Why Avoiding Added Sugars Isn’t Easy
At first glance, avoiding added sugars might seem easy or at the very least manageable. Avoiding added sugars is like avoiding any other type of food, right? Simply don’t eat it. Only it’s not that simple at all. The thesaurus says that the opposite words for simple include complicated, convoluted and hard, and that’s exactly what avoiding added sugars is like.
Firstly, it’s important to understand that the ingredient and nutrient label printed on the back of all packaged foods DOES contain the total amount of sugars present. What it DOESN’T do is clarify what percentages of those sugars are naturally occurring and which have been added.
This can make avoiding added sugars problematic.
Imagine going to buy a bottle of water. You read the label out of curiosity and are assured the bottle of water you’re buying is 100% water. Now imagine 60% of that water was recycled and another 15% imported from sources with poor water quality. Technically speaking, it’s all water so the label isn’t lying but it’s also not telling you the whole story
When you don’t know the whole story it’s difficult to make informed decisions. When the whole story seems a bit murky and not that all clear, you really have your work cut out for you.
When it comes to studying the ingredient list of any of your favourite packaged foods, things can get a little vague, at best. According to the University of California San Francisco, there are at least 61 different names for sugar.
Looking for sugar on an ingredient list can sometimes feel like a game of hide and seek. See which words for sugar you recognise below?
Barley Malt? Cane Juice Crystals? Carob Syrup? Rice Syrup? Mannose?
You don’t need to have quit sugar completely for this to feel frustrating, even for those simply wanting to know what they’re putting in their body this process can seem dizzying.
Fortunately, it’s not all doom and gloom and things are looking up! There is a push for clearer food labels and tough guidelines ensure foods that claim ‘no added sugars’ deliver on their promise. As people become increasingly educated around food, demands for transparent labeling and low sugar and sugar-free alternatives are on the rise making it economically viable for such foods to exist.
What do you think?
We love hearing your thoughts and it would be great to hear your opinions when it comes to sugar labeling and what tips and tricks you have for deciphering the nutrient and ingredient labels.