Health & Wellness

Top 6 Places Sugar Could Be Hiding in Your Diet

by Meg Gerber September 13, 2018
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You may be sitting here thinking, “Do I really need a sugar detox? I never eat candy, ice cream, cookies, doughnuts and sugary cereal and I haven’t had soda in years.”  Maybe you already are aware that going to Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts and ordering a coffee with cream and sugar or that double mint mocha frappuccino is providing you a quick ticket to a sugar crash.  I would invite you to take another look at what you’re eating.

Many of us may think of foods like yogurt, granola and protein bars as “health foods” and do not think twice about these hindering our health goals. The current dietary guidelines recommend that the average American consume < 50 grams of added sugars daily.  50 grams of added sugar daily?!  That is the equivalent of 13 teaspoons or 200 calories of added sugar per day…yikes!

Looking for a way out of this high sugar norm?  Don’t go into alone! Join my 5 day Sugar Detox!

From my perspective, that is not a recommendation focused on helping people lose weight and improving whole body health.  The American Heart Association is a bit stricter in its guidelines stating a recommended average of <30 grams of sugar for men and women daily; this is still over 7 teaspoons of daily added sugar. In my experience, less is more when it comes to sugar being that it can have a systemic negative impact on our health-everything from your heart to your digestion to your skin can be affected. Being that added sugars are an “empty” source of calories without any nourishing benefit to your body, I recommend taking a second look at what you’re eating, ditching the sources of added sugars and replacing with my 5 day plan to revamp your taste buds.  Don’t worry, this plan isn’t completely deprived of all sweet things!

To take a deep dive I’ve listed out the top 6 culprits of hidden sources of sugar.

1. Sauces

Check out your ketchup, barbeque sauce and marinades in your fridge-you may be shocked to see many of these contain more than 5 grams of added sugar per serving.  The other problem with this is that most of us don’t keep to 1 serving…if you have only 2 T of ketchup you’re already eating more than 7 grams of sugar from sauce alone!  Most tomato sauce in general also has added sugars even though it doesn’t taste particularly sweet.

Instead try making your own sauces and marinades from simple ingredients such as tomato paste, vinegars and spices.  I love to buy plain canned tomato sauce and add chopped garlic, oregano or fresh basil to whip up my own sauce on the fly-it’ll cut your sugar intake and save you money!

2. Bars

Bars are one of the top “health foods” that pack a punch of sugar. If you’d like to meet your daily allotment of added sugar that the AHA has recommended just eat 1 cliff bar-some of them have as much as 22 grams of added sugar.  Honey, agave, brown rice syrup, corn syrup…they’re all the same in the way your body breaks them down and stores excess amounts as fat.

Instead, choose bars with less than 6 grams of sugar and more than 3 grams of fiber.  The Kind nuts and spices variety of bars are low in sugar and fit this rule!  I also recommend looking for those sweetened with organic stevia or monk fruit instead as these are natural sweeteners that do not stimulate blood sugar spikes.

3. Granola/trail mix

Have you heard the saying “crunchy granola-y” used to describe a healthy person or item?  It’s no wonder why we think of granola as the ultimate health food.  While some granolas can be filled with nourishing whole foods like oats, nuts and seeds, most are jacked up with added sugars.  The other mistake? Most of us never adhere to the serving size which is usually a ¼ of a cup–not a full bowl’s worth.  Most of the dried fruit added to trail mix and granola is coated with sugar-I have a very difficult time finding dried cranberries that do not have sugar added to them.

The healthy swap?  Make your own granola using a mix of oats, your favorite nuts/seeds and a few tablespoons of goji berries as they have a high content of antioxidants and are low in sugar.  Toss in an egg white and a little bit of real maple syrup or liquid stevia and bake-the egg white will help provide a clustering effect!  If you prefer to buy one, I like the Back Roads Ancient Grain Granola-it has no sugar added and still a toasty oats flavor!

4. Yogurt

Since gut health has been put on a pedestal for healing whole body health, so has yogurt.  A chobani strawberry yogurt has a whopping 19 grams of sugar-and that sugar is coming from fruit juice concentrate and cane sugar (added sugars).  Because the natural tartness of yogurt, most companies add a fair amount of added sugars to compensate for flavor

The rule of thumb for yogurts is to always choose a plain flavor and add your favorite fresh fruit for natural sweetness-organic as well if you can!  I like to mix ½ a chopped banana and cinnamon and then top with chopped walnuts for crunch!

5. Salad Dressing

I have a hard time finding dressings that do not at least contain at least some kind of added sugar.  Kens brand of raspberry vinaigrette has a whopping 7 grams (almost 2 tsp) in just 2 tablespoons; and again, most of us have more dressing than the serving size.

The swap here is an easy one-I always recommend making your own dressing!  A good extra virgin olive oil, some vinegar and a little bit of spices, salt and pepper and you’ve got a nourishing addition to your meal.  If you need a quick grab and go option-I like the Primal Kitchen brand of dressings.

6. Bread

Although most bread is savory, believe it or not, most of it contains added sugars!  Of course the cinnamon raisin bagel at the local bagel shop will taste sweet and sugary but even healthier options can be sugar-laden.  The Glutino brand of gluten-free english muffins contains 7 grams of added sugars per muffin.  I don’t know about you, but I’d rather get my sugar from something that was meant to be a treat such as a piece of chocolate than I would from some bread!

My usual recommendation is to reduce processed carbs such as bread where you can–go bun-less and grab a lettuce wrap for your burger instead.  I also usually recommend limiting to 1 slice of bread at a meal and choosing those that are sprouted and/or fermented like a sourdough bread so that they are easier on digestion.  I like ezekiel bread for those that can tolerate gluten and I like higher fiber gluten-free breads such as Simple Kneads or Happy Campers brand (both sold online).


  1. Join me and other health focused individuals in my 5 day sugar detox and reset your system with my whole foods, plant based plan
  2. Use my recipes and resources to become inspired towards healthy, sustainable lifestyle change. Find other recipes on the blog.

Still struggling?  Come in for a personalized consultation to reset your sugar intake!