How much sugar: Pimms, cereal, yoghurt & Nakd bars (not together!)

So this week instead of churning out something new, I decided to refresh and update a couple of old articles that are my most popular and most read.

If you fancy getting some quick sugar knowledge and a practical approach around yoghurts, cereal, Nakd bars and Pimms then click on one of the links below to take you to the updated article:

Reading and re-writing these articles was quite eye opening to me in that it made me realise there was a time where I was possibly a little fixated on sugar more that I like to advocate these days. However, it was a necessary step I needed to go through on my health changes and being an analytical numbers person, I quite enjoyed getting into the detail.

What I will say is get your head quickly around where there’s more sugar and become aware, but avoid becoming overly fixated for an extended period of time. I don’t advocate counting calories and I also think to have a healthy relationship and food long term, you shouldn’t be counting sugar grams either.

Read: The 5 ways counting calories is working against you

Respect the stage that you’re at and if you want to be guided through the process then don’t forget the free video training you can get here that walks you through my approach to this.

Are there any other foods you’d like me to apply my analytical number crunching too? Comment below and I’ll look into it 🙂

Laura x

 

sugar-free-muesli

Fructose-free muesli base recipe

Muesli was one of my favourite sugar-filled foods but even when labelled sugar-free, it can still be packed to the nines with dried fruit.

Make this basic muesli base and you can call the shots on the sugar in your muesli bowl by either having it plain or by adding a little fruit sweetness to your own taste depending on where you are with your sweet cravings.

Fructose-free muesli base

sugar-free-muesli

Makes 8-10 portions

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ cups mixed nuts (I use hazelnuts, almonds and walnuts but any mix will do)
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • ½ cup flaxseed powder
  • ½ cup unsweetened dessicated coconut
  • ½ cup chia seeds (optional)
  • ½ cup sunflower seeds
  • ½ cup pumpkin seeds

Method

  • Put all the ingredients in a large bowl and mix well
  • Pour into an airtight container
  • Serve with your choice of cold milk, yoghurt or extras

sugarfree-muesli

Try this

  • If you’re in a super low fructose period, try mixing with some full fat yoghurt and topping with coconut flakes and raw cacao nibs.
  • For a low fructose twist add either some fresh raspberries, a chopped kiwi fruit or some blueberries.
  • Ultimately as you grow more confident with sweet, add whichever fruit you like best – I personally love either chopped apple, peach or goji berries with cacao nibs
  • Activating or soaking your nuts will make them easier to digest

Do you make your own muesli? Have you found any that are particularly low sugar that you would be willing to share?

Time to change around sugar?

Love this recipe but feel like you are not sure where to start with recalibrating your tastebuds, dealing with emotional eating, changing habits etc? Then check out my free 4-video training course which describes my four pillars to embrace a low sugar lifestyle and sends you LOADS of other helpful resources to get started.

 

lindts-excellence-chilli-dark-chocolate

How to buy low sugar dark chocolate

Recently, one of my lovely subscribers Noreen e-mailed me a question about dark chocolate…

“Have you found any chocolate that does not contain sugar or has a lesser amount? All the dark chocolate I have found still lists sugar as one of the top three ingredients.”

Great question Noreen – thank you! Let’s look at this….

Generally, there aren’t a significant amount of ingredients that constitute dark chocolate, so there’s a high chance that sugar will be in the top three. Bars that are lower in cocoa solids tend to have sugar as the 1st or 2nd ingredient, and for those which are darker, you may find it goes down to 2nd or 3rd, simply because the cocoa makes up more of the bar substance.

chocolate-gratings-pieces

What to look for

When you’re looking at dark chocolate, it’s better to look at the sugar per 100g so you can work out the % e.g. 10g sugar per 100g equals 10%.

Bear in mind, those with the same cacao % can still have differences in sugar amount. Here’s just a selection of chocolate that shows you the comparison (Highest in sugar first).

lindts-excellence-chilli-dark-chocolatedark-chocolate-70percent-green-and-blacks-organic

Lindt Excellence chilli

  • 46.4g sugar per 100g

  • 49% cocoa solids

Green & Blacks 70%

  • 28.9g sugar per 100g

  • 70% cocoa solids

Nero & Bianco (the brand that is stocked in my office canteen!) 

