Do you get confused by the sugar in different products? Maybe you just don’t know what you’re looking for half the time or become baffled with all the hidden sugar that’s suddenly around you. Not sure if you’re aware of all the sugar shockers out there?
Today I’ve picked a motley selection of food products from the supermarket shelves and picked their sugar content apart, giving you an expert view and insight to help you get up to speed pronto (You = sugar whiz after reading this!).
Can you guess the total amount of sugar in these products?
On the weekend I was exhibiting at The Fit Festival in Edinburgh (with the help of my lovely mum!). As my first exhibition experience I decided to run a ‘guess the total sugar’ competition of the following products. Below is the lowdown on each with some shocking numbers and stats. Before you read on, grab a bit of a paper and have a guess yourself (total grams in all of these products together). Let me know if you got it right or were close. We had guesses from ranging 6g to 1975g – mental!
M&S Mojito Juice Drink 750ml
10.3% sugar, 25.8g per 250ml serving, 77.4g total
This is pretty shocking considering it’s a ‘refreshing non alcoholic drink’. Seriously, I’d almost prefer you to have a small alcoholic one! When it comes to drinks, always calculate the amount per the entire bottle. Everybody drinks different servings, quite often they polish the lot. Slash your sugar intake dramatically and crave less by removing all sweet drinks from your diet. If out & cocktails are on the cards, ask a charming barman or barwoman to half the sugar they put in your freshly made alcoholic mojito.
M&S Lemon & Lime Sparkling Water
0.04% sugar, 2g per 500ml bottle total
I stuck this in there as a contrast to highlight a few things. Although seemingly low in sugar, this drink is chemical cocktail. Three E-numbers, a number of acids and sucralose (a commonly used artificial sweetener). Consuming these chemicals you are taking a gamble on your own health as we don’t really know what they are doing to us. Studies have shown they are likely to make you overcompensate calorie-wise (& likely sugar-wise) later down the line which isn’t great for both control and weight management.
Oat So Simple Original Instant Porridge Pot
My mum wanted this for breakfast and was shocked to discover that the plain variety had so much added sugar. You’d expect the Golden Syrup flavour of course to be sweet, but 11g in the plain one? Yep, because this is essentially just oats and water, they have to add sugar or else it would taste like cardboard. Remember that these pots didn’t even exist a few years ago, you just got up 10 mins earlier to eat breakfast. If you are caught out, a Pret A Manger plain porridge pot is a better bet because it’s made with milk and can (by some) be eaten without a shed load of sugar or topping.
Sainsbury’s Sweet & Sour Stir Fry Sauce 120g
27.4% sugar, 16.4g per serving, 32.8g total
Although I wouldn’t class this as completely ‘invisible sugar’ because it’s called ‘sweet & sour’, this is still pretty shocking. With a 4g per teaspoon, you’re talking 4 teaspoons in your stir fry main meal. Extremely processed with a very long list of ingredients. I would warn anyone off a sauce like this and encourage them to look for a lower sugar one if they must. Even better make your own stir fry sauce with ingredients like sesame oil, fresh ginger, soy sauce, lime juice and chilli.
Sainsbury’s Be Good to Yourself Honey Mustard Dressing 250ml
1.7g sugar per serving, 26.75g total
OK only an ‘orange’ traffic light when it comes to sugar but completely unnecessary. I don’t even think these dressings taste very nice (I used to eat them in my low fat days). Salad dressings can be full fat amazing – think quality ingredients like virgin olive oil, fresh lemon & lime juice, apple cider vinegar, tahini, creamy yoghurt, good seasoning. The ‘Be Good to Yourself – less than 3% fat’ is just a low fat marketing ploy. Don’t fall for it. Fat is not bad for you, end of.
Activia Fig Yoghurts 4x125g
18% sugar, 16.6g per pot, 66.4g total
Even I was shocked at these. Normally the bigger snack size pots or Muller Lights come out about 16g per pot, but these smaller ones really packed in the sugar for their size. Fruity yoghurts are a killer. Full fat or low fat, if they’re fruity flavoured they’re very likely sugar laden. Opt for natural or greek yoghurts (video blog here for the difference between these two) and make sure you know the difference between ‘Greek’ and Greek Style (recent blog article on this here).
Real Lancashire Eccles Cakes 200g
55.8% sugar, 27.9g per cake, 111.6g total
These used to be a real favourite of mine. My mum said she didn’t want to know how much sugar was in them (sorry mum). They are a sugar shocker because essentially they are like a whole bunch of grapes dried and squashed up, then coated in a thin layer of butter pastry. Two kind of good things with these 1) they are a very obvious treat (not something you’d be eating often like the yoghurts) and 2) at least most of the sugar is natural (but it’s still very high in fructose and will lead to serious sweet cravings). Lots of other oils and ingredients in these I’m not keen on putting into ones body too often. These were also sneaky because they had no weight on the packet so it was hard to work out. I actually got the clerk to weigh them and tell me!
Tower Gale Scottish Oatcakes 300g (from Lidl)
2% sugar, 0.3g per oatcake, 6g total
This is an example of hidden sugar as it’s listed on the ingredients probably without you thinking that these would contain any sugar. However there really isn’t too much per oatcake so although it’s not ideal, it’s also not worth worrying about in terms of it bringing on cravings. I’d also say that if you replace your daily digestive with one of these then that’s a great lower sugar substitution. Again, these have a longer list of ingredients and some oils that I don’t favour so have a look for oatcake brands with the lowest number of ingredients e.g. Narins or ones in a specialist health food shop.
If you liked this, there are videos more guidance around shopping as part of the Mentor Me Off Sugar 6-week sugar detox. This programme will save you serious time and effort!
Total sugar in EVERYTHING 334g!!
Surprised by the total? Leave a comment below on which ones of these shocked you the most or if you used to (or still do) eat any of these regularly?