By louiseodriscoll, Feb 10 2015 05:16PM
I should probably warn you all that this blog post runs a risk of turning into a bit of a rant. As a health coach I am generally keen on emphasising the fact that there is no single perfect diet for everyone and I typically help clients find a good balance in life between eating well most of the time without creating a sense of deprivation by banning certain foods. My interpretation of eating well is generally choosing real, nutrient dense food - this way works best for most of us. There are of course, certain things I would prefer people avoid most of the time and one of the main targets here is (unsurprisingly), sugar. A client I saw last week brought with her the packaging from a protein bar that she had chosen to snack on instead of a chocolate bar, believing that it was the healthier choice. I read the ingredients with a raised eyebrow. The first was soy protein isolate, the following six were all sugar with different names. The ingredient following those composed 2% of the snack, meaning that the ‘healthy’ protein bar was around 40% sugar. The thing that irritated me about the information on such packaging is that it can be so confusing, even if you are fairly well educated about nutrition, it can be hard to fathom exactly what it is you are consuming.
There are over 55 different ingredients used by food manufacturers that are all in fact sugar - some are recognisable, they have sugar in their name or are substances we know to be sweet, such as caramel, but there are others that aren’t so well known. Familiarising yourself with the less obvious ones can help you identify what to avoid…
- be alert to any mention of ‘syrup’
- of ingredients ending in ‘ose’ or ‘ol’
- those with ‘malt’ or ‘syrup or ‘juice’ in their name
What I would really love to see is food manufacturers forced to clearly show on labels the amount of sugar that has been added to products, so that consumers can more easily identify what it is they are actually buying. As things stand, it can be guesswork at best and for most of us avoiding packaged food entirely is unrealistic, which makes it hard to always be sure if we really are making better choices. Wishful thinking perhaps…