  • 27g sugar per 100g

  • 70% cocoa solids

Green & Blacks 85%

  • 13.8g sugar per 100g

  • 85% cocoa solids

Lovechock 100% Raw Pure Nibs

  • 12g sugar per 100g

  • 80% cocoa solids

Lindt Excellence 90%

  • 7g sugar per 100g

  • 90% cocoa solids

(I am going to do a full review of some of these in a separate post but I’m still in testing phase!)

lovechock-dark-chocolate-raw-100percent-pure-nibsdark-chocolate-nero-and-bianco-fairtrade-and-organic

More buying dark chocolate tips

Generally, what I first look for in a dark chocolate is sugar per 100g, and then it’s cocoa % because this is the powerful antioxidant element that has the health benefit. I think 12-13g is a reasonable amount, but I do also like the 90% which is only 7g. I appreciate you need to work up to these as your taste buds adjust their sugar sensitivity. Lots of people can find dark chocolate bitter, especially if they are accustomed to a sugary diet.

Think about the quality when you pick dark chocolate. Expensive good quality chocolate is usually associated with a nicer texture and deeper taste. It means you really savour each square and are more inclined to make it last rather than gobble it down.

Note: A year ago I used to love the Lindt Chilli chocolate but notice how that is top of the list and nearly 50% sugar, despite still being labelled as a ‘dark’ chocolate. Unfortunately I do find this one a bit sickly now but I love the flavour combination. (Hi Lindt, please can you make a Chilli 85% one just for me? Great, thanks!)

Some brands might advertise that it’s been sweetened with coconut sugar/nectar, xylitol or stevia which are all healthy-ish alternatives in their own way to raw cane sugar. I’ve posted on all three of these, so just make sure you’re clued up so you know what you’re ingesting when you eat them. At the end of the day, if it’s a square of dark chocolate eaten every once in a while, I’m happy to let this very small amount of raw cane sugar pass my lips.

To let you know, I now eat dark chocolate once or twice a week, if that. I used to eat it everyday. Consider that if you’re eating it everyday, you’re having refined sugar everyday and your cementing it as a habit, which with time will only get stronger. Try and break the routine if you can and do a good few days without it.

I hope that was helpful. What are your thoughts on dark chocolate? Do you love it or hate it? Find it so bitter it’s not worth having? Favourite brands?

P.S. I was delighted when Noreen e-mailed me with her great question so if you’ve a burning query, please let me know! (laura@happysugarhabits.com)

 

how-to-make-pimms-and-lemonade-low-sugar

Pimms & lemonade: How much sugar?

Are you a fan of Pimms? Yeah me too. Happy memories with friends at BBQs, Tennis themed celebrations and general British summer fun.

As you can imagine, Pimms poses a slight dilemma when living a low sugar lifestyle, so here’s an article to share some practical tips in addition to some mindset shifting so you can enjoy Pimms (if you want) in a healthy way.

The sugar in Pimms

First up, is there is sugar in the actual Pimms drink? Well, as I found, the recipe is top secret  – apparently only six people actually know it.

Therefore there is a lack of ingredients and nutritional information on the label. A little bit of research and I determined that ingredients generally include dry gin, liqueur, fruit juices and spices.

So the actual Pimms has sugar (the fruit juice bit), but this is small really. Where the sugar really comes into play is what you mix and dilute it with (assuming you don’t drink it straight!).

Traditionally you mix Pimms with lemonade in a 1:3 ratio. So of course the lemonade is the killer on the sugar front – for example a 330ml can of Sprite has 22g of sugar (5 ½ teaspoons).

how-to-make-pimms-and-lemonade-low-sugar

Note: It’s come to my attention that in the UK we refer to lemonade differently to America & Canada. When I talk about lemonade I mean fizzy lemon flavoured water like Sprite rather than the cloudy flat variety.

Low sugar lemonade options

Now of course, lemonade is sweet. There is no getting around that. Therefore it’s going to have some sugar or artificial sweeteners in some form. There are a few strategies you can use to lessen the sugar in your Pimms mixer – something I have to do these days when I just don’t like things too sweet.

Tip 1: Find the lower sugar brands

I recommend this with any products you use. Often there is a sugar difference between brands so by just spending a little time upfront you can find the lower sugar and healthier ones.

I checked out the amount of sugar in some lemonade brands and was at first quite surprised at the differences between brands. With the highest sugar culprits at the top of the following list, here are the sugar contents of varying lemonade brands (based on 100ml, which is roughly what you might add to make a single glass of Pimms).

  • 7up and Sprite (both 10.6g)
  • Schwepps (4.2g)
  • Asda Chosen by You (3.5g)
  • R Whites (2.4g)

So as a result of this research, you can do yourself a favour by moving away from 7up and Sprite which appear to be the most sugary fizzy lemon water or lemonade. It’s got nearly 4 times as much sugar as the R Whites brand.

Tip 2: Opt for artificially sweetened lemonade (your call)

This is an option to consider. Diet lemonades will usually have less than 1g sugar per 100ml. You can read my take on sweeteners here and there’s an interesting article in the New York Times here that’s discusses the evidence to support artificial sweeteners.  

