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Do You Know Where Your Sugar is Hiding?

Sunday, April 07, 2013

I made a commitment for the month of April to be sugar and flour (wheat) free for at least 80% of the month, or 24 days. As of today, I’ve made it 5 out of 7 days. So far so good. The scale is moving in the right direction – this morning I saw a number I haven’t seen since September 2011. Clothes I haven’t been able to wear since then are fitting better too.

I’ve always been a low carb eater. I eat as little grain as possible, no pasta, no rice, no bread, no crackers. No potatoes either; they have too much starch, which turns to sugar in your bloodstream. I also don’t eat many baked goods or candy and stay away from most processed foods and dairy. I do allow myself a few exceptions of certain items, like salad dressings, butter or cream, that generally don’t have a lot of carbs or chemicals in them.

That means my optimal diet consists of lots of meat, eggs and veggies, moderate amounts of cheese, and minimal fruit, nuts and seeds. When I eat like this, I feel better – in countless ways - and I tend to lose weight. End of story.

But I have a weakness for bread, and I love my salty, crunchy crackers. When someone brings a delicious chocolate brownie treat to share, it’s really hard to resist. Holidays are always celebrated with food, most of it not in my low carb food plan. And once I start down that road, it’s difficult to stop. So I have to be very careful.

One thing I never worried about was the hidden sugars in many of the foods I eat. I always knew – have been harping on it for years – that when a food is labeled “low fat” or “fat free,” any fat that has been processed out has been replaced with sugar. Well, of course. It has to taste good, or no one would eat it. Right?

Except that the natural fats have been replaced not only with sugars, but with chemicals and “fake sugars” like high fructose corn syrup. So I don’t buy anything labeled “fat free” or “low fat.” I go with the full fat versions.

There can be no denying that sugar of one type or another is the culprit in many people’s failed efforts to lose weight, including mine. It is implicated in all kinds of health problems, including my momentary favorite, high cholesterol.

Even though I knew that some foods – even the full fat versions – have hidden sugars in them, they were so minimal that I didn’t care, and I was never truly aware of where those sugars were hiding. So when I committed to this sugar free month, I decided to take inventory of the few processed items I keep in my pantry and see what I was missing.

Here is a partial list. The first number is the total carbs in grams, the second number is the sugars in grams. The last item is how the sugar is listed and where it appears on the list.

Cream Cheese – 2 g – 2 g – 1st (it has milk, which has lactose, a sugar)
Bleu Cheese Dressing – 1 g – 1 g – Sugar, listed 8th
Ranch Dressing – 2 g – 1 g – Sugar, listed 3rd
Sour Cream – 1 g – 1 g – Milk protein, listed 2nd
Mayonnaise – 0 g – 0 g – HFCS, listed 6th
Peanut Butter – 8 g – 3 g – Sugar, listed 2nd
Pepperoni – 0 g – 0 g – Sugar, listed in the “2% or less” category
Shredded Cheese – 1 g – 0 g – Potato starch, listed in the “2% or less” category
Turkey Lunchmeat – 2 g – 1 g – Modified food starch, listed 3rd

If this is all the hidden sugar I’m getting, then I’m not doing too badly. But it is a reminder that I have to be vigilant. For this month, I’ve substituted a couple of things:

Instead of ranch or bleu cheese dressing, I’m mixing my own oil and vinegar dressing and experimenting with spices for flavor. It doesn’t save calories, but it has no sugar.

Instead of store-bought mayonnaise, I made my own, with egg, salt, mustard powder, lemon juice, vinegar and olive oil. No sugar.

Instead of standard peanut butter, I’m using all natural peanut butter which is made with peanuts and salt. Again, not a calorie saver, but no sugar.

At the end of the month, I hope two things have happened:
1. I have weaned myself off of these higher sugar items and the less sugary homemade stuff has become a habit
2. I have taken off the last 6 lbs to reach my goal

I’ll keep you posted!
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    I love my natural peanut butter! And my homemade mayo. Mmmmm....
    1812 days ago
    That white stuff...argh! It's so ubiquitous and tempting! Keep on with the good fight...it is SO worthwhile! :-)

    1832 days ago
    Sugar is definitely something to try and stay away from whether you are eating low carb or not. And much easier said than done.) There are much more nutrient dense ways to get your carbs. Best of luck in making it a habit and I hope you are able to get rid of those last few pounds.
    1840 days ago
    Yeah, I found her in her office (sorry, had to...). I work better with portion control than micromanaging my foods.
    1840 days ago
    I was going to say before I finished reading, switch to all-natural peanut butter. :) I also love almond butter, though it can be pricey. If you have a Costco near you, they actually sell all-natural almond butter for a really great price.

    1840 days ago
    Even low amounts have a subtle effect on how you feel and how much you lose. I had to stop ordering the chicken salad that I love from the cafeteria - an hour later I start having carb cravings! Don't know what they put in it, but it sure doesn't agree with me. :(
    1840 days ago
  • BILL60
    Unfortunately, I'm way too active for low carb. Burning an average of 2000+ calories a day requires me to consume carbs in order to repair the body. But, if it works for you, go for it.
    1840 days ago
    It's astounding how much sugar is included in things that are at all processed. I've tracked that for going on four years now and still run across some surprises. They have found that sugar is a huge culprit in the aging process, even right down to causing the wrinkles on your face. I guess it does a lot of damage to your skin over the years. And look at how we raise our children.....almost everything they like as little kids is loaded with sugar and they are perfectly happy to market it to the hilt, so we develop that craving early on, I think....or it is just already there, maybe. I read something the other day that made me laugh, but I had to acknowledge the truthfulness of it.....it said that most of the things that you buy at the grocery store are not actually even foods, and they are right. They are just manufactured products loaded with ingredients that are geared to make you want even more of them. I also read that almost everything made from wheat in our groceries have been using GMO wheat since the 70s, and when they tested this wheat in their labs, they discovered that a protein had been added to it that worked to specifically target the pleasure centers of our brain, causing us to crave even more of that product. And then they want to go on about the 'obesity epidemic'....give me a break. LOL This 'epidemic', I suspect, has been manufactured right along with everything else. But it's hard to just stick with only the all natural produce, etc. because 3/4 of us have been raised on all the yucky stuff and have therefore developed a taste for it. Whaddya do.....I guess it comes down to a lifelong battle to change our habits and our taste buds, but it's no easy feat, especially when our own ag and food business works so hard to get us to do otherwise.
    1841 days ago
    lol , I eat almost the same or at least I should . I'm in a vegan period now, experimenting too and without rice , pasta , potatoes , sugar , flour ( don't ask me what I eat emoticon ) and it's not working. I'm not losing , I feel rounder, I hope bloating is the cause emoticon and have less energy than ever. maybe we aren't meant to all eat the same things. what if you use grated cheese on the salad instead of the dressing?I never use bought mayo either. home made one is much better. riped avocado is great too instead of mayo if you don't hate it.
    1841 days ago
    Thanks for the info....
    1841 days ago
    good luck
    1841 days ago
  • 0309COOKIE
    Interesting blog. Thanks for the info.
    1841 days ago
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