Spotting Hidden Sugars & Artificial Sweeteners
Avoiding added sugars and artificial sweeteners requires some serious label-reading powers. That job gets even trickier when food manufacturers hide these additives behind deceptive names. So, how can you suss out hidden sugars and artificial sweeteners in your food? The list below contains some common names for each.
You know that you’re going to find sugars and artificial sweeteners in dessert foods, but these additives can hide in unexpected places. Bread, tomato sauce, and bottled salad dressings are a few examples to look out for. In general, if it comes in a box, bag, or jar, you want to check that label before assuming that a food is free of added sweeteners.
Avoiding Hidden Sugars and Artificial Sweeteners
Of course, there is a silver bullet way to avoid the ingredients in the lists below: eat whole foods and cook from scratch.
I’m a big advocate for getting into the kitchen and preparing your food from whole food ingredients. But I’m also a work-at-home mom to a toddler who understands that preparing everything you eat from scratch just isn’t always practical.
Related Reading: 5 Non-Food Uses for Sugar
Of course I don’t advocate eating packaged and prepared foods for every meal, but sometimes you just need to get a meal on the table or find a snack to hand to your kid, so that you can focus on other things.
Cooking from scratch isn’t always easy, but there are a few ways to save time and eat more home-prepared foods:
- Weekend Cooking. This is my favorite strategy, when I can make it happen. Set aside a couple of hours on your day off to cook a few big batches of food. You can serve these up all week long. Think of these as frozen dinners that you can trust!
- Prioritize. There are some foods that are best made from scratch and others that make sense to buy prepared. If you’re short on time, decide what your priorities are.
- Go Simple. A snack or meal doesn’t have to be complicated to be delicious. Instead of a granola bar, grab a banana and peanut butter in the morning, for example. If you’re short on time for supper, throw a quick salad together instead of heating up a microwave meal.
Even with these tricks, though, sometimes you’re going to be grabbing packaged food at the store. Learn how to keep the refined sugars and artificial sweeteners out below!
Common Names for Refined Sugars
Ingredients that contain the words below are names for hidden sugars. These words can appear in conjunction with other words. Syrup is a good example. You might see corn syrup, evaportated cane syrup, brown rice syrup, or any number of other syrups. If it’s syrup, it’s sugar.
- cane juice
- cane sugar
- invert sugar
- maltose (See a pattern? “-ose” means sugar)
Common Names for Artificial Sweeteners
If you’re trying to avoid artificial sweeteners, check your ingredient lists for these names.
- acesulfame potassium
- neohesperidin dihydrochalcone
- phenylalanine (A phenylalanine warning can alert you to hidden Aspartame)
- Sweet N Low
Image Credit: Creative Commons packaged food photo by Consumerist.com