The diet lemonades I researched generally contained both Aspartame and Saccharin, two of the most debated sweeteners on the block. I’d say this is your call.

At the end of the day, these are chemicals – they are far from ‘clean’ but I do believe it’s the frequency and habitual nature of their use which makes the difference.

If you drink Pimms a few times a year and choose a diet Lemonade for the occasion, I don’t see there’s going to be potential long term damage. In terms of your sweet cravings, full sugar and diet both put the sweetness in your mouth, so they’re likely to have the same impact.

I would strongly recommend avoid using artificial sweeteners to help you plaster over an insatiable sweet tooth and would always encourage to reduce your sweet preference as a priority.

Tip 3: Dilute the sweetness

One way to reduce the sweetness of the drink and keep your palate less sweet is to dilute the sweetness of the lemonade mixer.

Because my taste buds are accustomed to a lot less sugar these days, I find Pimms with Lemonade, even diet Lemonade, pretty sweet, so I’ve experimented and found the following can work…

  • Try mixing your Pimms with the smallest amount of lemonade (diet or no diet) you can manage and then top up the rest with soda/sparkling water. You can play around with the proportions to your own personal taste, but by doing this you’re diluting the sugar content and bringing it down to a lower level without too much compromise.
  • Adding extra fruit and mint also enhances the flavour without the need for the sugary lemonade overload.

You can also do this soda water trick with gin and tonic to a certain extent. Just little ways of bringing the sugar content down without giving up everything that you like all at once.

Keep it in perspective

From a final mindset perspective, remember lower sugar is a lifestyle rather that a regimented diet regime. There’s no reason to banish all things that you enjoy, it’s just a case of assessing the frequency and finding little strategies that work for you over time. Obviously if you’re buying Pimms out, you have limited control over what they mix with, so just sit back on the rare occasion and enjoy whilst congratulating yourself on your other lower sugar efforts.

What do you think of Pimms and lemonade? Too sugary or something that you’ll allow yourself on special occasions?

 

 

are-nakd-bars-bad-for-you

Are Nakd bars good for you?

Do you LOVE Nakd bars? They are by far one of your favourite health snacks and you find yourself enjoying them quite often. However with all the stuff about sugar recently, do you wonder if Naked bars are good for you?

It’s a very common question I get asked these days, so I decided to help you out and lay out all the facts so you can make your mind up in line with your own personal situation…

Before I continue, I will say that the lovely Natural Balance Foods sent me a load of these bars to review and this was when I was quite new to blogging.

I was in a bit of a quandary because at that point I was what I call quite ‘sugar sensitive’  –  I was in a stage of my transition where I needed to be more cautious around some of my former favourite sugar fixes to avoid slipping back to the unhealthy habits I had with them.

Having a whole box of Nakd bars in my house and not reverting back to old ways was going to be a test…

nakd-bars-bad-for-you

Nakd Bars Reviews

Fair to say, ‘Natural’ healthy bars used to be my thing.

I would try out and hunt the latest ones on the market like my life depended on it because they were the most guilt free way I could satisfy my sweet fix.

At one point, these Nakd bars completely fed my ‘sugar addiction’ on a daily basis (it’s a strong term but you know what I mean).

I was eating 1-3 of them a day. Everyday. I had a ritual of eating them after a meal and in the afternoons and sometimes (also) for breakfast. I was hooked on these because in my head I could label them ‘healthy’, however, I was VERY accustomed to having a decent bit of fructose in my life everyday (read what you need to know about fructose here).

If you feel you’re in a similar place with these, you’re not alone and you should definitely read on….

Are NaKd bars good for you? The for and against…

Firstly, I want to highlight some really great points about these bars. They:

  • Are made with 100% natural ingredients i.e. not overly processed.
  • The Nakd bars recipe is simple with just a few ingredients
  • Contain mainly just fruits and nuts. Not refined sticky rice puffs like other cereal bars
  • Are pretty substantial and do definitely fill a hunger gap
  • Suffice as a source of some protein which comes from the nuts
  • Taste really delicious (I LOVED the cocoa orange one)

However, let’s not beat around the bush, on a sugar front they are not so great, due to the following:

  • Most bars are made with dates and raisins. Nearly all of them are made with approximately 50% dates and then another 10-15% raisins on top.
  • Dates and raisins are two of the highest and most concentrated forms of sugar (and fructose) around.
  • They are big portions of dried fruit. 35g in a packet equals a decent amount of your daily sweetness intake.

So how much sugar in Nakd bars?

