Sugary Sugar Sugariness

There is a lot of misleading information out there about sugar!

I want to start this post with a disclaimer…I am not a nutritionist, dietician, or any other food specialist…and I only have minimal nutritional education as a Peer Fitness Trainer through the IAFF. But, over the years I have done lots reading and learned some information about food nutrition labels and ingredient lists.

There are a few loose rules manufacturers have to follow when it comes to food labels (I use the term “loose rules” on purpose).

They are required to list the total sugar content, but they don’t have to separate the natural from the added sugars.  So, it’s impossible to know how much of the total grams of sugar are natural (i.e. fructose) vs. added (i.e. high fructose corn syrup).

We’ll first talk about the nutrition label and how to determine how much sugar may be in the product you want to buy.   I’m only going to touch on the part of the nutrition label that discusses sugar.

Total carbohydrates – listed first, in grams, and includes all of the useable carbs (starch, dietary fibre, all sugars, and complex carbohydrates)

Dietary fibre – usually listed next, in grams.  Is indigestible, doesn’t raise your blood sugar, and slows down the impact of the other carbs.

Sugar – usually listed 3rd, in grams.  Total amount of sugar from natural (i.e. fructose) and added sugars (i.e. high fructose corn syrup).  They are not required to separate out natural vs. added sugar, so you will need to read your ingredients to take a closer look to see if you find any added sugars (I discuss this in more detail below).

Sugar alcohols – not always included, but if it is it will be listed next.  Manufacturers would choose these because they are lower in calories than the other sugars, but they still have the same effect on your body.  Tricky!

Now, the sum of all these numbers rarely adds up to the “total carbohydrates” because some starches are not required to be listed on the nutrition label.

Nice and confusing, hey?!

Now that you’re even more confused about nutrition labels lets touch on ingredient lists! The best choices of foods don’t have ingredient lists at all (whole foods such as meat, fruit, veggies, nuts, etc).  But, if you are going to buy a packaged food, try to buy ones with the smallest ingredient lists and with ingredients that you can pronounce!  And remember that the ingredients are listed from most to least, so if you see a sugar listed close to the top it’d be best to avoid that item if you can.

As far as sugars on ingredient lists…there are apparently over 60 different names for added sugars.  There’s no way you can remember them all, but there are a couple ways to help you identify them a little easier.

  1. anything that ends in “ose” (i.e. maltose, sucralose, etc).
  2. anything with “dex” (i.e. maltodextrin, dextrose).
  3. anything “syrup” (i.e. high fructose corn syrup [HFCS], malt syrup, rice syrup).
  4. anything “tol” (i.e. sorbitol, xylitol, mannitol), which are sugar alcohols.

It’s very sneaky how manufacturers can get us eating extra sugars when we think we are making wise choices.  It is important to be informed on how to read labels and ingredients to make the best choices for you and your family.

Watch for my next post on front label trickery!  These manufacturers are sneakier than you realize!





Work lunch recipes

I know a lot of people struggle with what to pack in their lunches for work and I’m no different.  Especially when I’m trying to plan lunches for 4-5 twelve hour shifts in a row, and when you love to snack as much as I do!

Thought I’d share a few of my favourite healthier recipes that I like to bring to work to help keep me full throughout the day.  Most of them I have found on Pinterest, which is a great place to find all kinds of recipes for all kinds of food.  And, I’m big on normal ingredients…I don’t want to have to hunt for some oddball ingredients that cost a ton or will sit unused in my pantry forever if the recipe is no good!

Applesauce Carrot Muffins
These are delicious, and fairly healthy.  The sweetness comes from honey and applesauce.  The only un-fun thing about making this is having to shred ¾ cup of carrots…I hate shredding carrots!

Quinoa Breakfast Bars
These are also delicious and are great if you have a sweet tooth like me (if you add the chocolate chips…which of course I do!).  I adjust this recipe most times I make it depending what nuts I have on hand, and don’t usually put raisins in.  I do not have chia seeds (nor do I know where to buy them…maybe Bulk Barn?), so I never add those.  Quinoa may be an odd ingredient for some, but I bought a bag at Costco and it lasts forever.

Quinoa Omelette Bites
Egg “muffins” do not have to be just a breakfast food.  These are filling and full of protein with the quinoa and eggs.  I used whole eggs, not egg whites, and I added some chopped up ham.  This is another recipe that you can add whatever ingredients you like…meat or other veggies (onions, peppers, mushrooms, etc).

Peanut Butter Granola Bars
These are sooooo yummy!  Medjool dates may not be a common pantry item for you, but I make these fairly often that I use them up.  I also vary the nuts and seeds that I put in based on what I have on hand (or what’s on sale…nuts are expensive!).

Please comment and share some of your favourite “snack” recipes that you make for your lunches.
Happy eating!