It’s completely natural to grab the odd snack or drink on the go and think “it’s not unhealthy, it’s fine”. Sorry to break it to you, but many of the snacks you pick up when you’ve forgotten your lunch or are late for the school run could actually be doing you more harm than good. The NHS recommends that a person over the age of eleven should consume no more than 30g of added sugars per day. Think you’re under that limit? You might be in for a shock.
We all love a fresh, hot cup of coffee, right? It wakes us up, gives us the energy required to kick start our day and it essentially a lovely, warm blanket in a cup. The message here is to be careful what you choose when in popular coffee shop chains, because not all coffee is as innocent as it may seem. The key is to check the sugar content, which is more often than not listed on the company website. Failing that, ask in store.
An example? Our beloved Starbucks Pumpkin Spiced Latte, as beautifully seasonal as it is, it is a coffee holding 37g of sugar per Tall cup, and 64g per Venti cup… and that’s without the added whipped cream. Gulp. Unfortunately delicious, flavoured coffee can come at a price, and we’re not (just) talking about your wallet. Tip: order something else with a lower sugar content or check out healthier recipes online to make your own. Last resort? Try asking for one syrup shot instead of the usual three.
Advertised as healthy bars to help satisfy those cravings, all without doing any damage to your waistline. Some do in fact do this, others do not. For example a recent study showed that the following “healthy” bars featured tactical marketing to disguise their sugary truth:
- Eat Natural Cranberries, Macadamias and Dark Chocolate Bars: 18.3g sugar per bar
- Nutri-Grain Strawberry Bars: 12g sugar per bar
- Asda Chosen by You Oats and Honey Bars: 8.7g sugar per bar
That said, there are healthier options out there:
- Grenade Caramel Chaos Carb Killa Bars: 1.4g sugar per bar
- Nakd Bakewell Tart Bars: 16g sugar per bar (zero added sugar)
- Cacao Mint Bounce Balls: 9g sugar per ball
They may appear to have higher sugar content in some cases, but check the ingredients, as this will tell you whether it is natural or refined sugars. Look out for mentions of glucose, sucrose, maltose, corn syrup, honey, hydrolysed starch, invert sugar, fructose and molasses, as these could all be the culprits.
Smoothies & Juices
Fruit blended in a bottle, it must be good for you, right? In small quantities, yes. The sugar content of these juices and smoothies are usually all natural, but believe it or not many health professionals recommend that if you’re looking to trim your figure, fruit should be limited, as whilst it contains those good, natural sugars, more than you need could result in rotting teeth and slow but steady weight gain.
As an example, 200ml of Tesco’s Pure Orange Juice contains 16.4g of sugar, which sits in the red on the nutritional chart. You don’t need to eliminate it from your diet, but limiting it would be a good start.
Next up, the Innocent Mango and Passion Fruit Smoothie. 250ml of this contains a whopping 28g of sugar, only 2g of sugar away from your entire recommended daily intake of sugar.
Last but not least, 250ml of Naked’s Green Machine Smoothie contains a staggering 29g of sugar, now only 1g of sugar away from your entire recommended daily intake. Is it really worth it, all for a small bottle?
Now here are your options. One, limit the juice to once or twice a week. Two, swap to a healthier alternative still containing that sweet kick, such as coconut water, or better yet make your own. Three, stick to water, your ultimate safe option when it comes to hydration. At the end of the day, it’s water that our bodies need to function, not juices or smoothies. Just ensure that you’re getting your fats, fibre, protein and vitamins elsewhere in your diet. Balance is everything!
Our health is the most important thing to take care of, so monitor it and adjust where necessary to ensure you don’t fall into the ‘healthy/unhealthy’ trap. After all, we want to get our added sugar from actual treats that feel like an indulgence, don’t we?
For registered nutritional advice please contact a professional or visit the NHS website.