Health & Wellness

Top 6 Places Sugar Could Be Hiding in Your Diet

by Meg Gerber January 13, 2020
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Where Is Sugar Hiding?

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 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!  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 opinion, 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. For more specifics on why you might need a sugar detox, check out our top reasons here.  Being that added sugars are an “empty” source of calories without any nourishing benefit to your body, let’s take another look at what you’re eating to see if there’s room for improvement! 

Read my list below to find out where added sugars may be adding up in your diet daily through seemingly “healthy” foods.  In my guide below I provide you with a list of common foods that may be sources of sneaky added sugar in your diet and my tips for subbing in a healthier alternative.  

The Top 6 Places That Sugar Could Be Hiding in Your Diet:


    • Check out your ketchup, barbeque sauce and marinades in your fridge-you may be shocked to see that 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.  
      • The replacement: DIY 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!


    • 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 it down and stores those excess sugars as fat.  
      • Instead, choose bars with less than 6 grams of sugar and more than 3 grams of fiber per serving.  The Kind brand nuts and spices variety of bars are low in sugar and fit this rule!  Post detox, I also recommend looking for those sweetened with organic stevia or monk fruit instead as these are plant based sweeteners that do not cause a blood sugar spike.

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-it is almost impossible to find a dried cranberry without added sugar! 
    • The healthy swap? Make your own granola using the Grain Free Apple Spice Granola from the sugar detox.  You can also DIY your own granola post detox using a few tablespoons of goji berries- they have a high content of antioxidants and are low in sugar. 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!


    • Since optimal 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 alone).  
      • Always choose a plain yogurt and add your favorite fresh fruit for natural sweetness-organic as well if you can!  Try this pineapple upside down cake variation: mix in some fresh chopped pineapple, add a dash of cinnamon and then top with chopped walnuts for crunch!

Salad Dressing

    • Once you start reading labels you will find that it’s quite difficult to find a salad dressing without added sugars!  Kens brand of raspberry vinaigrette has a whopping 7 grams (almost 2 tsp) in just 2 tablespoons of the dressing; 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 readymade option-I like the Primal Kitchen brand of dressings.


    • 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 seemingly 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!
      • The healthiest bet is to reduce processed carbs such as bread wherever you can-go bun-less and grab a lettuce wrap for your burger instead.  If forgoing the bread is impossible, work on limiting to 1 slice of bread per meal and choosing those that are sprouted and/or fermented like a sourdough bread-these are easier on digestion.  I recommend ezekiel bread for those that can tolerate gluten or higher fiber gluten free options such as Simple Kneads or Happy Campers brands (both sold online).