On average we’re talking 14-15g sugar per bar. This is near enough 4 teaspoons of sugar if you were to convert it to white refined, which is quite a lot when you think of it in actual physical teaspoons.

The danger of this much sugar is that it’s likely to make you crave sugar again later on and continually build up your preference for sweet food in general.

To put it into perspective, I very roughly aim to eat about 25g of natural sugar a day.

So, relatively speaking, one of these Nakd bars is quite a big proportion of that (over half). This is similar to other health food bars – see the below image from The Daily Mail.

sugar-cereal-bars

Some can be less sugar, for example a small Special K bar can be around 7g, so Nakd are still over double that. Natural sugars yes, but high in sugar nonetheless.

To help you with the range, here’s a list of the lowest to highest sugar content by flavour:

  • Ginger Bread 11g
  • Pecan Pie 12g
  • Cashew Cookie 14g
  • Cocoa Orange 14g
  • Cocoa Delight 15g
  • Cocoa Mint 15g
  • Berry Delight 16g
  • Caffe Mocha 17g
  • Rhubarb & Custard 18g

To be honest the lower sugar ones are my favourite anyway. You may also find seasonal ones like the Christmas Pud one which is about 17g if I remember.

nakd-bars

So should I eat them?

This really does come down to you and where you’re currently at with sugar. Are you actively trying to reduce your sweet cravings to get more control? Are you trying to just make ‘better’ healthy swaps? Are you just in need of some quick release energy after exercise or running?

1. What to do if you’re trying to get control & reduce cravings

I’d say pull back on eating these for a while. They don’t have to go off your radar forever, but it may be worth you going through more of a tastebud recalibration period. Their high fructose content and addictive deliciousness won’t help with the end goal of getting more control over sweet food (trust me on this one!)

2. What to do if you’re trying to just make ‘better’ healthy swaps

If you’ve decided you’re going to eat something sweet and are about to reach for a chocolate bar, a flapjack or a full on dessert, these are a WAY better substitute. They were a definite ‘bridge’ for me in terms of switching bad foods to ‘better’ foods. However, know there are even lower sugar ‘better’ swaps like a small square of dark chocolate (1-5g) or some full fat greek yoghurt (contains the less addictive lactose sugar). Remember, this is a progressive journey.

3. What to do if you’re intensely exercising

Because dried fruit is a quick releasing source of natural sugar for the body, these can actually be a great post workout fuel. However if you also fall into the first category I mentioned earlier where you’re also trying to get in control, you’re faced with a dilemma.

You need to try and refuel where you can with lower fructose options (I know this is hard). I suggest checking out my 101 sugar strategies guide for ideas and if you’re a sweet toothed runner, you may also find this post useful.

4. Another one… When you’re a bit hungover!

After a little excess, your body is processing the alcohol and as a result isn’t that great at processing other energy you have stored. That’s why you find yourself craving quick sugar (Lucozade anyone?!). A Nakd bar, or similar equivalent can hit the spot in a more natural way, but again just be mindful of the sugar in them and the impact on your cravings. If you can opt for a good hearty eggs based breakfast instead (get some spinach in that fry up!) then you’ll nicely steady your blood sugar without the sugar hit.

In summary…

I’m hoping this post has been helpful to you wherever you are on your low sugar journey. I do think Nakd bars have a fair bit of sugar (sweetness) in just a single bar and they certainly aren’t something I’d advise to eat if you’re actively looking to cut down or get a bit more control over things. I encourage those reducing their cravings away from them.

These are not something I eat regularly now, but do occasionally enjoy as a natural treat because I know there’s no danger of going back.

However, I appreciate, everyone is different and at varying stages of lowering sugar, so really, it’s your call. Some are mighty tasty and they are a lot ‘better’ than other sweet things. At least now you can save yourself some sugar credits by opting for the lower sugar ginger bread flavour and you’re fully aware of how much sugar you’re putting away when eating one.

If you tend to get a bit confused between natural sugars when reading label then you can download my free 6-step process to reading labels PDF guide  which will walk you through really logical steps. Honestly, get your head around this process and you’ll never look back!

If this has been useful please share, like, comment or wave 😉

What do you think of Nakd bars? I would really love to hear your thoughts on these….favourite flavour, when you eat them etc. 

sugar-free-yoghurt

Which are the best low sugar yoghurts to buy?

So you’re standing in the supermarket, it’s a bit cold because you’re in the fridge section and you’re feeling COMPLETELY bamboozled the by yoghurt choice. Oh trust me, I’ve been there – which are the best low sugar yoghurts out there?

