My philosophy on food and the ideal diet is to eat whole foods as much as you can, (foods located on the perimeter of the grocery store, not those found in the aisles). However, we are all real people, with real busy lives and can’t always be expected to make our own hummus, salad dressings, tomato paste, curry sauces etc. So when a recipe calls for something tinned, canned or packaged – here are some tips to help you decipher those weird ingredients on the back of the table. The truth is that most of those weird ingredients are mostly likely a form of sugar. With over 61 different names for sugar, it’s hard to spot. Sugars show up in all types of products from baby formula, to salad dressings, to breads and especially low-fat diet foods…basically the fat is removed and replaced with sugar.
One way to spot sugar is to look for ingredients ending in ‘ose’. This may include sucrose, maltose, dextrose, fructose, glucose, galactose, lactose, high fructose corn syrup, and glucose solids. The exception to this is fructose when it is naturally occurring in fruit. So try to reduce the amount of ‘ose’ in your life and you’ll most likely feel better and drop a few pounds.
And just to trip you up even more, there are sugar substitutes that try to fly under the radar and are marketed as ‘natural’ and ‘healthy’. The word 'natural' means nothing today, so don’t let that fool you. Basically these sugar substitutes are ‘sugar alcohols’. Despite the name, sugar alcohols don’t actually contain any ethanol and don’t make you drunk. There are claims that sugar alcohols are a better choice for blood sugar balancing; however, there’s a large chance that you will experience gas, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, and other digestive symptoms after ingesting them. This is because many people can’t completely break down and absorb the sugar alcohol, which leads to fermentation in the intestines. You can spot these sugars by looking for ingredients ending in ‘ol’. Some examples are xylitol, erythritol, sorbitol, mannitol, lactitol, and maltitol.
So remember to take it easy on the ingredients ending in 'ose' and 'ol', but if you have a craving for a little sweetness in your life and want to incorporate extra vitamins and minerals, it’s best to play it safe and stick with sources that are easy to spot and aren’t highly processed. This includes honey (preferably unpasteurized) and maple syrup. There are a ton of recipes out that there that incorporate these options so it’s easy to make the switch to these unrefined sugars.