By

Cynthia Brace

Have you ever resisted the sugar in your coffee or afternoon sweet snacks to avoid the inevitable head on your desk tired sugar crash?

But even after trying that you still feel exhausted and foggy-brained.

The reality is, sugar is hidden in the majority of packaged foods.

Look at the label below for example. Take a guess how many different types of sugars are in this one bar?

Okay, maybe I should backtrack a bit.

If you’re not familiar with how to read a food label (or Nutrition Fact’s panel), the first thing you look at is the serving size (that’s just under the nutrition facts).

This is really important so that you know what the numbers in the food label are referring to. In this case, it’s one bar. For other items such as cereal, you may see something like 1/2 cup, which is completely ridiculous. When have you ever had 1/2 cup of cereal?

The numbers below the serving size will indicate how much of that ingredient are in that serving size. In the case of the label above, there are 7 grams of sugar.

In the case of cereal if you’re having double or triple the serving size amount you need to double or triple the numbers on the label.

The problem with the sugars section in a food label (in Canada) is that it combines all natural and added sugars.

In the United States this is broken out into two sections.

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Natural sugars are things like fruit in applesauce. Added sugars are sugars that are added to a product that aren’t naturally occurring.

Once you’ve looked at the amount of sugar in the product, you need to see where it’s coming from. That’s where the ingredient list comes in.

The first ingredient indicates that there is more of this in the product than anything else.

So if you’re looking at an applesauce label and it says apples as the first ingredient, that’s what you should expect as the main ingredient.

All the other ingredients after that are in smaller amounts as you go down the list, so there is very little of the last ingredient.

So if you're seeing Sugar and a whole bunch of types in brackets, like this (fancy molasses, brown sugar, sugar), as the first or second ingredient you know it's high in sugar.

The product above has 3 forms of sugar in the ingredient list and 12 grams of sugar in the label. 

So now here's the challenge.

4 grams of sugar equal 1 teaspoon.

Eating both bars, (which most people would do), you'd be eating 3 teaspoons of sugar!

Don't forget to look at the labels of drinks. Even so-called 'healthy ones', can fill you up with natural and added sugars and contribute to a sugar crash and leave you feeling exhausted.

Always look at the labels of juices, sports drinks and vitamin water (which can have up to 32 grams of sugar in one bottle! That’s 8 teaspoons!)

How much sugar does your favorite packaged snack have?

Let me know in the comments below.

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