Greek, natural, pro-biotic, ‘natural’ fruit ones, low calorie, half a dozen fat %s etc. There’s just so much choice and apart from the Rolo variety, most are claiming that they’re the healthiest thing going. It’s confusing to say the least.

If yoghurt is a staple in your diet; you’ve formally been (or still are) a low fat fruity fan; and you’re looking for a yoghurt life less some sugar, with a handle on your cravings, then this is the article for you!

Should we be eating dairy?

I first wrote this article back in 2012 but I’m now updating it because the yoghurt scene is moving mighty fast. Dairy is getting a bad rep and many people are these days opting to avoid it. I could spend the whole of this post discussing dairy in itself but I want to keep it simple:

1. If you already know you’re lactose intolerant or actively avoid dairy because it makes you feel better not eating it, then of course continue to do so. Options for you will be more limited but they are there – mainly in the form of coconut yoghurt. My favourite low sugar yoghurts brands being CoYo and Coconut Collaborative.

Note: If you’re dairy free but chucking down sweetened almond milk or dairy free chocolate like no tomorrow, you’re still potentially a bit hooked on sugar (fructose). I’d ask yourself to what extent avoiding the dairy is driving you towards more sugar and how much of a control you feel over sweet stuff?

2. If you have an unhealthy relationship with sugar and you are eating sugary yoghurts, forget about experimenting around dairy-free and just focus on lower sugar to start with. This article should really help you do that.

A note: I still eat quite a lot of (quality) dairy these days. I am considering a trial period without it but I’m not going to deny the fact it really really helped me overcome my sweet tooth and I’m not sure I would have beaten my fructose addiction without it. I (& many of my clients) have used yoghurt and milky drinks a lot to help with some of the worst cravings and sugary habits. So as much as people will argue against dairy, it very much depends on you and where you’re at.

low sugar yoghurts

The benefits of yoghurt on a lower sugar diet

Yoghurt can be a delicious source of protein, fat and other nutrients that is satisfying and can feel indulgent. It can fill you up at breakfast, serve as a snack or add a tasty dimension and natural sweetness to main meals. It can even be a healthy dessert or bust a particularly tough craving.

However, it’s also one of the food areas which is the most shocking when it comes to sugar and mixed marketing messages, so it really needs some awareness.

Diebetes Lie

How much sugar?!

I’ll never forget the moment I realised my daily Activia Snackpot contained 16g of sugar. I nearly fell through the floor and actually felt some deep down sadness inside – this was the sweet pleasure in my day and had been for about 10 years. I do really feel your yoghurt pain if you’re going through it.

However, to give you an idea of sugar in some yoghurts check these out:

Muller Light Smooth Toffee 175g pot = 12.4g sugar plus aspartame (artificial sweetener)

Weight Watchers Summer Fruit Strawberry 120g pot = 6.6g sugar plus aspartame

Tesco Low Fat Strawberry 125g pot = 16.1g sugar, no aspartame

Yeo Valley Greek Style Honey 100g pot = 14.3g sugar, no aspartame

As you can see, some contain quite a lot of sugar, especially when you visually remember that 4g is the equivalent of a teaspoon. That small Tesco strawberry number is packing in a hefty 4 teaspoons of sugar.

Evident from the first two, it’s also not unusual to find sugar (usually in the form of a syrup) AND artificial sweeteners. In some cases you may find just artificial sweeteners and in others just a form of sugar (even organic honey is still sugar – especially when its so processed).

Screenshot 2015-03-16 14.27.08

Natural vs. Fruit in low sugar yoghurts

I’ll be frank and get to the point here. Anything fruity flavoured or that tastes fruity, has something in it to make it taste like that. Even a seemingly ‘natural’ fruit compote is a concentrated source of sugar, usually with extra sugar or artificial sweeteners added to it. I won’t even go into artificial colourings or other stabilisers which are usually also packed into these yoghurts. Remember the fewer ingredients on the list, the better.

The best way to go to avoid added sugar is to steer away from fruity flavours and opt for natural or plain Greek yoghurts. Learn more by watching my video on Natural vs. Greek yoghurts and reading this article on the three things you probably don’t know about Greek yoghurt.

So remember the differences here:

  • Fruit flavour yoghurt: between 6-14g sugar per 100g (plus potential stabilisers and artificial sweeteners)
  • Natural or Greek yoghurt: between 4-9g sugar per 100g

The best of the fruity situation

Whilst natural is preferable, lets say a fruit flavoured yoghurt slips into the trolley… I’ll turn a blind eye with the hope you’ll change this habit eventually as I know I struggled to pull myself off this one.

