greek-style-yoghurt

Greek style yoghurt vs greek yoghurt

So the question is do you know the difference between greek and greek style yoghurt?

I’ve used yoghurt as a sugar busting staple for years now. I put it in low sugar smoothies; mix it up with sugar-free granola and/or fruit; and quite often eat it as a dessert with a few cacao nibs sprinkled over the top.

So one day I figured I wanted to know the difference between greek style yoghurt and greek yoghurt and understand the differences.  So here’s the lowdown and a few other greek style yoghurt facts to keep you in the know.

greek style yoghurt

Greek style yoghurt vs. greek yoghurt

A while back I went for a super healthy lunch with yoghurt pro Alison White from Total Greek (also known as FAGE).

We chatted all things yoghurt, life and sugar-free foods whilst drinking a glass of sparking wine ha!

greek style yoghurt vs. greek yoghurt

Here are some handy Greek yoghurt facts you may not know that will help you make informed decisions without getting lured or misled by marketing or packaging.

  • A really thick yoghurt has either got there in two ways:

1) it was either strained a few times to remove the whey or

2) it has had milk protein powder, starch or other additives added to it to get there. The easiest way really to determine this is to look at the ingredients list.

  • In the UK there is a difference between ‘Greek yoghurt’ and ‘Greek Style Yoghurt’. Greek yoghurt now has to be authentically made in Greece. Greek style yoghurt is just made to seem like it and can be thickened by either one of the two processes above.
  • In America, anything can be called ‘Greek’ – basically this whole Greek style yoghurt thing in the UK is the result of a big court case between Total and Chobani. Total (or FAGE) yoghurt is at present the leading authentic Greek yoghurt brand on the market.

This post isn’t sponsored FAGE UK, I simply wanted to share this because I think it’s quite useful to know and found it personally interesting. Buying sugar-free yoghurts can often be utterly confusing and I know I get a lot of questions about it via e-mail.

I do personally think Total Greek are one brand with a very good quality product for lower sugar living. They also have some superb healthy (& many sugar-free) yoghurt infused recipes on their website too – these sweet potato fries with rosemary garlic yoghurt dip being one of my favourites.

However there are other cheaper Greek yoghurt style yoghurts made by the supermarket brands that are still sugar-free and healthy.

I’ll also mention that have the Total Greek Cookbook which generally has a great selection of yoghurt infused recipes. There are some that use sugar though too so you have to filter through a little.

The difference between Greek yoghurt vs. natural yoghurt

Now you’ve got Greek style yoghurt vs. greek yoghurt sorted, here’s a video I made explaining the difference between Greek yoghurt and natural. Yes let’s go yoghurt crazy today!

What’s worth remembering is that when it comes to managing hunger, Greek yoghurt has a higher protein count – 10g per 100g compared to 5-6g in natural yoghurt – thus it will keep you fuller for longer.

Also remember that about 4-7g of the sugars listed in yoghurt are the natural lactose sugar, which doesn’t count as sugar (of the fructose kind) on a sugar-free or lower sugar diet.

Always check for added sugar in the ingredients list though.

greek style yoghurt protein

My transition off sugary yoghurts

In my former sugary years I used to eat a ‘Muller Light’ or low fat fruity yoghurt pretty much every day, sometimes 2-3 a day.

I did this for literally years.

A fruity yoghurt was often my ‘healthy’ post meal sweet fix – anyone used it the same?

At University I would chose the cheapest and – shame-shock-horror – I even used to buy those Sainsbury’s basics low fat fruity yoghurts at one point. Yes I did, sins confessed!

When I moved to London I would buy Muller Lights, Shapers, Activia brands or whatever was on special offer. I am still in awe of the entire supermarket aisle that is awash with colourful wide variety of sugar laden yoghurts.

When people today ask me why I started Happy Sugar Habits, I often say it’s because I was simply mortified at discovering some of the yoghurts I loved had a shocking 15g of sugar in them and no-one back then was talking about this.

greek-style-yoghurt

So I wrote a blog post on the lower sugar yoghurts and things went from there.

These days I don’t touch fruity sugar-filled yoghurts – they just don’t appeal. Of all the sugary things out there, I really don’t miss these. A mouthful of one every now and then confirms this to me – they are way too sweet, sickly and taste a bit artificial. I would rather drizzle some brown rice syrup or good quality honey on some full fat natural yoghurt to get something a bit sweeter when I do fancy it.

Do you eat yoghurt and what with? Breakfast? Dessert? Any more questions just hit me up with a comment below.

fruit-on-sugar-free-diet

To fruit or not to fruit?

Today on the blog I’m going to share an article that I had published on www.welltodo.com this week with some important messages on something I get asked about a lot…fruit!

