long as there’s no added sugary fruit in it). This can also help to curb cravings too.

What to Look For

Sugar often won’t be included on the ingredients as sugar. Food manufacturing companies are getting crafty when it comes to labeling their products. Sugar secretly hides under a long list of other names. It can be hard to really understand what you’re eating. Anything ending in “ose” is an obvious giveaway, including glucose, sucrose (better known as table sugar), fructose and maltose.

Less obvious signs that something contains sugar are syrups such as rice syrup and corn syrup. And then there’s the big one high fructose corn syrup.

“Sugar free” foods generally contain artificial sweeteners such as sucralose and aspartame. Studies have suggested that these don’t do a lot to satisfy sugar cravings and may actually make you overeat. There are also concerns that they may pave the way for health problems.

If these type of ingredients are high on the list  meaning they are in the first few listed  then you know there’s a good amount of sugar hiding in the food!

Today, go through your pantry and check your labels. What has hidden sugar in it? Comment below on anything that surprises you.

Join The Sugar-Free Challenge

Every month or so, I offer a FREE 5-Day Sugar Free Challenge in my Hypo & Hashi’s Help Facebook group. You get a mix-and-match menu plan with loads of simple yet delicious recipes. On average, participants lose 4 pounds and keep it off. Some reported losing up to 8 pounds! Sorry though guys this is for ladies only.

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