My advice if you really want a low sugar healthy(ish) fruit flavoured yoghurt is aim for 6-7g per 100g or around 8-9g a pot serving NOT a whopping 16g like the above Tesco number. You’ll also need to decide how OK you are with various 0g sugar substitutes like aspartame or stevia, as you’re likely to come across lower sugar products that contain these to keep the sweet taste.

Personally, I’d say really try to move away from fruity yoghurts. Buy plain, natural or Greek and add your own fruit or even a little brown rice syrup/raw honey if you really need. At least you have control of the amount if you’re adding it yourself. Whole fruit with the skin helps naturally slow down the release of sugar and helps your body process it much better than some sort of processed fruit compote.

Low sugar yoghurts: Be conscious of portion size

Smaller snack size pots are easy to calculate but the killer comes with those large and so-easy-to-dip-your-spoon-into big tubs.

You’re likely to have about a 150g portion of these and if your spoon is dipping into something like the Onken Vanilla 0% ‘fat free’, you’re racking up an impressive 21.2g of sugar (5.3 teaspoons) for that portion size. All of that under the perception that you’re being healthy with 0% fat. Crazy town!

Not to mention with those large tubs of addictive fructose laden yoghurt, portion control is even harder (just one more spoonful…). Eat a double portion by accident an your up to 44.4g of sugar! Ouch.

Natural lactose sugar

You’ll notice that even the natural and Greek yoghurts contain sugar under the carbohydrates listing on the label. If the ingredients do not list anything sweet or sugar like, you can assume that this is natural lactose which is OK.

This is absolutely fine from a sugar craving standpoint – it’s not the addictive fructose that makes you want more sugar and is harmful in large quantities.

Generally yoghurts can contain between 4-9g of natural lactose like this but always double check the ingredients. Ideally you want just the yoghurt and maybe some friendly yoghurt cultures to be listed. Below is the ingredients list for FAGE Total Greek Classic (4% fat) yoghurt which is a quality brand I highly recommend.

Screenshot 2015-03-16 15.20.18

 

 

What about fat?

We are currently emerging from a low fat era and attitudes are shifting. Recent reports are claiming that the low fat advice we were previously given a few decades ago was based on weak evidence. All saturated fat is no longer the dietary villain it was made out to be.

When it comes to low sugar yoghurts, full fat has two main benefits:

  1. It fills you up and satiates you more, thus reducing your need for other food or snacking between meals
  2. It’s less processed than low fat varieties

Saying this I know personally and through my coaching that ‘fat fear’ is a real issue. I found it hard to start eating full fat dairy and had to work my way up. You usually get yoghurt in 0%, 1.5-2%, 4% and 9.5-10% fat varieties so maybe just opt for the higher %’s or the one up from the one that you’re used to.

Even if you’re trying to slim down, experiment with full fat yoghurt (or at least 4%) because where you might be eating a few extra calories with it, chances are it’s going to satiate you to eat less over the rest of the day and so it kind of balances itself out if you know what I mean.

At the end of the day it may also come down to taste preference. I personally go for either 4% or 9.5% depending on what I’m using it for e.g. 4% for breakfast, 9.5% if it’s a dessert.

Look for protein

Another healthy thing to look for in low sugar yoghurts is protein content, because this ultimately the macronutrient that will keep you feeling fuller for longer and release energy more steadily into the bloodstream. FAGE Total Greek really comes out on top here with at least 9g per 100g. Reviewing other varieties for protein, they seem to average around 4-8g.

Low sugar yoghurt recommendations

I like these ones…

FAGE Total Greek Classic, 4% fat, 9g protein

FAGE Total Greek 2%, 2% fat, 9.9g protein

Yeo Valley Natural (the green one!), 4.2% fat, 4.6g protein

Yeo Vally Greek Style Natural, 9.5% fat, 4.5g protein

Tesco Natural Greek Yoghurt, 9.5% fat, 4.2g protein (probably the cheapest here)

Even Lidl has a full fat creamy massive tub one that is suitable for a low sugar diet, so cost should not be a barrier!

In summary, the morals of the low sugar yoghurt story are:

1) keep your eye firmly on sugar content – the ingredients particularly so you can spot for artificial sweeteners and other sugar forms.

2) move away from fruity flavoured where you can

3) consider the protein

4) don’t be scared off by fat.

I’ll also quickly add to watch out for stevia, agave, honey etc. which are also all bound to start making more of an appearance in low sugar yoghurts as the market starts to shift to ‘low sugar’ over ‘low fat’.

If you tend to get a bit confused between natural sugars, lactose etc. when reading label then you can download the free PDF Reading Label Guide HERE which will walk you through really logical steps. Honestly, get your head around this process and you’ll never look back!

What do you think about yoghurts? Do you have any questions? Please comment below and I’ll answer them for you and everyone else reading this.