If you’re reading this here it’s likely you sit in the craving control camp and so do consider the fruit you eat. However, it’s worth getting your head around this messaging because as you start to lead a lower sugar life or make positive change, you may well get asked about fruit by others and can come unstuck how to answer (I know I did for a while). It’s very important not to communicate fruit as a sugar villain to others who aren’t controlled by sugar.

 

fruit-on-sugar-free-diet

Image: Lauren Purnell

To fruit or not to fruit

It’s the topic that’s on everyone’s lips. What is the deal with fruit on a sugar-free or low sugar diet?

You read conflicting messages – health magazines say one thing, nutritionists say another and your personal trainer has an altogether different view. With differing messages, you can end up a bit confused.

Having been through the same fruit confusion myself when first exploring a life with a lot less sugar, and seeing my clients go through all the phases of sugar detoxing and low sugar life transition, here’s what you need to get you head around when it comes to fruit.

There is not a yes/no answer to the fruit question – it’s very personal.

Where you settle with fruit COMPLETELY depends on what you’re trying to achieve. Maybe you’re trying to reduce your calorie intake, lose weight, train for a marathon or get control over your sugar cravings. All of these things need a different approach. When you read blanket advice about fruit, be mindful that you have to factor in your personal context and goals.

Understanding fruit and fructose.

Fruit comes under fire because of its fructose content. An excess of fructose sugar in your diet isn’t good for your health because it is processed differently to other sugars, where it’s metabolised by the liver and can increase fatty acids in your blood and increase uric acid levels amongst a whole host of other things.  At this stage it’s worth remembering that refined sugar is 50% fructose, and that fruits have varying amounts in them.

However, whilst fruit is a source of fructose, it’s also packaged up with fibre that helps slow down the absorption, not to mention it hosts an array of super health-promoting anti-oxidants and nutrients that are beneficial to your health. Bananas for example are great after intense exercise and an apple is a superb on-the-go snack. Therefore a small amount of fructose, especially if it’s in the form of whole unprocessed fruit, certainly won’t be having a detrimental impact on your health and may well enhance it.

So what’s the problem?

#1 Fruity products and ‘natural’ but processed stuff

The first issue with fruit and fructose is the sheer excess of processed ‘natural’ fruit in many products that strip out the fibre and/or concentrate the sugar.

Sweet things taste nice, and they sell. With the increasing amount of sweetness in our diets these days, we’ve grown very accustomed to the taste. As a result, we are bombarded daily with ‘healthy’ fruit filled natural sugar products. Whilst of course healthier than a Mars bar, frequently consuming all of these ‘healthy’ fruit based things – juices, smoothies, dried fruit bars, granolas – in addition to whole fruit itself, and you’ll likely find your fructose totals quickly tally up to a potentially unhealthy level.

fruit-sugar-free-diet

#2 Craving control

The second issue lies in your cravings, control levels and personal preference to sweetness.

If you’re trying to increase your sensitivity to sweet things so that you’re less tempted by them and feel a bit more in control of how much you want to eat, eating an excess of fruit or fruity products isn’t going to help, and may even make things worse because you’re developing a preference for fructose.

It’s why you can get super healthy vegans, vegetarians, paleo and raw enthusiasts all still hooked on sugar even if they don’t actually eat refined sugar. The fruit or dried fruit is healthy until the excess fructose starts having a negative impact on your health or you start feeling habitually or emotionally dependent on it. Natural fructose, even in fruit, can be just as addictive as refined sugar fructose.

What to do

As you can see, there is no straightforward yes or no when it comes to fruit. It completely depends on where you are at with things, and what you’re trying to achieve, especially in terms of your relationship with sweet food and your cravings.

If you don’t quite feel in control of your sweet habits, then a sugar detox or temporary period of lower fructose (without fruit) may well help you tame the sweet tooth that sabotages your other healthier efforts. It will help you create new habits around savoury alternatives and become less dependent on sweet food in your day-to-day diet.

However, if you don’t feel cravings that often, or you’re able to satisfy them moderately with a little fruit here and there, then it is likely you can enjoy fruit as part of a healthy diet with no restriction needed.

Working out your personal optimum fruit amount takes a little experimentation, time and knowledge. Transitioning to lower sugar life can be a bit complicated on the fruit front as you go through but you can find your way to incorporate it sensibly in your health efforts. Use your cravings as your own gauge to determine how much is right for you and know that fruit absolutely can be part of a healthy lower sugar diet long term if you want it to be.

I’d really love to know what you think on this one so please leave a comment below on your general opinion or how you handle this topic with others. I’m widely opening the doors to discussion!

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