As a whole, we don’t recognize all of the crappy things we are putting into our bodies- even for those of us that diligently buy “non-fat” or foods that are alternatively labelled as healthy. We are quick to label “fat” as bad but the truth is, fat doesn’t make you fat. I know, counter-intuitive. But the real offender here is actually sugar.

Our bodies are quickly able to store sugar as fat in a process called lipogenesis when it is not immediately used for energy. So even when you get that immediate pick-me-up feeling, it doesn’t last long and is quickly followed by a crash (sugar high, anyone?) and it leaves you still feeling hungry. That’s because our bodies are storing the majority of the sugar to be used later … the catch being that it is that much harder to get rid of when it is stored this way.

The really scary thing is just how much processed sugar is actually in foods that are advertised as healthy. Foods that are “low fat” often instead contain high levels of sugar. So even though we think we may be consuming the healthiest option, we are not doing the body any favours. Common culprits are yogurts, breakfast cereals, veggie dips, milk, breads, crackers, and salad dressings. But that’s not all!

You’d be surprised by how much hidden sugar we unknowingly consume. So we’ve compiled some handy and practical tips to help you cut your sugar intake.

Learn the Aliases

When you’re looking at a product’s nutrition label it often looks like a lot of mumbo-jumbo. That should be a red flag. The more ingredients you cannot pronounce, the less likely it is that the product is made with whole, natural ingredients. It is also more likely that one of the codewords for sugar can be hiding in there. Fructose, corn syrup, molasses, invert sugar, dried cane syrup, and sucrose (pretty much any syrup or anything ending in “-ose”) are NO-NOs. These are just fancy words for sugar and if you’re reading something that contains more than one of these (literal) bad boys, just put it back down.

Switch up Sweeteners

You can make small changes in your diet to substitute for those sweet tooth cravings. Replace your regular coffee with Bulletproof Coffee where instead of sugar and cream we use cacao butter (SO delicious!). Switch to dark chocolate instead of milk chocolate (this is also better for your heart health). Instead of buying flavoured yogurt pick up plain and use natural sweeteners like fruit, berries, honey or maple syrup to cut the tartness. Replace the sugar in your tea with honey. There are so many great substitutions we can make and you can reach out to one of our Registered Holistic Nutritionists to find more!

Go Nuts in the Fruit Aisle

Fruit are whole foods that are naturally sweet but also contain fibre and nutrients. Yes, fructose is a processed sugar that is extracted and refined into syrup BUT the fruit in and of itself actually contains very little fructose making fruit great for snacks. And on the fruit spectrum, berries like raspberries, blueberries, blackberries and strawberries contain lower fruit levels while still managing to keep you feeling full.

Get Creative in the Kitchen

When you are cooking at home you’re giving yourself more room to cut sugars since you can omit or substitute sugars (where you can’t omit the sugar already cooked or baked in your pre-prepared store bought options). This also gives you an advantage in planning ahead (yes, meal prep!). When you have delicious and healthy snacks ready on-hand (like these tasty and sweet no-bake energy bites) you’re more likely to reach for these than hitting up a vending machine.

Be Wary of What You’re Drinking

We have a hard and fast rule for starters. NO POP. It is gross how much sugar is in pop. Your average can of Cola contains 11g of sugar per 100g of pop. 100g = 100 mL. If your average can of pop is 355 mL that means that one can contains roughly 39g of sugar. That is not a pretty number. Even fruit juices, energy drinks, and vitamin water contain too much processed sugar. Your best best is to switch instead to freshly squeezed juices or to make your own refreshing drinks (like this pomegranate iced tea). Whatever you do, do not switch to artificial sugars for your fix. When you have something sweet your body expect nutrients and calories but when you are consuming things like diet pop and Splenda you’re not getting any of that.

Most research suggests that you shouldn’t cut sugar cold-turkey which is why we think that these simple changes to your diet are the best way to make progress in eliminating processed sugar from your diet. Remember that whole fats are not the enemy. As naturopathic doctor Scott Olson says, there are good and bad fats but “there are no really good sugars that you can eat.” While your palate may take some time to adjust, cutting down sugar is not an impossible task and recognizing foods’ natural sweetness will actually make them taste better- and will make you healthier!