Laura xx

What you need to know about sugar and cereal bars

I could keep this article super short and say… steer clear of cereal bars full stop. I can guarantee they will contain a lot of sugar or something sugary and they are going to make you crave sweetness.

However, I understand if you have a love affair with cereal bars, because so did I – a big one too. So I’m going to delve deeper into cereal bar sugar statistics to give you a fuller picture and some perspectives on different ‘healthy’ brands.

My cereal bar love

I started opting for cereal bars when I deemed them a healthier option to a full on chocolate bar. Instead of a KitKat in my lunch box, a Fruseli bar or Nutri Grain seemed like a virtuous substitution – I felt good about myself for these healthy swaps.

As the popularity of cereal bars grew, food companies started churning out all sorts of varieties and I relished at the chance to try them all to find my favourites – the cereal bar section of the supermarket was one of my favourites.

I will never forget my discovery of the 90 calorie Kelloggs Choc Roco bar whilst at University – this soon became my staple snack during dozy lectures and friends even mocked me for how many I would eat. And who remembers the Tracker bar? Another one of my cereal bar loves.

Anyway, we could be here all day with me reminiscing on all of this…

Cereal bars and sugar

If you ever browse The Daily Mail, you may have seen various sensationalist articles over the last few years like this one: ‘Healthy’ cereal bars that contain more sugar than a can of cola and as much fat as cheese’.

This particular article was based on some research that the Which? group did. The reviewed 30 of the bars that are marketed as ‘healthy’ and the report showed some interesting findings, most notably concluding that the health image these bars portrayed was a ‘myth’.

What’s the problem with this?

Sometimes when people see things as ‘healthy’, it warrants overconsumption. This is particularly dangerous if the product isn’t in fact that healthy – which is the case with cereal bars.

Really they should be viewed as a ‘treat’ which is more occasional – and in the case that you’re having a treat, you can fairly decide if you want some chocolate. If you’re going to eat a cereal bar when you really want chocolate and then eat chocolate afterwards because the sugar in cereal bar has put you on the sweetness train, you can see you’re not doing yourself any favours with them.

Talking statistics – how do popular bars square up?

So out of analytical sugar interest, which bars stack up better, worse and just plain sugar bombs?

Nutri-Grain Elevenses (18g) – Seriously I used to dig these because put simply, they are a CAKE! Ok a smidge healthier with a few fibre-some raisins but don’t delude yourself any more than that. Eat, but eat with the same frame of mind that you would the humble muffin or fruit loaf.

Tracker Roasted Nut Bar (7.3g) – These are gooey and old school. You can’t quite tell what they are completely made of and Which? deemed them the most unhealthy due to the high fat content. Unless you love them over everything else in your life, then I’d let them go for a while and keep them as one of your ‘younger’ loves.

Naked Apple Pie (12g) – Nakd bars cause such a debate that I’ve written Are Nakd bars good for you? which details the sugar difference between all flavours.

However, when compared to other cereal bars, they compare well as they don’t have any added sugar – it’s all dried fruit ‘natural sugars’. However, 12g per bar is a sweet hit to bear in mind from a cravings perspective.

EAT Natural e.g. brazils, sultanas, almonds, peanuts & hazelnuts (12.9g) – Again, you feel saintly eating these ‘whole ingredients’ ‘natural’ bars because nothing else has been added. However don’t be fooled as they are super sweet with nearly 13g of sugar rocking up in each bar. Ok you know what you’re getting, unlike the more chemical strange ingredient Tracker bar, but just know these are a real sugar hit.

The good thing about these bars is at least they have a lot of nuts or seeds to help slow down the sugar release in your body and make the bar stand as a very substantial snack. Beware, Eat Natural also do a yoghurt coated bar which has even more sugar.

I used to eat these a lot – they along with Nakd bars gave me the fructose hit I craved on a daily basis. Now I really can’t hack them as they’re too sweet. I bought one a while ago to see how I felt about it and ended up picking the raisins out. I’d say if you’re weaning off sweet and trying to reduce cravings, keep the Eat Natural bars off the scene.

Special K Red Berry (9g) – Branded as a staple low calorie ‘healthy’ bar, really this is just clever branding and marketing by Kelloggs. These don’t have much substance to them, so to have 9g sugar per bar, they are heavy in sugar for their weight. They’re also highly processed and have nothing to slow the release of the refined carbohydrate and sugar energy into your bloodstream.

Weetabix Oaty Bars, Strawberry Crusher (4.6g) – Although these are similar to the Special K bars in that they are processed and a refined carbohydrate sugary snack, they at least have half the amount of sugar. This just demonstrates that if you take the time to find lower sugar versions of some foods, it is worth the effort.

