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Hidden Sources of Sugar

Maintaining a healthy blood sugar level is important for your health at all stages of life, but it is especially critical for those who are diabetic, borderline diabetic or have other health concerns. Diet is a major factor in your glucose numbers but, unfortunately, even foods that are generally considered healthy are not good for someone who is prone to sugar spikes. As you plan meals for yourself or a loved one, consider limiting the following foods to avoid blood sugar issues:

Fruit Juice

It’s hardly surprising that juice contains sugar, but what is a bit sneaky is that oftentimes most of that sugar is added to the naturally occurring sweetness already found in fruit. To make matters worse, the processing that makes fruit bland and increases the need for refined sugar also gets rid of fiber making juice less filling with more calories and less nutrition than whole fruit.

Alternatives: Buy 100% unsweetened fruit juice, not from concentrate or unsweetened apple sauce.

Granola Cereals and Granola Bars

Granola is a food invented with good intentions and if you are a very active person on the go, it can provide a nutritious alternative to something like fast food. However, most people do not eat these as a meal replacement or while hiking up a hill; they eat them as a snack along with regular meals. If you find yourself eating granola cereal or bars you should know that a single granola bar can contain 25g of sugar, which is as much if not more than a chocolate bar. They are also calorie dense and the sweetness often creates cravings for more.

Alternatives: Choose simple cereals like unsweetened corn flakes or steel cut oats. For on the go snacking, try nuts instead of sugary granola bars.

Condiments, Sauces and Salad Dressing

This category of hidden sugar has zero shame in the amount of hidden calories and glucose.  Anything ketchup-based like BBQ sauce, French dressing, or any kind of sweet chili sauce can have up to 9-10 grams of sugar per a tiny 2 tbls serving. If you eat a big salad, there is a decent chance you’ll pour on three times that amount giving you nearly 30 grams of sugar which is even more than most candy bars! Low-fat dressings often aren’t better and can possibly even be worse, since salt and sugar are often added to make up for the lack of fat.

Alternatives: First of all, read labels when buying any kind of sauce or condiment. We often think of these things as something we’re just using a little of, but often we are going way over what the actual serving size is. Measure your condiments when you do use them and consider making your own dressing with plain vinegar and oil or a lemon juice.

Frozen Meals and Prepared Foods

While a frozen meal, sandwich or wrap can be an ok option over eating junk food like chips or cookies, you still need to be a vigilant label reader when choosing a frozen, prepared food. A frozen lasagna, for example, not only has a lot of refined carbohydrates in the noodles, but also in the sauce which will contain sugar and/or high fructose corn syrup. Frozen meals also contain a ton of sodium which is bad for your kidneys and blood pressure.

Alternatives: Prepare foods ahead of time and in larger quantities that you can portion over several days, so you aren’t tempted to snack on less nutritious alternatives like frozen entrees. If you’re stumped on how to cook healthier meals, then check out the tips and recipes in our How to Healthify the Classic Casserole Dish.

One of the best ways to get the nutrition you need, but also have food options you will love is to live in a retirement community like The Cedars of Chapel Hill, North Carolina. With full kitchens and independent living options you can satisfy your inner chef or take advantage of the fine dining and catering available from The Cedars’ chefs.

Photo Attribute:, Frank Michel