When I was weaning myself off sweet gradually, I switched from my super sugary Eat Natural, Special K and Elevenses bars to these Weetabix bars for a while.

In Summary

There are so many cereal bars out there but all I will say is beware and make your you check the ingredients and sugar when purchasing.

Even if they’re made with ‘natural sugar’ –  agave nectar, coconut sugar, dates or any other sugar substitute – they are still SWEET – and thus will drive your cravings.

Why not opt for a piece of fresh fruit, some nuts or crudités and dip instead. Move away from cereal bars as a habit and have just as a treat and your body will thank you in the long run I’m sure.

What are your thoughts on cereal bars? How often do you eat them?

 

 

Which breakfast cereals are really low sugar?

Did you grow up loving cereal? Were you a Frosties child or just a grown up who still loved to drink the chocolate milk remains of your Coco Pops.

Maybe you were more sophisticated with a bowl of strawberry crunch. Those crunch cereals were my ultimate favourites (maple and pecan, chocolate etc), along with Crunchy Nut Cornflakes, Raisin Wheats and Special K.

So why do we love cereal so much? It’s very likely due to three things: the satisfying crunch combined with ice cold milk, the sweetness and of course the convenience. Pouring a tasty breakfast out of a box is very appealing in a rushed world.

Cereal and sugar

The amount of sugar in cereals is quite a shocker. See the following list for a range of cereals and how many grams of sugar per 30g bowl serving:

  • Kellogg’s Frosties (11g)
  • Kellogg’s Crunchy Nut (11g)
  • Kellogg’s Coco Pops (10.5)
  • Honey Monster Puffs (8.7g)
  • Kellogg’s Crunchy Nut Honey & Nut Clusters (7.8g)
  • Weetabix Weetos Chocolatey (7.2g)
  • Alpen Original Muesli (6.9g)
  • Nestlé Cheerios (6.2g)
  • Kellogg’s All-Bran Bran Flakes (6g)
  • Dorset Cereals Simply Delicious Muesli (5.1g)
  • Kelloggs Special K (5.1g)
  • Nestlé Shreddies (4.5g)
  • Kellogg’s Rice Krispies (3g)
  • Kellogg’s Cornflakes (2.4g)
  • Weetabix (1.3g)
  • Quaker Oats Oat So Simple Original (0.3g)
  • Nestlé Shredded Wheat (0.2g)

You probably aren’t surprised to see that Frosties isn’t any sugar saint, but note some of the surprising cereals that have more sugar than they let on like Special K, Bran Flakes and All-Bran.

It’s actually the cereals that are branded ‘healthy’ you need to be more careful around. Think muesli’s, granolas and bran type varieties.

As you can see from the list, lower sugar cereals are things like plain Weetabix, Shredded Wheat and Rice Puffs. I would recommend wholegrain (silent) rice puff cereal (like this Rude Health one) to the more refined noisy variety because you will be getting a little bit more fibre, vitamins and minerals.

Also note that whilst the Kellogg’s Cornflakes appear to be lower on the sugar scale, remember they are still refined, high glycemic index and nutritionally defunct i.e. they do nothing for you.

Although not technically cereal, the Quaker Oats So Simple listed here is NOT the variety that you buy in the instant pot. The plain flavor of that is packed with sugar.

Read Make sure you know about these supermarket sugar shockers for more information on this.

You might also find these articles helpful:

Don’t want to go cold turkey on cereal?

It maybe the case that you’re just not quite ready to let that tropical crunch disappear from your life completely and you still want it from time to time.

I understand because I was such a cereal fiend when I embarked on lower sugar; I had to wean myself off particular varieties at a slower pace. Not to mention I had boxes of stuff to use up that I didn’t want to chuck away.

My bit of advice here – mix it up and dilute the sweetness.

Having a bit of the cereal you love (like some crunch) but mixing it with some Bitesize Shredded Wheat, wholegrain rice puffs or low sugar muesli will help you reduce the sugar content in your bowl without feeling like you are completely depriving yourself.

Weaning your taste buds off sugary cereals is a gradual process but does work. Now I honestly don’t like cereals because they are just too sweet. I haven’t seen a box in my kitchen for years and I’m totally out of the habit of eating them.

However, I can still appreciate a mixed up bowl with a small bit of my favourite granola if I fancy it.

Changing your habits around cereals is really worth the effort to your health, your sugar cravings and likely your wallet too!

Do you know of any great low sugar cereal brands or have any tips for how you’ve managed this with your family?

Info source: The Telegraph: The 10 most shocking sugary cereals